Then we blogged no more

As you may have experience or heard about or will read about imminently, two reporters from the IDS and I were asked to stop commenting on our live blog (below) during the Wake Forest game today.

Here’s what I wrote about the incident for the newspaper.

    Early in the second half of the game, reporters from The Herald-Times and the Indiana Daily Student were asked to stop posting commentary on a joint live blog they were hosting with two other outlets.
Steve Shutt, an assistant athletic director at Wake Forest, cited an ACC rule permitting only four blog posts per half when making the request, which both publications complied with. The live blog continued to be operated by contributors from the H-T, IDS, HoosierNation.com and Inside the Hall who were not credentialed to cover the event.
After the game, Shutt said that the ACC rule on blogging was probably not in writing anywhere but followed common practice. Last year, the NCAA began limiting the number of blog posts reporters could make during all of its championships events.
He also said that Wake Forest could not allow the dissemination of information about the game on the Internet by courtside reporters because it violated the multimedia rights agreement the school has with ISP (International Sports Properties).
Under the agreement, which is for between $800,000 and $1.2 million per year according to Shutt, ISP owns the radio and Web rights to Wake Forest games.
ISP relies on drawing viewers to the Wake Forest Web site — which includes a GameTracker feature that allows fans to follow the game in close-to real-time — to set its advertising rates and generate revenue, so the university could not allow reporters to operate a blog that may divert readers from the official web site.

I’m not sure I’ve really formulated my full thoughts on this yet. At first I was in denial and wanted nothing more than to continue chatting with you. Then, I was angry. Now, I sort of understand where all the parties are coming from and am trying to sort through how I think this should all play out.

Forgot the matter of whether anybody can really prevent us from reporting WHAT HAPPENS IN THE WORLD (does anybody really own that?) for a moment.

My immediate question is: as much as I’d like to think our reporting from the arena is quite significant, is it really essential to the live blog? As I wrote above, the chatting continued after we were gone. And if this rule continues to be enforced (possibly by Learfield or the Big Ten Network in the future) I suppose we may be relegated to having the people from home run it. And you know what? You’ll still come. Because the chat has a different purpose than GameTracker.

Your immediate thoughts on this?

40 comments

  1. My first thought is, oh that’s what R meant when he wrote FREE KORMAN. My second thought is, there is no way they can do that right?

    No offense to the Scoop or anyone else but the blog is no threat to anyone’s media rights. Seriously, anyone who is willing to read the incoherent ramblings of that joint blog in order to follow the game is desperate for some coverage and would get it a better way if they could. I know, because reading those ramblings is how I followed the Noon St. Joe’s game last Tuesday while I was in class (which thankfully was in a computer lab).

  2. That’s beyond ridiculous. Sounds to me like the athletic department at Wake Forest doesn’t have much to do.

  3. Based on the courtside troubles and the issues raised, I had an idea: The federal government, or better, individual federal agencies, could sell the rights to thier “news” to outlets! A great way to reduce the federal deficit.

    State Department news, brought to you exclusively by CNN. Briefings from the Department of Silly Walks brought to you by Fox News. Breaking news on the Mumbai terror attack brought to you by…

    Sorry Korman, nothing’s free. If the owners of content have figured out how to subdivide games so that “this pitching change is brought to you by NoDoze”, you’re live blogging days from courtside are either already over or severly limited going forward.

    If Assembly Hall is wireless, you could always buy a ticket and blog clandestinely from the nose-bleeds.

  4. Hire Ice miller, they did such a great job for IU, they will fight for the HT!! For $600/hour

  5. This thinking from media types that blogs are anything but news. It will elevate the blog types even more. Younger college type don’t reallize blogs are not news, and now the stink of money in the media will challege that basic fact.

  6. My first thought is that this is total BS. I understand the media rights, but does the ACC & ISP really think Hoosier fans are going to look at the Wake Forest web site for their game tracker?

    It wasn’t until after the game I was even aware of their tracker on their website. However, I was aware that ESPN was carrying the game, and that I could use the game tracker provided on the ESPN website.

    There needs to be a change in policies, you are not providing live play by play, audio or video of the game. You discuss the match-ups, fill us in on requested stats, give us scoring updates and discuss the game with Hoosier fans who want more than the play by play and crappy commentary from the ESPN commentators.

    This isn’t providing an outlet for entertainment (though it is entertaining), but is providing real time news reporting and discussion from us following the game.

    Tell the ACC and ISP to SHOVE IT!

  7. Because one good rhetorical question deserves another, is it really essential that reporters be in the arena in order to write their columns? Since the games and even the post-game comments and presser are on the web in lightning speed these days, what is the true value of being at the press table to write your columns (aside from stadium dogs, the awesome stat monitor, and a great view of Joe Smith’s hair)?

    In this sense, I guess it’s not essential. It is, however, extremely useful. From the gym, you provide credible, firsthand perspective of the events unfolding beyond the HDTV frame and mics. Only by actually being on the scene can you provide color to the facts and stats. And when you’re communicating in print, color commentary is what separates your work from a box score.

    There’s no doubting the sheer folly of the media rights policy when it’s enforced in this manner. A streaming webcast would infringe on their rights; a reporter blogging from the arena no more threatens their rights (and by rights, I mean ability to profit off the event) than a bunch of guys sitting around a bar chatting it up while watching the game. It’d be different if the broadcast was pay-per-view, or if there weren’t 20 other sources from which you could access near-real-time info.

    Another example of the powers that be having no clue whatsoever about the technology and how it can enhance the fan experience. If Assembly Hall had a wireless network, I’d pack my laptop in and join in from the game. Now that’d be cool.

    Don’t roll over on this one, guys. If you don’t push back, I don’t know who will.

  8. Chronic, you raise some good points. In my semi-tipsy state last night, I stumbled across a great piece about a Bruins blogger who does work from his own library, where he has a couple of computers, and other reference material, all at easy access, making his blog more informative. Chris and the guys are at a disadvantage in that they DO need to be at the game to do the work that they do outside the blog. Since the live chat (and I contend that the live game feed is in fact a “chat” not a “blog”) is not really any true broadcast of the game, but is more like your bar analogy, a group of fans hanging out and watching the game together, I don’t see how that could be regulated. Certainly not by some unwritten, alleged policy from the opposing team!

  9. Some of you might see this as side stepping the question, but my first thoughts after reading about last nights incident were about the contract with ISP and Wake Forest. In my time at Indiana, I have been very annoyed with the idea of exclusive contracts or anything that closely resembles them. I don’t know if Wake’s contract can be seen as exclusive, since ESPN is allowed to air the game as well as have it’s own tracker, but if this contract prevents other news outlets from live blogging I think it comes close. And I think that’s very wrong.

    I can’t stand it when there are contracts that limit the flexibility of institutions (such as schools) or their customers. No amount of money is worth that. This is a good example of that. Yes, Wake and it’s partner might have a great gamtracker on their website, but was this information given to Indiana fans? And is it really good enough to eliminate other forms of following the game? By the ACC and Wake putting this practice into place, they are holding back what I see as a major way for fans to show their support. Yea, sure, the fans following games on live blogs aren’t paying money to the school to watch the game. But if their following it via the website, that money is indirect (advertisements) anyway. By giving fans other outlets, it’s just promoting the brand of the school. They’re showing their support, growing in awareness, and possibly attracting other fans. And by doing so, it’s creating the possibility of future purchases, whether those be tickets, apparel, whatever.

    Now I know they stopped you guys from blogging, not a Wake group. But they have probably done this in the past. And to me, that’s not even what matters. It’s the fact that they have a contract in place that limits flexibility, and hinders a connection between the school and the fans. And trust me, IU does this as well. Maybe not in ways many people see, but it’s there. Example: Tom Crean can’t drink Diet Pepsi anymore. This might be far removed from my argument that exclusive contracts limit flexibility from the standpoint of customers connecting to an institution, but it is a small example that very much annoys me. Maybe this is just the way the world works today. But I think it’s wrong.

  10. I watch the blog while I’m in class as well, and I use it in conjunction with ESPN gametracker to follow the games. I think this is ridiculous, as like a previous user said, it is more a chat than a blog. The old version, which I actually liked better because it was more straight up game tracking, but was possible to read on my cell phone, I could understand them shutting down, but whats wrong with reporters chatting with fans, especially when the fans watching this blog don’t look at the Wake Forest website. Technically you guys should have argues, you only made one blog post, the chat room, and from that you were just sharing interesting facts from the arena.

  11. Let’s be honest. Most of us participate in the chats to hit on the chicks and not to read Chris’ play-by-play.

  12. Smokin’, but happily married to a guy who asked me out after hearing me scream about a stupid football call. He said I was his dream woman- I like beer, football and video games! Sorry you missed out!

  13. Chris, does your screen/laptop make that awesome typing sound during the chat? If so, that is what incensed the Wake Forest heirarchy. They wanted to know what that noise was and when they found out they were jealous. Crazy stuff.

  14. First, as an IU fan I/m not going to their site because I never heard of it and don’t know how to get there.
    Second, I do check the Fox site for gametracker while following your comments. Your blog is not adequate for the stats even though one of the bloggers sometimes posts them.
    Third, their legal interpretation seems questionable to me, but you guys have lawyers on the payroll, right!

  15. Ok, we’ve digressed completely from the subject at hand. Chris, I’ve gone back and re-read the final paragraph of your post. And honestly, no, live reports of the game are not required of you. As we’ve all said in the chats, 85-90% of us have 2 or more other “feeds” going while in the chatroom. I’m a TV with no sound while listening to the radio broadcast kinda girl, personally. As a working mom of 3 kids, I don’t get to hit the bars to check out the games these days. You all have become my “social activity” – Lord that’s sad…. But, while you are not “required”, personally speaking, I like getting your commentary on what you are observing. You don’t cut to an ad during a time out. You can hear coaches and players interact. You see what a camera may miss. And you share that with those of us who can’t be there. And, that’s cool.
    I hope, when it’s all said and done, last night’s fiasco was a one shot deal, and going forward, you don’t run into issues. Obviously, there will be times when there are restrictions (NCAA Tourney time, God willing!) and we can cross that bridge when we get there, but until then, chat on. (And I maintain that it’s a ‘chat’ and not a ‘blog’.)

  16. Megan M, I’m not too heart broken. I have a Kubota and 4 1/4 acres. sometimes my neighbors horses help out. I love mowing too, it’s good thinking time.

    Mike P., Not to worry, Diamonds are forever, and so are the payments.

  17. Yep- the kids are well trained enough to know to stay away from the running mower, which means I get more quiet time there than anywhere else!
    If you’re still paying on the diamond, you spent to much! 🙂

  18. My pleasure. Part of why I enjoy this blog – even when folks don’t agree, we can usually have fun and informative conversations. Good stuff.

  19. “Megan,

    Nice to hear about you. Do you have any sisters?”

    Dave,
    Nope, she is the only girl.

    Scott W,
    No worries, Megan will tell you I am really more like a giant teddy bear, but remember, the word “bear” is still part of that. 🙂

  20. Let me do what I usually do and reduce this to an oversimplistic argument screamed in a Sam Kinison voice:

    The NCAA allows for a college basketball game to be STOPPED for a f()*&ing COMMERCIAL. Did you understand that? Shall I rephrase myself? Here in America, we call..timeouts….for…COMMERCIALS! Imagine
    that, people! Stopping the flow of a good game (it happens in football, too) for a bunch of deodorant and insurance-peddling capitalists to make even more money!!! If that doesn’t provoke outrage, I don’t know what does.
    The point I am trying to make is this: if businesses are allowed to buy air time in the middle of a fast-break, then everything else should be ours, period. I don’t care a lick about whether a Wake Forest website depends on X or Y revenue – the sum of money that they are griping about is probably less than a cup of coffee. This stuff makes me sick

  21. Mike P, let me ask a self-serving question here…did you happen to see that Washington hired Steve Sarkisian? I am glad to see that even after an 0-12 season UW can still get a better coach than Bill Lynch. Do you have an opinion on this hire, or is the West Coast outside your radar?

  22. Husky,

    It’s on my radar. It will be interesting to see how he does there. His resume of players now in the NFL under him as a coordinator should allow him to recruit good. Now he has to get a staff.

    It is exactly what IU needs to do if the inevitable happens and Lynch falls flat on his face next year. Go after a coordinator from a proven winner (or a young upcoming HC) to recruit and truly build the program.

  23. Thanks Mike, for the thoughts… I agree, it seems oh! so possible that IU could land someone like Oregon’s D.C., if they only were to care for a second…

  24. Anyone know if there a similar rule for Big 10, or a broad NCAA rule?

    Here in Hawkeye land, the immediate reaction from some of us media folks is some sort of “blog-in” event (twitter?). To show that “Live from 1995!” style thinking has no power in this age of the citizen e-journalist.

  25. Oh, I like that- a blog-in!
    CFong, in the thread with the original chat, I copied in the only NCAA rule I could find, (and its source link, for those who want to poke around in it more). It’s only in reference to championship games, however.
    I was unable to find any Big Ten rules on blogging or chatting. I also did not find ACC rules. I didn’t dig SUPER deep, however, so I’m not saying that they do not exist, just that I didn’t find them in the research I did.
    I’m not media, so I don’t know. What, specifically, does a Press Credential give you? Just physical access to the press box and post-game interviews? Or are there specific guidelines and such on the reporting?

  26. Megan, as was revealed throughout this repressive mess, it turns out the blog-ban wasn’t NCAA or conference dictated. Rather it flowed from the media rights Int. Sports Properties contracted for with Wake. Under this structuring, any school could have similar restrictions in place with their media partner. For example, IU may in fact have similar language in their contract with Learfield Sports. The problem with these deals is that rarely are the contracts readily available for public review. Worse yet, the individual nature of each deal may lend itself towards selective enforcement of the contract holder’s rights. For example, ISP may not have raised this issue in the last 2 seasons, despite numerous blogs taking place courtside, but happened to notice the IU blog drew 20x the number of participants as their weak-a$$ blog and decided to hammer down Korman & Co. solely out of spite. In the end, however, it must be understood that, like every other spectator, the media is allowed into the arena as a licensee, allowed entrance to the property by the licensor (property owner) and may be subject to whatever terms and conditions the licensor establishes. Under this relationship, many rights which one may ordinarily enjoy can be freely restricted or eliminated, and the failure to comply may be cause for revocation by the licensor. In sum, Wake acted within their rights both as the licensor and the intercollegiate partner of ISP. That said, it sucks and serves little to no purpose in aiding their profitability and enhancing the fan experience. Going forward, it would be helpful for the Scoop and/or its joint-blog partners could predetermine whether such an issue would arise again with a host school and possibly explain the practicalities of the blog and negotiate permission to blog. It could also help if IU athletics worked on behalf of its fans and used its leverage to ensure this never happens again.

  27. Right, Chronic, it was specifically passed to the guys by the WF assistant AD, and was in regards to the ISP. I posted a plethora of other things in the thread where the chat actually is/was, and forget that this ends up being a bit disjointed, in that we say things in one spot, then continue a conversation elsewhere! Sorry I wasn’t clearer in what I was trying to say.
    Korman mentioned, however, that the WF AAD implied that an ACC rule might sort of exist, just not in writing, the media is supposed to absorb that knowledge strictly via osmosis upon arriving in the facility. What with it being “common practice” and all. My previous post was more in regards to CFong’s questions about existing rules by the NCAA and/or the Big Ten, which further led me to wondering about the specifics of a media credential. After all, they are providing the press access to the information with the purpose of having the information reported. I just wasn’t sure if credentials listed any specific restrictions (or authorizations), or just provided the reporter with access to the otherwise restricted areas.

  28. Guys,

    After thinking about this issue for a few days, I’ve come to much the same conclusion you did: if Wake Forest had rules about live blogging, it should have shared them before the second half of the game. We were never given any rules and our credential was void of any language about what it did or did not entitle us to do.

    The lesson, for us, is to check in the future.

    Hopefully we can navigate around any minor problems moving forward; but the overarching issue here is surely something that we’ll have to deal with at some point, and I don’t think it will be left to the H-T or IDS to handle that fight.

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