Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Regarding "She-Fan" Jane Heller, And Access To Information From The Yankees

I just came across a post on River Ave. Blues reviewing Jane Heller's recently released book, Confessions Of A She-Fan.

This part of the post especially caught my attention:
That frustration stems from a Yankee organization intent on limiting access. She tries to go through Jason Zillo, the Yanks’ media gatekeeper, but Zillo, who fields more than his fair share of calls like Heller’s, wants credentialed writers only around the Yanks. She tries every which way to make an end-run around Zillo. She tries to go after Jean Afterman and Suzyn Waldman, connecting to them on that female level. Waldman is responsive; Afterman is not. She befriends John Sterling and runs through her Rolodex searching for ways in to no success. It is, then, no surprise that the Yanks didn’t want Heller’s publishers to advertise her book in the Yankee Magazine this year.
I should have done due diligence about the topic of this book much, much sooner. If so, I would have read it already! In my relatively short time running New Stadium Insider (and before that NYY Stadium Insider), I have noticed these Yankee policies regarding access to information. Basically, they don't provide it unless you are in their fraternity of credentialed writers, largely working for an antiquated and nearly defunct medium. After all, only speaking to those guys gives the team greater control and a better chance of churning out stories that are part of their PR machine.

This is a hobby, but occasionally I'd like to be professional about it and get some first-hand information. Why don't we review some of the things that I requested official information from the Yankees about:
  • I asked them for comment about the relocation fiasco. No response
  • I asked them for comment about the obstructed view fiasco in February. No response
  • I asked them for comment about the Linda Ruth Tosetti story. No response
  • I am currently asking them for comment regarding a story I am working on. No response
I have tried to contact the Yankee media relations office by phone and by email. I have tried to contact official Yankee spokespeople at the Rubenstein PR firm. My efforts were futile and my requests fell upon deaf ears.

While my blog is not one of the credentialed media sources of the Yankees, thousands of people who visit the stadium end up here when looking for information about Yankee Stadium. Wouldn't it be in the Yankees best interests if they created some sort of dialogue between the two parties? Wouldn't it provide me with the means to disperse accurate information instead of having to write one-sided stories? Wouldn't it prevent stories read by thousands of Yankee fans from being based on speculation and unnamed sources in the ticket office? There once was a time when fan-blogs were all about opinions and they were read by very few people. Times have changed and the media landscape has evolved. A large majority of people receive their information from blogs - mainstream media or not.

At the end of the day, I don't want access and I don't want credentials. I know my role. I am a fan of the Yankees and I write about the experience of being a fan of the Yankees. It just so happens that my outlet for doing so has become a source of information for upwards of 40,000 people monthly. Since what I write is apparently read by more people than my mother (who I have banned from commenting, for obvious reasons), I occasionally seek information. I want to be able to pass this information along to the readers of New Stadium Insider, so they can go along their merry way knowing that they are as informed as possible. Is that so much to ask?
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