How GMs Deal with the Daily Beat Writers

By: Neil Smith

One of the many parts of the role of the General Manager, Coach or player for a National Hockey League team is dealing with the daily beat writers, electronic journalists covering your team.  Some teams have only a couple of daily writers, LA for example, some have more than five, say hello to Toronto and New York.  It’s a part of the job that you can either embrace and enjoy or reject and let torment you.

For me, I always looked on the media guys as an important part of the daily soap opera that I had undertaken as my career.  I actually liked everybody on the beat, and believe that I had a good if not great relationship with all that would allow it.  But whether you like them or hate them, they’re not going away.  The media is as important to the business of sports as you are yourself as the GM.  Yes that’s right, the media is very, very important.  What other business gets free advertising every day at least throughout the season?  What other business get articles and columns and editorials and fan mail published free of charge?  What other private non charitable business gets endless hours of free television and radio time?  How would we get the message out to the fans if we had to pay for it?  The answer:  we couldn’t.

So you better learn early and learn often that the media has a place in your business, so get used to it.  Now that’s not to say you have to like or respect every media member and what they say or write.  It’s hard for a real hockey, basketball, football, baseball, etc person to have the same amount of respect for a media member’s opinion on the sport as a peer within the business.  But it’s important that you do respect that the writer or electronic media guy has a job to do and is trying to do it as best they can.  You may not agree with what they say, you may not like what they say, but you must acknowledge that they’re simply trying to do their job.

Some of the media do at times cross the line of being personal.  This can happen when the team is not going good and an attack is launched by a media member or the media in general.  Now you are really tested.  Are you going to show the media guys that they’ve got you angry?  Are you going to let them know you read or listen to what they have to say?  If you react and cut somebody off from communicatiing with them because of what they’ve said, haven’t you actually proven that they must have been at least partially right?  Because if they were way off base you wouldn’t care or react.

Listen it’s not easy dealing with these guys every day.  Especially if you think that one of them is trying to get you fired and it’s eating away not only at you, but also your wife, kids, mother, father, etc.  But it is your job.  You’re paid alot of money to deal with it.  My answer to it is to have fun with it.  Never let them see you sweat.

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