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Daily issues self-imposed ban over football club’s reporting restrictions

Garry MonkA regional daily has issued a self-imposed interview ban after a football club placed reporting restrictions on one of its journalists.

The Teesside Gazette has announced it will not interview Middlesbrough FC manager Garry Monk, left, or his players after the club informed sports reporter Dominic Shaw that he was not welcome to speak to the former Swansea City and Leeds boss.

Instead, another unnamed Gazette journalist was invited to interview Monk following a friendly match against Mansfield Town last night, but the newspaper decided not to publish the resulting story.

It comes after an incident in June, when the Gazette says Middlesbrough made clear that Dominic and his colleague Jonathon Taylor were “not welcome” when Monk was unveiled as manager at the club’s Rockliffe Park training ground.

A statement on the Gazette’s website reads: “As an independent publisher, we simply cannot allow any organisation to apply restrictions on our journalism by dictating which of our staff they are happy to field questions from.”

It continues: “No proper explanation has been provided despite repeated requests from The Gazette for clarification on the reasons. Other journalists attended Monk’s first press conference on behalf of The Gazette while we attempted to resolve any outstanding issues.

“It is now clear the club does not wish its employees to engage with certain members of our staff. It is with deep regret that The Gazette is in this position. We are eager to move on and are looking forward to what should be an exciting season for Teesside.

“But as it stands and under the current conditions, The Gazette will not interview the manager or players. We will of course continue to attend all matches and provide our usual mix of news, comment and analysis.”

The self-imposed ban comes two days after the Gazette welcomed a statement on Middlesbrough’s website pledging to be “transparent” after the club accused the paper of spreading “misinformation” over its reporting of two transfers.

However, the Gazette has denied the two incidents are linked.

The statement concludes: “While the current situation is unfortunate, our aim will always be to act in the best interests of our readers. Everyone at The Gazette wishes Steve Gibson, Garry Monk and the Boro players all the very best for the forthcoming season.”

Football clubs to have banned regional journalists in recent years include Coventry City, Chesterfield, Rangers, Blackpool, Rotherham United, Newcastle United, Southampton, Swindon Town, Port Vale and Notts County.

HTFP has asked Middlesbrough FC for a comment.


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  • July 20, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    Small-minded club with ideas above their station. Relegation hangover perhaps?

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  • July 20, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    My sympathies with Dominic and his sports colleagues – it is horrible when a club puts local sports journalists in this situation.
    Whatever stress they’ve been quietly putting up with though, I hope the journalists involved realise the powerful position they are suddenly in.

    In the ‘old’ days when local sports journalists were ultra-reliant on player interviews, and manager interviews especially, this sort of action by the club would have been crippling.
    Now though the players very, VERY rarely say anything of interest and in the era of newspapers recycling each others stories instantly and clubs making sure all the exclusives are released through their own media, these interviews are increasing less important.

    What IS important is the opinions of well-informed, independent voices – like those of the local sports journalists – because supporters seek them out for information and insight in a world dominated by slick PR and fake news.
    From a distance, Boro’s statement about transfers and now the banning of individual journalists, seems petty and vindictive. By taking these actions, they no doubt intend to hurt both the Gazette and the individuals themselves.
    But they might have cause to regret their pettiness or their vindictiveness fairly quickly because in taking this course, they’re also severing any influence they might have hoped to have over messages coming out of the Gazette.

    So Middlesbrough Football Club Press office better hope Boro get off to a flier next season because if results and performances are bad, the Gazette can give free range to their criticism knowing they don’t have to perform that difficult balancing act of trying to keep the club on board at the same time.

    Fans LOVE seeing their local paper speaking on their behalf and having a go at the club when things are going poorly.
    So Boro’s move could easily backfire badly on them and both the sport journalists and the Gazette could find their circulation and their reputations enhanced on the back of it.
    The Gazette giving the club both barrels from the sidelines in the event of a rocky start is not going to help MFC turn things around quickly or keep the fans on board.

    And apart from anything else, the messages coming out of Boro at the moment make them sound mean-minded, thin-skinned and controlling – never a good luck when you’re trying to impress supporters or advertisers.

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  • July 21, 2017 at 8:22 am

    When will football clubs and managers realise that the moment they lose the support of the local newspaper, they’ve already lost?

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  • July 21, 2017 at 9:00 am

    Perhaps it’s just me but I feel that by making their stand public (however right they are) the paper just digs a deep trench and makes it harder for the club to back down. By all means quietly decide on a tactic, but keep your powder dry and rise above the argument. As another comment rightly suggests, these days you can find ways and means around any small-minded club bullying. And the most important ingredient here is not the club or the paper. It’s the reader, and frankly they don’t care about this spat. They just want their stuff. So give it to them.

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  • July 21, 2017 at 10:19 am

    I think it’s right for the club to go public. Its readers will wonder why they have no interviews with the manager or players

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  • July 21, 2017 at 5:24 pm

    Sorry “idle rich” but your stance is wrong. Keeping”quiet” is not the answer. Local papers are there to report. As I said in a comment last week about another issue too many people in charge of clubs/orgs/call them what you like have got it into their heads that papers ought to obtain permission to write a story. Get real. Papers are there to expose rights and wrongs. Unfortunately, they have been weakened in terms of staff etc by senior management who think that the balance sheet is the most important aspect of a newspaper’s work. Of course it is important but a paper’s ability to uphold the right of a free press should come first. For those with long memories the former editor of Northern Echo Harold Evans who then moved to The Time group is a shining example of an editor determined to uphold a newspaper’s integrity.

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  • July 21, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    I should have added that football managers all too often seem to be undermined by the new-style bosses in terms of their ability to speak to the media.

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  • July 21, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    I must be having a senior moment but also meant to add that clubs/orgs should be tough enough to take the rough with the smooth.

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  • July 24, 2017 at 11:49 am

    Do local papers have much influence on supporters, with sales being so low.
    They don’t help themselves with such scorching stories as “New striker says I want to score goals”…seen recently.

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