Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Communication Breakdown Causes Great Divide (2017)

“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate”

In recent years the media has complained about not getting the sort of access to NRL players and officials enjoyed by media personnel in other sports and countries.

And they were right. But the problem isn’t that they don’t have the same access, it’s a distrust in the media by clubs, players and officials caused by the denigrating reporting and attitude of the media in recent years towards the game.

Many mainstream media personnel simply don’t like or respect the game and it’s players anywhere near enough and, in turn, the game doesn’t respect them. It’s the most backwards and ignorant attitude to have from people who want to be rugby league reporters. For some of these people, they are out to get a scoop and try and get famous instead of doing their job properly.

A quick look to how the media and the sport of AFL work together shows just how good it could be. But instead the vicious circle of heaping hatred and distrust upon each other in Rugby League is only going to be detrimental to both the media and the game.

Last weekend the Wests Tigers suffered a heavy defeat. The post-match press conference, however, inevitably saw the coach and captain pummelled with questions about deregistered player Tim Simona. Jason Taylor stated that he nor Aaron Woods would be answering questions about Simona until the next week. He was then asked a few more questions before have to again assert that no comment was going to be made about the Simona situation. After a brief period of talking about the game, another question about Simona came up, after which Taylor and Woods just stood up and left.

Naturally, the media focussed on the departure from the press conference. This is only the most recent incident where the media try to manufacture negative news about the game. One of the best examples came in 2012 when the Bulldogs held their Mad Monday celebrations behind locked doors at Belmore Sports Ground. What transpired was Channel 9 sending a helicopter over the venue to get images of what was going on, while sending a crime reporter to the venue to ask questions. She was obscenely and wrongly abused by some of the people inside the venue. But if the media hadn’t turned up and prodded them with a stick, then the attacks wouldn’t have happened. But they did and the media had a story to cover about the poor woman and the arsehole rugby league players.

This nasty incident showed brilliantly this distrust and arguably hatred between the two. It surfaced again publicly in 2014 when South Sydney player Ben Te’o refused to take questions from Danny Weidler, then footage showed Te’o speaking to Weidler after the presser, telling him to never ask him questions before calling him a germ.

When you also consider the hostile relationship between News Ltd columnist, the late Rebecca Wilson and rugby league fans as well, you can see that the animosity has spread into the wider rugby league community.

You can find countless more examples, but at the end of the day what needs to be sought is some sort of truce between the two. If the mainstream media can stop doing what it can to dig up filth about the game and then drag it out ad nauseum, opting to be reasonable and respectable about stories, good and bad, then the NRL will be more inclined to trust the media and be more open to allowing players and officials a wider media exposure, which will benefit both parties much more.

 ****This article appeared on Commentary Box Sports website on  March 15, 2017****

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