Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition – Toronto Sports Media Blog

by mike in boston / @mikeinbostonemail


Good morning sports activities media followers. Wishing everybody a protected return to overlaying and watching reside sports activities. As at all times, if there are belongings you assume we missed please add hyperlinks within the feedback or e-mail/DM me.


Gary’s Bubble


The greatest sports activities media information this week was the announcement that journalists wouldn’t be allowed contained in the NHL bubbles in Toronto and Edmonton. Three writers from the league’s advertising web site,, will present details about the video games and gamers, and a social media creator from every crew will contribute extra individualized content material for followers. Writers from the main retailers and networks will both watch the video games on TV like everybody else or from the press field.


The NHL’s reasoning is that extra media contained in the bubble equals extra danger to everybody, however particularly the gamers. Without the gamers there may be no video games to televise, and so it’s cheap that the league is being particularly protecting of their most essential property. Further, non-bubble media will nonetheless have the ability to entry gamers through postgame digital scrums.



The criticism of the NHL’s plan centres on just a few totally different factors. First, see the Boston Globe’s Matt Porter:


“No face-to-face interactions, which are the lifeblood of good story telling. No first-hand account of what the plans and diagrams the NHL released late this past week actually look like in person. No view of anything but the games of the teams they cover, then a timely exit from the rink and more Zoom calls.”


Next see The Star’s Kevin McGran, who wrote a wonderful profile of Bettman and mentioned it with me here:


“Three writers from and one social media member per team are “required” within the hub. In different phrases, league or crew workers.That means any information, reviews, feeds, photos, tales from Hotel X or the Fairmont Royal York or behind the scenes on the Scotiabank Arena will likely be sanitized, NHL- or team-approved variations. So, not actual information.The NHL has actively discouraged the remainder of the media from even coming to Edmonton or Toronto. The finest entry we are able to hope for is to look at the sport – one media particular person per outlet – from the stands. Not all video games. Just the crew we cowl.”


To focus the dialogue let’s break down the substance of those observations into just a few classes. The first challenge appears to be in regards to the high quality of reporting that can happen. By being denied in-person entry to gamers, locker rooms, and the internal workings of the hub, the argument is that essential tales will fall by means of the cracks. The second challenge pertains to transparency. By solely permitting league workers to have full entry there’s a concern that key occasions could go unreported or solely emerge in a sanitized model.


McGran ends his piece with the next disclaimer:


“Don’t get me wrong: This access isn’t about us. It’s about you. The reader. We do this job for our readers. We want to do it the best we can, and now the NHL is not letting us. They are shortchanging you, their fans.”


Media are sometimes responsible of overestimating their significance.



In the times earlier than social media and e-mail gamers and administration needed to depend on media to get their aspect of the story out. This led to a clumsy however generally accepted partnership between topics and journalists. Players and coaches would drink and gamble with reporters after video games. We nonetheless see media sit on tales to guard their sources or inform particular narratives as a manner of gaining preferential entry. None of this must be surprising and it’s as much as readers to resolve for themselves whom they belief primarily based on the physique of labor.


(In the curiosity of disclosure, Jonah and I are sometimes fed tales by individuals within the business and we have to resolve whether or not to publish them right here or not. Speaking personally, I’ve misplaced sources over issues I’ve written right here. I’ve additionally pulled punches to protect current relationships.)


The large distinction between now and the legacy period of media is that gamers don’t want journalists as a lot as they as soon as did. They have a direct approach to talk with followers. In some circumstances they even have to make use of social media to truth test media:



With all of that stated, McGran’s remark that entry is in regards to the reader not the author is true. The nice Covid Cup experiment is a extremely advanced endeavor and overlaying all of the newsworthy angles of the match goes to take lots of eyes. So, on the purpose about high quality of reporting it’s clear that three writers shouldn’t be sufficient. There are too many particulars from testing, to broadcasting, to accidents, to technique, and so forth.


On the matter of transparency, the NHL’s resolution to ban exterior media appears to be like horrible:



You. Couldn’t. Use. The. Word. Concussion.


We have covered at length how the NHL has persistently mishandled the difficulty of concussions, together with placing stress on its rights-holders to not cowl the story. In 2016 when the league’s inner emails on the topic had been launched, Sportsnet barely talked about it till every week later. By distinction, TSN despatched Rick Westhead chasing after Gary Bettman for remark.



Again right here, nobody must be shocked that rights-holders will cowl a league much less critically than others. Media have at all times had partnerships with their topics. Thankfully there are sufficient retailers who can choose up the unstated remainders and fill within the gaps for the viewers.


And because of this the NHL’s “no journalists” coverage is troubling. Real journalists gained’t write tales they’ll’t confirm. writers should not allowed to write down about sure subjects. So if tales involving these subjects happen throughout the bubble nobody will likely be empowered to get the phrase out.



It didn’t should be this manner. The NBA selected to permit a restricted variety of media contained in the Disney bubble, supplied they might afford to pay for room and board. This raises totally different points, however no less than actual journalists will likely be overlaying that match. In a press release to its members the PWHA stated the next:


“The only helpful confirmation that came from these proceedings was the NHL’s admission — once and for all — that writers are not “media” however reasonably “league employees.” That admission will likely be essential the following time the NHL makes an attempt to thrust writers into unbiased PHWA voting processes for NHL Awards. ​[…] The NHL clearly doesn’t share the PHWA’s long-held stance that there’s a partnership between the league and the unbiased media that covers it. This makes the NHL distinctive when in comparison with different main leagues, so maybe it shouldn’t come as a shock that solely the NHL will deny its tons of of taking part gamers and tens of millions of followers unfiltered on-site reporting on a return that encompasses all the things from skilled hockey, taxpayers’ pursuits and on this case, public well being.”


As you possibly can see there’s a mounting stress taking part in out in public view between league affiliated writers and unbiased media. I’ve mentioned this challenge with many individuals through the years. How do you evaluate what Arash Madani does on Blue Jays broadcasts with what Steve Simmons does for TSN? This is a real query to which I don’t have a transparent reply. Both are working for networks with league and crew affiliations. I think about each of them to be journalists versus “league employees” within the sense, however there are clearly variations of diploma at work right here.


At the top of the day, the NHL blew it. There are so many credible hockey reporters in Canada that it could have been straightforward for them handy choose three per bubble to make this drawback go away. It would have even made sense for them to decide on six Sportsnet reporters, provided that the community is the official rights-holder. This would have led to associated complaints however would have been barely higher than barring everybody.


Over to you: 1) Are the hockey media throwing a tantrum? 2) Is this, because the PHWA suggests, an ominous signal of issues to come back? 3) What’s your favorite cupcake?


Low Hanging Fruit


  • Pierre LeBrun is quietly changing into the most effective hockey insider on the continent. The extra I learn and listen to from him the extra I wish to learn and listen to from him.


  • This is the way you personal a mistake. Nice job by Eric. The twitter anger directed his manner was fully out of proportion to the unique error.



  • Damien Cox sounded off on the NHL media bubble challenge in his regular imprecise manner. As somebody who has been on either side of this fence I want he would write one thing concrete and complete on the topic. I might like to learn it, and he has nothing to lose at this level.



  • Best interview of the week was Carlos Delgado on Writers Bloc. Jeff Blair nonetheless managed to derail it through the use of questions as a chance to absorb all of the air within the room. Listen to this clip and pause at 18 seconds, or 27 seconds, after which see if something that comes after provides something to the query. He has one other 90 second query in a while.



  • The Negative Nancy award for the week goes to The Star’s Gregor Chisholm who wrote about how the pandemic will make it even more durable for the Jays to draw free brokers.


  • Steve Simmons wrote: “I sometimes get the impression that if Sportsnet owned a football team and signed Tom Brady as a free agent, it would use somebody else as its starting quarterback.” Anyone know what he’s speaking about? I’m guess it’s Chris Cuthbert associated?


  • This is a horrible assertion by somebody who has occupied positions of energy in sports activities media for a very long time:



  • Lastly, when you have not listened to Jonah’s podcast with Dirk Hayhurst you’re lacking out on one thing particular. Dirk is completely sincere about why he was let go from each TSN and SN. He additionally talks about how he was advised by his boss to not elevate a sexual harassment criticism in opposition to a co-worker for watching porn on the job. I’m prepared to wager that boss can also’t touch upon issues he didn’t see or hear.



thanks for studying and commenting,

till subsequent time …

mike (probably not in boston)

header picture credit score: CHARLES KRUPA/ASSOCIATED PRESS

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