Are the Right Conversations Happening About Derby News Network’s Decision to Retire?

Written by Kevin Dennison

In case you hadn’t heard Justice Feelgood Marshall, a founder of the Derby News Network (DNN), recently posted a passionate and lengthy Facebook status on his experience of starting DNN, revolutionizing the way grassroots coverage was handled for the sport, documenting the game’s resurgence one bout at a time, facing an army of naysayers and bullies and supposedly facing systematic sanctions from the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) until: BAM!  Two days ago all six core members of the site contributed to a post entitled “We Did Our Best” and announced that enough was enough, they were retiring DNN.

Give it a read. It has been published to DerbyLife as well in a post entitled A Few Words on Derby News Network. LOT’S of food for thought in that one.

I honestly find nearly every single aspect of this to be a astronomical shame and I can personally relate to their decision in many ways. I too have been on the verge of throwing in the towel on several occasions, most notably during and following my efforts with celebrating the sport in my home province of Saskatchewan through the 2013 Best of Sask Derby Vote. I just personally found it to be an exhausting and disheartening experience overall and I certainly won’t be organizing anything like that on the blog again, that’s for sure.

However, I was not blameless in it all. As some have been saying of the DNN and WFTDA situation, no one is ever the villain in their own story and I’ll admit that is most certainly true of myself as well. There is much to be said from the other side of the table too and in many cases, reality is that both sides usually bully and feel abused by one another. As much as I have witnessed and personally experienced bullying in this sport, I have also BEEN the bully too. I am not proud of it and to this day I still, deservedly, feel just generally awful about it. So, what good does pointing fingers and choosing sides really do? According to my personal experience, no good at all.

To all of you out there talking about this news over the course of the week, awesome! Keep an open mind and keep on talking! Don’t just sweep it under the rug and turn your nose up while walking away from it. Read people’s opinions, read the posts made by DNN’s founders on their walls and strive to soak it all in. However, instead of joining in on choosing sides, I suggest we all seek to identify and address the core issues at hand.

Think about how so much miscommunication has clearly happened here and take this opportunity to actually read and ponder the existing policies. Maybe there IS need for tweaking there! What would that look like? How does YOUR league’s media policies look? Is it perhaps time to re-approach your own as well? Think about how your own league communicates with photographers or other media, do you put a lot of consideration into accommodating media at your events and making it an enjoyable experience for them? Does some local media keep coming back to cover your bouts? Ask them why they do! Has some media only come out once, then never came back out again? Ask them why they haven’t!

In terms of the current situation playing out on social media, I think Tilly Tilbrook raises a great point in a public post she made on her wall (and linked to in discussion on DNN’s Facebook page):


I 100% agree that somebody needs to be the bigger person and it IS most certainly bad when communication between a prominent news site for the sport and one of the major governing bodies breaks down. Everybody DOES lose out in this case. Maybe the situation can be resolved, maybe it can’t. Regardless of that, I hope that the WFTDA and the next “DNN”, whatever it may be called and whenever it comes along, develops a stronger and healthier relationship from lessons learned this time around.