Thursday, 3 May 2012

Observer Puts The Boot In

Once again the Rochdale Observer has shown its true colours, persisting with its morbid obsession that bad news sells papers.

In a week that has seen a collective crisis of confidence from everyone from Stanky down to the bloke in front of me who shouts "Rubbish" at everything (including when we're winning), the Rochdale Observer, it emerges, has sought to stir-up people's shaken faith in an attempt to whip it into another bad-news story.

In a statement issued to Members, Chairman Mark Wynn has articulated the frustrations that the Rochdale Observer's on-going machinations have aroused, and addressed them with candour. 

The statement reads:

" Sunday’s result was a major disappointment for everyone at the club, but the reality is we are currently only 6 games into the season. We sit joint 5th in the league having won 3 and lost 3. We have everything to play for and this Sunday’s game away to league leaders Doncaster is the next test we face."

"A throw away comment in a much larger interview from Stanky is seized upon by the Rochdale Observer. The worst part of this is that The Rochdale Observer told the club that at the beginning of the season that if we wanted match reports to appear in the paper then we would have to PAY for the privilege ourselves. Now when they feel they have the sniff of a bit of negative news they are giving us top billing FOR FREE!!"

"I think that says more about the mind set of the Observer editorial team than it does about Hornets."

"Let there be no mistake John is 100% committed to the club and the lads, as the club is to them! It can’t be any simpler."

"Are things perfect at Hornets? No, far from it.  Can we do things better? Absolutely, a lot better, and we aim to be better. "

"Off the field we haven’t shown the improvement that the team has shown on it and perhaps we have become complacent. But we must re-focus and re-double our efforts to give the team the infrastructure and support they need to produce the results on the field we strive for. "

"We will be running a series of events to stimulate interest in the club and to raise vital funds to give the players the best chance of success. We are hosting a Players V Supporters Twenty/20 Cricket Challenge at Milnrow Cricket Club in July, and to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the greatest moment in Hornets history when we won the Challenge Cup. We will be running a supporters trip to Wembley. With Hornets assistant coach Chris Hough helping out at Littleborough RUFC we are also looking into having a special Cross Code Challenge. For these events to be a success we need supporters to get behind them and back the team."

"Let's be clear, we are currently doing it tough, but to use a phrase from American Football Coach, Lou Holtz ''Show me someone who has done something worthwhile, and I`ll show you someone who has overcome adversity''.

Way back at the start of the season, TLCRF80mins had a call asking whether we'd be prepared to write Hornets match reports for the Rochdale Observer as they'd laid Mike Floyd off as a cost-cutting measure. They thought - as we'd most likely be at most of the games anyway -  that we might want to do it while we were there.  For free. At our own expense.

Needless to say, we didn't call the Observer back. To ask supporters to back-fill a lack of professional resource gratis, depriving a professional journalist of what was a relatively tiny fee would've had my trade unionist dad spinning in his grave (if we hadn't cremated him, obviously). In fact their blazé attitude it was a major factor in the (re)launch of TLCRF80mins (where we write reports for free and don't give them to the Observer!).

Most scarily, it magnified the Rochdale Observer's active dis-investment in any other sport coverage other than football in the town.

For many years the Rochdale Observer has been a twat to Hornets: happy to amplify bad-news and bury the good. And this most recent event clearly shows that this is one area of their expertise that doesn't seem to have diminished in-line with their reduced resources.

The bottom line is that the Rochdale Observer has been a shambling 'zombie' newspaper for a very long time now. My understanding is that it's written, edited and compiled out of MEN Media's offices in Manchester, with no presence in - or connection to - our town any more. Stories are gathered and written by the same small central pool of journalists that work on all of their local papers covering Manchester satellite towns; student placements are used as cheap resource to back-fill the shortfalls; local communities are 'invited to contribute' - local people writing their own stories for their neighbours to read. It's pathetic, unprofessional and risible.

Unless it's sock-puppeting council propaganda or wringing its hands over this month's 'Rochdale's sickest child', the Observer neither says nor contributes anything to the life of our town -  an anachronism.

I'd suggest that Hornets fans boycott it, but as no-one buys it anyway perhaps we should just sit by and let it slip quietly away in a fug of its own negativity.