Chris Botta, the VP of Public Relations for the New York Islanders and creator of the controversial "Blog Box" resigned from his position with the team yesterday. Botta had worked on the Island for 20 years but apparently felt that it was time to move on.
Reactions from the Islanders bloggers vary, but this could very well mean the end of the unique attempt to bring fans, bloggers, media, and players together.
For those of you who may have missed the news last year, the New York Islanders media guru created a special place in the arena for selected bloggers to sit, monitor, and report on the game which was dubbed the "Islanders Blog Box". This seating area was separate from press row, where the professional media resided.
The bloggers were also allowed access to some coaches and players after games for interviews, again apart from the professionals, so not to disturb or interrupt their craft.
Initially, the idea was met with heavy resistance from some professional writers who earn their living doing about the same thing that the bloggers were doing for free. But the Islanders were extremely unhappy with local media coverage. They wanted and needed more exposure, and this was an attempt to accomplish just that.
Surprisingly enough, many in the blogging community were strongly against the idea as well. Some felt that bloggers shouldn't be given any access. Some felt that they deserved more access. Some were upset they were being handled and treated just like fans.
You know how bloggers are. It's difficult to get two of us to agree on anything.
Regardless, I always liked the concept and felt that it was a great idea. It seemed to solve one issue that the professional media complained about, the possibility of unruly behaviour in press row. It also gave Islanders fans access to information like no other NHL team had previously allowed, besides the Washington Capitals. (The Caps allow full media access for some bloggers.)
I'm not sure whether last season's "experiment" was considered a success or a fiasco, but hopefully Botta's resignation doesn't put an end to a new generation of reporting in New York and elsewhere.