The lowdown

kool_aid_man_glass

So, some Bozo blogger thinks Darren Dreger of TSN might be pulling NHL trade rumours out of his ass and making things up, eh?

Dreger’s inquisitor on a website known as Kings Kool-Aid calls himself “qwisp,” which may or may not be a version of his real name. That doesn’t matter, even though the thought of somebody who might be tapping while using a fake name calling out Dreger rings just a tad goofy.

It’s a witty bit of interpretive scrawl by qwisp, but it goes to show how little this person knows about the challenges facing MSM types like Dreger, who earn their living by gathering information, and the rules of the insider game as they pertain to protecting sources.

The point being pushed by qwisp is Dreger’s item on Vincent Lecavalier and possible interest in him by the Los Angeles Kings is vague and written in a flimsy enough way it could be nothing more than the product of a fertile mind on a slow news day.

Vague and flimsy? Yes. Intentionally so. The product of a fertile mind? Not a chance. What, did Dreger issue an E-3 with this?

RULES OF THE GAME

Whether it’s a ridiculously connected guy like Dreger or TSN running mate Bob McKenzie or those of us further down the information gathering food chain in the MSM, there are tried-and-true ways of protecting sources and keeping the information pipeline open.

Many of those tricks of the trade — not attributing comments, using unnamed sources and even employing good old-fashioned mis-direction to protect somebody who has given you the drop on something — fly in the face of what old-school types like me learned when getting into the business. But the business has changed. The demand for immediate information is greater than it’s ever been. People want the goods now. If you’re getting your dope from the morning paper, you’re late. You either deliver or you don’t. On top of that, people love rumours. They eat up speculation.

While that opens the door for any kook or clown with a blog template to float all kinds of unsubstantiated rumours, pass off gossip as fact and flat-out make things up, that’s not the case with Dreger. Granted, it can sound that way — “Well, where’s the quote from the GM or the player in question?” — but disguising the fact somebody spilled the beans is essential in making sure they keep talking to you down the road.

HOW IT WORKS

Dreger doesn’t need me talking for him, so I won’t, but here’s some of the ways I’ve protected sources. Let’s go on the premise GM X has told me he’s interested in trading Player X because he wants too much money.

— You can be vague, as Dreger was with the Lecavalier item: “The Edmonton Oilers will likely be listening to offers for Player X at the trade deadline and there could be six teams interested, including the Los Angeles Kings . . .”

— You can say it yourself without attribution: “The Edmonton Oilers are looking to trade Player X at the trade deadline . . .”

— You can use an unnamed source: “A source close to the Edmonton Oilers says the team is considering trading Player X because he wants too much money . . .”

— You can ask the question: “Are the Edmonton Oilers contemplating trading Player X at the trade deadline because he wants too much money?” Or, “What’s this I hear about Player X wanting $20 million over four years from the Oilers?”

No matter which of the four ways you frame it, you can follow up by saying, “When asked to confirm the possibility Player X might be traded, GM X declined comment,” or “GM X laughed off suggestions Player X might be traded and said, “We’re not shopping Player X.”

Of course, shopping Player X means actively communicating with other GMs looking for offers, as opposed to being willing to trade Player X if his salary demands don’t change. In that sense, GM X isn’t lying.

THE BOTTOM LINE

The problem is, people with no contacts and no inside information can play loose with all of the above and toss as much stuff against the wall as they want in the hope some will stick.

Not because they’re protecting sources, but because they don’t have one real shred of information. You’ve read it. I’ve read it. There’s 100 screens of the stuff out there on any given day. There’s always some Bozo making stuff up. This qwisp is suggesting maybe Dreger fits in that long-shoed group. I think not. I know not.

For information junkies trying to separate intentional mis-direction or vagueness employed by a reporter to protect a source from bogus rumours with no factual basis, it’s difficult to know what to put much stock in.

In the end, it comes down to credibility. Who wrote it or said it? What’s their record on getting it first and getting it right? How connected are they? Who do they answer to if what they write or say is absolute fantasy?

Whether it’s a MSM guy like Dreger or some Bozo blogger, the same questions should apply.

–Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.

  • RCN

    Bozo wrote:

    I’m a Dreger fan, but this ain’t his finest hour.

    I agree. Setting aside Quisps' denunciation and Robin's rebuttal, I think the piece still reads to most people as 'slow news day'. If Dregor has the goods on this, protecting sources or not I think he could have been a bit firmer in 'standing by his claim'. I'm not suggesting that Dregor is full of crap or that he isn't right more times than not. It's just that if you're a pretty girl dressed in a short skirt standing on a streetcorner on a Saturday night in a bad section of town, it doesn't matter that you're pure as the driven snow and go to church every Sunday; at that point, you start to lose the right to get huffy when someone calls you a name you don't like.

    Get off the corner, Dreger.

  • RCN

    @ Ender the Dragon:
    Easier said than done.
    Look at this item. If there's important stuff happening or I'm on the sniff about the Oilers coaching candidates because I've gathered some tidbits of info, I'm sure not writing about some Bozo in southern California because, frankly, I don't give two squirts what he thinks and I can promise you Dreger cares less than that.

    This stretch is always slow, outside of the teams who are in the playoffs. Some reporters are covering the conference finals, others are burning days owing. Others, like Dreger, have to fill space and air time between games.
    With the teams, management and scouting staffs are huddling in preparation for the draft (the Oilers have been in Banff the past few days) etc etc. It's pretty thin right now.

    Maybe we're standing on street corners because fans want something, anything, 24-7 even when there's jack going on.

  • RCN

    Robin Brownlee wrote:

    If you MUST have some news on the coaching situation, I could make something up .

    I would probably just question your sources then…and it really doesn't make any difference because if they are not hiring from within the organization then no one really knows what to expect anyway. This coaching hire seems more important to me, than any of the moves Lowe made post-Pronger.

  • RCN

    Robin Brownlee wrote:

    @ Tyler:

    I can tell you this, Dreger isn’t getting paid what he’s getting paid to go 1-for-75 on the trade front.

    I was always under the perception that media types like Radio and TV personalities were paid slightly more than imported Mexican cabbage pickers at local farms. Am I wrong? What kind of scratch are we talking for a D.D media type? 6 figs??

  • RCN

    @ Robin Brownlee:

    You want to write something about how the fine folks at JSBM make up nothing but nonsense? We could use the traffic.

    As for everyone else, Dreger is no Eklund. That jacka$s is batting under .100 lifetime. Remember the fool he made of Sportsnet when he guaranteed Ryan Smyth was locked into a 5-year deal? Don't compare someone on TV that uses their real name, to some anonymous a-hole that sits on a website, and unloads garbage day after day.

    The guy keeps making money because he has "sources" that never seem to get anything right, or he steals it from other websites.

  • RCN

    Harlie wrote:

    I was always under the perception that media types like Radio and TV personalities were paid slightly more than imported Mexican cabbage pickers at local farms. Am I wrong? What kind of scratch are we talking for a D.D media type? 6 figs??

    I heard Gregor runs his own company and pulls in six figures plus…sounds pretty good to me…TV guys who are national make six figures for sure, and in many cases over $200,000, but does it matter what guy makes really. Lots of rig pigs like myself make just as much if not more, but I guarantee you all of us would rather cover sports than work on the rigs.

  • RCN

    @ alan:

    Come on, there has got to be some charm to working long, strenuous hours, and living in a garbage hole like Fort MacMurray? Wait… Umm… Go OIL BARONS! or Burger Baron. Mmmm

  • RCN

    @ alan:

    I once considered a career in Radio & TV broadcasting and was looking at taking the course offered at NAIT. To my dismay I found that the wages for that profession were lower than most trades, which led me to take a boring assed Power Engineering course which I barely scraped by in.

    In fact, the Head of the Power Engineering teaching department brought me into his office one day and told me that I was more of a distraction than anything else and he made a deal with me to help me slide through if I decided not to take the full 2 year course. I happily agreed and waited for my full 2 year Tuition loan to clear and then cut my courses short and walked away with some government cash and a diploma to boot! 15 years later I have my own company and I'm making $ in multiples of 6 digits per year. The great thing about Power Engineering is that it is used in basically every industry and large building in the world (i.e every building or plant needs Boilers or Pumps) so my course taking wasn't a total waste! Heck I actually have fond memories of my old NAIT days and am grateful for the Teacher who cared enough to point me in another direction.

    Log story short is that I always think back to my time at NAIT and wonder how my life path would have went if I ended up in Radio & TV. I always chuckled to myself thinking that I made more doing what I do. It looks like I still do (compared to some) but I am surprised to hear that some guys are making in the 6 digi's.

  • RCN

    @ Harlie:
    Those guys making the big coin are holding a very small # of positions. For every anchor on TSN there are 100 working at local news stations around the country that make much less than the average tradesman. Not everything is about money (he tells himself after dropping 8 years of tuition into a BA and MA), but passion doesnt pay the bills.

  • RCN

    Archaeologuy wrote:

    @ Harlie:
    Those guys making the big coin are holding a very small # of positions. For every anchor on TSN there are 100 working at local news stations around the country that make much less than the average tradesman. Not everything is about money (he tells himself after dropping 8 years of tuition into a BA and MA), but passion doesnt pay the bills.

    Sorry but you don't know what you are talking about. Every morning show host in Edmonton makes six figures almost. Not to mention other perks they get.

    I'd take a bit less money for a job I loved rather than make more and hate it every day. But don't come on here and talk like you know about salaries of people unless you are correct. Gregor feel free to confirm who is right here.

  • RCN

    @ james:
    Really? You think the guy working in Saskatoon is making 100 grand a year reporting the Sports despite the fact that many of the companies that own these stations are on the verge of bankruptcy? Good luck with that dream.

  • RCN

    @ james:
    AND, while am at it, I didnt say they make min wage, I said they make less than the average tradesman. Lucky me I happen to know a graduate of the NAIT program who IS living his dream, and I happen to KNOW that he doesnt make 6 figures doing it. Yeah he gets perks, interviewing legends like Quinn and Howe, but those well paying jobs only exist in the big markets and the big 3 sports stations. Start counting the positions for Sports News anchors, they arent exactly plentiful and new opportunities dont come up all that often. Then consider how many students from around the country graduate every year. Dont pretend that the Morning Show Host in Etown is in the same position as all other sports reporters in the friggin country.

  • RCN

    @ james:
    I know for a fact that isn't true. My buddy was working with CTV as the weekend sports anchor and let me tell you he was not making anywhere near 6 figures.

    james wrote:

    Gregor feel free to confirm who is right here.

    What TV news channel is he on again?

  • RCN

    Archaeologuy wrote:

    @ james:
    Really? You think the guy working in Saskatoon is making 100 grand a year reporting the Sports despite the fact that many of the companies that own these stations are on the verge of bankruptcy? Good luck with that dream.

    Who said Saskatoon? Good rebuttal. Not every guy on the rigs makes six figures and not every guy in media does. What is your point? Your original point was that only national guys make six figures and that was a false statement. I said Edmonton, which is considered a major market. Guys and gals hone their trade in smaller markets and then move up. Bigger market equals bigger dollars for the most part.

  • RCN

    @ james:
    I agree with your last comment. The previous one made it sound like you thought everyone we see on the news made 6 figures. Or at least that's how I interpreted it. We're on the same page now.

  • RCN

    @ james:
    Hold on! You want to disclude places like saskatoon from the discussion of what sports anchors make a year around the country? That makes no sense. I know for a fact that you are wrong. I never said every guy on the rigs either. I said the average tradesman. Theres a big difference between what the pipefitter makes and what the unskilled labourer makes.

    james wrote:

    Your original point was that only national guys make six figures and that was a false statement.

    And here I thought that my original points was :
    Archaeologuy wrote:

    Those guys making the big coin are holding a very small # of positions. For every anchor on TSN there are 100 working at local news stations around the country that make much less than the average tradesman.

    A point which did NOT state that Anchors ONLY make 100 grand on the top 3 national stations, but rather that on average they made less than tradespeople.