I’ll be at the Altoona Curve game tonight, watching them take on the Richmond Flying Squirrels. Unfortunately I was denied media access by the Altoona front office, so probably no interviews (unless I see any of the guys from Lynchburg last year and they are willing to share a few words). I’ll be in row two behind home plate, so I’ll have some video of the game.
The media credentials matter is always one that drives me nuts. There’s no order to it what-so-ever. I’ll probably have a massive rant one day, but here’s a mini rant while I wait for my lunch to get here. As you probably know, I’ve been credentialed by the Lynchburg Hillcats, the Salem Red Sox, and the Richmond Flying Squirrels for the upcoming season. I’m credentialed to cover Altoona from Richmond, but I can’t even cover Altoona from Altoona.
As you also may know, when I started this site I was writing for ESPN, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, AOL Sports, and various other national media outlets. I started this site because, for obvious reasons, I didn’t get much of a chance to cover the Pittsburgh Pirates. I also started this site because I wanted a place where you could go to find information on the Pirates’ minor league system, the draft, and some of the rules in baseball that affect these players (option years, Rule 5 draft eligibility, contract information, etc).
The thing you may not know is that there’s no universal media pass. You can’t just walk in to a place, show them a card, and get access. Each venue has their own policies, their own media list, and to get on that list, you have to apply individually. So while my e-mail to the Richmond Flying Squirrels was answered with approval just a day later (thanks guys!), my e-mail to the Altoona Curve was ignored, making it so I had to come to this dreadful town (used to live here for seven years, never really liked it that much) just to be told that I was denied access.
There’s an issue with new media that runs in to a problem when it comes to these credentials. In the past, when you were media, you worked for someone like a newspaper, a TV station, a radio station, etc. There weren’t many one man operations, and if there were, they were big enough and rare enough to warrant consideration. With blogs and the ability for anyone to start their own “company”, it muddies the waters.
Anyone could go out tomorrow, start a Pirates site, and start requesting media access. Does that mean they should get access? I’d say no. I can totally understand why there would be resistance to individuals. What I disagree with is a blanket policy, which is something I’ve run in to. I’ve been told by one outlet that they don’t credential fans. I was told by Altoona that they don’t credential individuals.
Obviously I have a biased opinion, but I feel I’m right on this issue. I’m not saying I’ve completely paid my dues, but I’ve done enough to warrant consideration as more than just an individual or just a blog. I paid a little over $100 for a Rudy Owens game worn jersey, just for the chance to meet a few of the players and see if they were interested in an interview for the site. I drove an hour each way to Lynchburg to cover the playoffs, paying the cost of admission each time up until the end of the season when I was given access by the front office (I never asked before that, so not sure what they would have said previously).
I’ve conducted professional interviews with eight prospects in the minor league system, and I’m looking forward to adding more this season. I broke the story of Nelson Pereira being released a day before everyone else had it, and while that’s not huge news, it was made possible thanks to some contacts I’ve made in the organization. I’ve spent quite a bit of money getting equipment to generate original content, stuff that you won’t find on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette or the Trib, or anywhere else (the interviews, prospect videos, etc).
Now I won’t act like this is a selfless act. I fully intend to make a profit with this site one day. I’m not sure where the ceiling lies on that one (and I don’t intend to charge a fee, so don’t worry), but I’m looking at this like a business. I also don’t apologize for that.
So I fully understand the policy of restricting media access, especially with bloggers. However, I feel that when a person establishes a track record of professionalism, and can show references from four other outlets, not to mention being an actual professional sports writer at the same time, that some deviation from the “by the book” approach could be allowed. It kind of drives me crazy that a freaking 12 year old was given media access to ask Stephen Strasburg what kind of burrito he makes, and the same office denied my request, even when I dropped my request to only asking for early entrance to the park, and a seat in the scouting section behind home plate to get good videos (luckily they had a seat off to the left in row 2).
So that turned in to more of a long rant, but it takes a little while to make a Chicago style pizza so I had some time to type. I’m now off to the game. You can follow my Twitter updates here.