My husband Marc had been covering Shakey’s V-League volleyball games ever since he started his volleyball blog. He’d been successful gathering the “Friendster crowd,” a fan base that you’d probably call “photo-happy.”

Marc often tagged along my dad whenever he covered it for The Philippine Daily Inquirer, and got free training from one of the country’s best sports photographers in the process. Eventually, dad trusted him enough to forward one of his photos to Inquirer’s chief photographer, which gave Marc his first-ever print byline.

That Inquirer stint made Marc cover and take photos of V-League diligently for his blog and as a “standby” just in case Inquirer needed a photo but all of their photographers were busy covering more important things. He was so diligent that sometimes he forgot his work priorities.

Marc’s just one of the amateur photographers who covered V-League diligently and gave the league free online exposure—there are a lot of them out there. Some have blogs like Marc, while other share their photos through their social networking accounts. We bloggers know better than anyone how blogging can “light a fire and keep it going” in Public Relations (PR). Advertisers won’t waste their time and money inviting us to their events if we didn’t. But apparently, the management of Shakey’s V-League didn’t think the free online mileage they’ve been getting was important: Photographers can no longer take photos of their games unless they have a press pass, even if they paid for their own tickets. No one can take photos other than those with press pass, period.

And their reason for this was because they said they wanted to prioritize the “media professionals” and get more ticket sales for the quarter finals. It’s not like they’re going to run out of seats for the “media pros,” because from what my dad tells me, Inquirer doesn’t seem to be that concerned about V-League. Not much, anyway. They would always choose PBA (Phil. Basketball Association) or PBL (Phil. Basketball League) if the game schedules conflicted with V-League.

This isn’t the first time V-League showed little concern for online media. And this isn’t the first time they pissed us off.

Last conference, Dad lent Marc some of his unpublished photos for use on his volleyball blog. Marc made sure to put a photo credit to my dad, because as you and I both know, commercial use of great photographs are worth quite something. I don’t know what’s wrong with V-League, but I guess they just don’t think too highly of online media that they thought it was ok to use any photo published online without permission AND cropping off the photo credit while passing the work off as their “own official web site photo.”

Marc wrote them an email telling them to take down the photo because they are using it without the photographer’s permission—with my dad’s email address on copy-furnish of course.

The next time Dad covered for the V-League, he was approached by a PR person who profusely apologized and humbly asked for his permission to use the photo on their site. But you know what? Their PR person NEVER apologized to Marc for taking the photo from his blog in the first place. Not once.

Now, tell me, what’s wrong with that picture? It seemed to me that they just don’t know squat about how things online work, or they just don’t have that much respect for online media. And they just got a bit “unlucky” with the photo thing with Marc because they had no idea he was the son-in-law of the photo journalist they think highly of.

Here they go again by not allowing any other person (even though he/she is paying for her own ticket) to take photos of the games if they don’t have a press pass. IMHO, I think denying these photographers (no matter how “amateur” they are) equates to denying them of freedom of expression. Photos “express” events through visuals, instead of words. It’s not like they’re doing something totally confidential that taking photos shouldn’t be allowed.

They’re doing this because of profits? Uh, really? The amateur photographers are also paying for their tickets. Aren’t those profits too? They say they wanted more “fans” to be able to watch the league. Duh. The reason why these photographers waste their time and effort taking photos of their league was because they are fans in the first place.

Maybe, it’s just their bias. Or maybe they think that by denying amateurs taking photos of their tourney, they’re making themselves “more exclusive” like PBA or PBL. I don’t know, these are just my speculations. But in my opinion, I really think this is a huge online PR mistake on their part.

It’s sad (and not to mention frustrating) that there are those who disregard online media like this. Especially when online media helped keep the fans’ excitement over their league alive all throughout the year. That’s where fans talk about the players, exchanging ideas, and guessing what would happen in the coming season. Sure, they have their own site and forum. But that website is just a little speck in the huge WWW. Online, the more people talk about you, the better it is for your popularity—good or not. But then, I guess that’s just me thinking blogs and other forms online media are important.

I co-own the blog with Marc, and I manage the back-end. But I’m not a volleyball fan, though I am a huge fan and supporter of online media. It hurts that this form of media we try to promote (ie. Philippine Blog Awards) means nothing to others. But then again, maybe they’re just not aware of it yet, or they’re just “experimenting.” Who knows what they really wanted to accomplish by closing doors on those who have whole-heartedly given them free online media mileage? It’s all a mystery to me.