March 4, 2008

We’re Here. We’re Consuming Information. Get Used to It.

Not deterred by the court ruling against them when they tried to keep fantasy sports sites from using baseball statistics, Major League Baseball is taking yet more measures to try to kill their community of online fans:

A group of top news and sports editors is planning to meet with Major League Baseball this week to discuss a string of new restrictions on media credentials that editors contend are an unfair limitation on Web-related reporting.

The new restrictions, which take effect later this month when the 2008 season begins, include: a 72-hour limit on posting photos after games; a seven-photo limit on the number of photos posted from a game while it is in progress; a 120-second limit on video length from game-related events; and a ban on live or recorded audio and video from game-related events posted 45 minutes before the start of a game through the end.

If you’ve already heard about this, it’s probably because of the blow it is to C. Trent Rosecrans, previously of the Cincinnati Post and now of 1530 HOMER fame:

I will not be live blogging, because MLB is cracking down on giving you information. They don’t want any competition for their gamecast. I will, however, update after every half-inning. I’ll probably still write live, just delay it. It’s a battle of semantics, but I’m only doing what I’m told by my people at I apologize. It seems MLB doesn’t feel its content is good enough to go for a straight-up competition. I’ll do what I can. And again, I’m sorry. I’ll do my best to bend the rules.

Baseball and Flag.
Picture by Beth Macre. See more on her blog.

My poor coworkers took the brunt of my rage after I read this news this afternoon. I’m still too angry to put my feelings about this eloquently, but I do feel like we need to do something about this.

My initial thought was to organize an email/snail mail campaign to MLB and each of the teams in the NLC to say how much we disapprove of this policy. I’ve already ditched the Reds for their behavior; it’s not an idle threat if I say I’ll start blogging football instead. The Colts rock.

Then I thought, if Congress is so willing spend their CSPAN3 air time to get involved in the steroids matter, perhaps they’d be willing to investigate whether MLB’s monopoly exemption allows them to trample on the first amendment and the entire spirit of free enterprise that we hold so dear in the United States. Maybe a petition would help.

Then I thought, hey, this might actually be illegal. Maybe the ACLU could get involved.

In any event, I’ll be writing a message to my fellow bloggers tonight to see if maybe we can get organized. If they’re willing to do this to their credentialed media, it’s only a matter of time before they’re dragging the Red Hot Mama into court to say I don’t have the right to deem anyone the NLC’s Hottest Baller without prior licensing.

I don’t usually ask for feedback because I can’t stand the silence when no one responds, but this is a time I’m willing to risk being left hanging to hear your views on the issue. Is MLB right to tell the media what they print (digitally) and when they can print it? What can we do about it?

9 comments to “We’re Here. We’re Consuming Information. Get Used to It.”

  1. BubbaFan says:

    I’m pretty ticked about this, too. This ranks right up there with their draconian blackout rules, and their neverending attempts to purge YouTube of baseball videos.

    Not sure what we can do about it, though. There have been fan protests in the past that have gotten big media companies to back off, but this is a rather different situation. They are cracking down on the credentialed media, not directly on the fans.

    We can write in and complain (snail-mail is usually more effective than e-mail), but I suspect it will be up to the journalists who are affected by these new rules to take the lead.

  2. smartelf says:

    Yea the blackout rules suck. I live in Vegas, so I am blacked out of anytime the Reds visit LA, San Francisco, or Colorado. THose venues are like 8 hours away at minimum, more than that to get to San Fran… This blog thing could be the straw that breaks me. The only thing that will keep me sane when I am unfairly blacked out is to tune into the blogs. Sorry the mlb gameday doesn’t do it for me, it doesn’t describe the actual play or recognize the storylines and players like our local reporters do. I might simply cancel my subscription and just follow the season via the online blogs. I am serious, and yes you have permission to use this comment in your grievance/complaint, group action, whatever it is you plan on doing.

    Good luck.

    Aaron Bradley
    Las Vegas, NV

  3. Joel says:

    It’s ridiculously short-sighted by MLB. In an attempt to gain a few more bucks for an already outrageously profitable MLBAM, they’re trying to kill off what amounts to free advertising for their product. It’s amazing how MLB can be so web-savvy and inept at the same time.

    The good thing is that trying to control information on the internet is a futile endeavor. And much like last spring’s DirectTV MLB Extra Innings debacle or the aforementioned fantasy baseball stat snafu, this will just end up making MLB look bad while not changing a whole lot for the consumer. The level of greed within Major League baseball never ceases to amaze me.

  4. xjjeep90 says:

    There was a recent court ruling when a reporter from the Louisville Courier Journal was asked to leave the press box of a baseball game because he was live blogging and the NCAA official said it was against their policy for reporting/blogging. The writer (I will have to look up his name) pretty much argued (successfully in court) that there is no difference from sitting in the press box and blogging and sitting just on the other side of the fence and reporting/posting the same information.

    I was even thinking about trying for a media credential for myself and my own blog but I bet that won’t happen now.

  5. smartelf says:

    Man, I forgot here in Vegas we are also blacked out by San Diego and Arizona… so that is nearly half the NL I am blacked out on even though this city has no official team of its own. LAME!

  6. BubbaFan says:

    The Chicago Tribune weighs in:

    MLB is cutting off blogs to spite its face

    Not again. Now Major League Baseball is stepping into the sports versus Web swamp, attempting to limit the degree to which its games are covered online.

    Examples, under MLB’s newly announced rules: You can post up to seven photos from a game, but you can’t make a “photo gallery.” You can’t leave them up for more than 72 hours.

    “Enjoy the game,” the league might as well add. “Don’t let the door hit you on your way out.”

  7. Red Hot Mama says:

    It’s funny; the response here on the blog is more vocally anti-this action that the responses I’m getting to my email. The overall tone of those has been more, “yeah, it sucks, but it’s not our problem.”

    Which, I guess, is true. It’s possible that some blogs could even benefit in the short term from limitations put on credentialed reporters that don’t apply to bloggers. After all, how can they stop us?

    At this rate, though, it seems likely to me that they’ll try.

  8. Zeldink says:

    You know, despite all of the idiotic, horse-before-the-cart moves Major League Baseball has made under Bud “Can’t Spell Logic With” Selig, I still have a hard time believing this one. It’s so…stupid.

    Hopefully, the “creditable” media will win.

  9. BubbaFan says:

    I wonder if the EEF would be interested in this issue.