The CFL has parted ways with two prominent contributors to its website.
3DownNation deputy editor and Sportsnet contributor Justin Dunk as well as Riders play-by-play man Rod Pedersen have both been informed their content will no longer be posted on the league’s site. Dunk provided quarterback rankings, feature pieces and was the backbone of the site’s draft coverage while Pedersen wrote a weekly column on the Roughriders. Both were paid on a freelance basis and had verbal commitments that their work would be published for the duration of the season.
Dunk’s reporting of the roster violations in Saskatchewan on 3DownNation and other stories he’s broken this season were drawing complaints from clubs around the league. His status as a full-time employee of Sportsnet, the main rival to league rights holder TSN, was also a source of tension. During the last two CFL Drafts, his live Tweeting of the picks before they were announced by the league on TSN, caused quite a stir.
As for Pedersen. his assertion there is a CFL-led conspiracy and witch hunt against the Riders – which he espoused both on Twitter and on his popular blog – was enough to get him removed from the league’s official online vehicle (he still writes for the Riders team site.) He’s also been critical of CFL commissioner Jeffery Orridge on multiple occasions.
Is there a conspiracy against us?
— Rod Pedersen (@rodpedersen) August 14, 2016
While CFL’s decision is understandable on some level, the decision to purge a well-respected insider and a popular commentator is an indication that it’s only interested in fluffy, good news pieces while avoiding potentially newsworthy or controversial issues the league and teams may be facing. It certainly sends a message to other contributors employed by the site that there could be consequences for coverage that could be perceived as critical. Other North American professional sports leagues, including the NFL, NHL and MLB, employ professional journalists and commentators to cover the league with a significant degree of independence.
“We thank Justin and Rod for their contributions and wish them well in the future,” said a CFL director of communications Paulo Senra. “We have nothing further to say at this time.”
Of course, Pedersen has his own platform – several actually – and Dunk’s content will remain a fixture on 3DownNation for the foreseeable future. The CFL may shy away from breaking news, analysis and controversy but we certainly won’t.