Friday, August 27, 2010

Hockey Blogging and Its Discontents

The first hockey blogger.
Already bored with the "are bloggers human?" debate? So are we! Want to be friends?

If the NHL Kingdom and its various team provinces decide to issue press credentials to some of the more solid blogs out there, that'd be nifty. I'd be interested to see what bloggers could do with original reporting. Perhaps it'd be wildly different from newspaper journalism, perhaps it would be the same thing in a different format. Probably both, depending on the blog.

As for your TBC editor, well...I have no desire to become the next Darren Dreger or whoever. What Dreger and his ilk do is valuable and necessary, of course. We'd all be lost without TSN, the CBC, Craig Custance, and skilled beat reporters like Michael Russo, David Pollack, and George Richards. I can think of a few (but only a few) bloggers who have the potential to do something on that level, something equally valuable in terms of reporting and sense-making.

But hockey journalism on both the Internet and the newspaper-print versions of the Internet suffers from an excess of banality and mediocrity. You know the sort of thing: lifeless headlines, "updated" stories with no actual new developments, colorless and sanitized prose, articles that open with boring-beyond-belief ledes like "Two weeks ago I sat down with David Poile to ask him about the Patric Hornqvist negotiations" and bury the ACTUAL news item ("he wants some fucking money") two paragraphs down.

Actually, that really only happens in the "traditional" media. The average blog lede is something like "Today I sat down and wondered, 'Is Duncan Keith as good with teeth as he is without teeth? Is there any variation in quality that corresponds to his tooth fluctuations?' I have studied it, and here are my findings. Here they are. Here are my findings." And the headline will be something like "Studying Duncan Keith's Teeth."

These sad problems aren't unique to hockey journalism. They plague most sports journalism. They plague most journalism period, from sports to politics to culture to lifestyle columns to "Science has published a new study today. According to this new Science, jogging is actually bad for you if you do it on a major metropolitan freeway."

But it seems to me that hockey journalism suffers more than other areas of journalism---much more than journalism covering other sports---from a lack of edge, verve, flair, and sharp writing. There is no equivalent to Hunter S. Thompson's classic report "The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved" in hockey journalism. This is our loss, our poverty.

Your editor confesses that there are really only two or three hockey blogs on the entire Internet that he reads for delight as well as instruction. But sometimes instruction is all you need, and there are quite a few hockey blogs that supply useful information and penetrating analyses. Some of them (some) could learn to write more actively and snappily, though. Some of them could also use a copy editor, which is as good an argument as any for the NHL issuing press passes to more bloggers. Perhaps the NHL and some sort of Hockey Bloggers' Guild could come to an agreement: You Give Us Press Passes, We'll Give Ourselves a Copy Editor.

In fact, the Chronicle badly needs a copy editor, and we're too low on funds to purchase a stylebook. INTERESTED? We'll pay you in Mardi Gras doubloons.

UPDATE: HahahahahaHAHAHA HA HA HAH. HA. HA. This special report from the Onion is trying to get across similar ideas.

TIME Announces New Version Of Magazine Aimed At Adults

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