That philosophy is somewhat understandable. For a sports writer, Access is both a big part of the job and also one of the pain points. Hanging out in a locker room is mostly tedium, but writers are often required to be there in case news breaks. For instance, sometimes announcements are made regarding injuries. Missing that news when another outlet reports it looks bad to one’s supervisors.
Yes, Access can give you a chance to talk to players and coaches, but it’s similar to walking around an office building, interviewing people at their desks when they’re working. Most of the players are polite and answer questions; that’s not the problem. But you are not their friend. They don’t really know you. They shouldn’t really trust you. It is often not in their best interest to reveal too much to you. Plus, they have work to do, or people they want to talk to, or maybe they just want to go home, or screw around with their teammates a little. Or maybe they just don’t want to talk right now.
Navigating that environment takes a lot of energy and a lot of time. It is the most visible and tangible part of the job. It is not surprising that it is held in high regard.
However, that philosophy is also mighty convenient. If Access is the differentiator, then the quality of one’s work is secondary. Embracing that philosophy puts a columnist near the top of the Ponzi scheme. He can disparage others’ quality stories because they don't have Access. He can sling crap against the wall, see what sticks, and talk about how the duty of a columnist is to get people talking.
(It also helps if I decide that the platform that someone else has built, maybe singlehandedly, is an undeserved accident. After all, if having a bunch of readers and listeners had anything to do with merit, then why isn’t anyone listening to my brilliant reality-based daily podcasts with various sports luminaries? Answer me that!)
That philosophy can also be a clever bit of misdirection. With one hand, you trumpet how important it is to have Access. Meanwhile, the other hand actively lobbies to restrict that Access to the very people you’re disparaging.
But mostly, that philosophy is just some guy yelling and pointing at a velvet rope. He wants it to be a divider; a barrier that he has conquered. He is on one side and we are on the other, and the resulting hierarchy should be intuitively obvious to everyone. That might fool some people.
But most people know: a velvet rope is an illusion. Relying on it to differentiate oneself is an act of impotence. Insisting that it lends some moral superiority is an act of desperation. It's all bull. It's reducing a genuinely valuable tool into an exclusive little club to boost one’s ego.
As Souhan suggests, you get to choose who to read. So allow me to share my philosophy, which simplifies the choices considerably. You can either read people who reward your trust in them with thought-provoking, entertaining coverage of the Twins. Or you can rely on those who feel justified in regularly breaking that trust with incendiary garbage due to some fictitious self-important exclusivity.
I’d ask that you make that choice carefully. You get decide if the velvet rope is real or not.