La Presse's hockey blog exposé
In a story that is truly the first of its kind, sports columnist Jean-François Bégin of Montreal's French-language newspaper La Presse took a recent tour around the hockey blogosphere, the results of which can be seen on the front page of the newspaper's sports section today.
As part of his research, Bégin interviewed the who's who of blogging on the sport, and the stories — seen here and here in French on the newspaper's website — provide a pretty in-depth account of hockey blogs and those writing them. For those who aren't familiar with the publication, in terms of weekly circulation, La Presse is the fourth-largest newspaper in Canada.
A friend of mine, Pete Evans, translated the pieces into English, some of which I'll quote below, but first here's a look at how the stories appeared in today's paper:
Pretty creative stuff. (One of the first things I wondered when Bégin called me and said he was writing a hockey blog feature, was 'what will the art be?' After all, how do you visually tell a story that's essentially a pile of hockey fans across the continent logging onto their computers?)
Eric McErlain from Off Wing Opinion is the real star of the show (naturally) — but a ton of popular blogs get a mention. Bégin opens his piece with an account of how Eric was invited into the Washington Capitals' press box by owner Ted Leonsis, one of the stories that's already been written into blogosphere lore (wink):
Leonsis, who has his own blog (ted.aol.com) discovered McErlain while doing a Google search to see what was being written about the Capitals' young phenom Alexander Ovechkin.As for the pertinent bits on yours truly, they all come in the second piece (titled: For the love of hockey) and mainly centre on what makes this site different from other blogs — my day job:
McErlain wrote a lengthy post about his evening and his discussions with Leonsis on his blog (www.offwingopinion.com) which he's had for more than 5 years. He got media accreditation for Caps home games.
In a sense, McErlain profits from the mainstream American sports media's disinterest in hockey. "Washington Post coverage is in decline," the blogger told La Presse in an interview. "The paper didn't even send a reporter to cover the Stanley Cup Finals last year. Fans are hungry for info on their team and they know they won't get it from the traditional media."
It's a view Leonsis shares. "Traditional media are getting squeezed, because their readership is down and sales are plummeting. Meanwhile, blogs are getting bigger and bigger. Opening yourself up to new media just makes sense," he told Sports Business Journal a few months ago.
Appearing in December 2004, his eponymous blog (mirtle.blogspot.com) quickly got noticed for its quality. "What I like about blogs is their versatility," he says. "A blog entry can be anything from a photo with two lines of text, or a simple list of hyperlinks, or a chronology, or a full-length profile or anything you want it to be."I'll have more later.
He likes blogging so much, he says, that if the Globe ever makes him a beat reporter, he'll insist on having a blog (he already contributes to the Toronto paper's communal hockey blog). "Having a dialogue with your readers can only help you in your professional capacity as a journalist," he says.
UPDATE Rather than quote more bits, I'm going to provide the full English translations on the site for anyone interested: main story (A l'heure des blogues) and secondary feature (Pour l'amour du hockey).