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Local media blackouts - First Forest, Now Port Vale?

‘Widely-respected’ Port Vale Reported Michael Baggaley has been blacklisted by Chairman Norman Smurthwaite.

Nottingham Forest Chairman Fawaz Al-Hasawi are not the only club upset with the media and seem to have started a trend, restricting access earlier this season.

At Forest, the owner was reportedly annoyed at negative opinions being voiced on the club regularly in the local paper. Now, perhaps that it was the case they asked harsh and blunt questions to get answers for the fans that relied on the people in the position to get but that is part of the job description.

I don’t deem going along with every decision like its gospel as respectable journalism and I have to respect the reaction from the Nottingham Evening Post who have made the most of having limited access to the club.

Port Vale Chairman has taken it to a brand new level that's for sure.

The Stoke Sentinel reported this morning that ‘widely-respected’ Port Vale reporter Michael Baggaley was refused access to the press box and was forced to pay for a ticket, sit with the fans with a laptop on his knee and make the best of what he had. The Sentinel photographer Mark Scott was also refused entry which has effectively stopped them reporting on their impressive home win against Gillingham.

The reason?

The most bizarre part of the story is the reason of the ‘blacklist’ which isn’t because he asked for the Chairman to be ousted, he hasn’t questioned the ownership or bad-mouthed the players. He has simply asked the Chairman the reason behind the delay in the highly anticipated limited edition third shirt, which a number of people paid in full for months ago.

The Sentinel were asked by a number of readers and supporters that had brought the shirt and doing their ‘duty’ they made the enquiry which reportedly was answered and involved an apology from Norman Smurthwaite. That should have been the end of matters, sadly not.

To add insult to injury the Port Value Supremo has now take the ‘unprecedented step’ of insisting The Sentinel now pays £10,000-a-year for the privilege of providing information on the club to supporters. The editor of the paper has spent the last few days trying to change the mind of the Chairman but he has refused to change his mind and it looks like too many burnt bridges between club and paper to happen now.

I am saddened by the news that this is happening at another side in this country, when the job of the press is to get the answers from their ‘subjects’. No-one will be as disappointed as the thousands of fans who use that media outlet to get their information on the side, not everyone can go to games for one reason or another and The Sentinel provided an excellent service to them.

It can’t be easy to get much coverage being allocated in the same vicinity of Premier League Stoke City and they could have easily been over-looked and under-valued by the local media, but that simply isn’t the case and sadly that has held no weight with the Chairman.

I’m sure supporters across the country will join me in condemning this type of action and hope the club reconsider.

image: © judyboo

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