The exodus continues. The dawning of the new day in the world of journalism continues unabated. Newspapers and their respective authority figures must feel like the executives and proponents of Betamax machines in the late 1980s and 1990s as VHS recorders took over the market. You picture them sitting in a dark room, completely puzzled as how to reverse the trend, and in this day and age of people demanding instantaneous information, the impact of the daily newspaper will continue to rapidly decline. People, and journalists know the future is online, and the latest person to make the jump from newsprint, to HTML code is the valuable journalist ex of The Globe and Mail, Tim Wharnsby, who has decided to join the team at cbc.ca
With this latest departure in mind, I thought I would take a quick look at the respective websites of the three networks who broadcast NHL hockey in Canada, and the quality of work they are putting online. (Note: I make no comment about layout etc. I possess no expertise of this subject matter, and it would be irresponsible of me to comment on it. My commentary is focussed only on content matters.)
New and Improved! Those cliché tag lines kept flying at me as I was tuned into the MLB playoffs on Sportsnet (at least until the games went into extra innings and Sportsnet cut away from the dramatic ending to show international darts or something equally terrible.) So, despite my new found hostility to Sportsnet thanks to their terrible programming decisions, I ventured over to their website to actually see if it was new and improved. Much to my surprise, I somewhat enjoyed what I found. The webpage had all of the “important” NHL news readily available, and what I particularly enjoyed was the game videos from last night’s on-ice action right there, front and centre. Columnists/commentators Mike Brophy, and Mark Spector provide insight into the game, and I particularly enjoyed their no-nonsense analysis style. It’s almost like they simply wanted to provide information without feeling the need to pimp their name ad nauseam. The ability to personalize the page based on the region of the country you are in, is a nice touch.
Speaking of pimping their name ad nauseam and creating controversy where none actually exists, we move onto TSN. As the undisputed lead voice of twenty four hour sports coverage in Canada, one would expect more from TSN.ca then we currently get. My main issue with TSN.ca is that everything is breathlessly reported as being THE BIGGEST DEAL EVER. I am sorry to the Peverly family for this, but today’s “news” that Rich Peverly resigning with the Atlanta Thrashers is not that important. Even as a Winnipegger who is likely to see Rich Peverly play here in the next two years after the Thrashers finally give up in Atlanta, I just don’t care that much. Treat stories with the appropriate level of coverage they deserve. Do that, and people will respect your voice more. As for columnists, Bob McKenzie is as connected in hockey as you can be and he does a good job of giving information. Unfortunately, he sort of gets swallowed up by the fact TSN has approximately 842 “experts” in their employ, and as such the most valuable and connected of those experts get their voices heard less than they should. That’s a shame.
Moving onto the Pinko Commie Rag (Morty Seinfeld™) of the broadcasters, we get to the new home of Tim Wharnsby, CBC.CA. The CBC website is probably the “Johnny come lately” to the online wave, as previous incarnations of their hockey website have been poor in comparison to TSN and Sportsnet. I am pleased to report that has improved. Their video component is as solid as both Sportsnet and TSN, but where they are dominating is in the voices of their analysts. Respected hockey insiders like Scott Morrison, Elliotte Friedman, and Jeff Marek (to name a few) contribute constantly to the website. Additionally, CBC.CA has gotten on board with the wave of the future by partnering with the citizen journalists of the blogosphere and using the resources and in-depth expertise that these bloggers provide. (For example, take today’s online chat with Tim Wharnsby and the blog “Nucks Misconduct” in which they discuss the struggles of the Vancouver Canucks thus far this year.) At this point they are the only site using online chats, and for TSN and Sportsnet to not be doing so is somewhat shocking and a huge loss to both of them.
So there you have it. One man’s quasi-insightful opinion to the ways or the world(wide web) as it relates to the online arm of NHL broadcasters. What do you think? Love TSN but hate Sportsnet? Think that CBC is destroying the rest of the competition? Please join the discussion below. Your comments are always welcome.
For Illegal Curve, I am Drew Mindell.
Remember to listen to the Illegal Curve.com radio show every Wednesday night on 92.9 KICK FM in Winnipeg or by clicking the Illegal Curve Radio link in the top right corner.