The Buffalo Bills released a new media policy ahead of their first organized team activity of Phase III of the 2016 NFL Offseason. It is a bad policy.
When teams do this, it only hurts their own fans seeking information. https://t.co/CikYGz9yln— Tyler Dunne (@TyDunne) May 24, 2016
It is a bad policy because it restricts the media's capability to tell fans what is going on even when what is going on is of (a) menial value ultimately and (b) irrelevant to the team's success or failure in the 2016 season. It's also (c) self-defeating since it restricts media from reporting on the Bills OTAs but doesn't restrict fans from doing so on social media. That is very stupid. Media policies that can be described as "petty" and "stupid."
We at @PFWAwriters have inquired about Bills' practice policy, but fairly certain no Ws and Ls determined in tweets about dropped passes.— Jeff Legwold (@Jeff_Legwold) May 24, 2016
This is an opportune moment to point out that the Buffalo Bills haven't been to the playoffs since 1999.
The Atlanta Falcons also modified their media availability today. They've decided to offer a film study session with members of the coaching staff to media members once a week to clarify their schemes and point out what they'll be trying to correct during OTAs. They're educating their fans through the prism of the media so they that can understand their product better and feel more connected to the individuals running the organization.
You can guess which of the two policy changes are more popular today.
There's a media policy that works! https://t.co/OdRsSIr6Sb— Doug Farrar (@SI_DougFarrar) May 24, 2016
I get where the Bills are coming from.
Controlling the message that filters through traditional media can be of immediate benefit to NFL organizations. It's why so many continue to grow their own media operations. There's no better outlet to tell fans how good every one of your draft picks are or how ready to break out every player on the roster is or how dedicated every coach on staff is than your own employees.
And it certainly doesn't hurt when traditional media is increasingly reliant on access as it's last vestige of respectability. It was why so many media members were upset at Marshawn Lynch's media antics even though 99% of what gets said in the same circumstances is the hackneyed filler that nobody cares about except the media passing it along.
When access doesn't provide insight, it doesn't carry value.
Now let me be clear. We've contacted the Rams often since TST's inception in 2006. I reached out to them yesterday regarding the OTA schedule and got clarification quickly. They've been professional at every turn in my interactions with them both virtually and in person. And I've also got a lot of respect for many of the traditional media members that are covering the team now and have done so in the past. I'm not subtweeting them by criticizing the Bills' policy.
Here's the bottom line. The game done changed. And it's still changing.
NFL teams think they are the CIA. It's amusing. They also think they own the reporters. https://t.co/MCcv8boxtb— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) May 24, 2016
It's unfortunate that the Bills chose this opportunity to respond to the changing landscape the way they did. Buffalo Rumblings, our brethren who cover the Bills for SB Nation, have done a great job covering the team and the policy. And the line gets blurrier when you have someone at the center of this like Matthew Fairburn, a former writer at Buffalo Rumblings who is now the Bills beat writer for the Syracuse Post-Standard.
Do I wish we had more access for TST? Of course. I'd love to be able to cover stuff directly. Do I think we deserve it? Of course. When you're winning at SEO, you're gaining the biggest audience. We're gaining the biggest audience of Rams fans looking for Rams news online and it's not close.
But it's 2016. I don't know how this is going to play out. Digital publishers and radio stations and tv stations and newspapers...I have no clue what 2020 is going to look like. What I know is that policies like the Bills' restrict the fans' ability to follow, learn about and enjoy the team they care about. That's self-defeating.
Here's hoping the Rams lead the charge in the opposite direction.