This week the idea of Bloggers getting media credentials and become a hot discussion around the ‘net and the response runs the gauntlet. People who’ve had credentials like Will Leitch over at Deadspin would never want them again and wrote on his site yesterday that, “It’s more fun to watch the game at home. You don’t want to be in a press box; it’s depressing and reeks of back sweat and pit stains. The freedom that’s unique to Blogging is diametrically opposed, in our view, to the typical paradigm of Apply For Press Pass / Mingle With Public Relations Drones / Eat Free Buffet / Slowly Realize That Sports Isn’t Fun Anymore. MLB doesn’t want to credential bloggers because they think they can’t control them, which, ironically, is the exact opposite of the truth. Credentialing them is the best way to control them. It’s only a matter of time until they realize that’s true, at which time bloggers will enter the press box and immediately become the most hated people there, derided by reporters, flacks and players alike. Once you’re in the press box, you’re just a beat reporter, subject to the same organizational whims everyone else in there is. Trust us: It’s not worth it. The view’s better from the couch. They don’t want us. We shouldn’t want them either.”
Another writer that I respect, Henry Abbott from TrueHoop.com, has press credentials for his work on NBA.com and Hoops and he feels the same as Will. In his post yesterday he wrote that, “The biggest factor, however, is that I have learned it’s simply not a good setting for the kind of journalism that I do. The access at games is all about the beat reporters. For the longer articles I tend to write, I usually want to ask players about wacky personal stuff, like their childhood, some long-term rivalry, or something that no other reporters are interested in. I almost never want to talk about that night’s game (it can be months before my story comes out). The conversations I have to have are much better one-on-one on the phone, in a car, or after a shoot-around. Before games most players don’t talk. After the game, players face a pack of reporters with a few minutes to bang out game coverage. They trot out all the sports platitudes that Kevin Costner’s character teaches in Bull Durham. There is talk of rebounding, taking good shots, and making smart passes. There’s precious little that’s usable in a magazine cover story. What’s more, the beat writers get annoyed if someone like me holds them up from meeting their deadlines by getting a player to talk about the kinds of non-pressing character issues and anecdotes that are the bricks and mortar of longer stories.”
Chris Clarke, a great Blogger over at End of the Bench, loves the idea of getting credentials and writes in a recent post that, “I don’t live in a city with a major sports franchise, but I might move to one sometime soon. If I do, I fully intend to get media access to basketball games. Why? Because blogging is now legit. Two years ago I could understand, but not today. Not anymore. I don’t take myself too seriously, but I think I deserve a media pass to some NBA games, as would many other NBA bloggers. My thoughts on the issue can be summed up much the same way Gabe Stein summed up his latest update on Denver Sports Zone:When a blog covers politics or starts new debate about the environment, it’s celebrated by the media. But when one dares to try and challenge the exclusive privledges of the mightiest of all journalists, the sports writers, the world is falling apart. Give me a break. I want to take Steve Rubel’s suggestion a step further (to allow bloggers limited access to sporting events, like a “Blogger’s Day” during spring training). If we bloggers are working hard to cover NBA basketball, why shouldn’t we get the chance to attend the games and interview the players the same way and just as often as the mainstream media do? Bloggers don’t want special treatment. We just want to be recognized for our contributions. I think we have just as much to contribute (if not more) on the sport of NBA basketball than most mainstream media. Why can’t we play their reindeer games?
As a fellow blogger I’ll be honest that my goal is to get media credentials. I’m shocked that more bloggers aren’t jumping at the chance to go back next season with credentials. What’s not to like? As a basketball fan I can’t think of anytihng better than getting to sit courtside for games and then getting to personally hear players that you love/hate talk about their games. While I was at university I was the Sports Editor my final year and I still remember a couple of interviews with some players that stick out in my mind as highlights of my career. One was when I interviewed a girl who set the school record for scoring and she and I had a blast talking hoops. I am aware that pro athletes posses egos nowhere close to her, but, the idea of sitting down to talk with Chris Bosh is something that leaves me grinning ear-to-ear.
I have been thinking (aka daydreaming) about this credentials thing and here’s an idea I wanted to throw out there – imagine what bloggers could do with audio clips that the mainstream media can’t. Someone like ESPN is limited to covering all the major sports so they can’t post quotes from all of the home team players while a Blogger only has to focus on one team (and sometimes one player) and they can make as many posts as they want. Someone covering the Raptors could post quotes from the locker room of every player without having to edit them down to fit into a 60 minute show. Readers could then log on and select what player they want to listen to and hear all that player has to say – it gives fans the freedom to select what they want to HEAR rather what the playeres are thinking insstead of the short audio clips the local or national news want to give us. Right now on my Hoops Addict I post a dunk of the day because that’s only material I have access to. If I could interview players or even tape what the media is asking these players about it would make a great resource for Raptors fans.
Along those lines, Raptors TV airs Sam Mitchell’s press conference but they only air it following the game. A Blogger could jump on this by having a post that anyone could access within minutes of the press conference happening or if they want to go back to a press conference from earlier that season when two teams played each other last.
Some Bloggers have wrote this week that we can report on games from our couches and that it’s more enjoyable, but, imagine if we could throw this extra dimension onto Blogs? It would give hoop fans that much more knowledge about what’s happening that print media can’t compete with and tv stations don’t have the time to cater to.
What does everyone think about this?