At the start of this month, I marvelled at a decision made by Conservative Central Office’s media team to invite only a select group of journalists to cover the Prime Minister’s visit to Scotland. What was astonishing about it was that those journalists who were on the guest list refused to enter the press area without the rest of their colleagues.
I thought the contrast between what they had done and what our media did when faced with a demand from Ibrox that media outlets pay to attend press conferences was stark and shaming to our sporting hacks.
Because, of course, some of those outlets did pay, and they sat in those press events as “club media partners” compromising their integrity and leaving their colleagues and those outlets which refused to play ball in the lurch.
Those outlets which paid are a disgrace to journalism. They betrayed the principles on which they whole rock of the profession is built. They sold out their colleagues. They made their readers unable to trust a single word that they wrote about that club.
Their political colleagues gave them a proper showing up in that case, and their London colleagues have gone even further.
The Tory Party actually tried the exact same scam as the Ibrox club did, by trying to charge journalists and outlets for attending their annual conference. Every single outlet and journalist has point blank refused to do so.
The idea looks certain to die on the vine.
It will be years before a major UK political party – or indeed any reputable organisation at all – tries that little stunt again.
I don’t know whether Ibrox ditched the policy or if it still continues, but I do know it’s an idea that should have been killed in the crib.
Instead their reaction added to the general sense that they are prisoners of the Ibrox club, unable or unwilling to cover stories or write anything which upsets their relationship with the hierarchy over there.
This is bad for the Scottish game. It leads to all manner of nonsense at Ibrox, including the destabilising of the league’s sponsorship deals and attempts to oust the SPFL and SFA executive boards; not necessarily a negative goal, but one where the objectives have to be right and theirs are based on rabid conspiracy theories and naked hatreds.
The media has helped to build the Ibrox monster.
Had they acted, last season, as their political counterparts have twice in the last few months maybe their profession would have a shred more credibility. Maybe we wouldn’t all treat them like a joke.