Mike Hlas May Once Again Liveblog With Impunity

Those of you following the "controversy" over at the Gazoo (we'd have mentioned it this week if we weren't just the CUTEST little birthday kids) know that Mike Hlas and Scott Dochtermann, two of the finest sportswriters in the state, were officially PUT ON NOTICE by the University after liveblogging the Maine Event. Seriously:

Before Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz’s press conference Tuesday, a notice was handed out to media members detailing the NCAA’s absurd blogging policy from its sporting events.

Here is that policy:

Each Credential Holder (including television, Internet, new media, and print publications) has the privilege to blog (e.g., real-time or time delayed journal entries) during competition through the credential entity. All blogs must be free of charge to readers. All must adhere to the conditions and limitations of this NCAA Blogging Policy. A blog description includes in-competition updates on score and time remaining and a description of the competition taking place during the given time. The NCAA and host institution shall be the final authority on whether a credential holder or credential entity is followingn the NCAA Blogging Policy.

Basketball/Football: Five times per half; one at halftime, two times per overtime period.

OK, what’s causin’ all this commotion? I dunno, but maybe Gazetteonline.com’s liveblogging sessions hosted by Scott Dochterman and myself from the Maine-Iowa game may have irked someone, somewhere. Why? Who knows? Dochterman was doing a lot of play-by-play, so maybe they didn’t like that. Maybe they didn’t like me allowing outsiders to come in and make occasionally catty remarks? Maybe the Big Ten Network or Learfield or some suit at Iowa just didn’t like what they saw.


Well, the Wiz and Mr. Hlas are happy to report that the draconian restrictions have been lifted:

TO: Iowa Media

FROM: Phil Haddy

RE: Blogging Policy September 5, 2008

Upon further review The University of Iowa Athletics Department has decided to suspend its blogging policy for the coming year. The NCAA policy applies only to post-season championships. Iowa has supported that policy for a number of years in its regular season events. We still have strong concerns and questions about this media phenomenon and the effect it will have on our media partners. We’ll continue to study the situation and let you know which direction the University will proceed in the future.

Uh, thanks guys. While BHGP will be staying far, far away from press boxes on gameday, we are quite certainly affected by this policy, as we do watch games on TV with a computer nearby. And as long as the Big Ten Network employs guys who don't really get that pass interference penalties are only 15 yards in college (the Iowa-Maine guy fucked that up twice... in the first quarter) and are otherwise incompetent boobs, we'll take all the complementary coverage we can get, thank you.

Oh, and so we're perfectly clear on this, per Hlas:

Iowa’s stance is it doesn’t want to see primarily play-by-play in the live blogging sessions because of its broadcast rights.

Liveblogs are not a replacement for broadcast coverage, they are complementary. Liveblogs suck from a play-by-play standpoint. Even at the height of efficiency in play-by-play liveblogging, it still pales in comparison to the GameCast type services by ESPN, Yahoo, etc. etc., all of which are already available online and totally free of charge. Banning a reporter from typing that same information into a box if he's in the press box serves no purpose other than needless, ineffectual posturing.

The small traffic that these liveblogs garner is not an unrelated point. While it's worth mentioning on its own that the media footprint of these broadcasts is scarcely, if at all, diminished by blogs, that fact is likely a direct result of the obvious, crushing inferiority of a liveblog to any other live medium. Hell, you want to do your broadcast partners a favor? Allow all the liveblogging and mandate that every half-hour, the bloggers mention the Learfield Radio Network and whatever station's televising the game. Such a rule might not even be necessary; I've been asked multiple times while liveblogging on Fanhouse what channel a certain game's on.

But don't give us this ominous "strong concerns and questions about this media phenomenon and the effect it will have on our media partners" baloney. I haven't seen or heard a single excuse, much less actual evidence, to suggest that liveblogs coming from anywhere, inside or out of the press box, have any effect on a broadcaster's coverage of a game. What is it, Coach Gundy?

Once more: this is complementary coverage. If someone has a computer and the internet, they can already find scores as they happen. People--and not many of them--read liveblogs because they want to hear a certain person's opinion of the action that they're already following. Denying newspaper writers this privilege only accelerates the downfall of the sportswriting industry into obselescence and Marriotti-esque LOOKATME histrionics.And while we New Media types sort of enjoy that spectacle, it's behavior that makes the "Sports Information Department" look downright Orwellian.

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