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Breaking down the NHL's leaked rough draft for standardizing blogger credentials

Aug 26, 2010, 6:00 PM EDT

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(Again, allow me to throw out that “this might only be interesting to a select few” disclaimer I made in the earlier post on this subject. You have been warned.)

As hockey writers, we rarely see the kind of maverick journalistic moments that, say, a foreign correspondent or political reporter might experience. So any time there is a “leaked document,” it’s more than a little bit scintillating.

Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski tracked down such a document, which acts as a “rough draft” of what could be a standard operating procedure for how the NHL handles credentialing bloggers. You can see the full e-mail there, with spy-tastic names marked off.

First, here are the guidelines for what makes a blogger credential-worthy. (Keep in mind, though, that it’s still a rough draft.)

1. Part of a national news gathering agency.
2. Reaches a broad audience.
3. Produces original content.
4. Has an established record of developing original content.
5. Employs full-time journalists.

The e-mail notes that individual team Web sites won’t need to comply to those standards. While the message mentions that press boxes “remain the domain of individual clubs,” they’re still advised to follow these guidelines if it would be the team’s “best interest” to credential someone who doesn’t hit one of the five rules above. Take a look at the three additional standards. I’m going to paraphrase them into simpler language, though.

1. Bloggers will need to earn written consent before they can enter a visiting team’s locker room.
2. Teams must make “every best effort” to create a separate area for bloggers who fail to meet the criteria, whether it be ” a separate area outside of the pressbox or in a common, designated location within the press seating area.”
3. Those who fail to meet the criteria will be given distinct press passes that are easy to differentiate from normal passes.

Wyshysnki compares Rule No. 3 to wearing a Scarlet Letter and while blogging isn’t quite the “sin” as adultery (I hope), it’s a sadly apt comparison. All three rules seem like they could be a pretty serious impediment for bloggers who “fail to match the criteria” in the first five rules. Rule No. 1 makes me wonder how often – if ever – a blogger will gain access to visiting locker rooms and No. 2 creates a vision of bloggers being herded off into some sub-press dungeon.*

* Cue the “it can’t be much worse than their mothers’ basements” jokes …

Now, again, it’s important to note that this e-mail is a rough draft and is far from official. Perhaps the NHL will study the responses to such a document and tweak it to make it a bit more … accommodating. After all, let’s not forget that blogs are another way for the league to promote its game and, frankly, they happen to be one of the cheapest to boot.

We’ll pass along more notes on this subject as it goes along. Apologies if this is all going over your heads.

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