Finding the balance in our CFL coverage

While many of the pundits from legacy media outlets responded to the departure of CFL commissioner Jeffrey Orridge with a self-congratulatory round of I-told-you-sos – including this newspaper scribe – 3DownNation contributor Josh Smith took a decidedly different approach.

In his piece “Five good things Jeffrey Orridge did as commissioner of the CFL, ” Smith outlined some of Orridge’s accomplishments, including his drive to use social media to draw younger fans, his foray into daily fantasy with the Draft Kings partnership and his experimentation with live-mic games on TSN.

Smith’s point was that Orridge was focused on things that made the game more accessible and enjoyable to fans and those accomplishments went largely unrecognized. What he doesn’t say is that oversight took place because the reporters and columnists from traditional outlets aren’t fans and therefore don’t have the same perspective.

This is undoubtedly true and, for the most part, that’s a good thing (yes, how surprising coming from a tenured member of the establishment media). As reporters and columnists, we are trained that part of our role to make sure elected officials, government and others who hold power in our society are held accountable. That leads to a certain level of healthy skepticism and a willingness to criticize.

What makes sports journalism unique in some respects is that the audience, by and large, wants the team to be successful. Use too cynical a tone when covering a team (or a league) and there’s a risk of alienating the audience. Too Pollyanna and the “homer” label gets applied. Striking a balance can be difficult and the consequences of getting it wrong severe.

When 3DownNation started almost two years ago, we brought together conventional media types – three of our contributors are members of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing – as well as bloggers, most of whom had been writing about a team and the league on their own time and on our their own dime. It was an odd mix, to be sure.

The term “bloggers” can be something of a pejorative, evoking images of a lonely soul writing crazy things from the quiet comfort of mom’s basement. But the fan-centric contributors who have stuck with 3Down – primarily Smith, John Hodge and Santino Filoso – have shown a remarkable depth of knowledge about their teams and the CFL.

Hodge has written extensively about the ratio makeup of all nine teams across the league, something I reckon few traditional media members could even attempt. Filoso recently did a piece on why the Redblacks fan base – of which he is an unabashed member – should hate other teams and it was sprinkled with mildly obscure historical references only a devoted CFL scholar would know.

While all three have had their moments of “homerism” – Smith’s Twitter freakout over Hamilton’s signing of Chad Owens was the most memorable and humorous – they are generally willing and able to write critically about their teams when warranted. Doing so only enhances their credibility.

But, more importantly, they’ve retained their passion for their teams and the league and that emotion carries over into their writing. They write from a place of sincere appreciation of what the CFL represents and recognize the happiness (and agony) their teams bring to their lives. Traditional media members have passion, too, of course – most people who work the CFL beat love what they do.

But, every now and again, it’s important to remember that fans (and readers and viewers) want to be reminded about what’s going right, not just about what went wrong.

Right Jeffrey?

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.
Drew Edwards
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Drew Edwards
About Drew Edwards (870 Articles)
Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.

6 Comments on Finding the balance in our CFL coverage

  1. NotJoshSmith // April 18, 2017 at 10:44 am //

    Who are you kidding Drew? Josh does live in his Mom’s basement and you and Uncle Milty (aka The Spectator) have your heads so far up Scott Mitchell and Kent Austin’s asses, it’s a shame we get no real journalism around here in regards to our team.

    • mr62 cats // April 18, 2017 at 12:36 pm //

      Your complaints about Drew and “Milty” are highly misplaced.I seem to recall not too long ago that Kent Austin was not too happy with Drew’s reporting on the team for one reason or another. Drew has also made it clear many times he is not a Tiger-Cat “fan” but in my opinion his reporting has been original, smart and highly informative ever since he took over coverage of the team 8 years ago.
      As for Steve Milton, I don’t think any CFL team has a home town columnist with more overall perceptive and knowledgeable approach to the team, the game and its participants.
      Josh is a true fan and a darned good writer. He has a knack for nailing the essentials of what the Tiger Cats are up to and why. I couldn’t care less where he lives.
      The three contributors have helped us all be better informed fans. Perhaps you got confused and were thinking of the Blue Team’s appalling coverage by the Toronto media when you accused these fellas of providing “no real journalism” in connection with the Tiger-Cats.

  2. You guys do a great job. This is a true CFL website that has a wealth of info that is updated daily. What some forget is that back in the 80’s & 90’s coverage of the CFL in Canada was virtually non-existent in print and radio. If there was it was most always overwhelmingly negative. 3 DownNation in 2017 gives us CFL fans constant info of what we love the best – Canadian football. It provides us the good, bad, and the odd about our league and we love it that way. If nobody else says it I will – keep up the good work! Your efforts are appreciated.

  3. Lindsay Wilcox // April 18, 2017 at 12:33 pm //

    I get my Ticats AND CFL news from 3 Down Nation AND The Scratching Post, and occasionally CFL.ca. I don’t need any print media (sorry, Spec), radio/TV, or other web-sites. Hard, real news, occasional, well-labeled speculation, and great human interest stories.
    Thanks and keep it up !!

  4. Good article Drew and great that you & 3Down Nation have enough self-awareness to realize you need a broad spectrum of voices. Traditional media voices are important but the MSM “if it bleeds, it leads” mentality often over-emphasizes the bad news stories and neglects the good ones. Bloggers that are passionate fans may sometimes wave the flag too much but most of your writers aren’t afraid to criticize the home-town team.

    And let’s be honest, the anti-CFL, pro-anything-Toronto based drivel of the entire Sportnet crew (and many of the TSN personalities) is the farthest thing from “unbiased journalism”. I miss the old days when you didn’t know your sports writer’s favourite teams, but if you do at least try to be objective about it once in a while.

  5. Billy Dee // April 19, 2017 at 11:16 am //

    ” As reporters and columnists, we are trained that part of our role to make sure elected officials, government and others who hold power in our society are held accountable. That leads to a certain level of healthy skepticism and a willingness to criticize.”

    Unless your name is Hillary Clinton or Justin TUrdo.

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