The news that Ibrox is trying to charge journalists to attend press conferences was broken by the Daily Mail yesterday, but it’s clearly not a new story as Keevins and others have been snivelling about it for a few weeks now, without going into detail.
It’s clear that the details weren’t supposed to emerge. Now that they have, a lot of people are waiting to see how the media responds. Common sense would dictate that all the titles speak with one voice, and a loud one rejecting the whole idea. Yet Ibrox has leaked it that some of the outlets have already paid the money or have expressed an intention to.
And without that united front, some outlets will pay for “privileged access” and they will therefore get inside stuff the others don’t. That’s supposed to propel other media companies in the direction of doing the same, and over time they will crack one by one.
This has to be killed on the vine. If it’s not then other clubs have no option but to respond in kind, starting with Celtic, because we can’t afford to operate in a media environment which is so badly skewed in favour of one club.
The press should be responding forcefully, and publicly, to dismiss this idea out of hand. They should be telling Ibrox that not one outlet will pay to attend press events and that if the press room at Ibrox sits empty as a result of this then so be it.
I can tell you right now where this idea has come from, by the way. It’s part of the politics of the far-right, where Ibrox has anchored itself. The idea is not new. Donald Trump wanted to do it. Indeed, his White House ended up charging journalists for Covid tests on the premises. That led to outrage amongst the Washington press corps.
More importantly, this was something the DUP thought about doing for a while. When they charged journalists for attending the party conference in 2017, they said they were only following the example of parties in Westminster; in fact, what those parties did was made media outlets pay for their rooms and board, not for the right to attend press events.
The right realises that if they can control the media they can control the narrative. Making the media pay to attend events gives them a degree of influence and power over what is written and only a moron would deny that this is the case.
Yet our media has idiots in it like Keevins who view this as nothing more than in inconvenience and a financial transaction; actually, it’s giving the club your balls in a jar, and any outlet which does that doesn’t deserve to be considered a purveyor of news.
The thing is, I cannot find a single case of a major organisation anywhere charging the media for press conference access. It’s not only not done, most organisations would be loathe even to consider it because almost all view media publicity as invaluable.
Ibrox’s self-image is overblown enough. Any media organisation which feeds that egotism deserves everything it gets … and what its reporters will get will be sub-standard pap, with the club looking over their shoulders as they type their copy.
The press has just once chance to resist this and put that club on notice that this kind of thing simply isn’t on. Once they bow down there’s no rolling it back. In five years they’ll be paying £100,000 for access and Mark Dingwall will be telling them what they can write.
Every journalist on every publication should be demanding that their bosses tell the Ibrox club where to stick it. Anything else is craven surrender and the whole media landscape will be scorched beyond recovery by it. Who else in Scotland would buy a newspaper so beholden to that one club that they are paying them just to ask questions?
It would be a travesty. Yet as yet, not one outlet has publicly condemned it far less all of them. What the Hell is their position? Where is NUJ Scotland? Does anyone in the press corps have the balls to call this out and refuse to play ball?