For those of you who don’t know already, one of the world’s most popular blogs, “Covered in Oil,” will be inactive for an indefinite amount of time. Known as “DMFB,” on his site, Dave Berry was employed to cover the Oilers and get a quote or two after the games. He was given a pass into the press box, and to break up the monotony of the game, he does live web-blog coverages, until he was informed by an Oilers official that he was not allowed to do so and will have his press pass revoked. You can read the entire (ridiculous) account here.
I think what the Oilers did to Berry was complete bull. I don’t think I can sum it up any better than that. If the mainstream media (the papers, magazines, radio, and TV) continues to be so fearful of change and evolving technology I don’t think this will be the last incident until some rules are made clear. Tom Benjamin and Matt Fenwick think the Oilers do have grounds to ask Berry to leave, but only because the Luddite Oilers, as a business, are protecting their interests.
As bloggers we’re separate from the influence of corporate and commercial identities, which makes our writings as good, if not better, than some of the mainstream media out there. Bloggers have been regularly criticized for their (un)accountability, but as long as we have readers and users who leave comments that will never be the case. I don’t think it’s completely a stretch to even say that perhaps we’re more accountable than mainstream media, if only because we don’t have ties to any corporate sponsors or employers. The bias in our blogs is inherently different than those who are officially employed by a team or the NHL to cover games (have you ever noticed how boring NHL.com blogs are?).
Going back to Berry, I think it’s quite universal that everyone feels bad for him (except, perhaps, the Oilers). I alo think it is completely unfair that his pass was revoked because he didn’t let the Oilers know that he was doing a live blog. What’s stopping a guy from bringing his laptop to games and doing a live blog in the stands? What are the paranoid Oilers so afraid of? I think in an increasingly integrating society, especially technologically, any blow to the blogosphere is a blow to the fans.
Berry leaves us with this final thought…
“At the same time, though, it would be disingenuous for me to say that this was the sole reason why I’m taking an extended hiatus. Truthfully, there’s a lot about the professional sports world that bothers me that really came into focus during this whole thing. I could list examples, but basically it all boils down to the fact that I’m uncomfortable with the amount of attention paid to what are basically games, and I no longer want to be a part of it. I don’t want to tell anyone how to spend their free time, but the fact simple entertainment has grown to this level of import bothers me too much to continue with it.”
It seems to me that the Oilers are more interested in other things than their fanbase.