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Greggggate over: WHL ends ban

January 11, 2011 Comments off

So the strange tale of Kamloops Daily News sports editor Gregg Drinnan‘s ban from speaking to Kamloops Blazers management and personnel is over following a meeting between the team, the WHL and KDN editor Mel Rothenburger and publisher Tim Shoults.

Gregg can report as usual and the WHL has admitted that the Blazers contravened the league’s media policy.

[WHL commissioner Ron] Robison admitted that the Blazers were in violation of the WHL media policy by restricting the sports writer’s access to team personnel.

However, he was sympathetic to the Blazers’ issue that coverage has not been as balanced at what is received by other franchises in other WHL cities. He provided few examples other than to note one major press conference was not covered, as well as player signings.

more…

The worst they can come up with is that the Daily News missed a press conference? Really? Christ, no wonder they caved.

So what came of this: well, the Kamloops Blazers management was tar, feathered and made to look like a bunch of thin-skinned crybabies. Gregg got some more street cred to add to his resume and presumably some stories to tell. And, finally, the league comes out looking bad because, if the Blazer ban contravened its rules as it states above, why the hell was it allowed to remain in place for nearly three weeks?

KTW has all your Gregggggate coverage (updated)

January 6, 2011 Comments off

Last post on this until something new and exciting happens.

Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week has the most up-to-date and comprehensive story on the evolving controversy surrounding the Kamloops Blazers and Daily News. In his story, he writes that the Blazers (via NHLer Mark Recchi) claim to have OKed the ban with the league, but says they weren’t aware of it until the Dec. 22 letter was sent.

However, Mark Recchi, the Boston Bruins forward who is also co-owner of the major junior club, told KTW the Blazers’ actions were consented to by the league before the Daily News was notified.

“They knew. They knew everything,” Recchi said, noting the club’s ownership group supported general manager Craig Bonner’s decision. “The WHL knew everything before we did anything.”

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UPDATED: Now it turns out the dub was pulling Marty’s chain. A league spokesperson took back his old comments and said WHL brass DID know that the Blazers had decided to ban Drinnan. (Thanks for the heads up in the comments section).

“Yes, the Western Hockey League was made aware by the Kamloops Blazers that they’re going to move forward with this decision to ban Gregg Drinnan and they’re taking a letter to the paper,” Flett told KTW on Thursday (Jan. 6) afternoon.

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What a giant clusterfuck.

Anyways, back to the first story: Rothenburger read part of the letter to Marty The Reporter and said the rest lacked details as to why Drinnan was banned. He and Recchi both said the Jan. 11 meeting will aim to define what is “fair and balanced reporting.” Rothenburger thinks Drinnan’s work matches the standard. Recchi won’t. Maybe once they decide and finally settle the age-old question they’ll write a textbook on the issue to be used in journalism schools everywhere. Or not.

Gregggggate: Should there be a WHL boycott?

January 5, 2011 1 comment

Some details about the aims of the Jan. 11 meeting between the Kamloops Daily News and the Blazers:

According to a story in today’s paper:

“The objective of the meeting will be to look for common ground on defining ‘fair and balanced’ coverage of the team,” Rothenburger said. “Right now we have different opinions on that.”

Yesterday, Gregg Drinnan‘s former colleague Angela MacIsaac asked on her Twitter feed: “I wonder if any newspapers would have the balls to boycott coverage of their #WHL teams in defence of Gregg Drinnan.”

That’s an interesting question. First of all, is it even possible when you have to fill your sports pages? Let’s look at B.C.:

In Vancouver, the Province and the Sun don’t need the WHL to fill their pages. But Chilliwack’s two twice-weekly papers probably do. Kelowna has a paid daily that needs feeding, although the Cap News could probably get by. The Cranbrook Daily Townsman definitely needs the Ice coverage. But in Prince George, they have a Junior A team with which to weather the storm.

But any boycott would probably start in Kamloops and would have to be launched by the Daily News, which for the moment seems inclined to talk before waging war. It will be interesting to see what comes out of the Jan. 11 meeting. If the Blazers come to the table demanding sugar and spice and everything nice from the Daily News, I’d like to see a boycott threatened.

I doubt it will be necessary, though. The Blazers have taken a PR schellacking, especially on Twitter. (Buzinga of the week goes to Dylan Bumbarger, who wrote:

Next: @blazerhockey fires scoreboard operator for being too negative

The tweet was instantly retweeted again and again.

Vancouver Sun sports reporter Elliott Pap wrote about the issue for today’s paper:

The Blazers informed Daily News sports editor and hockey beat writer Gregg Drinnan in a three-page letter dated Dec. 22 that he would no longer have access to players, coaches or other team officials. Copies were also sent to WHL commissioner Ron Robison and Board of Governors chairman Bruce Hamilton.

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Meanwhile, even my blog stats show people care about the issue. This blog usually is frequented almost exclusively by readers in Western Canada. But today? Regina, Portland, Port Elgin, Summerside, Unity, Sask.,  Saskatoon, and so on. If that doesn’t show the Blazers play has backfired, I don’t know what does.

Also, this blog usually doesn’t get much traffic via search engines, a fact I don’t mind. This issue, however, has clearly touched a nerve. Here are some of the searches that led people to this blog yesterday (I culled a half-dozen non-Blazer-related searches):

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I think it’s only a matter of time before the Blazers cave off the ice like, well, they have been caving on the ice.

Is a boycott practical? Likely? Needed? Leave a comment.

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Blazers ban Daily News sports editor Drinnan (updated with proper spelling)

January 4, 2011 Comments off

I’ve since posted an update on Gregggate. Find it here.

Kamloops Daily News sports editor Gregg Drinnan, (spelling error fixed, sorry) who I read somewhere is considered the dean of the WHL gallery and whose widely read blog is the best source out their for WHL news, has been banned from speaking with the Kamloops Blazers until he writes nicer things. (Thanks to Kamloops This Week reporter Dale Bass on Jsource for the heads up.)

The Blazers may have been provoked by a recent column that closes:

In the meantime, Blazers fans are left to wonder just what has happened to this once-proud franchise and why it is unable to fix the things that are holding it back.

As one member of the organization was heard to say the other day: “You’d think there was a curse over us, or something.”

Kamloops Daily News editor Mel Rothenburger responded to the banning today with a column that you can find in full here. Here’s the gist:

This is unacceptable to us as a newspaper. It’s also unacceptable to the Western Hockey League, or should be, since it clearly violates league policy.

Unfortunately, the league has so far declined to lift the ban on Drinnan, and so has the team. We’re attempting to work with the team and league to resolve what is, to our knowledge, an unprecedented infringement of transparency and free speech in the reporting and analysing of hockey not only in this league, but across the country.

We don’t believe Craig Bonner and Tom Gaglardi, nor the rest of the team’s partners and managers, are unreasonable people. However, this ban betrays a certain desperation about the fact the team’s mojo remains missing in action. It won’t get the community the kind of team it deserves.

more….

Mel makes clear that Gregg  “doesn’t get mean about the players.” That’s important, these are 18-year-old kids who shouldn’t have to take unnecessary pot shots from reporters. Their coaches and general managers, on the other hand, are more than fair game, especially in a community like Kamloops where the local junior team is so revered.

In the meantime, Gregg has been writing about the Blazers by speaking to opposing players and coaches and quoting visiting media who are allowed to speak to Kamloops players.

I’ll point out that mentioning the banning would make great fodder for sports reporters looking for a new way to write “Blazers suck” in their columns.

I would also like to see someone craft an open letter, to be signed by local sports reporters, that can be forwarded to the league.

Any takers?

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Help keep this blog running for weeks to come by becoming a link farmer. It’s easy, quick and the pay is shite. E-mail bclocalreporter (at) gmail (dot) com. Also, take the poll on the right. It’s free. Lucky you.

Have I made an error? It wouldn’t be the first time. Leave a comment and I’ll duly update the post.

We’re making inroads into our census of B.C. community newspapers, but there are still a lot of blanks in the Journo-lust Spreadsheet. How many journalists work at your paper? How often do you come out? Who’s your publisher? Participation is free! The benefits unlimited! The exclamation points boundless!

What’s the point of this site?

November 24, 2010 Comments off

Last night I laid in bed for an hour or so trying to figure out what the point of this site is and whether it would be worth the risk of alienating potential employers were I to write something inflammatory and were they to discover my name.

That there is a risk, I think, illustrates the need for a site, as strange as that may sound <1>. I haven’t fully worked out the logic behind it, but I think that there needs to be a place for discussion among community journalists. We don’t have a bar around which we can gather, so the Internet will have to do.

<1> Admittedly, I’m not quite sure what risk there is. Most editors hire their reporters and I don’t plan on targeting the guys who lay out the pages. I also don’t plan on looking for a new job anytime in the next five years. As for publishers, I doubt they will ever realize this site exists, on the chance that it manages to build a following. Even in that case I don’t know if it would anger them and, if it did, whether they’d bother to look into the person behind it. But still, something nags at me, and that nagging feeling itself is a sign that something isn’t right.

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