To kick-off our week long look at Social Media and the NHL, we have Greg Wyshynski from Yahoo Sports—or as most of you know him, the venerable Puck Daddy. In addition to holding down the position of Editor-In-Chief of the most popular hockey blog on the internet, he routinely guests on various radio shows, blogs and podcasts. Any discussion of the NHL and the internet has to start with Wyshynski. Here is a look into what he thinks about hockey writing and the internet as it stands today.
You made the move from “The Connection Newspapers of Northern Virginia” to create the Puck Daddy site for Yahoo about a year and a half ago. How did that come about? Did Yahoo come to you with the Puck Daddy project, was it something you created or was it a combined effort?
In early 2008, I was editing an arts section I helped create at The Connection after several years as the lead sports editor. I was writing hockey as a side career, for AOL FanHouse and The Fourth Period before I took on a daily hockey column on Deadspin. Working under Will Leitch (and for one of the most demanding audiences on the Web) really helped develop my voice as a columnist, and I’m very proud of the work I did for Gawker Media.
Jamie Mottram, whom I worked under with FanHouse, had jumped to Yahoo! and was developing a network of blogs. He approached me about taking over what was then called the “NHL Experts Blog,” a name whose utter hubris I sometimes miss. It was a formless placeholder waiting for something more structured and audience-friendly, which is what Jamie asked me to create.
The only sticking point was convincing Yahoo! that it needed a fulltime hockey blogger. Luckily, the results speak for themselves in that they made the right call.(“Results” in this case meaning that I didn’t hand you your Whopper last time you visited Burger King.)
There’s always some semblance of collaboration with everything we do at Puck Daddy, but I’ve been at the captain’s wheel since its inception. Ultimately, 99 percent of what you read or see on the site is something I’ve green-lit or helped along in the creative process; but it IS a process, and the only reason it is what it is today is because of the efforts of writers like Sean Leahy, Dmitry Chesnokov, Ryan Lambert and others.
The current format that Puck Daddy uses is—for lack of a better word, very communal. You frequently incorporate bloggers from all over North America to give THEIR insight to things that are affecting teams in their area. Was that a conscious decision from the beginning or was it something that evolved to where it’s at today?
Oh, completely conscious from the beginning. Everybody has their own aims as a blogger, but mine has always been to bring as many interesting and informed opinions into the conversation. There is so much great hockey writing happening every day from every corner of the blogosphere, I think it’s irresponsible to simply focus on mainstream opinions if you’re a hockey blogger.
Plus, we have a ridiculously large platform on Yahoo!, so another aim is to try and bring a massive amount of eyes to new and exciting bloggers. It’s an honor to share our audiences with ingenious folks like Down Goes Brown, Steve Dangle and the relatively obscure blogs linked up in our Puck Headlines every day. It’s a mission for us, for sure.
You appeared on Brandon Worley’s site Defending Big D for a great series of articles on the subject of New Media as it relates to journalism. As a guy that’s held positions on both sides, what are some of the aspects of online production that work better for you? We always hear about the increased freedom online—but is there more to it than that?
Sure. First of all, I’m my own editor, for better or worse. That means from concept to writing to publishing, it’s on my timetable; which means the news breaks as fast as I can break it. That’s huge in a new media world. It also means I have the ability to go off into some interesting editorial directions without needing a dozen stamps of approval; hence, Photoshop contests with Gary Bettman or Gloating Bruins Fans just seem to happen organically.
But they’re very similar in a lot of ways, print and electronic media. Journalism is still journalism, even if blogging affords for more opinion interjected in the news narrative. And editing is still editing, whether it’s finding the right angle on a story before publication or selecting the right art to help tell it.
In non-traditional markets like Los Angeles, the newspaper industry has treated hockey like the red-headed stepchild for quite some time. But with Rich Hammond’s recent move to the Kings organization, his journalistic integrity has been called into question. Here’s the question: does it matter? Can a good, dedicated writer combined with a strong blogging community provide better coverage than the fans were previously receiving from the mainstream media?
It does matter, and I’ve told Rich this myself. Hammond’s aces, and his Kings blog is not going to be some cuckolded, watered down version of what he used to do, because he was never some firebrand editorial writer. But he’s now writing about his employer; unless I rip open his chest one day and find gears and motors where the vital organs are supposed to be, that’s going to play on his mind — consciously or not.
Does that mean he won’t provide better coverage? No. I think the bar’s pretty low in a lot of American cities for hockey coverage, and a good blogger will clear it, even working for the “enemy.”
Of all the major sports, the blogosphere may be the most important to hockey. As someone that provides daily links for your readers, how do you sift between the quality blogs that provide valuable content and the swill of people with a keyboard and too much time on their hands?
“Swill of People” is either a great name for a punk band or a cheap house whiskey.
You read enough blogs, you know where to look. Sometimes, you know the blog is going to provide the perfect commentary or summary of a particular team. Sometimes, you know to look the other way when you see a particular site name or a byline. But that’s not always the case: We’ve linked to great pieces on the much-maligned Bleacher Report, and there are some very good bloggers buried under an unfortunate masthead on HockeyBuzz.
I think Puck Daddy does a fairly good job acting as a filter. What it boils down to: Does the writing have a clear viewpoint that strikes me as unique, and that I want to share with our readers? Is the writer just trying to be provocative, or is he or she bringing something to the table? I don’t judge on polish or professionalism; there are some blogs that look like they belong on MySpace pages that, once you get past aesthetics, say some damn important things. There are other blogs that look like they’ve been designed by Bill Gates that are empty vessels of regurgitated news and half-baked views.
As the de facto leader of the hockey blogosphere, do you have any websites that you find yourself frequenting most often? To that point, would you rather read articles published by mainstream media outlets or respected blogs that consistently publish content?
Thanks for the label, but we’re all in this together. Unless, of course, there is some stipend for being de facto leader of the hockey blogosphere. Daddy’s gotta eat.
My Web consumption is typical for any Web-savvy puckhead: Kukla, Mirtle, Spector, HF Boards, the SB Nation blogs, Pensblog, Down Goes Brown, Puck The Media and so on. (And for the love of god, read Tom Benjamin and Steven Ovadia, will you people?) I probably have over 200 blogs in my news reader, and most of them are hockey blogs.
Non-hockey: Andrew Sullivan and Jeffrey Wells at Hollywood-Elsewhere.com. The Poynter.org blogs for the journalism fix. There’s also a steady diet of movie sites and political sites, too.
Again, the medium doesn’t matter: The quality of the content does. I tend to enjoy alt-media writing because it speaks my language better than the hack-y trappings of mainstream writing. Some blogs cover their teams just as well (or better) than local media; others have different aims.
Last but not least, a strictly hockey question. What do you think Kings fans can expect this season? Tell me they’re going to be good—and be convincing! Should they start saving for playoff tickets or start gathering the pitchforks for Dean Lombardi?
No pitchforks necessary, but I do think it’s finally time to lay the success or failure of this team at Lombardi’s loafers. Adding Smyth and Scuderi is saying that it’s safe to add payroll and that the rebuild is over. So the team needs to contend. If we’re talking more about Alex Frolov trade rumors than the Kings’ playoff prospects in February, then the configuration of this roster and the maturation of the team’s prospects needs to be heavily scrutinized.
Is there anything else you’d like to add? Any thoughts where hockey will go next in the New Media world? Anything that bothers you that you just want to get off your chest? Here’s your chance…
Just one thought. If you’re someone who tweets every shot of regular season hockey games … stop. Now. Please.
Here are all of the interviews from The NHL in the Social Media World series. If you have any interest whatsoever, you should check out what everyone had to say. Each guest comes from a different perspective, has a different area of expertise and brings something different to the table!
Interview with Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo’s Puck Daddy
Interview with Dani Muccio of NHLTweetUp
Interview with Jennifer Leggio of ZDnet
Interview with Buddy Oakes of PredsOnTheGlass
Interview with Eddie Garcia and Doug Stohland from Puck Podcast