Local newspapers have been denied press passes for next year’s London Olympics on the grounds that they failed to send reporters to previous Games, it emerged today.
London 2012 organisers have faced criticisms for failing to allocate more than a handful of passes to regional and local titles.
Now it has emerged that one of the criteria used to decide the allocations was “history of attending previous games.”
The revelation came to light as the Newspaper Society confirmed it is seeking to put in place a press pool for the Games which will aim to enable regional and local newspapers to share material.
The criteria used by the British Olympic Association for allocating press passes was confirmed by Sports Minister Hugh Robertson in a parliamentary answer.
It listed them as: Continuous editorial commitment to Olympic sport throughout the four-year Olympic cycle, history of attending Olympic Games, circulation numbers, and publication frequency.
Newsquest South and West London group managing editor Andrew Parkes, whose group failed to obtain a single pass, said the admission highlighted the difficulties faced by local papers.
“If you have that as the basis you will never have any local papers attending. We are totally excluded on that basis and they know it,” he added.
Andrew said the BOA had already made him aware of the requirement for newspapers to have covered previous Games when turning down his group’s application for passes.
“It was not just the last Olympics. It was the on the basis of the number of people we’ve sent to the last three Olympics,” he told HTFP.
In his parliamentary answer, Mr Robertson revealed that there were 3,000 applications for passes from UK media outlets, only 400 of which were successful.
Those who have gained accreditation include 270 journalists, 80 photographers, and 20 support staff and technicians.
Meanwhile the NS confirmed it is working on plans to create a pool of accredited regional press journalists who will provide material to a range of titles, in a similar way to the rota system it operates for Royal visits.
Communications director Lynne Anderson said: “For understandable reasons, given the huge demand for media accreditation, it has been a long process to ensure that the regional media will be able to cover the Games effectively. We have consistently pressed for more passes for this sector and will continue to do so.
“The idea for a regional press pool emerged last year and has been the subject of many months of negotiation with the distribution of reporter and photographer passes decided by the BOA, with guidance from the NS.
“When the final details have been sorted out, we will need to sit down with those newspapers to discuss practicalities but we expect the pool to operate in a similar way to the Royal Rota system facilitated by the NS for the regional press.”