I've written quite a few things about the meaning and differences of bloggers to journalists. I have written about the meaning of the Isles Blog Box program, and even had to hammer back at those who used their lofty perches to criticize something before it even had much time, besides one game or two, to establish itself. Well, today is a new tale to tell about the life of a blogger: I made a boneheaded mistake. So grab up a chair, sit and relax, and swig some coffee as I tell you a tale when I was forced to examine myself, and realize the responsibility and ramifications of doing what I do. That blogging when having access is far different than simply blogging from the peanut gallery.
Lets talk about me for a minute. Very often there is a very tongue-in-cheek tone or swagger to some articles I write. I differ than a sports journalist by completely coming from another angle to my blogs. I am a creative writer, who happens to like to talk about my favorite sport, hockey. And most of my work comes from this outlook.
My spot on Hockeybuzz completely opened up by a creative take I took on the Buffalo/Isles playoff series, where I was pretty embarrassed as an Islander fan when my brethren threw bottles on the ice. Thus, Fear & Loathing on Long Island was born, and I ran with that Hunter S. Thomson swagger and my own brand of satire for an over 20 blog that ran almost to the summertime ((In the Celebrity Blogger spot)).
I also channeled my longtime hockey messageboard outlooks, which I had done on a few other sites, when I was given the keys to placing blogs on the main site by Eklund. My outlook is very logical. I always focus on the human element, rather than the rumormill, even if it's deflating the rumor itself, OR supporting the rumor. I try to use my powers of observation and my own knowledge of the sport to create a good magnification to why things happen, what might happen, what might happen down the line. Where the differences are between fact, fiction, hype, and hope. More often than not, I am correct. And sometime I am not. But so far, my record has been pretty good. My only errant piece so far was my season standing prediction back when the season started. I picked Philly to not quite be a contender. Was dead wrong there, thus far. Also picked Pitt to be ruling the division. So far, they have looked far human.
So, with that mixed bag of skills and a desire to do something different, not only was I made team blogger for the Isles here, but was selected as one of the founding members of the NY Islanders Blog Box. A tremendous honor, in both cases, and I've really tried to make the best of breaking new ground. But, for the first time, this past week, I broken new ground again . . .
I made a error.
Some might not see it as a big deal. I certainly didn't at the time, though, as a perfectionist, I moved fast to rectify I before I actually got into a bit of hot water about it. The ramification and the new weird place I found myself, I will now share the tale. Because, as a blogger, in new ground, I need to share my experience so that others can be wiser. Because, it's a very easy mistake to make.
My Ottawa Vs Isles Live Blog from the Blog Box
On Weds eve, I did a live blog from the Ottawa vs Isles game. Despite still feeling the effects of being sick all week, I pushed myself to go to this game. I wanted to see who I thought was one of the best teams in the league, and it has been a few weeks since my last visit to the coliseum and the blog box. It was time to get back in the saddle.
My plan was, since I was a bit punchy and tired, was to do very loose observation of the game in the blog. Comedy, silliness and off-tangents ran rampant. Overall, I was pretty happy with it, despite that I was, by the end of the game, pretty exhausted. I actually considered skipping the lockerroom and Nolan's press conference in order to get home and get to bed. But, I really wanted their take on such a great and wild game. It was too important, since most Isles fans thought this team was going to lose.
So as we blog boxers headed down to get inside the main press access area, I spied a player hobbling on crutches. I thought nothing of it, but was like: "Who is that?". That guy looked a bit sweaty, he must have played the game. But, why don't I recognize him and his spikey blond hair? Then I filed it away and focused on getting to the media room where we'd interview Nolan.
So, we interview Nolan and then go into the lockerroom with the rest of the wolves all to glean some stories, insights and information from Rick DiPietro, Mike Sillinger and Bill Guerin. Of course, I suddenly realize I am missing my nifty and handy voice recorder. Now I am annoyed. Being ill and having a long day at work really screwed up my organization for the game, and now I could not clarify what I usually remember and then play back to confirm before I right about it.
Its easy to make mistake on quoting. I needed to listen carefully, to make sure I had it right. Of course, without my tape recorder to place in front, I feel quite undressed as a blogger. So I observe instead, thinking back to the player I saw on crutches. Was it Bergenheim?
So, when I leave, I never ask Corey Witt or Chris Botta, or anyone else clarification on if Bergie is injured. At the time, I just wanted to get home and get the rest of the blog tied up, because I usually pack up my laptop with 5 min left. I wasn't even thinking about the guy on crutches when we walked down into the area until later.
So, I go home, and do the rest of the writeup, and at the very end, I say: "I saw Bergie on crutches". It was observation, not even looking to scoop anything. Just something I saw that I was still finding odd, since I never saw Bergie take a wallop to a leg. I thought nothing of it, or the mistake I was making.
So, next day, there are then threads on all the messageboards about Bergie being hurt. And I then start to get concerned. It is easy to forget when on a creative bent or just not thinking responsibly, on how what gets read can blow up to "fact" even when it's not.
Then I start to examine, and really question what I saw. When I am uncomfortable on something, I try to analyze what is wrong. What is wrong is I am not CERTAIN it was Bergie. That bothers me, especially when people are trusting and repeating my observation. Last thing I want to do is lead my readers, or my fellow fans, astray. I am beginning to realize that I might have made a screwup.
So I got immediately in those threads and make sure they know that I might be wrong. No pride here. I have erred in that I didn't put a questionmark after my Bergie statement or ask anyone. So, it SUDDENLY hits me, "BD, you moron. It was Aaron Johnson." I feel so stupid, and then update the threads to those messageboards and including my own blog that I must have mixed them up. Johnson must have been there and been working out with the trainers.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being Dead Wrong
What escaped my attention that night, as I wrote it, was the ramifications of being wrong. That, with blog box and lockerroom access, if I am unsure, I needed to use that route and contacts to CLARIFY. After all, Botta is responsible for the injury reports, yet it never entered my mind at the time to ask him...hey, who was that? Because that the time, my very crime, was not thinking. To think nothing of what I wrote. I thought since it was off-the-cuff observation, that I had the room to be wrong, perhaps, in hindsight. But, that is all well in good if I am a blogger blogging from my livingroom or my seats in the audience. But not as a Blog Box guy or someone with the kind of access that others don't have. I failed to use that access and contacts to verify, query or question.
For me, that is a cardinal sin. I clarify and query silly rumors that hit the circuit, yet I did not think to do so when it was an injury that could affect the team. Dumb me. I was forced, for the first time, to actually have to RETRACT something I wrote.
As a blogger and writer who will talk just about anything, I have to tell you this tale, and share my mistake. After all, I am on a site of established and burgeoning bloggers, some who are as new to this as I am, in some cases, even less. I am also the first to screw up in the blog box. I get to trailblaze an error.
Why It Is Important
Most hockey brass don't like or are not so comfortable with the new media. Colleagues to the Isles brass who they view as crazy to go out on a limb. Sure, they are hopelessly ignorant of the internet, blogging and the fact all their fans now use it extensively for their information sources. INSTEAD, these colleagues could then use it to deny the reality, instead, using it to create even more mortar to the brick walls they have between themselves and fans these days. That I could become, despite my hardwork, an example to their own inane, empty and incorrect argument and skepticism to what has been the Isles, Washington, and soon to be a few others organizations, acceptance to the new media and their value in sports.
And I refuse to let that happen. Therefore, I must take ownership for my mistake and how it was rectified. Most of all, how it can be avoided.
Till later tonight, live from the Blog Box . . .
and now a wiser blogger . . .