Saturday, February 10, 2007
Sportsnet's New Low
I have to preface this post by saying that I don't care too much about what Eklund writes. I don't care if he writes about legitimate rumors or stuff he pulls out of his ass. I don't care that he's right 0.001 of 0.001% of the time and still manages to charge people real money to read his stuff. I do, however, care that Sportsnet has decided to add him and his anonymous self to their trade deadline show.
I'll admit to logging on to Eklund's site during the lockout and even a short while after. I'll even admit to being somewhat entertained with all the rumors he posted. Like many others, however, I stopped logging in after most of the stuff he posted never materialized and a lot of the crap he made up about himself turned out to be false.
But that's not the point of this post.
For almost two years now, Eklund has hidden behind his pseudonym. Despite being somewhat adopted into the mainstream, no one yet knows his real name nor has seen his face. Locally, he's appeared on Dan Russell's Sportstalk (which, by the way, I've stopped listening to since) and Sportsnet, but has always appeared using the name Eklund and always with something covering his face ala Wilson from Home Improvement.
Why is this important?
It's an issue of accountability and of credibility. The credibility part, I think, is self-explanatory. If we keep giving you bunk, you'll move on and read someone else. And Eklund has given us a lot of bunk.
The accountability part is another issue. Whenever the issue of whether or not bloggers and other independent media types should gain media access, one of the concerns that come up is the fact that, unlike someone who works for a "real" media outlet, we cannot be held accountable for what we say. That's the perception anyway and I agree it's a fair concern. (Of course, a lot of bloggers, myself included, have started working with teams and media outlets and have made some headway quelling this concern, but it still exists nonetheless.)
On this note, I have a few questions for Sportsnet. How do we - Sportsnet's viewing public - hold a member of the Sportsnet panel accountable if we only know him by his internet handle? How does Sportsnet sell to its viewing public that they have hired someone with an unknown identity and a questionable past? (See Kukla's Corner, Off-Wing Opinion and Vancouver Canucks Op Ed for more.) How can the viewing public know for sure that this media panelist who appears behind the digitized dots is, in fact, a legitimate reporter and not Elvis or Maggie the monkey? I, for one, can't imagine Peter Mansbridge or Bill Good reporting the news from behind a curtain, and if they did, I doubt they would be held in as high regard as they are now. Despite the advances bloggers and the internet have made in the last couple of years, the mainstream media, regardless of format, are still held to a higher standard of accountability; Sportsnet's approach comes nowhere close to meeting this standard.
Eklund has always maintained that the reason he stays anonymous is that it's fun - it is just hockey after all - and that it's not hurting anyone, but Sportsnet is giving its viewers a great disservice by playing along. It's one thing for them to give us striped shirts, our granddads' wool jackets and Nick Kypreos; it's another to trot out a reporter or insider who is in no way accountable - or cannot be held accountable - for the information he gives as a member of the mainstream press.
Eklund's exact words in the HF Boards thread that James linked to:
This is only hockey. THIS is supposed to be fun. It will not be a circus, but it will be entertaining. and if you don't want to watch, guess what? We won't be able to feel your finger wagging. (at least I hope not) ( now I just got chills.)I disagree. If TSN and The Score deliver better ratings, you bet your ass Sportsnet will feel our fingers wagging. And then maybe Eklund will finally show his face. Or get off the air.
(PS. Incidentally, unless my work sends me to Winnipeg to do a training session, I will be liveblogging trade deadline day. Stay tuned.)
Comments/Questions: Feel free to post in the comments section or email me at gocanucksgo10 (at) hotmail (dot) com.
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