The question of coverage rights in the world of sports is an interesting topic — one illustrated in detail in this New York Times piece from 2008.
In today’s social media age, it’s hard to tell who’s in command when it comes to covering teams and games. Literally anybody can get on their laptop, create a blog or other website, and sound like they know what they’re talking about without necessarily having access to the things they cover like the actual beat reporters. In fact, when it comes to the topic of social media, several hundreds of faux accounts — especially on Twitter — have been created for the sole purpose of fooling fans, teams and the media into thinking they’re something they aren’t.
To put it simply, it’s hard to figure out who’s real and who’s not these days.
So, what kind of access should bloggers have?
Like I said, there are so many blogs out there that aren’t very legitimate — byproducts of couch potatos living in their basement and looking to stir the pot. But at the same time, there are also very many legitimate blogs out there on the Internet that have created positive attention. In fact, some of these blogs could arguably provide better insight than real beat reporters themselves. That’s just the nature of how the business is going.
But good bloggers shouldn’t be penalized for the actions of a few fake accounts. I’ll let the words of Terry McDonell, editor of the Sports Illustrated Group, speak for themselves: “S. I. does not own the sports history, but neither does Major League Baseball. That history belongs to everyone who loves the game.”
Such is true in all of sports, not just baseball. Just because a reporter has the ESPN or USA Today label printed on their credential badge doesn’t give them any more rights to access and knowledge of teams than anybody else. Sure, they have attained credibility — which is expected if you’re walking around and representing ESPN, but that also doesn’t mean bloggers haven’t. Some bloggers themselves have gained their own audience, gained their own credibility and it’s my belief that they should in turn deserve equal access. Some say one rotten apple spoils the whole batch, but that’s not necessarily the case in this instance.
In this day of social media age, it’s important to figure out who’s real and who’s not. Stripping any blogger of his or her access is doing a disservice to people who are hungry for the latest news of their favorite teams.