Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Access

Access.

Most people want it at one time or another. Some of them need it. Few ever achieve it.

The baseball blogger lives on the periphery, part of a community but far removed from its inner circles. His greatest advantage? Independence. His greatest disadvantage? Independence.

Years ago, as a young investor, I read an article on stock analysts and the difficulties they faced balancing responsibility to their employers (largely brokerages and mutual fund companies), the industries they followed, and the investing public. Needless to say their employers were interested in ratings that generated order flows. The industries they followed, and who provided them with some of their data and much of their guidance, were available as long as the resultant reports were not too negative. And the public? Well, let’s just say there are generally few “sell” ratings issued, at least not by analysts who want to remain employed or wish to maintain access to the companies they follow.

Bloggers, analysts of a sort, are not beholden to the teams they follow nor to any individuals – players, management, media or fans – associated with them. They are free to express their opinions, outrage and adoration. By the same token, as far as I know bloggers rarely if ever have access to most of these people either. The day may come when bloggers are poised by a player’s locker, PDA or electronic tablet in hand, taking down what he or she says and posting it nearly simultaneously, but for now that kind of access is unavailable. So, we tend to react to secondary sources, a newspaper column here, a radio or television commentary there, an internet post. What we lack is an opportunity to go directly to a source and ask our own questions. We are, perforce, observers and commentators not interlocutors.

Many bloggers might prefer to maintain their independence, but there are already precedents for others seeking and gaining access, the most notable being those bloggers who were accredited at the Democratic Party national convention last summer.

A few weeks ago I sought “press” credentials from MLB and the Philadelphia Phillies and was turned down ostensibly because, as the PR department of the Phillies told me, they have an exclusive online relationship with MLB that precludes “credentialing any online sources other than ESPN such as bloggers.” So for now, at least, I remain independent, without access, free and willing to express myself.

10 Comments:

Anonymous Tom G said...

I've often thought the same thing. While I enjoy reading bloggers and writing my own blog, in the end, we have to remember we are on the outside looking in.

But, if you should happen to get credentials, can I accompany you as an assistant?

11:04 AM  
Blogger Tom Goodman said...

Tom: The chances are slim I would get them. The Phillies told me they only grant credentials for one specific date per request except for authorized beat writers and ESPN personnel. They just don't get it...yet.

12:51 PM  
Blogger Jason Weitzel said...

Great post, Tom, and good luck in your pursuit of press credentials.

It would be great to inject some interviews into our work - for the sake of credibility, and to expand on what we're doing here, outside of just numbers and opinion.

Very well stated.

1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very well done post, Tom. How far up the chain of command in the PR shop did you get? This sounds to me like a knee-jerk "Oh, my God, we can't let a blogger in here!" reaction. Wonder if you'd get a different reaction by calmly explaining your rationale to a higher-up. Good luck, and keep us posted!

--Tom

1:30 PM  
Blogger Tom Goodman said...

I didn't get far up the chain of command within the Phillies organization itself, speaking only with the head of their PR department, who asked that I fax in my request and then did not reply for more than two weeks. Only when I called her again to follow up did she more or less repeat exactly what she told me initially in explaining their procedures and indicating the strong unlikelihood I would be granted access, even for one specific date. When I faxed her my request I drew up a nice "letterhead" and explained what I saw as an opportunity for the Phillies to be in the vanguard of organizations recognizing and acknowledging the contributions and value of bloggers to the game. For the time being, at least, that and about $100 should get two of us decent, not great, seats and a bag of peanuts to a game of our choice.

4:06 PM  
Anonymous Tom G said...

It does pose an interesting question for them though. They have to draw the line somewhere. I think we all do a great job, but if they were to allow one of us in, wouldn't they have to let in anyone with a blogspot account?

A classic question of technology creating new decisions...

5:24 PM  
Blogger Erik @ The Sand Trap said...

You're quick to say the Phillies "don't get it" and while I typically agree, you have to realize you're also blogging from Blogspot. You haven't even got your own domain.

If you want others to take you seriously, I suggest taking yourself seriously. That, to many, includes getting a "real" domain.

3:37 PM  
Blogger Tom Goodman said...

Let me guess, Erik. If you read a newspaper you first check to make sure the newsprint is up to your standards, correct?

11:35 AM  
Anonymous Brian Michael said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:23 PM  
Blogger sam heurry said...

I have been visiting various blogs for Press Credentials. I have found your blog to be quite useful. Keep updating your blog with valuable information... Regards

8:53 AM  

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