Wednesday was Bruce Dowbiggin's turn to spank bloggers. Not only that, he essentially put a bounty on their -- our? -- heads. What's ironic to me, and I think most people that read and/or write blogs, is that everyone, I believe, wants the same thing: accountability.
Even more ironic: while the lines between traditional and new media continue to blur, they've already intersected. For good. Take a look at the sports sections of your favourite newspapers; everyone is blogging. The debate has been pitched as mainstream media (MSM) versus bloggers, but so many in the MSM are blogging, that the entire conversation doesn't make a lot of bloody sense anymore. To me, at least. The Toronto Star's Damien Cox "asked the question" in his blog The Spin, for Christ's sake. And I'm not going to bother with Dowbiggin writing that bloggers need to "face their subjects from time to time." That's laughable, after the Cox fiasco. We bloggers wanted Cox to head to the SkyDome and face Bautista. We specifically asked that he go and do just that. Instead, it was Bruce Arthur who went and talked to Toronto's Home Run King about the allegations being bandied about. Thanks, Bruce.
Sorry, I lost my train of thought. Jose Bautista has a tendency to make that happen. His swing, so violent and dreamy at the same time. Anyway: the MSM, they're blogging. Cox's colleague Richard Griffin's got his own blog, with its own weekly mail bag feature. And where he sometimes rips Cox. (That was fun!) The Globe And Mail's Michael Grange has got his own blog, From Deep. Jeff Blair goes on blogging runs every now and then at Unwritten Rules. Doug Smith at The Star's been blogging for years about the Toronto Raptors. Go to espn.com; Jayson Stark, Buster Olney, and Keith Law all have their own MLB Blogs. Pierre LeBrun blogs about hockey for the Worldwide Leader. The esteemed Elliotte Freedman blogs, and I can't wait for hockey season to get underway so his 30 Thoughts feature will once again be a part of my life. I can give you a ton of other examples, but you get the idea. And I'm a lazy blogger.
I've worked in broadcast journalism, with TVO's The Agenda With Steve Paikin. As an associate producer at the program, it was mandated that we write a blog post for each segment we put to air. It was mandated that we get on Twitter with work-related accounts, and tweet about story ideas, and future programs. Steve Paikin's got his own blog. Mike Miner, a producer at the program, has his own technology/media blog, The Fifth Column. Those are mainstream journalists, blogging.
When it comes to sports blogs, which I know are the main tenet of this discussion, if the press box is such an issue, the MSM can keep the press box. Look, I've been up there. Once. For a Toronto Maple Leafs game. And I'll be honest: it wasn't all that. Look, much love and respect to Jonathan Sinden and the Leafs for inviting me up there. Of course they were going to invite the guy who travels the Toronto sports blogosphere leaving "Playoffs!!!" in his wake. As they should. But on my one night up there, planning to live blog the affair, the wireless internet didn't work. It was, as the kids say, a live blog fail.
Now, this may surprise you, but, believe it or not, I went up to the press box that night in November not wearing my Tomas Kaberle jersey, or my customary Toronto Blue Jays hat. And I didn't cheer like a fanboy. I didn't cheer at all. I didn't have a sign stuck to my back that said "Blogger!!!1" Everyone up there went about their business, as did Jonathan and I. We chatted Toronto hockey. (I wept, but only briefly.) We talked about the Maple Leafs being more proactive on the social media front. I took notes about how the Leafs disappointed me that night. And, once the game ended, I went home.
I didn't even ask Jonathan if my invite upstairs included an invite downstairs, into the locker room, or to Ron Wilson's press conference. I'll be honest: the thought never even crossed my mind. Had I been invited to Wilson's presser, was that fateful Monday night the night he would finally be honest, and say that even though Jonas Gustavsson was the losing goalie, if it was up to him, he'd never play Vesa Toskala again? That Toskala had a lot of nerve to question the advice of goalie guru Francois Allaire? That against a team like the Buffalo Sabres, a Maple Leafs team with Matt Stajan as its number one centre really didn't stand a chance? No, it wouldn't.
Was that the night Francois Beauchemin would, in the locker room, tell me how much of a nightmare the first two months of his life as a Leafs defenceman had been? That Mike Komisarek was trying way too hard out there? No, it wouldn't.
We've all watched the excruciating answers players, and coaches, give journalists in press conferences and in the dressing room. And we've all played sports. We know what a guy can and can't say. More than half the time, we could do without the charade, without the references to 110%, which isn't even bloody possible.
I'll be the first to agree with Dowbiggin and tell you that a hockey blog "that resembles Hockey Night in Canada meets TMZ" shouldn't be allowed in the press box, or in the dressing room. Who the hell is arguing that it should? But the press box isn't hallowed ground. Certainly not worth a $10,000 bond. Let's stop treating it, and the experience that comes with it, like it is.