July 26, 2014

Blogging the Caps: Where did all the blogs go?

I’ve been blogging about the Washington Capitals since 2007, and the number of independent media and blogs that have covered the team since then has fluctuated wildly. The Caps were one of the first pro sports franchises to openly embrace new media, under former Media Relations Director Nate Ewell, inviting serious bloggers into the press box to cover the team alongside professional media.

Currently, the number of sites covering the Caps exclusively has dwindled to a very small fraction of what it once was.

BACK IN THE DAY

At its height, the Caps blogosphere numbered 80-plus strong. You can go to my old page, Caps News Network, and check out the blog roll. It goes on for days, and I’ve actually eliminated dozens of links that are now vacated or were bought up by advertising sites.

On any given game night back in the day, you could find 8-to-10 bloggers and independent media up on “Blogger’s Row” on the West Side of the Verizon Center press box. There were days where independent media outnumbered traditional media. Sites like Puckhead’s Thoughts, Stormin’ the Crease, Love the Game (Don’t Like Puck Bunnies)… they were all part of the diverse and eclectic mix that covered the Caps with access unprecedented for non-professional media.

These days, it’s down to a select few. With the venerable On Frozen Blog hanging up their skates this season, the independents in the press box have dwindled to just a handful, as bloggers with real chops have been incorporated into the more popular sites, or become pros themselves, or have simply grown apathetic to the effort it takes to write, produce, edit and publish a quality independent site.

CHANGE IN THE LANDSCAPE

Part of the reason for the shift might have come from the team itself. Over the past few seasons, the team has instituted certain policies to help with the credentialing process of independent media and blogs, with the explanation that the press box, media room and locker rooms have become overcrowded with so much national and international press that the independents must now adhere to a more stringent set of guidelines other than simple involvement and willingness to show up and write about the team.

There are page view requirements now, and to be completely transparent as Ted Leonsis likes to say, District Sports Page teeters on the edge of their acceptable page view requirement. Some months we hit it, some we don’t. But it’s part of the business.

That’s not to say we at District Sports Page disagree with the Caps policies. Quite the contrary – we accept them and, frankly, encourage them. Not every independent wants or needs to have credentials to cover the team. The locker room is an extremely busy place, and the professional media must have their space to do their jobs. It’s become even more crowded (literally and figuratively) with the team’s development of their own Monumental Network.

But the team hasn’t updated its “Hockey Friendly Blogs” page on their official website for several seasons now, perhaps indicative of the change in their priorities.

INCREASE IN SOCIAL MEDIA

But the other point is that there’s even fewer of the “fun” blogs, sites where fans espoused their opinion simply to get things off their chests or to make with the funny. Where once the blog roll was filled with sites of fans that added to the mix of opinion, those sites have completely dried up and have not been replaced.

To the last point, I think the proliferation of Twitter and other microblogs have given even more people a voice to share their opinion, albeit 140 characters at a time. Instantaneous feedback can be exciting and intriguing, but it can also be quite distracting — not to mention confusing and sometimes misleading. Every year at trade deadline, everyone thinks they’ve got the best idea for a trade, and if it’s not labeled as opinion or speculation a Twitter fire can start and catch quicker than a real one.

So I think most of those folks have either gravitated toward other mediums or have simply drifted off into the ether. Either way, it reduces the diversity of opinion about the team.

WHO’S LEFT

Obviously, the dean of Caps blogs is Japers’ Rink, part of the SBNation of blogs (supported and promoted by Monumental Network and Mr. Leonsis). Their work is some of the most consistently excellent, thoroughly exhaustive work on the planet. Then, there’s Russian Machine Never Breaks (and their Hershey sidecar, Sweetest Hockey on Earth). Go for the funny and quirky, stay for the breaking news on everything from Caps hockey to meteorological catastrophe. The Peerless Prognosticator has been providing insightful analysis since the beginning. Rock The Red hasn’t been around that long, but has proven adept at putting together quality game stories and occasional biting opinion. And Capitals Outsider covers everything from games to the completely off-beat.

By my count, there are currently just 13 Caps-exclusive sites covering the team (you can find the list below), along with a handful of folks that weigh in occasionally. There are DC-based sites that cover the league in whole, including the fine folks at Puck Buddys. And there are a few sites that cover all the DC-area pro teams, like Mr. Irrelevant and Homer McFanboy.

But those churning out regular content exclusively on the Washington Capitals are down to just a select handful. Regardless of the reasons, the fact that there are fewer voices producing article-length content about the Capitals hurts the dialog and discourse surrounding the team. Where once there was a vibrant, diverse collection of independent analysis and opinion being exchanged, it’s now down to a few voices that are still willing to try to shout above the noise of slickly produced mass media.

  DAILY UPDATES 

Japers’ Rink

Russian Machine Never Breaks

Sweetest Hockey on Earth

REGULAR/GAME-BY-GAME UPDATES

Alex Ovetjkin

CapsCast Podcast

Capitals Hill

Capitals Outsider

District Sports Page

GM on a Couch

Peerless Prognosticator

Rock the Red

Stars and Sticks

Talk the Red

OCCASIONAL UPDATES

BrooksLaichyear

Pass Shoot Score
Puckhead’s Thoughts

Red Line Station

SPARSE UPDATES

Blonde Girl’s Guide

Capital Spirit

Caps Basketball

Mark’s Musings

Ravings of a Rink Rebel

NO UPDATES SINCE LAST SEASON

CapitaLOLs

Capitals Connection

Cap Centre

Caps Daily

Caps Circle

Caps In Pictures

Caps Round the Clock

Chirps From the Ledge

Hockey Yelling

Holtby’s Heroes

Love The Game (Don’t Like Puck Bunnies)

News From the Nosebleeds

On Frozen Blog

Off Wing Opinion

Peace, Love, and CAPS!

Puck’n Hockey

Rocking the Red in Pittsburgh

Sick, Unbelievable

Storming the Crease

The Hogs.net On Ice

VC Chillin’

NO UPDATES IN TWO YEARS/DEFUNCT

50 Mission Caps

A Capital Offense

Behind the Goal Line

Better Living Through Bradley

Capitals Kremlin

Capitals News Network

Caps—A Fan’s Perspective

CapsBlog

Caps Glove Save

Crashing the Crease

Caps Snaps

Caps Top Shelf

District Red Zone

Musings of a Hockey Mom

Net Asset

Punch In The Face

Skate, Skate, Shoot

She’s Going the Distance

The Caps Lock

The Checking Line

Unleash the Fury Times Ten

NO UPDATES IN THREE YEARS/DEFUNCT

Bleatings of a Caps Nut

Capital Gains

Flashy Glove Save

Joe’s Caps Blog

Jumping the Glass

Musings of a Caps Fan

Simply Sensational

The Red Skate

NO UPDATES IN FOUR YEARS/DEFUNCT

Capitals Corner

Caps Blue Line

Caps Fiend

Caps Stop

Fear the Weagle

Nation’s Capital Blog

Three Grumpy Caps Fans

If you have, or know of, a blog not listed here that covers the Caps exclusively, or have an active link to an older blog, please leave a note in the comments or email us at comments@districtsportspage.com. Thanks.

Comments

  1. Dave, this is an awesome history of Caps blogs. Cool to see a lot of the site names that were cropping up in the early Ovechkin years that I haven’t thought about in a long time.

    I do think the sports blogosphere has consolidated a bit as blogging platforms have developed commenting systems that are better integrated into the flow of the blog. When I was blogging at BeltwaySportsBeat.com, BlogSpot/Blogger had a weird commenting interface that opened in a new window so it felt totally disjointed and separate. Now look at SBNation, where comments are auto-loaded without requiring a refresh, meaning they appear as a naturally-progressing conversation. With such a good interface and a built-in community, most of the stuff I could say on my own blog can go to a bigger audience — with less work on my part — as a comment somewhere else. (Also, Twitter.) Plus I don’t have to feel bad if I go two weeks without posting an update.

    I also think this consolidation is a natural evolution of blogging, since the whole concept was still relatively new in the early 2000s. As people gradually realized that the same people who write one blog also comment on another, it became easier to say “I’m just going to hang out at Japers’ Rink instead of hopping all over the Internet as new stuff gets posted.” But that’s totally anecdotal/my own presumptions about people’s motives, so take it all with a grain of salt.

    • Dave Nichols says:

      thanks for the comment and input. you’re 100% correct about the consolidation effect. it’s great that there’s such a vibrant community at Japers’ Rink, but part of me can’t help but think that leads (at least a little bit) to the homogenizing of ideas and opinions.

  2. Dark Stranger says:

    I remember “View from the Cheap Seats” which was by Becca Henschel who eventually joined Japers Rink.

    • Dave Nichols says:

      Becca’s old blog was one of the ones that there was no active link for anymore, but I still should have included on the list. Thanks for pointing it out!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Blogging the Caps: Where did all the blogs go? [...]

%d bloggers like this: