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What price journalism? - The Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games commercial media partnerships

By Chris Boffey |

August 6, 2013 | 3 min read

Last month, the organising committee for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games announced a media partnership programme with almost every newspaper publication in Scotland, a paid for commercial partnership that offered non-exclusive content to each newspaper. Chris Boffey, former news editor of The Observer, Sunday Telegraph and Daily and Sunday Mirror, questions the wisdom of such an agreement and the impact it could have on each media outlet's journalism.

The former American president Lyndon B Johnson, to his enemies the most slippery customer of his generation and to his allies the foremost politician of the era, once said of FBI director J Edgar Hoover that he would rather have him in the tent pissing out rather that outside the tent pissing in.

A commercial deal between the organising committee of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and most of the mass media in Scotland has an LBJ ring about it.

This agreement, to support the sale of one million tickets, is on the face of it a laudable exercise. However, in the excitable press release from the Organising Committee, there is a worrying section that reads: "Each partner will receive non-exclusive rights to support and associate with the high-profile campaign to sell up to one million tickets. Media organisations will be able to promote an official association with Glasgow 2014 including the use of the Glasgow 2014 Official Media Partners Programme.

"Scottish media organisations were invited to submit proposals based on content, commercial value and audience reach and fit. Each partner will participate in online, on air and in-paper advertising bespoke supplements and other initiates supporting. Glasgow 2014's ticketing."

As a selection process it seems strange. Many were called and most, if not all, we're chosen.

I am pretty sure the advertising sales at each of the media outlets are hugging themselves with glee at contractual partnership. But where does that leave investigative journalism.

All contracts go two ways. What is the media getting out of the deal? How much is being paid and to whom and if one of the media outlets discovers ticketing story, and it will be the first major games not to have one, what will be the pressures, external and internally, for it to be dropped or diluted?

Even now I hear editors and news editors saying"not a chance" but in these hard times for journalism pressures can be brought.

Of course journalism is a commercial operation but going into a contractual relationship with an event that will have a large number of controversial stories is debatable.

Will any stories written, have a sentence that reads the Daily XXX is a commercial partner with Glasgow 2014. Probably not. But maybe they should.

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