A nationwide committee of senior editors at regional press group Newsquest is lobbying MPs and London Olympics chief Lord Coe in a bid to secure press passes for next year’s event.
In a letter to Lord Coe they warned that many athletes will not get the press coverage they deserive in their local communities as a result of the British Olympic Association’s decision to effectively lock out regional newspaper journalists from covering the London 2012 Olympics.
The move is a show of solidarity with Newsquest editors in London who are angered by the the fact that not a single one of their newspapers has yet been allocated a press pass for the Games.
The only paper in London, aside from the Evening Standard, that has gained accreditation so far is Archant’s Newham Recorder.
The Evening Standard is refusing to reveal how many Olympic press-passes it has been granted to cover the games. When Press Gazette asked the Standard about its allocation we were told that the answer was “no comment”.
Here is the full text of the letter sent by the Newsquest Editorial Group to Lord Coe:
‘You may have read in the media about the controversy surrounding the allocation of media accreditation for the regional and local press to cover the London 2012 Olympics.
‘If not, you may be surprised to learn that only a handful of the hundreds of local newspapers up and down the country have been accredited, leaving the vast majority shut out of the Games. This has not, in our view, been ameliorated by the news that 12 or so extra passes may be released to us.
‘The result of such an inadequate allocation is that while the Usain Bolts and other ‘gold standard’ athletes will deservedly receive the blanket coverage to which they are accustomed, the vast majority of British athletes, many in your constituency, will not get the publicity they fully deserve.
‘We in the local press are as interested in the competitor who finishes sixth as we are in the gold medallist, if that person comes from our circulation areas. However, it will be virtually impossible to give them any meaningful coverage without adequate media accreditation.
‘The British Olympic Association is responsible for media accreditation for the Games and despite expressing sympathy for our situation, has consistently ignored our requests for additional passes its recent concession only came about when editors and MPs went public with their concerns.
‘We believe that the BOA can provide more media accreditations to the regional and local press and I am writing to you on behalf of my fellow editors in Newsquest to ask that you bring your considerable influence to bear with the BOA and also in Parliament to raise awareness of this situation as we attempt to find a solution.
‘We appreciate that this is also a World event and that not all applications can expect to be successful, but feel that we have been virtually ignored during this process. All we ask as the press representatives of the host country is that we get a fair allocation.
‘Newsquest, our parent company, reaches 9.5 million readers a week with its newspapers, far outstripping the penetration of the national press. Our online audience is also in the millions, so we hope you appreciate how important it is that we can fulfil the role they expect of us.
‘Any assistance you can give us in this respect would be most welcome. Your constituents deserve to receive the best, most comprehensive coverage of this incredible event in print and online.”