This past weekend has brought news of football journalists finding themselves barred from doing their job.
For doing their job.
On Sunday after Newcastle’s defeat to Sunderland journalists from three local newspapers were stopped from asking questions of manager Alan Pardew.
The ban came about after coverage of a protest march in the Journal, the Chronicle and the Sunday Sun.
This is nothing new. Sir Alex Ferguson dished out a number of bans to journalists and blanked the BBC for seven years, however more and more clubs are now seeking to strong-arm the press into censoring their own coverage.
The proliferation of this particular type of press control suggests that clubs must be reaping the rewards for hammering journalists whenever they step out of line, but is that really the case?
Newcastle United have previously banned the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph for their reporting. Neither newspaper has suffered or changed tact. The club and those in charge are still criticised when bad decisions are made.
Local newspapers have more pages to fill and as a result more to lose, however Newcastle United is not a particularly accessible football club even when you’re in their good books. Now the club have slammed the door in the face of NCJ Media they’ve given them free reign to go to town on them.
If they thought the coverage of the march was disproportionate they’re in for a shock.
So if banning journalists doesn’t work why go down the route of the playground bully.
Simple. They don’t know any better.
This is not an idea formulated by anyone in the club’s press office, or anyone with the most basic understanding of media relations for that matter. Wendy Taylor’s name may be on the bottom of the polemic fired out to the three publications in question, but I’d speculate that was the sum total of her involvement. Football clubs are autocratic institutions. Whatever the person at the top says goes.
In banning the local press Mike Ashley isn’t just showing a contempt for journalism but contempt for the club’s media team and demonstrating why once again Newcastle United are a living advert for employing someone with public relations expertise at a boardroom level.
Not that he’d listen to them.