Michelle Kenneth's Hockey and Musings

When Hockey Writers Go Bad (and their Accusers)

If you love hockey and have been following Twitter, you may have noticed that a few male hockey writers are under attack for irresponsible behavior dealing with women on social media.  I’m going to throw in my two cents from a woman’s perspective from the press box…

First, I feel bad for Steve Lepore.  We cover the same teams.  We see each other all of the time on press row or in the locker room.  He’s great at what he does at his job.  When we spoke to each other, it was always about hockey.  That’s why I was just a little shocked to read of these accusations.  You just never know what people do…

I want you to keep in mind that a person’s character is always in question when accusations are thrown.  Not just of the accused, but also the character of the alleged victim.  People in the hockey media talk.  Teams talk.  The NHL talks.  We compare notes all of the time.  If, say, you were trying to break into the hockey media world and one person the NHL or team has a relationship with has a problem with YOU…YOU’RE NEVER GETTING IN.  Word gets around from one team to the next.  From one press box to the next.

For instance, I had a problem with a female blogger trying to break into the biz.  She posed as a friend and was talking dirt about me behind my back.  The teams were aware of it, but didn’t know who the person was behind the anonymous account.  I suspected she was the one doing it, so I fed her some false information to see if she’d tweet it under the anonymous account.  She did and she was caught.  One of the teams asked if I knew who it was, I told them I did.  I gave them the name…she was forever barred from all hockey leagues.  Not just NHL teams, all hockey leagues in North America.

Her behavior was unbecoming of a person they’d want in their press box.

That being said, how situations are handled in regards to Lepore and his accuser(s) are quite similar and different at the same time.  Lepore’s employers dealt with him so that their publications could save face and give them a chance to replace him with a new beat reporter.  Then again, another publication could pick Lepore up and because he has a relationship with the teams, he may still be credentialed in.  It would be up to each individual team whether to allow him back in the press box or not.  In the past, I’ve seen teams approach reporters to tell them they would not be credentialing them in under X publication because they didn’t like the owner.  They would allow the reporter to remain if they changed to a different publication.  Even publications like Bleacher Report (who never had a credentialed member of the media before) were allowed into the press box after Dave Lozo (formerly of NHL.com) was hired by them.  Dave has a relationship with NHL teams, so it’s only natural he’d remain under a different publication.

The relationship is not just with the publication, it is with the reporter as well.

As for his accuser, she may have destroyed her chance at entering the press box (or being ousted if she’s already there).  It’s not for accusing him, but how she handled it.  Instead of going directly to his employers with her accusations and proof, she released the info through social media and created a shit storm that went from one ‘bad reporter’ creeping to three ‘bad reporters’ creeping.

While I understand the need to create a public service announcement for any and all women that could be or already were a ‘victim’ to his ‘predatory’ ways, I can tell you right now, there were about a hundred other ways the situation could have been handled without ruining the ‘creep’ and their own (the victim’s) careers.

This is how the NHL and teams could view his accuser…they will look at her tweets and her accusations.  Then they will ask themselves, ‘if she is like this with a reporter, what would it be like if a player joked with her?’  Some teams are known to haze first time reporters.  What would happen if she couldn’t take the haze politely?  Would she misinterpret it and cause drama afterward?  Would she do like the porn star did when she shamed Philadelphia Flyers’ Michael Del Zotto on Twitter?  Would she take it too far?

If they can’t answer those questions, they’ll look to talk to anyone she has written for in the past.  What do her former publishers have to say about her?  Would they say that when they found out who the person was behind the social media storm against Lepore that it didn’t surprise them at all who the person was?  That this was apparently normal behavior coming from them?

Word gets around.  There are now articles detailing her account of the events.  It is now emblazoned on the internet.  Was this the correct career step for her to make?  Absolutely not.  It ruined her hockey future.

I’m not saying Steve is completely innocent, but I question the motive of his accuser.  She decided to be super vocal, while others kept it out of sight.  Why destroy him on social media?  Why not go directly to his employers and voice the complaint?

Or how about this?  Why not just block him?  Tell him directly he was being inappropriate?  Why not go directly to the NHL with the complaint if it was just too many coincidences?  I mean, there are hundreds of other ways to effectively approach the situation.  Instead, his accusers elected to humiliate him on social media and start this campaign which led to more and more accusations against one male hockey writer after another.

What if, by their actions, he committed suicide because they ruined him entirely?  They took away his dream by completely humiliating him nationally.  Is that what they ultimately wanted in the end?

What determines your character and if you’re worthy of being in that press box is by being smart with each move you make.  You creep on women on the internet…you’re going to get the boot.  All his employer has to do is tell the NHL why they are letting him go and he’s out for good.  Or vice versa, the NHL can tell his employers why they are no longer credentialing him in as a reporter.

For the victim(s), you create a mass social media spectacle like this one, the NHL and future sports writing employers are going to frown upon you.  Why?  Because you didn’t just embarrass the reporter, you embarrassed the league for credentialing him (and/or others like him) into their press box.  You’re targeting “hockey media,” not just any media.  HOCKEY MEDIA.

For those trying to break into hockey media, when you create the kind of drama as seen these past few days, you have permanently stamped yourself as DO NOT LET INTO SPORTS MEDIA.  It’s not the fact that you came out and talked about it, it’s how you handled it.

No, there is no excuse for what these guys are doing.  But how YOU handle this situation determines who YOU are and if YOU are the kind of person the NHL wants to cover them or continue to cover them.

What you can learn from this is this:

1) Guys, not all women can be trusted.  You know this.  It’s been drilled into your brain.  Remind your other head of this every single time.

2) Ladies, don’t put provocative or sexy photos of yourself up on the internet.  You welcome all creepy dudes across the internet.  Even just a pretty picture of your face can warrant a lot of unwanted attention.

3) Guys, do not engage random women on the internet with any creepy kind of sexual thing.  Unless you are paying for it on some sex chat…most normal women don’t engage in that kind of conversation after they’ve just met you.  Also, if a woman is pro-fem…you are asking for a death sentence if you engage them in this type of conversation.  If you value your job, your family, and relationships, don’t engage in this type of behavior with some random woman that is not your significant other.  You’re just asking for an end to all of those things you value.

4) Ladies, don’t go seeking attention from the entire universe when guys act out of line.  It is your responsibility to not encourage them if you don’t want this sort of attention from them.  You block them if you don’t want them contacting you.  Don’t respond to them when they get super creepy.  If they continue to the point you fear for your life, then contact the appropriate legal authorities.

5) Guys…play it safe and practice safe texts: abstinence from all talk that anyone can eventually determine as creepy that will cost you your job and any relationships you may have.

6) Ladies, if you don’t want guys to treat you in a perv way, then you MUST teach them what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior.  If we don’t teach them how to treat us, then how in the world are they going to know how we DESERVE to be treated?

May this be a lesson to both sides.  Guys, don’t do what these guys were doing.  Ladies, if you’re going to speak out, be smart about it.  Sometimes doing it the wrong way may jeopardize you and what you’ve been working so hard to achieve.

If I were in their shoes, I would have blocked the guy.  If he continued, I would have contacted the NHL or the teams.  They have a list of who he works for.  They would have forwarded the complaint on to his employers.  If going this route did nothing, I would have done a post about it without ever mentioning the person’s name to get a social media conversation going.  If someone asked who it was, I’d tell them privately.  You’d be amazed by how many creeps are out there that can be shared privately among women in DMs to get the word out that way.  So many have similar stories.  Most stories are not for the universe to read on social media.

If it became harassment, I’d up the ante and go the legal route.

But then again, how often does it get that far?

I’ve had stalkers that have shown up at my home.  I’ve had guys DM me because they liked my avatar picture because it was a pretty face.  I’ve had misogynistic assholes say shit to me for the last 7 years.

What did I do?  I let security handle the stalker because they realized it was odd that they found him outside my home on numerous occasions.  I blocked the guys on Twitter who got stupid.  They say shit about me on Twitter and in forums, but you have no idea what they said to me directly that warranted them getting blocked.  I stay away from the guys that talk shit to my face about women covering sports.  Better yet, I put my headphones in so I don’t have to listen to them.

Why?  Because I’m looking out for myself.  Ladies, there are always going to be creeps and crazies along the way.  If you want respect, you make everyone respect you.  If they don’t respect you, don’t waste another second on them.  Block, ignore and walk away.  Don’t give them another ounce of your energy.

Most importantly, if you are trying to work in this business of hockey writing, be professional.  That moment you are not, it could be the end to your dream.

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This entry was posted on December 1, 2014 by in hockey, NHL, writing.
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