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Olympics access row: Newsquest editors in direct appeal to Coe

Editors across the Newsquest regional publishing group have penned an open letter to Olympics boss Lord Coe in their bid to widen local press access to London 2012.

As first revealed on HTFP, none of the group’s 206 local titles have succeeded in winning media accreditation for next year’s Games.

Now every newspaper in the group has put its name to the letter sent to Lord Coe in his capacity as chair of the organising committee Locog.

It calls on the former 1500m champion to intervene in the local media’s ongoing row with the British Olympic Association over the allocation of passes.

The open letter has been penned on behalf of all Newsquest editors by Northern Echo editor Peter Barron and Oxford Mail editor Simon O’Neill.

It accuses the BOA of “virtually ignoring” the local media and says that without better access it will be unable to do the Games justice.

The letter reads:  “We are writing to ask once again for your support as we attempt to secure press passes for our newspapers to cover the 2012 Olympics in London.

“Despite reports that up to 12 extra passes may be made available, we do not believe that is nearly enough and now face the prospect of effectively being shut out of our own Games and being unable to follow the progress of our local athletes.

“There will be plenty of coverage of the big names at these Games; Jessica Ennis, Usain Bolt and other ‘gold standard’ athletes will receive acres of space, all fully deserved.

“However, we are interested in ALL competitors, whether they finish first or last, who come from our respective circulation areas and would contend that they also deserve full coverage of their efforts. Just reaching this fantastic event is a triumph in itself.

“That will be extremely difficult and in some cases impossible as the situation stands. There will be no local reporters or photographers at events, just the hope of a quick telephone interview from remote offices afterwards, if that.

“The resulting coverage will not do the Games, or the athletes, justice and will inevitably provoke tough questions and criticism from readers.

“We appreciate that this is a World event and that not all applications can expect to be successful.

“However, we feel that we have been virtually ignored during this process, with the assumption being made that Press Association coverage will suffice. It will not, despite its best efforts.

“So we respectfully ask you again to help us by using your considerable influence to effect a last minute change of policy at the BOA.

“The people of the UK deserve to receive the best, most comprehensive coverage of this incredible event in print and online.”

Only one local newspaper title in London, the Newham Recorder, has so far gained media accreditation.

One of the criteria used by the BOA to determine allocation of passes is whether a media organisation has sent reporters to previous Games.

Earlier this week, London Mayor Boris Johnson threw his weight behind the campaign to widen Olympic access.

The Newspaper Society is continuing to hold talks with the BOA to try to put in place a press pool for the Games which will aim to enable regional and local newspapers to share material.


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  • September 29, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    Isn’t this the same group that looked to get rid of its entire South London sports and leisure team?

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  • September 30, 2011 at 9:28 am

    Indeed … it’s also the same group that refuses to comment on anything controversial concerning such issues.

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