Budget Cuts Take Aim at Islanders Point Blank

IslandersPointBlank.jpgThe New York Islanders once dominated the National Hockey League, winning four straight Stanley Cups from the 1979-80 season through the 1982-83 season. But things have been dry in Uniondale, N.Y., for quite some time, as the team’s last postseason-series victory came in 1993.

The beleaguered club finally did something right last season: Recognizing that coverage of the other New York-area sports teams dwarfed coverage of the Islanders, the team launched Islanders Point Blank, a news blog that it financed but did not host on the official team site.

Proprietor and sole writer Chris Botta spent 20 years working for the Islanders, serving as the team’s public-relations director for 13 of them, until leaving to become a consultant and an adjunct professor. But according to The New York Times, Islanders president Chris Dey approached Botta about starting Islanders Point Blank last summer, and the blog was attracting 500,000 users per month.

However, the Islanders have not escaped the economic malaise affecting the rest of the country, and the team informed Botta that it would reduce its financial commitment to Islanders Point Blank, the Times reported. When Botta announced the news on the blog, more than 1,500 Islanders fans signed an online petition.

Dey told the Times:

We’d love to see it continue with Chris’ commitment, passion and insight. (But if not, there) might be an opportunity for another entrepreneur to cover the Islanders in a similar manner.

And Botta told the newspaper:

I’m trying to keep it going, but I honestly can’t say how it’ll go for next season. I’ve been talking to news outlets, Long Island businesses, trying to line up support, but there’s nothing definite so far.

I’ve heard from half a dozen NHL teams, all based in the U.S. and covered by only one beat reporter, looking into doing what Point Blank did last year. I told them, “Get someone you’re comfortable with, a former employee or someone from a newspaper who hit the wall or who got laid off.”