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Monday, September 5, 2011

Keeping the Echo in Our City....

On Saturday The Blue Union held their inaugural public meeting in Liverpool’s city centre to discuss growing outrage over the events at Goodison Park which continue to have a detrimental effect on our competitiveness as a premiership football team.

The organisers were taken by surprise at the attendance; some thirty minutes before the start time not only had Evertonians filled the venue but the passageway outside and even the bar at the Casa was overflowing with blues eager to hear the speakers; eager to hear a plan of action, eagar to voice their own concerns.

Our source at Sky News remarked he’d never seen anything like it in all his years covering supporters events in the city, the staff at the Casa, mindful of their licensing and safety requirements, were turning many people away whilst a BBC reporter stated that what has been going on at Everton is clearly one of the biggest developing news stories in English football.

Attracting media attention is always a difficult task for any group, but recent events have focused the spotlight firmly on the issues that should be concerning all Evertonians. In the week prior to this meeting all relevant news organisations were sent a press release, the national media responded, ITV, BBC and Sky all sent news teams but sadly the sole representative from the local media was the Echo’s Everton correspondent Greg O’Keeffe; nobody from Radio City, nobody from Radio Merseyside.

Throughout The Blue Union meeting there were repeated calls for a boycott of the Echo due to what many perceive as a propensity for the paper to all too readily print Everton’s propaganda, an excellent example of which was the unfounded allegations concerning a breech in confidentially following The Blue Union’s recent meeting with Bill Kenwright; yet, surprisingly, for some, Dave Kelly of KEIOC resisted these calls and stated, “We’re embarking on a campaign and we need to make sure that we’ve got the media on our side.”

For those who are unaware of how the media works it isn’t an easy task securing those column inches or air time for your given cause. Stories have to be newsworthy; they need to attract the attention of more than just a small minority and, somewhat unfortunately,  what the reporter reports isn’t always as comprehensive as what ends up being printed or broadcast; there are editorial policy decisions to be taken and other events, such as other developing stories, may take precedence; timing is everything.

Supporters groups have very little to negotiate with, we have no players or personalities to offer, if we disagree with a piece of content we’re unable to ban reporters or rant and rave at the editor on the telephone, we simply have to negotiate and attempt to work within the constraints that exist.

As an example of this process, a couple of weeks ago, through our contact at Everton, KEIOC were informed that a statement was being printed in the Echo the following day which incorrectly accused The Blue Union of breeching an agreement. Late into the night, on behalf of the Blue Union,  two members of KEIOC attempted to negotiate the right to reply to the allegations being made; we wanted, quite rightly in our opinion, to be afforded the opportunity to put our case forward in the same article as the allegations were being made.

Sadly on this occasion we failed to obtain the right of reply, but upon complaining to the editor, over these scurrilous allegations, which we saw as little more than an attempt to divert attention from the contents of the report on The Blue Union’s meeting with Bill Kenwright, the editor of the Echo, Alastair Machray, was gracious enough to acknowledge our position and The Blue Union’s response was printed today.

The date of The Blue Union’s inaugural meeting was carefully chosen; it was held on a weekend when our local football clubs weren’t going to be the main story; the main story was as indicated by those people from Sky, ITV and BBC. The Echo’s only coverage of the event is contained in the final paragraphs of the above link.

It’s time that the editorial policy at the Echo was reviewed to reflect what the people on the street, the people that Trinity Mirror want buying their publications, are actually thinking and, more importantly, what they’re actually saying and doing.

There are growing concerns over the media being expressed by an ever increasing number of Evertonians. The rest of the media in this city need to accurately report this and resist the wrath of those who are intent on keeping our loyal supporters in the dark over information that has been common knowledge throughout the world of football.

The aim of The Blue Union is simple, it’s not to get Bill Kenwright out, it’s certainly not some mindless attempt to sack the board; its aim is to promote the concept of allowing the CEO to be left to concentrate on reducing costs, developing our revenue streams and repairing the relationship with the fanbase whilst leaving the board to appoint a fully autonomous group of professional individuals who can effectively develop and implement a strategy that will identify and sell the club to a buyer who can demonstrate an ability and a genuine desire to take the club forward on both a commercial and football level.”

Everyone who is part of The Blue Union continues to support the team and the manager, but we oppose stagnation and we promote the concept that it’s time for a change....

For those Evertonians, who were unable to attend or gain entrance to the Casa on Saturday, we’re organising a broadcast of the highlights from the meeting – watch this space!
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