I’ve been pretty quiet about the issue, but only because over the last week things have gotten considerably more complicated for me. We’ll get to that later, but I do have some thoughts on the issue.
The biggest problem with the “bloggers in the press box” debate is that there is a huge segment of the population left out of the discussion. I suppose that’s true of any dialogue, but the problem here is that segment is exactly the issue here.
Let’s face it: the bloggers in support of getting press credentials are, for the most part, completely rational individuals capable of a) writing coherently and 2) following the rules and regulations of a traditional press box. Anyone who wants that kind of access has something in mind with it, a way to improve their website and create better content. They are not the problem.
In fact, the people that create the debate are almost entirely absent from the “problem.” The ones that are deemed extremely crass or irresponsible are the ones that absolutely have no business in the press box, but they aren’t the ones asking for it, either.
When you really think about it, the problem is that the people who could benefit from credentials are lumped into a larger category of “blogger” along with the other nameless, faceless entities that create the general blogger stereotypes of basement dwelling rumor-mongerers.
The rules and requirements necessary to obtain press credentials are mostly fair, but bloggers are constantly fighting to justify themselves no matter how qualified they are because of the bias against them. What’s fair is somewhere in between, and finding that middle ground is going to take some time. Unfortunately, in an era where things change so quickly, time is something both bloggers and sports teams don’t have.
In fact, picking a “side” in this debate is pointless for me because as of last Tuesday, I’m both a “blogger” and a “mainstream media” member. I am now a full-time reporter for the Niagara Gazette, almost exclusively covering high school sports.
To some people out there that know me personally, this isn’t much of a stretch. I’ve been writing freelance for the paper since March and worked there part time when I was a Sophomore in college When I was a senior in high school I interned there for a few months, and five years later, here I am.
The problem here is that when I really think about it, nothing has changed. Sure I’m working a lot more all of a sudden, but if anything the most drastic thing that happened last week was that I sprained my ankle, which put me on crutches and in a lot of pain during my first week “on the job.”
I am the exact same person outside and in, but from a journalistic standpoint I’m completely different. As a member of a dead-tree organization, my ability to obtain press credentials changes completely. I won’t be covering the Bills or Sabres this season, but technically I could. I didn’t need to prove my morality or show them a college degree; all I needed was a pay stub and an employee manual and I was good to go.
I completely understand the rules, but it’s strange to me that things change so quickly because, to be honest, I don’t feel any different. No one is shocked by me getting a big boy job. In fact, outside of the people I know from the media, no one seems to care.
In a way, it’s pretty refreshing to find people that don’t understand how lucky I was to have a position open up, or find an organization that likes what I do enough to want me. For a blogger to actually become part of the “MSM” seems pretty unlikely; I’m like a blogger who lives above the garage instead of below ground. Or something.
I’m not going to lie: I’m really excited about what happens next for me. High school football starts tonight and I’ll be at the brand new Riverside Stadium to see Niagara Falls play the Harvard Cup champions for the first time. It’s going to be a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward to Friday nights and Saturday afternoons at high school football stadiums.
Still, I’m also scared as hell. There is a lot about this job I’ve never dealt with, and there is a big difference between being a good writer and being a reporter. By now I know I fit the bill for that first one, but the latter is something I’m not so sure of yet.
Now I know what you’re thinking: what happens to the Roost? If you got there on your own, I have good news for you: nothing. The Goose’s Roost isn’t going anywhere. The truth is that it’s just too much fun to let it die.
All four of us are going through an interesting period in our lives. Jon spends his days in Binghamton harassing the EPA and has practically left the Roost behind. I’ve talked with him about “fracking” more than I’ve talked about the Bills over the last few weeks. It’s… disturbing.
However, I don’t plan on leaving this site behind. The next week will be extremely busy for me, but I plan on writing here as much as I can. We’re less than a week away from real pro football, and college football has already started. Training camp for hockey is just a few weeks away and before you know it, the weather will change and we will be back in sports heaven.
The beautiful thing about my duality is that there is no conflict at all right now. I can write about the Bills and Sabres here just like always, and my duties will lie within another NFL altogether. The only thing that will change is that you now know my last name, and every so often I might link to something I think turned out well.
We started this site with nothing particular in mind, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. If not for the Roost, I don’t have the job I do now. That’s something I’m pretty proud of, and I plan on being proud of what we do here for a very long time.
I may not be in the market for a press pass through the Roost, but I plan on remaining a sports fan here. We write about sports because we love them, not because it pays the bills. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that.
Trust me, it doesn’t pay the bills. Even when it pays.