Blogging on the beat
When the discussion turns to the media and bloggers, as it did on Hockey Night in Canada two Saturday's ago, it's often framed as "the media v. bloggers" — two sides diametrically opposed.
That's true, at least to a certain extent, but what's also true is that, more and more, the media is successfully moving into the blogosphere and, for lack of a better term, joining the conversation.
Craig Custance is a great example.
The Thrashers beat writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, one of the largest newspapers in the U.S., Custance has built quite a following on his blog. He's a relatively young guy (31) who has embraced the blog duties as part of his daily travails, something he says has benefited his work and the fans.
A lot of his success with the site stems from the fact he's part of the blogosphere and has a relationship with the local bloggers. Custance also credits online sources in his pieces for the paper and regularly talks with fans in the comments section.
"I have a lot of interaction with the Thrashers bloggers," he said over email last week. "I'm pretty sure I've met all of the regulars, and I read everything, just to make sure I'm not missing anything.
"One of my goals when I took over the beat in January was to make my blog a must-visit site for Thrashers fans and to generate as much interaction with readers as possible. I get a lot of great ideas from readers, and it gives them a pipeline to the team because I do try to address appropriate issues they bring up on my blog with the players and management. Then I report it back to them, and they love it."
So how does he feel about bloggers in the press box?
"For the record, I’d credential [local hockey blogger] The Falconer and that’s where my opinion differs from the Thrashers," Custance wrote in a blog entry about the Hockey Night in Canada piece and the issue of accountability. "Instead of a blanket policy, I’d do it on a case-by-case basis, and approve a blogger I think could help increase and improve the coverage of the team."
Which sums up my thoughts as well.
This isn't a black-and-white issue, with those who do this for a living trying to battle against those who don't. Custance is a great example of someone who's thinking progressively, working with and embracing the blogosphere, and ultimately coming out ahead.
And he's not alone.
- Speaking of The Falconer, he's got a good piece on all this business along with the news that the Thrashers turned him down when he requested a seat in their relatively empty press box