PHWA protests Islanders’ decision to bar reporter

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Three chapters of the Professional Hockey Writers Association covering the Devils, Rangers and Islanders have decided not to participate in the voting for the NHL’s regular-season awards. They are protersting the New York Islanders’ decision to revoke the credentials of Chris Botta, a former Islanders public relations director who currently runs the Point Blank blog  and also blogs for the New York Times.

PHWA chapter chairmans voiced their support for Botta but voted against a general boycott during a weekend conference call. The PHWA issued the following statement:

As the NHL’s 2010-11 regular season winds down, and with voting on the league’s awards imminent, the Professional Hockey Writers Association remains adamantly opposed to – and distressed by – the early season decision of the New York Islanders to revoke the media credential of a PHWA member.

This is even more objectionable than the original decision itself: In the months since, league officials have refused to intervene and overrule the Islanders’ decision, which would serve to re-emphasize the NHL’s commitment to facilitate objective and authoritative coverage from PHWA members.

The media marketplace is changing daily, and newspapers and other outlets for written journalism are among those adapting. To its credit, the NHL and its teams have aggressively taken on the challenge of creating and enhancing their “own” coverage on several platforms, going beyond the more traditional “in-house” broadcasts to now include team web sites and other outlets.

Yet the league’s savvy fan base understands the need for, and desires, independent and objective coverage that doesn’t pass through league and team filters.

Our concern is that this decision, if allowed to stand and become precedent, signals an end to the league’s agreement that independent and objective coverage not only benefits its fan base, but the NHL itself.

The PHWA’s position is absolute. The splitting of hairs about the circumstances of the Islanders’ decision is an irrelevant waste of time. We ask that the NHL disavow the Islanders’ capricious decision in this specific instance, but even more important, reaffirm that – barring egregious actions that would cause the PHWA to expel a member, anyway — PHWA members will be granted access to cover its teams.

Meanwhile, three of our chapters – those made up of writers who cover the Islanders, New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils – have decided not to participate in the PHWA voting for the NHL’s 2010-11 regular-season awards. That voting selects the winners of most of the league’s major trophies and its first- and second-team all-stars.

The PHWA takes seriously its role as an authoritative, objective and independent voting body for these awards, and is honored to participate in the process. It also respects and will support the decisions of individual members not to return their ballots, which the league already has distributed to PHWA members. However, the PHWA also believes that because the voting process has begun, both the writers’ organization and the league have entered into a mutual and honorable pact to see through the voting process for the 2010-11 awards.

The PHWA is confident that with potentially nearly 90 percent of its 177 members continuing to participate, the pool of voters — which has grown significantly in recent years – is more than sufficient to maintain the integrity of the voting.

In the upcoming offseason, the PHWA hopes to again meet with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and other league officials to seek clarification of the credentialing issue and to discuss the future of the PHWA’s role as an independent and objective voting bloc in continuing to bolster the credibility of the league’s awards.

14 Comments

  1. Sal says:

    More NHL bush league tactics, slippery slope, sad really…

    Sal from the Hammer

  2. nek25plus says:

    The man used to work for the Islander Org. in the ops dept and he is employed by the New York Times. Bloggers are now hired and so therefor are credible as far as writing goes.

    Botta is not just blogging for himself. He is getting paid for it! Seems to be a reporting job to me! No different than Basu, hs is not a trained writer. He is a blogger turned writer.

    Really not the point anyway. The point being that they can remove you if they don’t like what you are writing or saying. That’s worrisome. They are ultimately stand up for the freedom to write as they see fit.

    What if your opinions were not allowed to be voiced on this site? And they deleted any opinions that varied from the sites

    Would you like it!?

  3. G-Man says:

    The pseudo-reporting on many of these blog sites is a cause for concern among NHL teams. Just because you write a blog about the team doesn’t mean the team should hand out “press” credentials.
    Why does the so-called Professional Hockey Writers Association have amateurs as members? (Bloggers are amateurs, save for those being paid by News media)
    Does that mean any bozo can become a “professional hockey writer” by setting up a blog?

    • HalifaxHabs says:

      the problem is, he had the credentials, and then he wrote something criticizing the GM they day after the fired the coach, and then they were pulled.

      they pulled them because they didn’t like what he wrote, and the reason they were able to get away with it, is becaue he is a blogger as opposed to paid employee of a local newspaper.

      I’m sure if he wrote an article commending Garth Snow for pulling the trigger on firing the coach, he’d still be writing his Islanders blog.

    • wotever says:

      The person in question worked for the Islanders organization for 10 years including as a role as VP Communications. This isn’t just any bozo.

      The deeper question of whether any blogger can become a professional writer is a little too subtle to handle for a discussion five levels or less deep. What do you look for in a writer? A sheepskin, Professional dues being paid? Insight, integrity, fact-checking?

      Fox News has the first qualities but doesn’t have the second. (I’m not making ANY claims about the blogger in this case, I’m just pointing out it is more subtle)

      It’s just a game.

  4. HalifaxHabs says:

    The Islanders, and Garth Snow are one of the main laughing stocks of the NHL. What a joke franchise.

    Imagine if the Habs pulled the credentials of every reporter that ripped our GM… there’d be no one left to cover hockey in Montreal.

    • HabFanSince72 says:

      “there’d be no one left to cover hockey in Montreal”

      there would be about 3 million experts left.

    • Chris Roy says:

      Sure it does, and why shouldn’t it? Assuming some limit on the number of people given access to players, coaching staff, etc, at any given time, why should a passionate but “amateur” writer be left out in the cold?

      Some of my favorite content writers and reporters in many niches are considered “amateur” – the idea that the only way to news, whether sports or otherwise, is via league- or state-sanctioned media is troubling and backwards.

      EDIT: Meant as a response to G-Man above.

  5. HabFanSince72 says:

    “the PHWA hopes to again meet with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and other league officials to seek clarification of the credentialing issue”

    Good luck with that.

    Bettman doesn’t care.

    • nek25plus says:

      “Independent and objective” coverage is very much needed as this league is full to the brim with regards to collusion. Nobody is allowed to say or do anything the league doesn’t sanction.

      Way to go PHWA! Way to go to this website for highlighting it! Wonder if TSN will say anything? Of course, Darren Dreger will write some piece defending the Islanders and NHL’s decision!!! He’s so whipped!

    • habsrules2 says:

      Would like to know what that reporter said to get himself barred. Maybe the Islanders organization has a good reason, seems we are only getting one side of the story.


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