“No longer a curiosity and hardly a passing fad, bloggers have gotten the attention of the teams they write about,” observes Bob Cohn in yesterday’s Washington Times, adding, “In an ever-changing communications landscape, what constitutes “media” might mean different things to different people.” Cohn was covering the Washington Nationals’ red carpet treatment, for the second time this baseball season, of more than a dozen bloggers this past Sunday at Nationals’ Park. In some respects, the Nats’ experiment with new media resembles what the Capitals championed years ago: a seriously struggling franchise seeking to broaden coverage in a fiercely competitive sports media market, one dominated by the football heavy.
But Cohn’s account highlights a clear demarcation between what the Lerners are doing this summer versus what Ted Leonsis spearheaded before it was cool to: The Nats set up the bloggers in their own “suite” at the ballpark, a move that harkens back to the segregated coverage environment perpetrated by the New York Islanders and their intially much maligned Bloggers Box. But what has worked well for the Caps won’t necessarily work the same for other teams, particularly in other sports. Still, in this highly tech-savvy market, it would be good to see the other teams in town replicate the Capitals’ new media advocacy — the upside of access, it’s been proven the past couple of years, far outweighs the modest downsides.
As a bit of a sidebar, I love a cleverly named blog, and one of the bloggers present at the Nats’ game Sunday was The Nationals Review.
Nats’ team president Stan Kasten offered Cohn a state of the media synopsis for this development.
“I don’t know if we’ve gone too far or we haven’t gone far enough,” Kasten said. “All of us in sports are learning, feeling our way through these developments. A year ago we didn’t do things like this. A year from now we’ll probably have a better fix on what’s appropriate or what’s not appropriate. We’re trying to figure it out.”