Friday, 3 August 2012

Is RDS a trustworthy news source?

Okay folks, let's keep the RDS bashing to a reasonable level.  Yes the unattributed report on the P.K. Subban negotiations doesn't reflect very well on them, but let's not start throwing the whole lot into the sacrificial pyre.

RDS has some credible journalists, Renaud Lavoie, Luc Gélinas and Stéphane Leroux leading the way.  If they put their name on it, you can trust them.

The play-by-play team of Pierre Houde and Marc Denis is nonpareil, I'll put them up against any working currently on TSN and CBC.  They're knowledgeable, informative, even-handed, objective when necessary, such as when pointing out instances when a penalty should have been called on a Canadien.  They don't mangle the language, they're a joy to hear, and their team rivals the good old days of René Lecavalier and later Richard Garneau paired with Gilles Tremblay.  Since Marc Denis has replaced Benoit Brunet, I'm quite happy watching games on RDS.  Before Benoit Brunet, Yvon Pednault and Bertrand Raymond made my ears bleed, and I kind of stopped watching Les Glorieux.  So big ups to Mr. Houde and Mr. Denis.

L'Antichambre gets a lot of flak, and I only started watching last season, but if you understand that these guys are there to provide commentary, analysis and opinion, then you can take them for what they are worth.  As much as I hated Michel Bergeron when he was coaching, he offers valuable insights into how a team runs, how things are in the dressing room, and how a coach relates to his captain or GM, for example.

Another thing to remember is that RDS isn't some rogue organization or loose cannon like Bleacher Report, but the sister station to TSN, and owned by Bell.  So it's not going to freelance or make up stuff.

Further, they are the official broadcast partner of the Canadiens.  If anything, they won't do anything to damage this relationship or kill this golden goose.  They've got a good thing going, they're not going to rock the boat or fabricate stories to drive clicks on their website, that's a ridiculous proposition.  Their cash cow is the Canadiens.  If anything, I'm worried about the opposite scenario, about the coziness of the relationship, about whether a reporter at RDS will tailor his coverage to put a more positive spin, so as to not roil the waters, more so than another reporter with a more distant link who would just be careful to not damage his access to the team and players.

One incident from last season is instructive in this regard.  When Pierre Gauthier announced that Andrei Markov was going to play in his first game, he didn't do so in a formal press conference, but during a radio interview with a radio station in Ontario if I remember correctly.  The on-air staff at RDS were astounded, and opined that with the amount of money their employer was paying to have exclusive broadcast rights, they should have at least equal access to these announcements.  A couple nodded their heads and agreed that this discussion between RDS and the Canadiens would occur at a level a few steps above their pay grade, and sure enough a few weeks later Pierre Gauthier was let go.

So if the first P.K. story was a one-off and a mistake by a junior editor while everyone is on vacation, let's chalk it up to that.  There will be a couple changes made, but overall we can trust RDS as a news source on the Canadiens and the NHL in general.  We shouldn't in our haste to question the story throw the baby out with the bath water.

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