Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Rally - Freedom of the Press?

This'll be interesting. The second round of the Scottish Rally Championship takes place in Aberdeen on Saturday, but it would appear that not a lot of people know that.

Any publication, journalist, reporter or photographer logging on to the event's website and trying to access the 'Media Accreditation' section will be greeted with the message: "Media passes for this year’s Coltel Granite City Rally are being issued by invite only."

Invitation only? An unusual step, you may think. Unique even. Certainly amongst organisers of major sporting events. Usually, organisers of major events are only too willing to welcome the attention of the Press. They have established procedures in place whereby media folk on production of the appropriate professional qualification or letter of authority from the Editor of a recognised publication or media channel are allowed access which will facilitate them in carrying out their reporting duties.

Are things different in the world of motor sport? In a word, 'No'. Until now.

Despite the fact that, according to the organisers' own Press Release, this weekend's Granite City Rally is "the largest motorsport event to be held in the North-east of Scotland", the organisers appear to have sought some form of draconian restriction on press access to this event.

Whether this is a response to the excesses of some of the more irresponsible sections of the press who glorify in lurid headlines, or not, remains to be seen. But trying to deter genuine members of the press only generates suspicion, and perhaps worse, indifference.

Like any other sport, motor sport needs publicity to keep both competitors and sponsors happy.

To date, the UK's only national motorsport weekly newspaper, 'Motorsport News', has not been invited and nor has its Scottish correspondent. Mind you, such a minor oversight would be unlikely to deter said correspondent whom even motor sport's governing body has failed to stifle in the past.

Which all rather put coverage of this weekend's event on the Blog and Website under threat. However, I am happy to report that I have been 'officially' invited to the pre-event shakedown on the Friday. And since I will be in the area on Friday I will hang around for the rally on Saturday, purely as an interested member of the public you understand - so watch this space and keep up to date with the gossip and the news.

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