Banned

It was a circuitous route from which I learned the news today.

A Twitter contact retweeted an @mirtle Tweet and so it was I learned my old friend, Gregg Drinnan, has been banned from the Kamloops Blazers pressbox.

Ten years ago, I was wrapped up in a miserable situation, writing for a thrice-weekly newspaper under the most bipolar, harassing editor one could ever meet. I took the Christmas month off for short-term medical leave but managed to keep going to the WHL games at Riverside Coliseum … or was it SportMart Place by then?

I knew one of Gregg’s reporters would be leaving shortly on maternity leave. I turned to my pressbox mate during the first intermission and said, ‘So when is the deadline for applications?’

Yesterday, he mumbled in his sometimes distracted way as he pored over his laptop for stats and news from around the league.

Oh, I said with a hint of dejection in my voice.

He perked up.

‘You’re not interested, are you?’

Well, yeah. It was time for a change, time for a new challenge, time to shake up life a little bit after five years of going nowhere fast.

Before the puck dropped to start the second period, I had a new job.

Gregg saved me. He will tell you I saved him.

‘Do you know how many people think they can do our jobs,’ he said with a smile.

Under Gregg’s tutelage for the next year, I learned more about balanced, fair, in-depth reporting than I had ever learned in the 10 previous years of my career.

So, it’s with a shade of shock that I discover today he’s been banned from the pressbox for negative reporting.

Gregg has been writing about the WHL since its inception. He covered the Regina Pats for two decades before moving to Kamloops, B.C., in — I think — 2000.

He upholds the integrity of journalism with every word he writes, every breath he takes.

And the Blazers, over whom he has lost sleep, years of his life and probably hair, now decide he needs to be a cheerleader for their cause.

While many may think it’s the local newspaper’s job to rah-rah and sis-boom-bah for its team, it’s just not that way … although many newspapers today can convince you otherwise.

It is a local newspaper’s job to report the news in a manner that allows you to make up your own mind. They write columns or opinion pieces to stir your thoughts, incite your fire and provoke your response.

When it comes to Gregg’s work, it is always based in fact … and a desire to ensure his readers are the most informed they can be.

I’ll go to my grave respecting the body of work Gregg Drinnan has compiled on the WHL.

But tonight, I lose quite a bit for the Blazers, a team of which I became a fan after I put my sports writing days behind me.

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