Journalists at a regional daily have denied claims that their paper was “gagged” in its reporting of a controversial football stadium deal.
Earlier this week it was announced that Coventry City Council had approved a move to sell its share in the company that runs Coventry City’s Ricoh Arena to rugby club Wasps, currently based in High Wycombe.
The move has led to widespread anger among fans and claims on Twitter that the Coventry Telegraph had been used as a “puppet” of the authority.
However members of the National Union of Journalists’ chapel at the paper have issued a statement refuting the claims.
In the statement, the journalists also expressed “sadness” at the forthcoming departure of the editor Alun Thorne.
Alun’s resignation was announced on Monday and he is due to leave the paper later this month.
The statement read: “We are very sad that Coventry Telegraph editor Alun Thorne has taken the decision to leave the company for an exciting new job. In his two years with the Coventry Telegraph he has transformed the newsroom for the better.
“We refute any claims that the Coventry Telegraph has been gagged or censored. We reject any inference that our reporting has been anything other than fair, balanced and accurate.
“We believe we have a great team of reporters, production staff and management and we are proud of our achievements this year.
“We’d like to thank Alun for taking us into the digital age and giving newsroom morale a huge boost.”
Criticisms of the paper’s coverage of the Ricoh stadium affair have surfaced on football fans’ forums and also a Coventry City-related Twitter feed entitled @The_Coventry.
Some tweets have suggested that the paper has not subjected the council to sufficient scrutiny over the deal.
The paper’s political editor, Les Reid, also announced his resignation this week, revealing his intention to take the paper to an employment tribunal and to write a book on what he termed the “decline of public interest journalism.”
Les said today: “I understand fellow journalists’ concerns about the reputational damage to the paper, which I worked hard for, from hundreds of comments on social media.
“It’s clear from social media that many readers believe the Coventry Telegraph has not sufficiently scrutinised Coventry City Council over the CCFC/Ricoh dispute.
He added: “I thank people for the hundreds of comments of support. I have also had incredible support from the National Union of Journalists nationally. I wish Coventry Telegraph staff well.”