COLUMN: Perry Bergson — May 12, 2014

Perry
Perry Bergson
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Have you ever had one of those kind of weeks?

Part of my time was spent dealing with the fallout from Dave Leaderhouse’s column a week ago in which he questioned why the Prince Albert Raiders’ coach, president and GM were not full-time residents of the city.

To be fair, all three own homes here and team president Dale McFee’s roots are deep in this city, even if he is now working in Regina.

The former police chief has been instrumental in developing a process to take the team to a new level of accountability and performance.

Cory Clouston left the city not long after the season ended but that’s not entirely unusual either among the coaching fraternity. In most cases, the only tie they have to the community they’re working in is that job so once the season ends, they return to more familiar terrain.

GM Bruno Campese’s family is in B.C., but it’s difficult to argue that he isn’t here most of the time. He should actually spend a little more time at home, whether here or out west; he always seems to be in the office.

I wish Dave hadn’t compared the Raiders to the dysfunctional, money-losing Lethbridge Hurricanes but it’s his opinion and I’ve defended his right to say it.

That’s a point worth repeating. I don’t always agree with every word that our 10 columnists on the editorial page in the Daily Herald write, but I’ll go to great lengths to defend them.

I do know that the most talented Raiders team they’ve had here in recent years struggled to get into the playoffs and that left their rabid fanbase wondering what went wrong.

That in turn has led to a lot of discussion in the community.

I’ve received fairly regular comments on the website all season calling for the heads of both Cory and Bruno. If it was just a ridiculous comment suggesting they should be fired immediately and calling them names, the comments were immediately killed.

I wrote a few people back asking that they actually provide a reason for their opinion but I only remember one person doing it.

He and I had a frank email correspondence about the Raiders over the course of a couple of weeks, and though we disagreed on a fundamental point, we parted amicably.

There’s a lesson in that; people can disagree on something but engage in a productive discussion anyway.

Dave and I met with Bruno on Tuesday to clear the air and we had a constructive exchange.

The conversation will remain entirely off the record but Bruno mentioned one statistic that I will share because it blew my socks off.

The Raiders have now finished over .500 two years in a row. When was the last time that happened?

If you guessed 1994-95 and 1995-96, you would be correct. In total, they have eight winning seasons since 1990.

As the token Manitoban in the room, you know I’m going to point out that the Brandon Wheat Kings have 18 seasons at .500 or over in the same stretch. (I invite you to bring up Riders and Bombers stats next time you see me to even the ledger.)

Hockey is ultimately a results-based business and the Raiders brass will metaphorically live or die with how the team does on the ice.

I’ll leave the keyboard geniuses on the chat boards to detail how next year’s team, which is still 15 weeks from skating together for the first time, will surely bring dishonour to the city next winter.

If the team’s play in the final quarter of last season can continue into next season, and they can replace some key losses, it could be an interesting season. I’m all for giving them -- and the players on their greatly improved list -- that chance.

Part two of an interesting week came on Monday with a debate over media training that came up at city council.

I wrote a signed editorial in Wednesday’s Daily Herald, the first time I’ve done that. I did it because I wanted council to know the source of the criticism.

The reaction was immediate. People who have watched what we’ve been doing here the last couple of years were shocked by the attack at council and quite frankly surprised by the ignorance.

I heard from a stagger number of people by the time I went home on Friday, all of them strongly in support of my stance.

I won’t rehash what I wrote in the editorial but I will add this little bit. People often get mixed up about what the role of media is in the community.

If you have a message to get out, buy an ad. If you have a legitimate news story, we will write it.

It’s not uncommon for people new to dealing with reporters to get that mixed up.

For instance, we often get requests to read stories before they are printed, something no professional journalist will ever allow. We have a blanket policy forbidding that in all circumstances at the Daily Herald.

The city’s politicians do their jobs to the best of their abilities and so do we. Sometimes they make mistakes and sometimes we make mistakes.

It’s worth noting that in 27 years at a newspaper, I’ve never heard a reporter say that they were out to get somebody that day. It may happen elsewhere -- in fact I’m sure it does -- but I’ve never been a part of it.

A newspaper’s job is to find the truth, no matter how awkward and bothersome that can sometimes be.

We hold no grudges around here. There’s no one on council that we can’t work with but I want them to remember one thing.

When you are critical of businesses in your own community, you better use a rifle to pick them off rather than a shotgun because you don’t want any collateral damage to innocent parties.

And I do have one parting shot. The editorial named a single councillor because of an unfortunate thing he said but I know that it’s a sentiment shared by others who sit around the table. Even the mayor mused about muzzling staff and city agencies during the meeting and said “Negative sells.”

Shame on him.

 

Perry Bergson is the Daily Herald’s managing editor. You can reach him at 765-1302 or by email at perry.bergson@paherald.sk.ca

 

Organizations: Raiders, Daily Herald, Prince Albert Brandon Wheat Kings

Geographic location: Regina

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  • Lance
    May 13, 2014 - 17:56

    Okay, newspaper guys. We get your point, please no more finger wagging at the public. In the last couple weeks the public and specific council members have been tsk'ed, tsk'ed. Dave Leaderhouse shamed us for not reading the paper, followed up by Perry Bergson, twice. It was too much.