Monday, June 11, 2007

NCAA vs. blogging

Time for another of those "we're in the 21st century now" reality checks -- and, no surprise, again it comes down to covering sports events.

In this case, a Louisville Courier Journal reporter's press credential was revoked and he was thrown out of the U of L stadium because he was filing blog posts to the newspaper's Web site during a super-regional baseball game.

"This is part of the evolution of how we present the news to our readers. It's what we did during the Orange Bowl. It's what we did during the NCAA basketball tournament. It's what we do," Executive Editor Bennie Ivory is quoted in the story.

OK, so here's a few questions for the NCAA: How many people do you think sat in the stands and text messaged what was happening to friends and family? How many do you think sent photos from their cell phones? Or are you planning to ban those from stadiums and frisk people as they come in?

(One of the comments on reporter Brian Bennett's blog: I blogged every inning from the third base bleachers using my cell phone for games #1 & #2. I watched yesterday's game on ESPN from my phone (while out running various errands) and blogged it as well.)

As one infamous sports announcer might say: "It's the new communications age, Baby. Time to get in the game, Baby."

Dan Gillmor has a suggestion:

The paper is naturally challenging the NCAA’s right to do this, and should, because the collegiate association is being ridiculous.

But the paper should go much further. For one thing, it should go around the control freaks, and buy a ticket for a reporter and have him/her blog the game from the stands.

Then it should get the readers/fans involved. For example, the paper should ask readers to blog the game themselves, from TV sets or from the stands, or both — and then point to the best reader game-blogs.

This, of course, will infuriate the control freaks. They will try to clamp down even further before they realize that, unless they want to ban all digital devices from their arenas — another futile gesture — they’ll ultimately have to let people tell each other what is happening in something close to real time.

And Howard Weaver, VP of news at McClatchy, weighs in in support of the Courier-Journal on McClatchy's blog for its editors and others to talk about news.

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At 6/11/07, 4:44 PM, Anonymous John Duncan - Inksniffer said...

Sports bodies have got increasingly zealous about rights since they realised they could sell them at some point even if they can't do it right now. They're terrified of precedents.

We had a similar issue in the UK with some sports bodies asking photographers to sign forms that gave up their rights to the pictures if the organisers wanted to use them. And we were banned from updating live match reports for the web from the stadium, because the club themselves offered the service, or wanted to maintain the option to sell the rights to it.

It's all about how sports bodies look differently at newspapers - a traditional service to a community which takes up space that could be better used by paying customers (ie a nuisance) - and TV, a life-enhancing source of revenue for sports, whose will must be obeyed.

They can't roll back the years on newspapers and make us pay to cover sports. But they can sure as hell stop us doing any more than we already do.

john duncan

At 6/11/07, 5:39 PM, Blogger Doug Fisher said...

Indeed ... and someday it will all be like "Rollerball" -- all very much controlled under a sealed dome. But I will be interested to see how teams react as wireless communication becomes smaller and more ubiquitous. Perhaps they will try to ban cell phones and other appliances as they try to ban outside food and drink -- but my friends always managed to smuggle in a few cans of soda and some munchies.

Thanks for the comment. You beat me to the punch on putting a note on the blog here noting your fine efforts that I discovered just recently. Welcome aboard, and I now have you in the link rail.


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