SAM MORSHEAD COLUMN: Pay-per-view access is a sad inevitability (From The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald)
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SAM MORSHEAD COLUMN: Pay-per-view access is a sad inevitability
5:30am Thursday 17th July 2014 in Sport
MIKE Ashley appears to have a compulsion to buck trends and his latest initiative - charging media for access to players and management - sparked mass debate in the national press this week.
It emerged, through revelations from senior football writers on Twitter, that The Sun is on the verge of agreeing a deal to be, in one way or another, the official media partner of Ashley's Newcastle United.
In return for what you’d presume would be a handsome subscription fee, Britian’s biggest selling tabloid would in theory get increased and exclusive access to the inner workings of the club - the players, the management and so forth.
While a tie-in like that is detached from some of the principles of journalism - with commercial responsibilities perhaps put in front of straight-and-narrow reporting - we’d be naive to desperately hold onto some forlorn hope that this sort of thing was never going to happen.
Football, as sensitive and arrogant as it has become, seems to have an urge to turn the industry into one large PR machine - generating meaningless guff has taken precedence over insightful comment. Players are warned off saying anything vaguely interesting. When they do they are slapped on the wrist and told not to do it again.
So, naturally, the next step for clubs both big and small, having successfully sanitised the character of the game, is to try to manipulate the media.
It starts small - a player interview for a few hundred quid - but give it a few months or years and football will see its chance to light the fuse that blows open a gold mine.
When more clubs see those extra dollar signs they may forget some of the responsibilities they have to remain accountable to their fans; long-standing media with dwindling profit margins will be usurped by those happy to part with a little extra cash, those willing to drag a party line through even the most inappropriate moment. That’s a sad inevitability now.
While many out there will see the local press as the flickering ember it has sadly become, it’s impossible to drown out the importance of fair reporting. If a true and honest balance can be struck between paying for access and the responsibility journalists have to their readers, then potentially we are witnessing evolution of the way the sport is covered.
But there is a real danger that might not be possible.