Thursday, November 15, 2007

I may not be a professional journalist...

but it doesn't mean I don't set standards for myself as a common hockey blogger. Awhile back I happened upon an article by Mirtle, "Blogs in a Box", in which he discussed the press passes the NY Islanders front office handed out to selected bloggers. The discussion that developed in the comments was quite interesting in which other hockey bloggers voiced his or her opinion of the matter and even one of the press pass-holding bloggers gave his point of view. Mirtle linked to Eric McErlain's AOL Fanhouse article in which McErlain also discusses the issue. I was tempted to write a post about why I blog but was too distracted with other matters (mainly work) to give the topic much thought. However, last week, in my daily morning visit to certain hockey blogs I read on Finny's blog, Girl with a Puck, about a professional sports writer's rant about the sports blogging community. Chris McCosky has a lot of beef with what the sports blogging community encompasses pointing out that "They will lift facts and segments of stories and cut and paste them onto their blog. Rarely, if ever, though, do they bother to credit the source." This article along with a brief conversation with Finny, sparked my interest in writing a post about why I blog and what I think about other sports bloggers. I asked myself why I blog and what are my standards, if any? Even though I've only recently thought about what my blog represents, I now realize that it hasn't veered from the direction of what it stood for when I first started it.

I write this blog because I deeply enjoy hockey and the LA Kings. Since hardly any of my friends are hockey fans I needed an outlet through which I could express my thoughts, good and bad. I have a full-time job so I am fully aware of my limitations as an informative source of the Kings. Unless I actually watch a game, none of my information is first-hand knowledge, a lot of my material is full of my opinions, and I don't strive to be a professional media source. I poke fun at the players, I conduct fake interviews, and if a reader can't tell that I'm obviously joking then that's their problem.

There are many standards that I set for myself as a blogger. The first is always citing my sources. Throughout college I was always very conscious about citing sources in papers I wrote because of the very mere thought of getting kicked out of school (on my parents' bill) because of plagiarism instilled enough fear in me. Citing sources and providing links aren't difficult and I always do so in my posts. If I write something along the lines of "sources are saying" without citing a specific source, it's because I either can't remember where I heard it or because I read it in various places and can't remember which ones because it was so long ago. I never really know what to do about photos that I snatch from around the web. I try to make note of where I got it but I do realize that I usually fail to do so. I figure since I'm not making a profit from these photos than it's ok. Also, if anyone wants me to remove a pic, I have an email address at which they can contact me.

Another standard I set for myself is trying to be grammatically correct. Even though I always hated English throughout my schooling years, at the very I tried to write well. I absolutely hate it when I read articles by professionals or bloggers and I come across grammar errors. I've written several posts on catching grammar errors (Bucci, I'm looking at you!) but mainly I come across these mistakes in blogs. Blogs are chock-full of grammar mistakes and spelling errors. And don't even get me started with commenters. If a blog is notorious for these type of mistakes, I don't read them. If a blog continually attracts commenters who can't write 5 words without misspelling one of them, I either don't read the comments or I pass on the blog altogether. Blogger has a spellcheck function. Google Mail (in which I usually type up my drafts) also has a spellcheck function. Hell, write your posts in Word, because then the misspelled words are automatically underlined in red! And if you aren't absolutely sure that what you're saying is a word, then double check with an online dictionary; my best friend while writing reports is Can't remember the difference between "there", "their", and "they're"? Why not go back to the third grade. If you do it once or twice, ok, ok, no problem, everyone has a slip-up. But if you make these mistakes over and over again, it's no wonder these bloggers aren't professional journalists.

The one area of grammar that I will admit to having issues with (and I've mentioned this on more than one occasion) is the use of commas. I absolutely suck at using commas. I think I use them too much. Also, I'm not quite sure I've mastered the use of the colon and semicolon. I'm pretty sure I tend to use them correctly, but usually I try to avoid using them....but they just look so cool!! I also try to avoid using any curse words but a couple tend to sneak in a post. I usually have a little argument with myself over whether or not I should include a curse word and even when I think it just has to be included to really add that extra emphasis I cringe every time I do it. My mother always told me that it's not pretty when a female curses and while I know a lot of females who freely curse (and it's no longer 1960), I do think that it's not very professional to curse at all in my posts. But once again, I'm not a professional journalist so a good "fuck" or "shit" will appear every now and then.

Looking around the blogosphere you notice that some use real names, often just a first name, and others use fake names. I use initials (and a digit) because that was the first thing that popped into my head when I started a personal blog several years ago. It could be said that I'm hiding behind my blogger name and because I don't use my real name that means I feel like I can write whatever I want without having to face any consequences. True, I could write whatever I want, but I don't. The main reason I don't use my real name is because I have a full-time job and I don't want to get fired from my day job. I have never mentioned to any coworkers that I have a blog or that I even read blogs. I don't want to use my real name because I don't want a coworker to google my name and see it pop up from a blog entry. And trust me, my name is unique enough that a google search will easily retrieve information about me. I don't know what my company's policy is about blogging and whether I could get fired for doing so. I bet if I was caught posting at work I would receive a stern talking to which is why I limit my posting to lunchtime and after work. In my posts I never mention what I do for a living or complain about any work related items so I feel like I'm safe in case someone does find out, but regardless, I don't want to take any chances.

All this talk of having standards leads to my final discussion point of 'What would happen if the Kings offered press passes to bloggers?' First of all, there aren't many Kings bloggers out there right now. It may be because most of us are blubbering illiterate idiots or it could be because the team has sucked for so long. Mark my words: once the Kings start making a viable run for the Cup, Kings blogs will be blooming everywhere!!!! And, if the Kings offered press passes to bloggers, I have no doubt that all of a sudden Kings blogs would be popping up. If the Kings offered bloggers press passes I most likely wouldn't turn it down. Would anyone? (Well...ok, I'm sure there are a couple modest folks out there who would.) But honestly, I would probably feel very uncomfortable if I did have a press pass. Do I really belong with the real journalists? No. Can I write as well as them? I don't know, but I am my toughest critic so I am inclined to say, 'No'. Would a press pass really help my blogging career? Wait, what career? Blogging is one of my hobbies. What kind of contract would the Kings make me sign? Would it be acceptable for me to wear a Kings jersey? (One of the debates that sparked from the Islanders blogger press passes). Would it be acceptable for me to cheer for the Kings during the game? Would my blog still be able to have a subjective feel to it or would I be more inclined (or required) to provide an objective view? Would anything be off limits and how would my point of view of hockey, the Kings, journalists, etc. change if I had a blogger press pass?

To me it seems like there are so many unknowns associated with a blogger press pass. It could be fun, exciting, and informative. Or, it could be pointless, for bloggers and the organization. I don't understand why some sports journalists are really angered by the ever increasing presence of sports bloggers. Sports journalists have a job to provide accurate information about sports. They must follow certain guidelines and codes of conduct and they have the "I write for [insert newspaper or magazine name here]" title to give them immediate professional status to the common reader. Bloggers can do whatever they want but it doesn't mean that they should be allowed to get away with anything. While bloggers may not get in trouble for breaking the same rules that journalists must answer to, it doesn't mean that they are completely invisible to a lawsuit. But just as any reader can happen upon a blog and immediately deem it worthless, that same reader could read an article by a journalist and say the same thing. Journalists may have more schooling and experience than the common blogger but it doesn't immediately mean that they are better. There are some tremendous blogs available to anyone that garner a lot of attention, it's just that the author(s) of the blog chose not to become a journalist.

In a city like LA where hockey comes after USC and UCLA, it's difficult to find journalists that cover the Kings on a daily basis and provide much objective or subjective insight about the team. . Fans know where to go to get the hockey fix they crave. Bloggers are taking advantage of a new media and they're helping spread the word about sports. I know that when I want to read quotes from players and coaches, I go to the LA Times or other big news source. But when I want to read about what a fellow fan thinks about said quote, I go to a certain blog. The majority of blogs do not provide firsthand information that hasn't been published elsewhere. The majority of blogs that I have come across post information the author found somewhere and provide their own opinions on the matter, which I think is the best part about blogs. Not everyone has the same view on a subject or saw a certain play develop and be executed. It doesn't matter if a blogger has a fantastic description or an absolutely absurd idea because the bottom line is that opinions start discussions, get people thinking, and help fans learn more about the sport they love.


KingsCast Hockey Podcast said...

you may not be a journalist....but your blog is one of the more solid blogs on kings hockey. i check in every day..

Caitlin said...

In all honesty, I rarely, if ever, quote other articles over on Untypical Girls. Most of the time our pieces are humor and/or game recaps, so it's fairly unnecessary. When we do, we always provide the appropriate link and say where it's coming from.

I think the only issue we have is grammar - mine could always use work, I don't know about the other girls.

To be frank, there's no way I'd set myself in a category with professional journalists. I write blog posts for fun with two other women where call grown men things like "Mr. Mojangles" and "Mittens". It's not exactly serious business.

I am one of the rare ones as well who would turn down press passes. The main reason I write for Untypical Girls is to connect with other hockey fans, really, and have a sounding board for ideas, opinions and what other people are thinking about.

KMS2 said...

Thanks, Kingscast! So...I have to say that Modry hasn't looked that bad this season...

Caitlin: I completely understand. I love how my blog has enabled me to connect with other like-minded hockey fans, especially females!

Silencer76 said...

While I don't treat my blog as a professional style endeavor, I put the time and effort into my writing in order to make it compelling for the reader.

I write each post as if it were for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, as that is the main paper here, and know that what I put together could easily be mistaken for something you would read in the paper. lol

Of course, I stick to covering everything, I couldn't compel myself to limitations of one team, especially with the downtime of off seasons now.