Just forget the words and sing along

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Changing Face of the Media

It's been a couple of weeks, but I'm still dwelling on my Facebook spat with my learned colleague at Athabasca's newspaper about "journalistic integrity" and "whatever you say on Facebook is open for criticism" and stuff like that.

It came to the fore this week because I was made aware of a story that's currently causing shockwaves through the Edmonton Oilers fandom.

Long story short: the Oilers have banned bloggers from their press box.

The details, as I understand them. It was the Oilers' home opener a few weeks back. A reporter was there, covering the game for a news organization called Sports Ticker. In his spare time, he also blogs about the Oilers on an Oilers-centric blog called Covered in Oil. He thought, while he was in the press box covering the game, he may as well open up Blogger and do a liveblog on the home opener.

Well, apparently, he wasn't too impressed with the Oilers performance in the first period, and his liveblog was quite a swear-filled rant. The Oilers organization caught wind of this, shut him down, gave him the boot, and has decided to ban bloggers from the press box.

Again, going back to my earlier argument about journalistic credentials being a cheap commodity...the Oilers revealed that they are flooded with requests from bloggers to have access to the press box so they can cover the game. In fact, I read about this at the blog of Edmonton Journal columnist David Staples, which is now dedicated to the Oilers. Granted, I'm no hockey nut, but I enjoy Staples' writing, so I read it.

Many argue that our Covered in Oil blogger got the boot not because he was a blogger, but because of the content of his blog. When I was going to NAIT, the TV news instructor taught us that sports journalism is the only kind of journalism where a bias is expected. The reporter is always expected to root for the home team. You start being too critical of the organization and, well, stuff like this happens.

However, it does reflect that changing face of the media in our information age. Many years ago, when I first started developing my online presence, a friend and I were chatting about how these "online journals" were going to change things. It was always hoped that blogs would shed light on so many news stories that usually don't get picked up by the mainstream press. I read a study about a year ago that said, sadly, that's not the case, and that all most blogs are doing right now are regurgitating wire stories.

But still. Let's look at it. You don't have to spend four years to get some fancy journalism degree anymore. You don't have to get hired on by a newspaper for backing. All you have to do is get online.

Another thing they taught me at NAIT: reporters don't get any special privileges. They have the same rights as anybody.

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