I’m not surprised to see the great blogger issue raised again, this time by the way the Edmonton Oilers treated Dave Berry when the organization caught him liveblogging from the Oiler press box. Matt Fenwick basically expresses my opinion:
More than anything else, I just feel lousy for Dave. Apart from the fact that this was a pain in the ass professionally, there is no worse thing as a fan of a pro sports team than to be unavoidably confronted with the fact that, at root, it’s extremely stupid. You’re rooting for a private business who in the end will do whatever they damn well please for their own reasons, and occasionally exhibit, to use an old Cosh phrase, “the priggish imperiousness of a cop or civil servant”.
And as much as I’d love to make this into a BoA-style “your poo stinks and mine doesn’t” thing… no. There’s a reason I’ve never attempted to contact the Flames organization, get a press pass, an interview, or the like. Actually, there’s two reasons, the first of which is that I like this blog the way it is: it’s personal, I don’t owe anyone any favours, and I don’t have to abide by anyone’s rules and guidelines but my own.
I think this is exactly right. Mostly I feel lousy for Dave, too. I’m concerned not because he’s leaving hockey, but because he’s leaving hockey for reasons that regularly nag at me. It is just a game. I think it is okay to be passionate about a game, but it doesn’t seem healthy to be so passionate about a brand, a corporate logo. That passion is exploited for all it’s worth. The result is a “private business who in the end can and will do whatever they damn well please for their own reasons…” (I added the bolded to Matt’s phrase.)
David Staples makes this point about the brouhaha:
The Oilers’ mistake right now is to not have a coherent policy about “live” blogs from the press box. They should take the time to come up with one that makes sense, one that allows for “live” blogs from top columnists and credible bloggers so that Dave Berry and others can get on with their work.
I think the Oilers do have a coherent policy about the media, if not this specific issue. They are only going to allow access to media members – mainstream or otherwise – who deliver up content that is acceptable to the Oilers. They will also insist that the content is delivered with an attitude that is acceptable to the Oilers. (Covered in Oil fails in both respects which is why we love it so.) Why would the Oilers behave in any other way? They are exercising their power to protect the business.
I think this also explains why MSM types generally despise the blogosphere and frequently make ridiculous claims about bloggers. (And no, Elliotte Friedman, the issue is not accountability. Any blogger with access would also have to confront people he or she criticised. The issue among many bloggers is whether they should have access in the first place.) Bloggers remind the mainstream reporter of the fact that their attitude and their content also has to be acceptable to the Oilers.