10.10.07

A Little Less Cheering For The Nassau Mausoleum’s Blog Box

Posted in Blogged Down, Hockey at 5:33 pm by

(the new face of sports journalism?)

For a couple of seasons, the Washington Capitals have issued press credentials to selected bloggers. Starting this year, the New York Islanders have invited bloggers to attend games in what sounds like a press box version of the kids’ table. Offwing Opinion’s Eric McErlain compares and contrasts via The Fanhouse.

Over the course of the entire 2006-07 season I spent in the press box with the Washington Capitals (35 games overall), I was never identified as a blogger. I was simply treated like any other member of the working press and was granted the same access and privileges — including access to the visiting locker room if I wanted. Of course, that also meant I had the same responsibilities, which meant staying out of the way of the beat writers who had deadlines to meet, moving if I was blocking a camera angle, as well as making sure I didn’t step on team logo on the center of the locker room carpet.

But if you had taken a trip to the “Blog Box” on Long Island on Saturday night, you would have seen something quite different: A group of fans segregated from the rest of the press who were only allowed guided access to Islanders players and no access to the visiting locker room at all. Most galling of all, many of the box bloggers trooped down to the Islanders locker room wearing Islanders jerseys.

We ought to call it for what it is — a glorified fan club. That this farce is sponsored by Eklund, the least credible voice in sports blogging today, only makes the joke complete.

Eklund, commenting at James Mirtle’s blog, denies any part in selecting bloggers for the Isles’ Blog Box, protesting “we should not begrudge any fan for taking this great opportunity and living it up.” Which has to be the height of hyperbole for what amounts to Islanders tickets + pretzels. Previously, Mirtle — seriously! — wondered, “why not wear a jersey, talk to a few players and produce some team-friendly content?”

Perhaps because that would make someone a fucking shill for Charles Wang? Really, if Mirtle considers journalistic integrity a far too pretentious concept for lowly bloggers, how about the notion these would-be Stan Fischlers are selling themselves too cheaply?

At least Leonsis’ Bloggy Bunch are bought off with a spread one DC scribe breathlessly detailed as “a carving station, roasted veggies, chicken tenders, salad, plus the usual popcorn and pretzels. And don’t get me started on the dessert cart! Cheesecakes, chocolate fudge cakes, bags of Gummi bears and jelly beans, cookies, caramel apples…”.

10 Responses to “A Little Less Cheering For The Nassau Mausoleum’s Blog Box”

  1. James Mirtle says:

    That’s your argument?

    I’m a blogger and I have journalistic integrity. So do a few select others that approach what they’re posting in that way. (That alone’s probably enough to put to bed what you’re saying here.)

    Look, if people want to be fans, and bloggers, and go do something like the Blog Box, I don’t have a problem with that. If they want to blog from the traditional press box, and be journalists, by all means, that’s fine, too.

    A blog doesn’t have to be one or the other — and that’s all I was putting out there.

  2. GC says:

    “I’m a blogger and I have journalistic integrity.”

    I’m not questioning your integrity, James, just your critical faculties in this instance. If you were the one that turned up at the Mausoleum wearing a Fishsticks jersey, willing to accept access far more limited than the traditional media and were all giddy at the prospect of penning “team friendly content” (your words, not mine), I’m not sure you’d have a ton of credibility — as a journalist or a blogger.

    “Look, if people want to be fans, and bloggers, and go do something like the Blog Box, I don’t have a problem with that. If they want to blog from the traditional press box, and be journalists, by all means, that’s fine, too.”

    Hey, that’s big of you. But it doesn’t appear as though the Islanders are willing to grant bloggers access to the bona fide press box, just the kiddie table alluded to above. I think McErlain makes an excellent point —- while some professional sports organizations are trying to acknowledge blogging as a new form of journalism, for the Fishsticks, this sounds more like clumsy marketing.

    “A blog doesn’t have to be one or the other — and that’s all I was putting out there.”

    Nope, a blog doesn’t have to be anything besides what its creator intends. But if McErlain wishes to cast a discerning eye at the Blog Box denizens and declare them “a glorified fan club”, I don’t think it’s because he begrudges them a fun night out in Uniondale (if such a thing is possible). I suspect it’s because after all he’s dedicated to his craft, he finds even the slightest association a little embarrassing.

    While that might seem a bit precious to an all-inclusive champion of the everydude like yourself, there’s a good reason why Larry Brooks doesn’t go to the Garden in a Rangers sweater. Other than, y’know, they wouldn’t sell him one at Gerry Cosby.

  3. James Mirtle says:

    Hey, that’s big of you. But it doesn’t appear as though the Islanders are willing to grant bloggers access to the bona fide press box, just the kiddie table alluded to above.

    Says who? As far as I can tell, this is simply the beginning for them, and team staff have said they don’t have a problem credentialing bloggers for the actual press box.

    I don’t see the grounds for slamming fans who want to take part in this opportunity. Of course it’s shilling for the Isles, but so what?

  4. GC says:

    “team staff have said they don’t have a problem credentialing bloggers for the actual press box.”

    so the bloggers in question would prefer to sit in the blog box? Man, those pretzels must be way better than advertised.

    “I don’t see the grounds for slamming fans who want to take part in this opportunity. Of course it’s shilling for the Isles, but so what?”

    Ahem. Alexei Yashin. Rick DiPietro’s $67 million deal. Neil Smith’s 40 day tenure.
    The history of Computer Associates. Creative accounting.

    Never mind that any self-respecting blogger — even one who considers him or herself an Islanders fans — would prefer to report the truth than compose “team friendly” fluff. There’s already ample history to indicate this franchise should be regarded warily. Free tickets and a “hi, how are ya” from Chris Simon. are an awfully cheap payoff.

  5. Brushback says:

    I think the big news here is, they found some Islander fans who know how to spell. Sorta.

  6. James Mirtle says:

    Never mind that any self-respecting blogger — even one who considers him or herself an Islanders fans — would prefer to report the truth than compose “team friendly” fluff. There’s already ample history to indicate this franchise should be regarded warily. Free tickets and a “hi, how are ya” from Chris Simon. are an awfully cheap payoff.

    They can actually write whatever they like, so I can’t see that being the team’s problem here. Some may be critical of the team, some might be fanboys; I honestly don’t have a problem with either.

    Bloggers don’t have to fit into any one category.

  7. GC says:

    again James, the suggestion that these Fishsticks acolytes might embrace the chance to “produce team-friendly content” was written by yourself, not I.

    “Bloggers don’t have to fit into any one category.”

    True ’nuff. And I’m grateful there are some who have standards as high as those from the mainstream media. Or in this instance, higher.

  8. James Mirtle says:

    They’re fans — they’re going to produce team-friendly content in a lot of cases. That’s just a fact.

    It doesn’t mean that’s what I want to read; I’m just sticking up for their right to produce it.

  9. GC says:

    I’m a fan, too. But I understand the importance of maintaining some autonomy from the subjects I cover.

    Given the history of sports blogging (and dating back to football ‘zines), there’s nothing new about an adversarial relationship with a team’s ownership. I’d submit that those publishers were also “fans”.

    I didn’t realize this was a free speech issue. Who, exactly, is denying the Blog Box participants the right to blog?

  10. James,

    That last comment is a blatant distortion of what I wrote, James. Nobody, least of all me, is begrudging anyone the opportunity to write about their team. My problem is with the way the Islanders have set this up, treating these bloggers as if they needed to have their hands held like they were children and not adults.

    What I suspect is happening here, and what in part is leading to some of the negative reaction is this: What we’re seeing here is another attempt by Eklund to extend his influence and control over who gets into the box and how they interact with the team. For reasons I can’t explain, you seem to want to turn a blind eye to that.

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