Rangers’ relationship with some members of the Scottish sports media continues to deteriorate as the club takes a decidedly unprecedented approach with their press policy.
There’s a kind of trauma between some members of the media and Rangers who – rightly or wrongly – appear to distrust many of voices in Scottish sports after a decade of difficult coverage.
For a long time Rangers and Rangers fan grievances with the press have been too many to name. The fallout of May’s title celebrations might just have been the final straw.
Journalist Hugh Keevins took aim at both sides of the Old Firm in a Daily Record column over the weekend, claiming that their newfound approach with fan media and the traditional press was creating an awkward atmosphere in press circles.
This culminated in Rangers setting out their stall early this season by refusing press entry for their friendly with Partick Thistle to anyone.
Keevins even claimed that Rangers may be looking to charge for press access this season whilst a quick glance at the club’s media production reiterates that RangersTV is the only place to catch exclusive Rangers content this summer.
🆕 FIRST INTERVIEW: @RangersTV subscribers can now watch an exclusive interview with John Lundstram.
🎙️ The only place to hear from Rangers players & staff this pre-season is through RangersTV.
— Rangers Football Club (@RangersFC) July 6, 2021
But Keevins’ column fails to acknowledge the bitter atmosphere which has been drummed up by the press far too often surrounding both the Old Firm clubs.
Rangers in particular have had their problems of late, and whilst posturing in the name of the public’s right to know is one thing, a failure to recognise the ills of the past is another completely.
Often it has felt that the concept of balance – the driving force behind the club’s frustrations – hasn’t just been ignored but has been gleefully flung back in the faces of the club and its supporters.
Many have felt Rangers have played nicey-nice for too long, asking outlets to refrain from unfairly covering the club but still supplying the access which acts as journalistic gold dust.
Now – alongside investment in the club’s own communications department – that safety net has been removed for outlets who essentially bite the hand that feeds them.
Yes, Rangers are no more immune to criticism and investigation than any other major institution in daily life and a closed shop may introduce fears of a lack of transparency with fans.
But the suggestion much of the vexatious mainstream press – from Reach PLC to BBC Scotland – are blameless in this breakdown in communication is laughable.
There are also several journalists working across Glasgow, Scotland and the UK who have positive, balanced relationships with the club; I cringe every time I hear hyperbolic comparisons with North Korea.
You only need to look at the pathetic fall-out from the club’s title celebrations – something which no major commentator in Scotland has had the balls to call-out – to see why Rangers are taking a hardline stance.
Why should Rangers trust a press which – directly or indirectly – helps position the club as a political football for opportunistic politicians?
Or one which will actively indulge in the same kind of nonsense, irresponsibly helping it make its way onto news bulletins in full knowledge of the detrimental brand impact?
What about shoehorning the Ibrox club into drug deaths, stories of violence or anything else which is grubby enough to get a few extra thousand people clicking through?
Spare us. Please. With many outlets and journalists, it feels like we’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t.
For too long it feels like some members of the press have got away with saying what ever they want about Rangers with little to no consequence. Clearly, that will not be the case anymore.
If the press want to be part of this culture shift in Scotland then they must understand who now holds the cards in this news space. It’s certainly not many of the “journalists” who operate in the news space.
In an era of new media, Rangers clearly feel it’s time for change; Heaven forbid a few egos get bruised in the process.
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