Monday, November 22, 2010

The NHL's Great and Good Fortune

This post caught my attention on one of the Caps' flagship blogs, "On Frozen Blog." Elisabeth Meinecke has been credentialed to cover the Winter Classic game between the Caps and Penguins on January 1st. By itself, it is a nice story for Ms. Meinecke and quite a feather in the cap of the OFB folks. But it is an element in what might be a bigger story that could unfold in the run up to the game itself on New Year's Day in Pittsburgh.

The Capitals are the state of the art when it comes to coverage of the club by "new media." You could say it is a product of the sponsorship and promotion of blogs by The Boss, and to a large extent you would be right. Ted Leonsis was far out in front of his peers in the NHL is seeing the possibilities of other perspectives in the coverage of the Capitals by motivated, independent voices.

But that explains only a part of the story. That the Caps are the state of the art in new media coverage of the team is also a product of those motivated and independent voices such as those at OFB, Japers' Rink, Russian Machine Never Breaks, and so many others that would take too much time and space to name. The dedicated folks who invest their time and talent to covering the Caps have been welcomed into the Capitals' community in many cases as credentialed media with the sort of access to the team, its players, and its coaches in a manner that for years was the exclusive province of mainstream media.

The access afforded these individuals and blogging teams has further motivated them to expand their coverage into weekly radio segments, dedicated coverage of the AHL Hershey Bears, and video segments. That is what helps makes the Caps' brand of new media the state of the art.

The NHL is about to get a bonanza of coverage of its young "classic" format. It is an opportunity to show the less visionary or more skeptical among NHL franchises that bloggers are not the enemy as much as an increasingly integral element to providing their respective communities with comprehensive coverage of their teams.  We hope that the league appreciates the bonanza it is about to realize and welcomes the deluge of coverage with the sort of open arms that could prove a tipping point in the very nature of hockey reporting.

It would be easy to counsel the bloggers to be on their best behavior, to take their roles as media representatives seriously. Well, we think that sort of advice and concern is ill-placed. For you see, the folks who have been blogging about the Caps have been doing it for a while. They have been covering the club closely -- at Kettler, at Verizon Center, even appearing on other local media outlets -- for awhile. They know their stuff, and they take their responsibilities seriously.

No, the onus is on the NHL -- to realize the opportunity that is presenting itself with this year's Winter Classic, to work with those new media representatives as partners in promoting and covering the event, and to use this event and the potential for a much broader exposure to expand their sport.

We would be so bold as to advise the NHL... don't blow it.

And to Ms. Meinecke, congratulations.

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