Pedersen’s criticisms of Dunk unfair and unfounded

On Monday morning, Saskatchewan Roughriders play-by-play man Rod Pedersen levelled a number of accusations at 3DownNation deputy editor Justin Dunk. While I’m loath to engage in media beef – which can often be tiresome – as the managing editor of 3Down and the person responsible for bringing Dunk on board, I feel compelled to respond.

First, let me say this: I stand by our reporting of the Saskatchewan Roughriders roster hijinks last week, which included the initial tweets from Calgary quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, details from Darrell Davis on the number of players the Riders had at practice on a regular basis and Dunk’s subsequent follow up that the team was housing and paying those players. Additionally, nobody from the CFL or the team has raised concerns with me about the validity of our stories.

Furthermore, Dunk’s reputation for accuracy and integrity is impeccable. I’ve known him personally for five years and worked with him closely for the last 18 months or so: in his time with 3Down, we’ve never had to correct or retract a single one of his reports. Justin and I work closely together to make sure the reporting that appears on 3Down is fair and accurate and his commitment to be right above all else – including being first – is paramount.

Pedersen refers to Dunk’s reporting, and that of Post Media reporter Scott Mitchell, as “cavalier accusations” and offers this nugget in defence of that statement:

“Rider President Craig Reynold’s assertion on Friday that no non-roster players were being paid aligns with what I knew of the situation.”

This would indicate that Pedersen knew the Riders were utilizing non-roster players in contravention of CFL rules but chose not to report that information. To assert Mitchell and Dunk, reporters working for competing news organizations in different locations would fabricate similar stories is laughable. Toronto Star reporter Chris O’Leary also tweeted that he’s heard similar reports about extra players being paid and housed. Even without other journalists corroborating Dunk’s report, his work is strong enough to stand on its own.

While I recognize Pedersen strives to maintain a close working relationship with the Saskatchewan organization and serve his pro-Rider fan-base, it is unfair to criticize those willing to provide more objective reporting. If Pedersen wants to rile up Rider Nation because it’s good for ratings, that’s fine, but he shouldn’t do so while questioning the integrity other members of the media.

Pedersen goes on to allege that Dunk used sources inside the league office for his reporting during the CFL Draft when he broke several of the picks before they were announced on TSN (something Dunk’s now done two years running.)

This, again, is a completely baseless allegation: not only is it false, but it defies logic. It would mean the CFL wanted to upstage a broadcast partner who pays millions of dollars for broadcast rights by leaking information to another media organization and to a reporter with ties to TSN competitor Sportsnet (where Dunk is a full-time employee.)

His condemnation of Dunk also represents a change of tune for Pedersen. Here’s what he wrote in the May 12 edition of his column:

“Frankly, Justin Dunk is the ideal person to be covering the CFL.  He’s a millenial (sic) with a football background and a flair for how the media works.  He went into CFL Draft Day with a plan and absolutely crushed it while TSN was caught with their pants down.

I loved it.”

So Pedersen has gone from loving Dunk’s reporting to condemning it after Dunk’s excellent work made things difficult for the team Pedersen “covers.” Dunk may be a millennial – a generation known for self-absorption and a lack of work ethic – but it seems to me he could teach an industry veteran a thing or two about journalistic integrity.

Drew Edwards is the founder of 3DownNation but has since wandered off. Beard in the photo not exactly as shown.