The Importance of Blogging Earnest
A Trivial Isles Blog for Serious People.
A message came a few months ago via my Blackberry. It said…
“… I have to give you credit for calling out those paranoid NYI”
Another came more recently from another…
“I hate the reality that personal agendas influence this stuff, you’re a player and should be in there”
The blog box was always two identities in one. On one side, it was a complete push to generate more fan and sport interest. On another, it was a serious recognition to a change that had enveloped many sports simultaneously…but none as much as hockey which was still trying to reclaim lost tread due to the lockout. So, upon the advent of the Blog Box, it pushed forth a schism of notions: It was a farce with a fan jersey or it was a real viable means to provide more coverage. The jury has been out on the main judgments despite a few early and derisive ones. That judgment has stayed on hold due to various and constant personnel changes since, making the blog box stutter, veer, and just run aimless for years.
However, recently there has been a bit of a change to how the Isles address, communicate and handle the blog box and bloggers. This change might be the final clue to what the team perhaps always did, or just now seeks the blog box to be. This doesn’t change that the bloggers or the efforts of those who actually are in there. Just an indication of what the team really thinks of it…beyond the PR, public relations and lofty intentions. The Real World: Blog Box…so to speak.
This last winter and spring, the Isles Lighthouse staff was folded into the mix of ever-changing organizational cake batter. Seth Sylvan, who was Chris Botta’s replacement in the Media Department, and I had been working on issues over the course of the season. After all, I had not been the perfect citizen two years back. Well that water was all under the bridge one year ago, as last season as I was welcomed back to the fold. Of course, they were as uncommunicative as they have been in subsequent years. There was the usual meeting to start, a lot of energy and hopes…and just the usual ride into the seasonal oblivion…as the staff being busy with other issues, priorities and such. With all those cuts over the year, can’t blame them. For most of the season, I ended up in the seats with tickets, and saw the blog box with one or two people tops. With a child, I was more apt to get tickets to take the wife and kid to the game. Upon the end of the season, I contacted Seth about access to the draft in LA. HockeyIndependent had done very well, and opened a lot of doors.
So last I heard from Seth was he was adding my name to the NHL list to get into the NHL draft. Then in June, as another went out the revolving door in Isles Country…he was out, replaced by his assistant, Kimber, former honcho over at Bridgeport. By then I was NHL credentialed and let them know I did not need to be on the Isles list. Didn’t matter, because nobody had likely done anything anyway. But here was a sudden change….no answer at all.
There was no answer. Sporadic notes became just…well, nothing. Not much ever since. Unfortunately, once again there is a new regime, with many of the Lighthouse staff all it curious places within. As you all well know, I have been reporting on the Lighthouse Project with all sorts of insight from all over the map. In that time, the Isles have stopped trying to push their agenda on me. However, since the Lighthouse went dark, they went even as far to say that anyone reporting on the LHP during that time is…lying. Hilariously, since then we’ve caught Charles Wang and many others, including the Town of Hempstead as well, in many a contradiction, fib, or just plain trying to hide reality. Like for instance….Isles are currently waiting for what is happening with the Shinnecock situation. But, word is they have let it be known they’d also like to meet with the ToH. So, what does it mean? Just hedging their bets as they sit in a holding pattern is likely.
But you see, they don’t want me to say this. We bloggers are supposed to perhaps be waving a team flag, screaming about the injustice and whatever else they have conceived as right and wrong in what has been placed as a black and white situation. Luckily for them, many have done exactly their bidding than actually taking an objective stance. Those that have done that have been rewarded.
So is it really any wonder that one season later…there is an immediate change in tone, nuance and attitude as that change of LHP staff coming in. Seth’s former assistant who now runs the department has been printing out Isles bloggers blogs over the course of the season. To what purpose, I am unsure, though it is surely concerning after-the-fact as I was given the silent treatment over the summer. I asked for clarity, checking in to continue on things, feedback and so forth, several times over the summer…and I was pushed off with nonsensical emails, half answers, and further ubiquities.
Then all the way in September…at the last minute, I was told that there was no room for me in the blog box. “Wouldn’t be fair to all the others who worked to be there.” Strange in it since over the course of the year, I had more blogs than many of them added together. I have been a member of the blog box since it started.
My answer to them…
”I’m afraid this points elsewhere and smacks completely unwholesome. I’d hate to think that is the case. After all, you do print out the blogs. So you know how much work was put in. The reasoning just does not add up.
Of course, best of luck to those who remain in the blog box. May they not have the same litmus test done to them, “work” put in or not, that I think might have been done here”
They never responded. Silence, sadly is deafening. They never even told me I was out. Stay classy, Isles.
So it begs the question why a NHL credentialed blogger who has been blogging the same amount of Isles blogs since the start, over 100 per year, was pushed out far questionable, if not suspect, reasoning. It smacks of both ignorance and the continued circus from within. Ok, well, I am certainly not everyone’s cup of tea. Isn’t the blogosphere and blog box a conglomeration of different and unique voices? Not just the screech of a few shouting for some team attention.
At worst and sadly, it alludes to something else a bit more sinister… payback by a team of thin skin, personal agenda by individuals who did not like that I did not gargle and bathe in the team koolaid. There is a clear message here in either case…we finally have an answer about the blog box. When the chips were down, blogging was never for altruistic means or recognition of the new media. It serves their business will. If the blogger doesn’t serve the business…well, what then? Then…probably this.
Is it worth complaining about? Probably not. For the continuously jaded will just add it to their personal issues, drama and baggage, sadly.
I had open channels to the Lighthouse Project all along. That’s until I didn’t march to the beat of their drum and tried to find my own answers. Other bloggers, like the author of LetThereBeLighthouse’s, Nick Giglia, who did the same also has been pushed off by the Isles. He might not have been a blog box guy, but both he and I haven’t had an official or even unofficial response of the Lighthouse since late October. Calls, emails and so forth have been roundly ignored since. There seems an ongoing theme here.
The Isles and LHP had ample opportunity to give their side, but chose silence…or to leak it through other supplicant channels or former buddies. Some even spewing it with zero filters, like a facet to some very loose plumbing. We however have a responsibility to find out the truth, not the piles of bull from Brooklyn, Queens, and Nassau County & beyond. One would think that was a battle worth fighting. That truth and the pursuit of it mattered. Wasn’t this what blogging was about? It was to me. It certainly meant something to Nick.
Chris Botta just smartly tied Pointblank with SNY, he has something to buttress any extraneous issues from the Isles organization. This is same organization that has had some responsibility to the removal of former Isles Beat Writer Greg Logan. This same org that now hands Katie Strang, his replacement who is not the same type of reporter and style as Greg, all the prized info. Her tweets and Newsday pieces are a must, even if behind a stupefying pay wall. However, if anyone thinks coverage got better, they are fooling themselves.
Botta and I got along well when he was in the Media department. Why, because he and I might never see eye to eye, but he’s a smart guy and gets the point…just like he got the point on the Blog Box…his creation. But was creating a team tool to provide positive press his desire? In multiple interviews, far from it. He warned Charles Wang that many would not quite do that at all. Per Charles, that was ok. He understood. But did that stance really remain post-Botta on the Isles as they hit into a lot of political chaffe?
To tell you the truth, despite his clear skills at writing, I still miss Botta not being behind the scenes at the Isles. He was no pushover, but you knew where you stood, how things were, and there was no ridiculous payback from a team who seems to have gotten sand in its extremities organizationally. The Isles communication department actually communicated. There were clear answers, not avoidance. There weren’t talking to other bloggers behind backs by staff. There weren’t personal issues. There certainly weren’t conflicts of interest. It was professional. Something seriously lacking in regards in my treatment, despite my many attempts to create a dialogue or at least get some sort of communication. For the truth behind it seems far more about personal agenda and ultimately…what I feel is in essence, discriminatory. The parameters of the blog box must have changed since it’s inception, and without informing the members.
One hopes that my pecking at some things about Botta’s blog and style are not construed as hate or anything as such. Botta’s coverage has been exemplary. I call it how I see it…I’ve done it for almost 4 years now, and I will never stop doing so. When we were both at the draft, it was like old times. But, that said, but I will still kick him in the balls via the blog and twitter when things don’t add up or match my own understanding or information. Needling is never a bad thing…kind of like acupuncture. Helps loosen the limbs.
Independence has been my biggest thing. Even from my days on Hockeybuzz. I have always done what I want, how I want…sometimes willing to smash myself into mistake territory. But here is something…at least I have put myself on the line…nightly. Every day. No hiding behind relationships, favors, or anything else. I don’t care what anyone else thinks…be it Isles, Wang, bloggers, media, players or anyone else. Not that I look to be a bad guy.. I’ve always been there to listen to all sides. I have done all ever asked of me, and more. Probably more than most even know. But I never was complicit, complacent, nor looking for favors….what others would jump at like a loyal dog. What has been shown over the course of three years is that the Isles do like their loyal pets. So here lies the question, was the inception of the Blog Box, despite Botta’s noble intentions, an attempt to establish a proactive and positive voices into the mix before the Lighthouse Project went hot? If so, then we have our answer. I didn’t play ball.
Obviously, therein lays the price?
These are the things that work best for me…being independent, attempting to stay out of the entanglements that have tripped up some others that we could spend day’s blogging about. Oh god…I could tell you stories. But, I stick to those basics that have gotten me where I am… back up from my own missteps, trials and travails, and that have carried myself and my excellent bloggers and site forth. To relay some PR flak ad verbatim, push marketing junk, promotional guff, blow off material, some agenda chatter, or media guide hot air is disingenuous, and destroys any credibility for bloggers in general. It denigrates the effort of many who have considered blogging something else besides extra marketing or some way to get a message out. There lies a responsibility to readers to set things straight. It has gotten me and this site NHL credentials and much traction in places that I was never near as just a regular blogger on a higher traffic site.
Citizen journalism, the very notion that was one of the one of the most important features of the blog box, has been pushed back on. In fact, in many ways, it has been stepped on. For when citizen journalism actually called into question the Lighthouse Project, the Isles, and their opponents and proponents actions…including the one daily Long Island newspaper that flubbed it terribly, something changed. It’s not coincidental. Not a chance.
I know, talking about it seems like sour grapes. I’ve kept quiet, despite with a few pointed comments for over a month. Many have asked why I was holding out. It needed some time and context. That time is over. Questions should be asked.
They have lacked any attempt to set record straight or answer questions. So we are left with something that smacks far more insidious and disturbing. Either way, I do not feel it is honest, professional, or even responsible. A communication department cannot communicate with a blogger who has been a member of the blog box for three seasons? Out of the blog box or not, it deserves an answer and questioning the entire point is well-deserved. We now have to question if the Isles wanted bloggers to play ball with them all along.
Something is rotten here. For it looks far too much like some sort of payback for that citizen journalism, or even criticism of that department. Payback for someone who didn’t provide the warm fuzzy half-baked silliness that seems to be catered to far too much these days. Let it be warning to many who blog and look to provide a coverage on team sports
Be careful, for the pursuit of truth has consequences…
And it needs to be called out, even if it will probably to pad the paranioa levels of the flimsy conspiracy theory internally OR just added to the print outs by those who do not “get it”.
About the Author: B.D. Gallof is a published writer and hockey blogger. He writes about Hockey, NY Islanders & the NY Islanders venue situation for CBS New York. BD has been written up in Sports Illustrated, TSN.ca, the NY Times Slapshots blog, Yahoo's Sports and SportsBusiness Journal. He has been a featured blogger for The Huffington Post, as well as owner, lead writer, and managing editor at HockeyIndependent.com.