I’ve worked in media every day since June 15, 1980. I’ve worked in Edmonton media since summer 1990 (also a couple of years in the 80s I was in the city) and observed the relationship between Edmonton media and its citizens for decades.
My math might be wrong, but I would venture there have been more changes in Edmonton’s media and how people access news and information over the last five years than in the previous 25 in total. It’s breakneck speed now, simply impossible to keep up with all of it.
I work for TSN1260 Radio, Edmonton’s first 24-hour sports station. You could have inserted the format into this city 25 years ago and had a strong audience but it took a decade or so after that for someone to bravely step up and take the leap.
I expect we’ll see a lot more changes in the next decade, hope to be around for all of them but the truth is the market will dictate my role and my exit. That’s a fact, and exits of media personalities is seen every year in the industry.
If you follow the Edmonton Oilers on a day-to-day basis, you probably access your information via:
- Radio. TSN 1260 with Dustin Nielson, Dave Jamieson, Jason Gregor and Dean Millard, but also Bob Stauffer’s Oilers Now and other shows on 630 CHED.
- Television. Ryan Rishaug of TSN and Mark Spector of Sportsnet are constantly digging for inside information, and there are others.
- Oilers blogs. Too many to mention, but Oilers Nation is a monster and there are others.
- Newspapers, print or online. Post Media has the Journal and The Sun, these outlets house some of the most experienced and qualified people in the industry.
- Edmonton Oilers site. A massive amount of content is derived by the people who run the site, not a day goes by that we don’t grab some newsworthy item via facebook or twitter and read it. The group assembled there have access, creativity and a tremendous work ethic. Your relationship with them will grow in the next decade. That’s important to note, as the Oilers could return us to one-stop shopping more than any other medium.
Now, 25 years ago, I would have arrived at work to my print copies of the Edmonton Journal and Edmonton Sun and would listen to the noon hour sports updates. Thirty years ago, I could go bug co-worker John Short and find out why Francois Leroux wasn’t turning into Paul Coffey.
Now? Chances are you jump online, visit Oilers Nation or another blog, zip over to the Oilers site and then pour your morning coffee. Actually, maybe you don’t even do that, maybe twitter or facebook or email collects everything you might be interested in overnight. The world, as we knew it even a few years ago, has ended.
As things stand now, aside from a friendly show of good old-fashioned humor here or there on twitter, most of the outlets you visit daily coexist just fine. Things are competitive though (media avails feature questions from reporters in a specific order) and most of the breaking news comes from the same people. I have no quarrel with that approach, people have earned those opportunities. I also have no quarrel with those who wait for the Oilers website to pass along the entire press conference, being there and asking the 20th question seems a bit of a waste of time.
WHAT DO YOU VALUE?
A lot of the changes that have occurred over the last five years are because of you. As discussed, you access information in a different way. It’s also true that the things you value no longer resemble what appeared in my daily newspaper 25 years ago. The story in the old newspaper included some quotes, a review of the specific plays and game overall, possibly a note about the next game, and any kind of maladies suffered by the players. An exploding coach in the post-game scrum was always good for a paragraph.
Today? You want to know about who faced the tough opponents, about the cap impact of an acquisition, about Ryan Strome’s summer. You can get all of that online immediately, you don’t have to wait until next day. The value of the quote 25 years ago had a lot to do with exclusivity, and attending a media avail that will be on Youtube in 10 minutes has minimal value.
Todd McLellan’s comments about Jesse Puljujarvi last night were immediately out in the ether, making the hard copy unnecessary. The audience gets the breaking news at the same time as the media and the audience’s opinion is often as qualified as the reporting.
I don’t know where we’re going in media, but getting the scoop isn’t what it used to be, and hanging around the rink may not be a worthwhile endeavor for much of the modern media. The Edmonton Oilers have a camera and a vehicle to deliver information payloads. The media has lost their traditional edge and is forced to reinvent itself. Part of that adjustment involves people of value falling away (I miss Joanne Ireland’s reporting, as an example) and understand completely when a 30-year veteran chooses to send a tweet out with some vinegar on it. I know a little about the vicious climb from stringer to city hall reporter to actual reporter and it’s a long damned haul filled with late nights, notes on the endless minutiae of good old our town and bad, bad coffee.
One day, not so long a time ago, smart media people in gigantic buildings in this town held meetings on adapting to change. These men and women had massive advantages and terrible disadvantages, and entered the battle with good judgement and a healthy respect for what they didn’t know.
At the exact same time, young people who didn’t know much about gigantic buildings and budgets thought they might start a blog and see if their friends would read it. You may think that’s too simple an explanation, but it’s true and you could look it up. Today, it’s all different shades of equal between the big boys and the kids with a blog, and that’s a beautiful crazy.
I think many people in the media industry are doing a great job in capturing the imagination of the Edmonton public and building relationships with listeners and readers. Edmonton media will survive, but it won’t have as much in common with 1975 as I’ll want it to, and many of the things that appealed to me will be washed away in search of a new audience. That’s good, and right, the world is turning as it should.