Sen­a­tors block beat writer from board­ing char­ter flight

Team try­ing to pun­ish Ot­tawa Ci­ti­zen news­pa­per for re­port­ing on Uber video

The Daily Courier - - SPORTS - By The Cana­dian Press

The Ot­tawa Ci­ti­zen says hockey re­porter Ken War­ren was de­nied ac­cess to the Ot­tawa Sen­a­tors’ team char­ter to Tampa Bay for a week­end game against the Light­ning.

The de­vel­op­ment came two days af­ter the news­pa­per said it would not take down a se­cretly recorded video of sev­eral Sen­a­tors play­ers from an Uber ve­hi­cle in Ari­zona de­spite a le­gal no­tice from the NHL team in­sist­ing that leav­ing it on­line vi­o­lates pro­vin­cial pri­vacy laws.

War­ren, a Sen­a­tors’ beat writer, had been given a travel itin­er­ary but was told at the air­port that he could not board the flight, Ot­tawa Ci­ti­zen edi­tor-in-chief Michelle Richard­son said.

“I can con­firm it hap­pened this morn­ing,” Richard­son said on Fri­day. “For us, it doesn’t re­ally change our fun­da­men­tals.

“We’re still com­mit­ted to cov­er­ing the Sen­a­tors, both the good and the bad. Our coverage is im­por­tant to our read­ers and to their fans, and that’s not go­ing to change.”

De­pend­ing on the mar­ket, re­porters, broad­cast­ers, pho­to­jour­nal­ists and other trav­el­ling me­dia mem­bers some­times fly on team char­ters, which can be more timely and con­ve­nient than com­mer­cial flights.

The Ci­ti­zen pays em­ployee trans­porta­tion costs when char­ters are used.

In an email, a team spokesman said the Sen­a­tors were not avail­able for comment.

War­ren de­clined comment, re­fer­ring ques­tions to Richard­son.

“He’s still go­ing to make it for the game,” Richard­son said from Ot­tawa. “Just a lit­tle bit of a de­lay.”

Ear­lier this week, the news­pa­per flatly re­jected a le­gal no­tice from the NHL team, say­ing a video shot sur­rep­ti­tiously by an Uber driver was cir­cu­lat­ing on so­cial me­dia when the pa­per de­cided to re­port on it.

In the video, seven play­ers can be seen ridi­cul­ing Sen­a­tors as­sis­tant coach Martin Ray­mond and scorn­fully dis­cussing the team’s penalty-killing per­for­mance.

The video was shot with­out the play­ers’ knowl­edge by the Uber driver while on the road in Phoenix.

The play­ers later apol­o­gized for their re­marks. The video shared by the Ci­ti­zen also ap­peared on web­sites of other pub­li­ca­tions owned by Post­media Net­work Inc., the pa­per’s par­ent com­pany.

“We’re com­mit­ted to be­ing fair and ac­cu­rate,” Richard­son said. “We’re com­mit­ted to giv­ing ev­ery­body a chance to re­spond and to be­ing re­ally im­par­tial in our coverage. Our duty is to re­port on the facts as we know them and that doesn’t change.”

An Uber spokesper­son said the record­ing was a “clear vi­o­la­tion” of the com­pany’s com­mu­nity guide­lines, adding that Uber had helped to have the video taken down from YouTube.

NHL com­mis­sioner Gary Bettman weighed in on the Sen­a­tors’ Uber story at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto on Fri­day.

“It makes me con­cerned about what you say in an Uber,” Bettman said with a chuckle be­fore adding: “Uber’s a great com­pany, but when things like this hap­pen, I think it’s un­for­tu­nate. My guess is any­body in this room, in­clud­ing (the me­dia), have con­ver­sa­tions that were not meant for the light of day.

“It’s un­for­tu­nate if your pri­vacy is be­ing vi­o­lated.”

The Sen­a­tors will take a 6-7-3 record into to­day’s game in Tampa.

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