In HockeyWashington, when it comes to media, we are blessed to have a forward thinking owner in Ted Leonsis. His vision and acceptance of new media is shared throughout the Capitals’ organization. We’ve spent more than a few dozen nights in the Capitals’ press box, as have a number of Caps bloggers. All of us understand and appreciate the privilege that comes with this access.
The Washington Capitals are at the forefront of accepting and embracing new media. Look at the team itself, with Mike Vogel and his Capitals Report podcast — airing before podcast even was a word. This evolved into a video podcast, and early in 2009 the team will move forward with even more new media projects.
Then you have the other end of the spectrum — the Edmonton Oilers. For some years there have been several highly regarded bloggers writing about the Oilers. One of those blogs is Covered in Oil. Though familiar with the blog, we don’t personally know the writers behind it. Recently, however, they found themselves in a little hot oil. You can read about it here. (Additionally, here is a cached copy of the post that boiled the oil.)
The sum and substance of it is this: the Oilers were interested in supporting new media when they liked the product generated, and the moment they didn’t, they pulled the welcome mat out from under the volunteer writers. It really is that cut and dry. From Covered in Oil:
“I was eventually told that the Oilers didn’t grant press passes to bloggers unless they were employed by the organization [emphasis OFB's] or the NHL [ditto], and that I had abused my press pass and wasn’t allowed back.
“I have a feeling at least part of the problem the Oilers have with blogs is that basic computer literacy in the organization seems to be on the level of grandmother with a Nintendo in the basement . . .
“I hope most of you will understand exactly why I’m no longer interested in writing about an organization that has decided to dump on me for having the temerity to care about them and treat their wishes with respect.
“I especially want to thank the other Oilogosphere bloggers, whether they were at it from the beginning or just recently joined up: it is still the place where I find the most consistently interesting, thought-provoking, funny and worthwhile writing about the Oilers.”
We have no doubt about the veracity that last observation, which of course means that the Oil favor message control at the expense of quality and passion. We can’t pass final judgement on this matter as we don’t have all of the facts, but on its face it’s deeply troubling. What we can say is that we appreciate — more than ever — the relationship that has been forged in Washington between new media and the local NHL franchise. Blogging about hockey here is great fun, the connectivity we have with those who share our passion is enriching beyond words, but we should never forget, nor take for granted, how fortunate we are to pursue it in the community we do.