Further proof that a long memory is an essential asset for any successful newsroom

oysten

Last summer, while most football fans could enjoy a brief period of hope that this season might be the season their team does something special, Blackpool FC supporters weren’t even allowed that.

With barely enough players to form a first XI at the start of pre-season, the giddy heights of the Premier League just a couple of years previously seemed light years away. It’s worth remembering that during their stint in the top-flight, they found themselves right at the heart of the January transfer window as clubs battled to sign star player Charlie Adam (not Austin, as I wrote earlier). And they so nearly stayed up, too.

Amid fan unrest and reports of power struggles behind the scenes, long-time chairman Karl Oysten took to the pages of the Blackpool Gazette to write the following:

“My message is simple – judge us at the end of the season, not now.

We’ve had a summer which hasn’t been ideal but I’m drawing no conclusions based on where we are now.

I do believe Jose is a fantastic coach and tactician, and the sooner we can give him the tools to do his job the better, be that with more players or more backroom staff.”

The fact Jose is no longer in charge of team affairs gives you an idea how things have gone.

Last week, Blackpool were relegated to the third tier of English football after a season which has concluded with one of the most bitter fallings out between fans and the owners. Protests outside the ground have been followed by convoys to the owners’ homes in the Ribble Valley and there have been very visible fallings out on social media too.

And so it was only right that, given Oysten’s request to be judged at the end of the season, that the Gazette did exactly that:

blackpool gazette

As the Gazette reports, the judgement appears to be: “Shameful.” In an age of instant communication and short attention spans, this front page proves just how important it is for newsrooms to have long memories.

While the phrase ‘paper of record’ might be a little outdated now, there’s no denying that in print or online, newsrooms serve as the memory of the local community on the issues which matter, and it’s that ability to be a community memory that ensures newsrooms remain relevant to their communities.

The latest twist in the saga emerged last week, when a pensioner agreed to pay £20,000 to the Oystens for comments he made on a private Facebook account which could be access by fewer than 40 people.

The response from fans of all football colours was to support an appeal to raise the £20,000 – something which took less than three days to achieve.

Proof, perhaps, that despite the often-shared view of modern-day football, fans really can make a difference when it matters. And, of course, of the power of social media to turn a view into an action.

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