A regional newspaper reporter scored an exclusive in-depth interview with England football legend Paul Gascoigne after tracking him down at a local rehab centre.
Julie Magee, from Bournemouth’s Daily Echo, managed to secure the interview after working out where he was being treated for alcoholism.
She approached the manager of the rehab centre, a long-standing local contact, after a story in The Sun alleging the ex-footballer had groped a shop assistant in the town after falling off the wagon.
Within minutes, the manager had returned the call to say Gazza was happy to be interviewed to put the record straight about ‘lies’ being told about him in the national press.
Gascoigne, who had been awarded a certificate for staying ‘clean and sober’ on the same day the national article appeared, gave a lengthy interview which became a front page lead and a 20-minute video interview on the Echo’s website.
During the interview, he defended himself against the tabloid allegations and spoke about why he showed up at the standoff between police and Raoul Moat, whom he knew.
The ex-footballer also spoke about his treatment for alcoholism at the Providence Projects clinic in Boscombe.
He told the Echo: “Everyone has been fantastic; not one person has treated me as if I am the famous Paul Gascoigne.
“They call me the Biscuit King because I steal all their biscuits. We’ve all got an illness and are here to help each other.
“Four of us stay in a house, you have to look after yourself, cooking and cleaning – in other places everything is done for you.
“I’ve been to lots of meetings. I know I’m in the right place and enjoy myself more when I’m sober. It’s one of the first places where I have seen people scared to leave.”
Stuart (23/07/2010 09:35:12)
Okay, a great scoop. Am I the only person though who thinks this story doesn’t show the Echo in the greatest light? Shouldn’t the paper be concentrating on local stories and local issues?
Okay, he was being treated at a clinic on the patch, so there is the local link. As far as I know though Gazza has no other links to Bournemouth – wasn’t born there, never played for Bournemouth FC. While Paul Gascoigne will always be in the news as long as he lives – and still sells newspapers – shouldn’t the media just leave him alone to sort his demons out as well? I know this story would have been of interest to some of the Echo’s readers, but I bet there were other stories around with more relevance to its readership.
It sounds like the reporter did fantastically well to sniff the story out. I just think it’s best to let the tabloids fight it out over the next Gazza horror story.
Old regional press hand (23/07/2010 09:38:15)
Surely the point was that it wasn’t a ‘Gazza horror story’ but a sympathetic piece on someone trying to sort out their problems.
Dave (23/07/2010 10:02:13)
You’re joking, right Stuart? Why is this solely a nationals story? It’s a story that has widespread appeal, and it’s on patch. What more does the reader want? Surely there are also one or two stories about wheelie bins and dog $hit inside the paper, which is clearly what you think people want to read – and is why I don’t buy a local paper anymore.
And it’s AFC Bournemouth – get your facts right, lazy journalism!
Stuart (23/07/2010 10:17:23)
Dave, where did I say anything about wanting to see stories about ‘wheelie bins or dog $hit’?! And you point about AFC Bournemouth is just too pedantic for words, mate. This is a forum, not a sub-editing test! ORPH: good point, fair enough. Maybe I’m just Gazza-fatigued. I just think another delve into Gazza’s latest problems (and I’m not saying this trivially – I really hope he gets the help he needs and enjoys a happy remainder of his life) is really what I want to see in a LOCAL paper.
Paul (23/07/2010 10:31:57)
Stuart, erm this is a genuine exclusive story and well worth the front page. Well played to the Echo for getting it. Gazza will make the news anywhere like you say which makes it a better story.
The Watcher (23/07/2010 10:34:23)
Old Regional Press Hand and Dave, you’re both miles off. Stuart – spot on. You expressed exactly my thoughts when I read
this story so I won’t both repeating them again here. Gazza played for clubs in Newcastle, London, Italy, Glasgow, Middlesbrough, Liverpool……not even close to Dorset! Sorry Echo, great tale and was worthy of an inside page lead but not a splash. It’s just another inidication of the local newspapers’ growing obsession with “celebrities”.
redshank (23/07/2010 10:40:42)
Did it shift a few extra copies?
Stuart (23/07/2010 10:47:53)
Paul – “Gazza will make the news anywhere like you say which makes it a better story”. Sure, but does that justify putting it on the front of a LOCAL paper like the Echo?
I echo (no pun intended) your comments about it being a genuine exclusive and good on the reporter concerned. I just don’t think the Echo is the best platform for this story, bearing in mind (as I said earlier) Gazza has no links to the area. Is a story like this really what local papers are about now?
Redshank has probably summed it up though…..!
Statto (23/07/2010 11:17:21)
Well done Julie. A great story for your newspaper.
Hilary (23/07/2010 11:45:12)
Let’s see what the tabloids make of it when they buy it/rip it off. It will probably end up one of Stuart’s “Gazza horror stories”. Well done Julie for getting the scoop; well done the Echo for not just doing a ” Loony Gazza in local clinic” story (ref Earl Spencer’s missus); and well done Gazza for having the sense to see that he will get a more sympathetic and balanced story from the local press.
Jack Thompson (23/07/2010 13:20:16)
Some of the comments on here are exactly the reason why local newspapers are dying on their backsides. Well done to the reporter and well done to the paper for the manner they published it. Sad though it is, the only people who care about stories ‘on patch’ are those now appearing in hatched, matched and dispatched – in the latter category. Julie won’t care though, she’ll be on a national soon.
The Watcher (23/07/2010 15:38:09)
@Jack Thompson: “Julie won’t care though, she’ll be on a national soon.” There speaks a man with, quite simply, such a catastrophically high level of naivety, I wonder whether he can get out of bed in the morning without injuring himself…..or are you just Julie’s boyfriend?
Jack Thompson (23/07/2010 15:54:28)
@The Watcher – No but I’m sure she’s delightful. I’m also sure she’d swap the bright lights of Dorset without hesitation. Now go back to designing your eight page special on Cute Babies or subbing the skittles results.
The Watcher (23/07/2010 16:06:18)
Congratulations Jack – you’ve just patronised every single member of the local press industry with that mindless comment…..and I’m a web journalist if you really wanna know!
Scott (23/07/2010 16:11:31)
I totally understand the arguement from those who claim it should have been an inside lead at best due to him having no link to that area.
However, how often is something like this going to turn up on your doorstep?
It’s a complete one off and, in my opinion, worthy of the splash.
I’m sure theyve went back to reporting traditional local news stories now.