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Ship's Log, Feb. 23: More access, more stories

As media projects around the country shutdown MLS should review their access criteria so more teams get covered the way the Seattle Sounders do.

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4 min read
Clint Dempsey introduced at Starfire with Jeremiah in attendance. Photo by Dave Clark.

Way back in 2009 the Seattle Sounders emailed a small, single-author blog and invited it to attend practice. This went well beyond expectations. Friends with baseball, football and basketball blogs were not allowed to attend practice as media. This decision helped fuel Sounder at Heart's growth.

Now, as more and more media are shutting down (Vice, DCist/WAMU this week) access for non-traditional media is more important than ever for MLS teams. Websites that grew out of newspapers have reduced their coverage of the league. The Athletic has an extreme focus on Inter Messi.

Fans of dozens of teams are mostly getting regular beat-style coverage of their teams via the team itself.

This leads to less discovery by new fans, fewer stories to fuel search engines and social algorithms and more marketing as journalism (which serves its purposes and paid my bills for 2019).

MLS teams don't lack for physical space. It's not like they're the NFL with full press boxes and dozens at every practice. Even with the very open Sounders, there are times when the independent media in attendance at practice is just one or two people.

When looking at the teams that fill stadiums they tend to have an active blogosphere (including social, podcasts, vlogs). There is a semi-virtuous cycle in coverage. The more popular the team is the more active these near-professional (and fully professional) projects can be.

Atlanta, Orlando, Seattle, Toronto have all shown how to capture a market through empowering others to tell the tales of their teams.

It's why Sounder at Heart exists, yes. Part of this call is selfish. It's part of the life Jeremiah and I have chosen.

But along with those stories about shuttering outlets are tales from established and fledgling journalists who are denied credentials or not even allowed to get access to training.

Open the doors to coverage. It's going to help long term.

– Dave

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