What with all the new attention the NHL is starting to pay to bloggers, the blogosphere is starting to step back and look at itself and what it wants to become. To that end, the -Ookies of Interchangeable Parts have sent out an open questionnaire. Here's my take.
1. What was your motivation for starting blogging? Has that changed at all in the time you’ve been blogging?
I've been a blogger for at least 6 or 7 years at this point-I owned my own domain name when I was 16 and mostly just liked to think that my opinion was out there for someone to find, even if nobody did. I moved into hockey blogging when I saw the hockey stuff taking over my personal blog. I think that part of my motivation now for this blog is sparing my non-hockey friends, and staying in touch with the hockey friends. Moving cross-country, I don't know many people out here near me, so through the blog I can not only meet new people, but keep up with the old ones. On some level, I still like to think that my opinion and the things that interest me about hockey are different enough from some of the other blogs that I can bring some interesting points to the forefront. (How many other hockey bloggers play roller derby and have first hand experience in a different form of contact skate-sport? I think THAT's an interesting angle to play.)
2. What do you think your blog contributes to the hockey conversation?
No, seriously. I'm not much into the statistics or the predictions or any of that numberish folderol. I'm into the game and the team interactions and the players' attitudes. To me, someone like Andrew Gordon, who goes out there and plays every night with a big smile on his face purely because he loves playing is a better player than Jaromir Jagr or Sean Avery who continuously talks trash about everyone even though Gordon's an AHL'er and the other two have been with the big boys for years. I like to think that as a blogger, I can get that 'human interest' side of the story to other people, so we can support the little guys like Gordon when they finally break into the NHL.
I also think that this blog challenges the "rivalry" notion in its' own understated way. Obviously, I'm a Bears fan, but at the same time, I'm also a Pens fan. To me, it's not an issue that the Bears belong to the Caps, historically a big rival of the Penguins. It's hockey, and who's playing shouldn't matter in the grand scheme of things if you're really in it for the game. In a way, I'm sort of playing the anti-Pensblog, just to prove that non-crazy Pens people exist.
3. What do you want to get out of the blogs you read?
The blogs I read all have a similarly bizarre sense of humor and care about the humans playing the game. I'm a sucker for players doing or saying incredibly humanizing things-Caps Chick has reported a couple of times on the Caps going out to color with kids at hospitals, and Ovie making a 160 foot hole in one and then reacting like a goofball. Ultimate Hat Trick and The Sidney Crosby Show have done similar things for the Penguins, and Walton for the Bears.
4. What determines which blogs you read and which you don’t?
A lot of it is in the attitude of the blogger. The Caps' 'official' Mike Vogel drives me up a wall with a lot of the stuff he says about Pens fans. Pensblog doesn't know when to stop, and is frankly offensive with a lot of their homophobic comments. I detest the Flyers, but Nadine and Kristin (Flyers.Femme and Eager To Go Psycho) have such a great attitude toward their guys that it's hard not to like their blogs, even if I DO wish half their team would get the season-long flu. I also appreciate the bloggers who will poke fun at themselves or their team. What fun is following a group of 20 some doofy guys if you can't mock them once in a while?
5. How important is the issue of gaining press access to you as a blogger?
This is kind of a loaded question, as I've gotten press access at Bears games a couple of times. While it's not the be-all end-all of my life, it's also a pretty neat experience. For me, getting press access means that I don't have to either scribble what happened down in a notebook during the game or outrightly try to remember it all-if I'm in the pressbox, I'm calling it as it happens. Of course, on the same hand, having to remember what happened does sometimes give you a different perspective on the whole game. What I do appreciate about the press pass is the fact that (at least nominally) it gives you a chance to talk to the players, and get their opinions and so forth, and that's what I'm really interested in. On some level out here in central PA, I think it's also important for the very insularly-male hockey media to see a presence, both from bloggers and from females, because those are two sub-groups of hockey fandom that are going to ask different questions and expand into a different fanbase.
6. To what extent do you feel accountable for the content of your blog? How concerned do you think readers should be about the authority and accountability of your blog?
I have a BA in history, and I'm in the process of getting my MA in American Studies. I only throw that out there because I think in a nutshell it tells you all you need to know about my accountability. I attempt to cite my sources when at all possible, simply because I've been trained to do it for the past 17 years of school. That being said, I think it's also the reader's job to decide whether they can believe me. I pull no punches about admitting what I don't know, or what's pure opinion on my part.
7. How concerned are you about the authority and accountability of the blogs you read? Do you find it difficult to judge the authority and accountability of the blogs you read?
At this point, I think i have a pretty good idea of which blogs are useful or interesting to me and which aren't. As far as authority, obviously I'm going to give more weight to a blog like Walton's, where I know the person writing it is an insider to the organization (in his case, senior VP for communications with the Bears) because I'm going to believe that his telling the truth is integral to his job. However, if I ever run into something I don't fully believe, I'll admit that I'll go on a googling run until I'm satisfied.
8. What value, if any, do you think blogging brings to the NHL?
Blogging gives the NHL a new way to spread the word about their product, first of all. I actually think it's interesting where I am to look at blogging and the AHL, as well. I mean, the A is where the N is developing their future teams, and there's just not an attempt a lot to get the AHL boys out there, until they get the big callup. I almost feel like the NHL and the AHL and all the bloggers out there need to get together and work out some sort of big back-patting relationship. When I've talked to the Bears, they're more than willing to have me there, promoting them for virtually nothing, and I get the ability to follow my team on a slightly different level than i otherwise would have gotten to. Bloggers almost need to have a training arena as well-work the AHL games and learn what you're doing and how to do it, THEN move up to the NHL once you've figured out what your niche is and who's reading you.
(Hey, did'ja hear the one about how Mark Recchi was put on waivers before his bobblehead night? Bobbly Headed Armstrong is giggling at that one from atop my TV.)