11/30/07

Mr Botta, call the NYC sports editors again.

New York Islander Fan Central | 11/30/2007 03:43:00 PM
New York Observer: John Koblin has a fascinating article to me about life covering Madison Square Garden's franchise team with quotes from several of the folks who used to cover the New York Islander beat (Alan Hahn, Marc Berman) and the Garden's politics with reporters.

“I think it’s fair to say that Jim [Dolan] is aware of, and a part of, the shaping of the media policy,” said Barry Watkins, the senior vice president of communications for the Garden. >Garden policy has meant that before and after every game, there is a media relations official—a minder, really—with a BlackBerry in hand who furiously types away while listening to reporters’ conversations. The notes that the official takes are then e-mailed up the chain of command.

“It’s Madison Square Garden, it’s New York City, it should be one of the top beats in New York,” said Newsday beat reporter Alan Hahn.

Instead: “It’s maddening. What it should be and what it is—it’s a shame.”

“Some of the things they practice here are completely against what you’d expect a normal team to do,” said Mr. Hahn, a second-year reporter on the beat who said that he now misses his old job as a hockey reporter covering the provincial New York Islanders. “They come up with things all the time. There’s zero access to players. They would rather you don’t even write.”

“I guess it doesn’t matter what they do to us, the beat guys,” observed Mr. Hahn. “But you’d think they care a little more about presentation when other reporters come to town. They don’t.”


“I’m in shock now,” said Mr. Berman. “The sexual harassment trial was bad enough, and then to have a November like this, when you’re a national joke, for someone covering the team it’s depressing ’cause you want to write positive stuff. Soon the readers aren’t going to care anymore.” His voice got quiet. “In December, who’s gonna read my stories?”


NYI Fan Central Comments:
Some may ask why is this about the New York Islanders?

Msg as everyone knows owns the Islanders, Devils and Buffalo Sabres broadcast rights and FSN. If they control the print media people this much I can only imagine how tough it is on the paid employees hired to call games.

This is the same Garden controlling the hockey spin coming from the Ranger writers in the local papers. No wonder Larry Brooks had to do a public back step recently after he was critical of Brendan Shanahan and the over the top defending by John Dellapina for Sean Avery who can fight his own battles.

I get the impression from his comments over the years Mr Botta works very hard to fight the sports editors for Islander coverage and does all he can. This is an opportunity to once again ask the city sports editors and even the publisher what it will take for more Islander coverage and some blogs in the city papers as well as Westchester and New Jersey. No doubt the Islanders will allow all the access the media wants without the political climate Msg is apparently placing on it's beat writers considering it has bloggers in it's lockeroom because the club needs more coverage.

It's an opportunity for New York Islander Hockey to expand it's coverage and get more folks attending games by reading about them. As Mr Botta wrote recently we want the Daily News, we need the Daily News.

New York Islanders also want and need the Times, Post, Sun, Ganette, SI Advance, Newark Star Ledger, and the club needs to reach out to it's tri-state area fanbase and tone down the Long Island mantra placed on everything which does not help coverage in New York City where a percentage of the fan base lives.

If the Islander p.r department hase to drive into Manhattan and do a face to face sitdown with Leon Carver and the Daily News publisher if necessary to improve the coverage that's what has to be done. Then a trip the Post publisher followed by one to the New York Times, a stop over at the New York Sun, followed by a stop at the SI Advance, Newark Star Ledger before a trip to the Westchester Ganette.

Worst they can say is no, right?

Fascinating stuff from the beat writers and the garden because what I just read was unprecedented from the collective beatwriters who usually are in competiton with one another.

As for Alan Hahn, I wonder if he misses Alexei Yashin now?

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