Journalism or Not Journalism? The Hockey Blog Question

Ring of FireContributor IJanuary 26, 2009

I was trying to think of the best way to do my first blog. I mean, what is a blog anyway? Its a bunch of words on the Internet, right?

WIKIpedia says
A blog, a contraction of the term "Web log", is a Web site, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order. "Blog" can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.

Ok, so it is a web log. I get it . Descriptions of events. Ok, get that too. Commentary. Ok.

So nowhere does it say it is journalism. Nobody is thinking that some guy or gal with a web log about hockey on the Internet is a journalist? Right?

WIKIpedia says

Journalism is the craft of conveying news, descriptive material and comment via a widening spectrum of media. These include newspapers, magazines, radio and television, the Internet and, more recently, the cellphone. Journalists - be they writers, editors or photographers; broadcast presenters or producers - serve as the chief purveyors of information and opinion in contemporary mass society. "News is what the consensus of journalists determines it to be."

Well, that is interesting. For what it seems to indicate is that if your web log presents information and opinion it might be journalism.

Do you feel like a journalist, bloggers? Do you feel like Carl Berman and Bob Woodward as you talk about your favorite team? Are you going to cause the NHL to squirm or shiver with some down and dirty report?

The NHL has paid a lot of attention to blogs lately. Many have been getting into games to join reporters.  This makes for a pretty exciting time for fans in hockey who with some writing skills can make a leap to a completely new role. 

Of course, if you do, you might also find yourself in the middle of a struggle. For most sports journalists, print is shrinking quickly, many pushed or encouraged to go on the web. Very often a blogger with a good following will actually be having more readers than someone from a localized or even mid-sized paper.

The NHL actually would be very smart to install bloggers across the entire league. Not just some cheerleading squad or team bloggers hand-picked by their own or team public relation scrubs, but just blogs given clearance and hierarchy by views, stats, numbers, coverage. Like how the media is treated.

After all, the top news orgs get the best seats in the house.

But wait a second! There is a problem with that. Many of those bloggers who are sitting pretty in the press box actually don't have that many numbers to speak of. They merely networked themselves or got on the blogging bus very early. So many of this previous class who have their own spot are not that excited at the prospect at sharing their space.

So do they want fellow bloggers or just like things as they are?

The NHL actually added some rules for bloggers for media departments. But they ended up taking the lame way out. They left interpretation and consideration up to teams. The problem here is that the old white boy network remains.

Most media departments to hockey teams are very old school and entrenched with a buddy system of how to disseminate information and credentialing. That's right, who you know means far more than who your readers are to some of these teams.

This is why the word journalism applied to blogs in general are very overrated and not quite accurate. Journalism is news, and the current blog "news" might be skewed depending on favors and who is liked or disliked, who is respected, credentialed or worth talking to.

Is that really news then? Or is it really just an extension of public relations? This seems an area that still remains mostly undefined.

Public relations really is why blogs have made some distance with the NHL. Public relations maybe also why blogs might need to be examined to see if something is really news or just an extension of the public relation department for some of these teams. The NHL is a business, and that business was bleeding after a lockout.

And it might pour out as this recession hits hockey fans wallets and pocketbooks. So the NHL was very smart to provide no set standards here, because it lets teams use them at their discretion. Businesses need business tools.

Now, don't get all riled up. I'm not talking about most of who blog on this site. But do take a good look at those who call themselves journalists or hockey experts on these Internets. How much promoting they do? Do they scrutinize? Do they dig for stories and report? Do they do something to make the NHL or a team uncomfortable?

If so, then they might be more than just a mouthpiece. They just might be a journalist instead of pure promotion. But, I think you will find quite a few who will not make that cut.

At least I think so. What do you think?