Channel 4 News 'banned' from Newcastle United press conference - because reporter wanted to ask about media bans

A Channel 4 News reporter has condemned Newcastle United after he was "banned" from a press conference – because he wanted to ask about media bans.

Alex Thomson is planning a report on the subject after several journalists have recently spoken out about being "banned" by clubs.

In recent years, Newcastle has barred journalists from the local press and Telegraph. It has also been alleged that it has a "gagged" all media aside from the Mirror and Sky Sports.

Elsewhere, Glasgow Football Club recently banned a BBC reporter and Times columnist, and Blackpool and Swindon Town have also this summer forcibly distanced themselves from the press.

The National Union of Journalists wrote to Football Association chairman Greg Dyke last month asking him to intervene. He wrote in response, though, that he was powerless to do so.

Dyke said: "As a former journalist, censorship of the media is an issue about which I have strong personal views, and I agree with much of what you say.

"In this instance the Clubs are members of the Leagues in which they play and it is for their Leagues to set down requirements for the Clubs.

"I asked my team here to speak to the Leagues to check their positions and the Premier League and Football League both confirmed that beyond those media obligations which are placed upon a club via broadcasting agreements, it is up to the Club to decide its own engagement policy with the media.

"Unfortunately this is not within the power of The FA and I am sorry to not be able to offer you more help on this topic."

In a blog on the topic, Channel 4 News's Thomson wrote: "The current predicament of Channel 4 News says much about the bizarre ways of modern British football.

"We find ourselves banned today from a major football club because we wanted to ask about football clubs banning the media.

"The club? Why, Newcastle United of course – under Mike Ashley’s controversial control they have banned more journalists than any other club since 2007.

"Nowhere else in British public life is this kind of conduct tolerated."

He wrote this after being told he had been "banned" from attending a press conference. He tweeted yesterday: 

Thomson, a Newcastle United fan, added: "Managing Director Lee Charnley admitted to the Telegraph that the aim is to 'control and reinforce the positive messages the club wished to deliver'.

"Except it doesn’t. Banning journalists opens a whole debate about free speech and a free media, rightly so. It makes the media redouble their scrutiny and causes yet more criticism, and rightly so. It makes the game’s “authorities” and the clubs look weak, cynical and paranoid, and rightly so."

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