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The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny

(Warning: OMG Rambling)

So it seems I've brought the plague of the "blogosphere v. mainstream media" debate to the college hockey realm. Why would I do such a thing? I guess I couldn't find any diseased monkeys to spread the ebola virus.

Anyway, I get all giddy when there are comments on my little site, and I thought the debate in the comments section was interesting, so I'm sticking with it for one more post and then I swear I'll get back to stuff that's slightly more important. For those of you that don't care, keep in mind that the alternative was a Bill Simmons-esque journal/recap of the MTV Video Music Awards, so really, you're getting off easy.

If you didn't happen to read the comments, Grand Forks Herald writer Brad Schlossman got to play the role of the bad cop, by saying he didn't think blogs should be allowed in the press box. For the record, I'd just like to state that I think Brad is a great reporter and a FOB(Friend Of the Blog, not a watch chain). Brad's views seem very in tune with the rest of the mainstream media from what I've seen.

The first point he makes is the heaviest charge that usually gets leveled against blogs, which is the lack of accountability. He's absolutely right that pretty much every newspaper is very rigorous in their fact-checking. He also says that if he incorrectly reports a story, he could lose his job.

It was funny that he used the "Kessel leaving" example in his post, since I seem to recall a couple newspaper columnists that struggled with that story this summer. And who got fired from the Star-Tribune when Dan Monson got not fired?

It's true that blogs don't run on accountability, but they do require a great deal of credibility, and it's that not difficult for most internet-savvy people to tell who is credible and who is not. Trust isn't a given for blogs the same it is for newspapers. I feel like I have to earn people's trust. In that respect, it's almost more difficult for me because if the Star-Tribune runs one bad story, people will still probably come back. If I run a bad story, a lot of people probably aren't coming back here. There's been stories, especially about player commitments, that I could have been first to report, but waited until I saw somebody else report it because the price of being wrong was way too high. There are certainly some sites that don't have accountability, but for a more serious site, which would be the ones getting press passes, I think there is definitely accountability.

That's where the press release standards come into play. I think everyone is in absolute agreement that there should be strict standards for a blog to count as "legitimate" media. And I think that the standars that Eric McErlain came up with were pretty strict. For someone to maintain a blog for at least 3-6 months(I'd personally lean closer to 6 months, if not longer) and maintain a pretty steady readership is no easy feat. I don't think it could be done without a solid commitment and a lot of credibility. If a blog submits traffic data(and I'd add a few sample posts, as well), it shouldn't be too difficult for a school to determine if they're worthy of a press pass.

At this point, the debate seemed to turn to the even deeper philosophical debate over what a blogs exact role is. Hammy, who operates the oft-linked
Gopher Puck Blog, said one of the advantages of blogs is that they can do things the mainstream media can't, which is true, and one of the reasons I started this blog. The biggest example of this comes with recruiting stuff. I think there's a strong demand for information about that type of stuff, but very, very little is ever written about it in the paper. When a player does commit and it gets mentioned, usually all a paper can run is the league and statline for a player. The problem with that is that most fans don't know if the player that scored 96 points in the BCHL is better than the player that scored 46 points in the USHL or the player that scored 80 points in the NAHL. I've tried to make my site a collection of information for more casual fans to find information about players that makes a little more sense.

But just because blogs are great for those things, doesn't mean they can't also do actual reporting. I've always thought the most valuable stuff on this blog was the "actual reporting" I did from events like the Select 17 Festival or the Minnesota State Hockey Tournament. There's no reason I couldn't do the same by going to a college game. If I'm at a game watching it, and hopefully talking to people, my coverage here is going to be a lot better than just watching a game on TV, or listening to it over the radio.

In the end, I think there's very little to be lost by giving dedicated people a chance to do an even better job at something they already do pretty well.