Tuesday, October 21, 2008

In ur pressbox, disrespecting ur d00ds

The Dave Berry saga continues to send ripples through the Oilogosphere. This has been covered quite extensively (mudcrutch has a post on the subject here that blows the pants off of anything I could come up with), and I've not much to add. My short take is that the Oilers have a right to dictate who gets to sit in the PB and who doesn't, but their handling of the situation was pretty bush league. What's most interesting about this whole affair is how it betrays a stunning level of ignorance of the new realities of communication on the part of the team. But that's an issue for others to tackle: we've people to mock.

First, OilersNation blogger and radio journo Jason "He's hip, he's cool, he's 45" Gregor strokes his chin and clucks his tongue at the rank social irresponsibility of bloggers these days, and manages to come off like a damn fool.
Most (bloggers) are nameless, faceless people who write their opinions, but unfortunately there are too many false facts in blogs. I understand the next generation gets most of their information from the Internet, but unfortunately lots of it is horribly written or inaccurate. Kids read this stuff and they believe it. I don't think bloggers truly understand the strength of their message, and also the damage it can do. What about writing an article on the damage that bloggers do? They all seem to think that because they "care" about the team, that their messages are helping the team. Well that might be true, but no one in blog world ever talks about the negatives. And it seems that well-written, factual and insightful blogs are rare. For every Lowetide there are 15 horrible bloggers. Kids read the Internet more than the paper, and while we think they should be smart enough to decipher the good from bad, any parent will tell you that isn't the case.
Yeah, he actually went with the "think of the children" line. Fuckin' embarrassing.

But the real good shit comes with Oilers' PR flack J.J. Hebert's attempts to clear the air.
Edmonton Oilers media relations director J.J. Hebert says blogger Dave Berry of Covered in Oil was temporarily banned from the Oilers press box last week because of the "disrespectful and embarrassing" content of Berry's live blog commentary on the Oilers' home opener.

"It was disrespectful, it was embarrassing and we simply do not need it," Hebert says.

What triggered it initially was the content," adds Allan Watt, vice-president of communications for the Oilers. "It was profane."

If we've learned nothing else from Pat Laforge-and I think we haven't-it's that disrespectful and profanity-laden comments about players will only be tolerated once said players are traded (right Doug Weight, you big pussy?)

Having read the live blog in question, I find the particular criticism to be interesting to say the least. I count a single use of the word "fuck" in there, but beyond that, the post is pretty vanilla. One thing it is not is uncritical, so it's easy to see why it would get the flack's knickers in a twist.

Hebert goes on to say that problem with treating bloggers the same as members of the MSM, aside from their potty mouths, is there's just so gosh darn many of them.

Hebert says the Oilers will not give accreditation to any independent blogger right now. There are simply too many bloggers at this point for the Oilers to try to pick and choose and accommodate any of them. "Our players are just inundated with requests, as well as phone requests, every day. For us to say yes to Joe Blow's blog, there's 300 more of them out there.

"You can't open the door to one guy and then say no 250 others. You can't."

Which would be fair if it were true. Fact is, though, picking and choosing who does and does not get accreditation is something Herbert and his ilk do on a daily basis. Hell, one might even say it's part of their job. On the great media totem pole, some hack from the St. Albert Gazette is going to be further down than a Dan Barnes and I trust people like Hebert are capable of making the distinction and justifying it. So why not apply similar tests to bloggers. It's been done: there are NHL teams (notably the Washington Capitals) that provide bloggers with press passes. In fact, Caps blogger Eric McErlain at one point drafted a set of guidelines for granting press credentials to bloggers. Clearly it can be done, and in suggesting otherwise Hebert is either being totally disingenuous or he just isn't very good at his job.

What's the upshot here? I dunno. I'm sad that Dave has quit blogging, I'd like to hear more about these "basement threesomes" Alan Watt thinks are a driving force behind blogs, and I'm happier than ever not to be in a position to give the Oilers' organization one thin dime of my cash.


grease trap said...

Awesome. This is a great post.

PunjabiOil said...

^ What he said.

And something that I could never put in such good words.

Kyle said...

I don't think anyone embarressed themselves more here than Gregor. Herbert is just following party line but Gregor just sounds like an absolute fool, especially when he brings up the 'false facts' argument, as if nothing ever goes to press that's false. He's right in that not all blogs are equal, but neither are all journalists.

raventalon40 said...

Gregor comes off as a complete stupid asshole. There are few facts that are untrue on blogs, but lots of unyielding opinions. How many people on blogs purposedly misrepresent information? Rarely, if at all, I find. In fact, I find a lot more useful statistics on blogs like Irreverant Oiler Fans, Lowetide, and Addicted-To-Oil than I can find on the Oilers web site. Sure, a good blog is a diamond in the rough. But lies? False facts? Give me a break man, we're not doing this in our free time because we want to tell lies about our favorite NHL team.

Furthermore, there is a distinct understanding of the difference between an opinion piece and a factual, statistics based piece in the blog world. These are basic things that guys like Robin Brownlee, Jim Matheson, and David Staples understand.

There is also an understanding that the line between "high culture" (MSM) and "popular culture" (blogs) is vague and fuzzy, if at all existent. It is defined in Sociological studies as being based on social context of the people who hold power - so basically the old guard of the MSM don't like us very much based on one thing alone: we're not like them.

Journalists like Gregor try to shove bloggers all together into the popular culture category so he can brush us off as nonsense and to protect the old guard. Actual reporters like Brownlee and Staples can make that distinction and that's why I respect them.

There's the question of credibility. I actually find it incredible that the suggestion that anonymity means less credibility. Some suggest it means that the fan is no longer accountable to the organization or the player, but this is not true. Anything too ridiculous could, in theory, be dealt with if the Oilers brought it up with Blogspot.com. I believe it to be in the "I agree" checkbox that people gloss over on the way to creating their blogs.

But the truth is, the new guard in Edmonton rarely holds the players accountable the way they do in Toronto, Montreal, or New York. Every single post-game interview that the Oilers pump out in the regular season are pretty predictable and boring. There isn't a goddamn soul asking a tough, hard-hitting, unpredictable question. I find it funny that some journalists question bloggers' accountability.

How can Gregor, a supposed reporter, make such an unsubstantiated claim to the tune of "blogs are all useless lies" and simultaneously churn out "I don't read blogs." The same goes for Hebert. That's not a substantiated or factually proven claim: that's called prejudice. By making such claims he's inadvertently guilty of the action he has blamed bloggers for carrying out - making wild claims based on bull shit.