Monday, September 20, 2010

Leaked Credentialing Guidelines Focus on Bloggers

In recent weeks, attention was briefly drawn to the NHL’s policy regarding bloggers in the press box. A leaked draft of guidelines for credentialing bloggers surfaced in the hockey blogosphere. The leak grabbed the attention of various members of the hockey community, ranging from established bloggers to the owner of the Washington Capitals, Ted Leonsis.

Reports are that this is old news and the league office is quick to point out that there has been a policy regarding bloggers for two years. What leaked was a draft, and to this point clubs have been allowed to take their own positions regarding the issues. Teams such as the New York Rangers have policies that are regarded to be stringent, while Leonsis’ blog post makes it apparent that he embraces blogging as a positive direction for the multimedia landscape. (He actually prides himself on being a daily blogger.) According to Frank Brown, NHL vice president of communications, the NHL’s current position remains the same as it has for the previous two years.

“We’re aware of the emerging voice of the blogger,” Brown said, “and want to be respectful of that while still being respectful of the significant number of other elements that have to be considered.”

The notion that each team has been able to make a blogging policy that works for itself may be why the NHL hasn’t felt a need to outline specific blogging terms to this point. Blogging isn’t a new practice, and it certainly isn’t new to the NHL, as evidenced by the New York Islanders’ Blog Box program. In its fourth year, the Blog Box invites bloggers to “try out” for a chance to cover the team. The participants receive single-game credentials and access to players and coaches. Obviously, this works for their organization.

Of course, the questions then remain as to whether or not bloggers are journalists in their own right, and if they should be treated like journalists. The blog has emerged as a forum for news, insight and discussion about any topic imaginable. For sports, it’s a place to discuss rumors and the murkier side of how a team performs on a given night. It’s a place where people like Yahoo’s Greg Wyshynski can leak drafted guidelines for credentialing bloggers. Sports bloggers can be anywhere from amateur commentators to engaged, well-read critical thinkers about a league or team.

This topic may not have emerged for its novelty, but it’s still one worth discussing. The changing multimedia landscape forces us to at least think about the role of bloggers in sports media. Whether bloggers should be granted all-access is a hard question to answer. The fact that a draft proposal surfaced shows that a professional league such as the NHL is considering – and has been considering – this question. That their current policy is to let individual clubs make their own call seems fair, as this is a medium we’re still working to understand. It will be interesting to see if a new league-wide policy is released and, if so, how it positions bloggers.

- Melanie Formentin

**If you’re interested in the topic of bloggers as journalists, join the Curley Center for Sports Journalism as we host the first of an online series of chats being launched this year. The first discussion will focus on the topic of credentialing and is set for Monday, October 18, from 1-2 p.m. Stay tuned to this blog for more details about speakers and connecting to the chat.**

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