Sunday, July 24, 2011

Support Unbiased, Local Journalism

(There is a local paper down here who uses that as its tag line. We liked it. We, of course, are not journalists.)

One of the reasons that people read us, we think, is because we are not beholden to the organization that we cover. You don't see advertisements on the site, and we don't politic for jobs in the media. We don't write stories on the basis of how many hits it will get the site, because if it gets 1 or 1,000,000 it doesn't affect our wallet, and because you don't know our names, it doesn't affect us in a personal way either. We don't wait until the USA Today (or the Sun, or the Herald, or the NatPost, or the Globe & Mail) to come out to form our sports opinion. We don't lemming. We don't promote spin, we don't do propaganda.

One of the main problems we have with the general Flames universe is that the people who cover this team in the MSM are actively engaged with the Calgary Flames front office, and that should read Ken King, in promoting spin, and in giving the fans of the team half truths. They eat dinner with the man on game days (and don't underestimate what a free dinner with a 'somebody' can do to boost ones ego, and grease wheels), they watch the games for free in the press box, and they get to sniff the jocks of the players in the locker room after the game.

The people who work in the MSM covering the Flames are dependent on access. The Flames control access to themselves. This, of course, explains the current situation. The local papers know that the Flames are extremely popular. They want to make sure the people they pay to cover the team get to keep their access. The writers themselves want to keep a job, so they have to make sure they stay employed by the paper. It's easy to so how and why an incestuous relationship between the team and the people who cover it can and has developed.

This type of situation extends throughout the MSM that cover this team. The tentacles of propaganda extend not just through the newspapers, but into the radio station that covers the team, The FAN960 (where we have seen that if you are willing to play ball, you get to call Flames games, qualified to do so or not), and apparently, increasingly into the brave new world of the internet.

The people who lose in this relationship are, of course, the fans. They get painted for them a picture of the team that is not necessarily true, and they have to base their perception of the team on incomplete information.

There are numerous examples of the incestuous relationship manifesting itself in the way this team is covered. For example, at the start of the last season, it was widely acknowledged, but never reported, that Darryl Sutter had lost his influence within the organization. He had been a lame duck at the start of the off season. The media never reported that because Ken King wanted cover for himself if some of the moves he made, like signing Tanguay off the scrap heap, did not work out. And the media has an interest in pleasing Ken King. Again, because of access. This is just a small example of the spin that the media employs on behalf of the organization it purports to cover for the fans.

There are more, of course. The media gets access to the players when they go into get fitness tested. They know who shows up to camp out of shape. Do any of you ever wonder why nobody in the MSM talked about Matt Stajan (a Ken King signing) showing up to training camp out of shape until after the season ended? They all knew, because they were in the locker room and could see Stajan showed up pudgy. Odd, no?

 Or why there were no stories about Darryl Sutters kid getting a roster spot on a NHL club (Ken Kings favour to a friend) until after Darryl got fired?

Why there has been no inquiry by the MSM as to why the Flames were willing to pay a 31 year old centre $65 million dollars but unwilling to offer a 21 year old an offer sheet of $100 million?

 Or why the Regehr trade, which was clearly a salary dump, was being spun as a hockey move?

Why there were no stories about Jay Feaster having to get permission from Ken King to sign the teams first round draft pick, and what that said about the roles in the front office?

The lack of stories regarding Ken King acting as the GM, and using Jay Feaster as cover (send an email over to Dean Molberg like we did, and he will probably admit it to you like he did to us, just not in public. Or a certain Flame scout who once played in Montreal)?

Why nobody in the MSM dares put a microphone in Jay Bouwmeesters face (after all, he is only the second highest paid player on the roster and was brought in to be the missing piece of a Cup run)?

There are more examples (like the broadcast booths constant whitewashing of the events taking place on the ice, or the famous Alex Tanguay did not ask for a trade (his first time through the organization) when everyone knew that he in fact did), of course, but what connects all of these stories is that it comes down to access, and the way the organization uses it as a muting force. And as the organization gobbles up more and more of the voices that cover this team, the fans lose more and more.

For a clear illustration, let us share this anecdote. The most...salacious news story about the Flames that was reported this year was reported by a blogger, not a member of the MSM (although Azevedo should probably be, because he, at this point at least, doesn't seem to be interested in spinning for the organization). We are talking about the Flames attempt to trade Mikka Kiprusoff at the draft.

Oh, you didn't read that in the Sun or the Herald; you didn't hear that on the FAN960? We rest our case.

Furthermore, I think Ken King should be fired.


  1. If they say ratings are down b/c the flames are out of the playoffs then they are admitting their product is shit since it is predicated on the local heros success.


  2. the forgotten manJuly 24, 2011 at 10:29 PM

    I've said it before and I'll say it again...just Kabuki Theatre on Ice - stylized and choreographed by K-squared with no substance. Sad though that Iginla has sold his soul to be a part of the farce.

    At the end of the day, this is just Sports Entertainment and at least we have competent people like Grimace running the City of Calgary and the Americans have Obama...

  3. How about the org's anti-social media policy? There's a lot to say about Flames players' vanishing blogs, twitter accounts, and Facebook profiles. Name me another NHL team with such hardcore requirements. Every time a dictator takes over a country he (or she) takes control of the media, rewrites the textbooks, and cuts off the citizen's access to the government.