Saturday, 19 December 2009


Unhappy journalists after the Manchester City v Sunderland match today. The word went round the press box during the second half that City were to make a statement about their manager at 7.30pm, from which we instantly deduced that that meant the exit of Mark Hughes. There was also a strong rumour that Roberto Mancini was to be appointed in Hughes's place, strong enough for me to use the Mancini line in my report for Setanta Ireland just after the final whistle blew on City's 4-3 win.

That's the beauty of broadcasting - you can get your information straight out to the consumer. The writers for the Sunday papers were desperate for confirmation that Hughes had gone and Mancini had been appointed, knowing that all the time they were missing deadlines for the early editions of their papers. When a member of City's communications staff appeared in the interview room to state that no-one from the club would be saying anything or answering questions, she received a pretty scathing response from one or two of the Sunday writers.

All she would say was that a statement would appear on the club's website and would be emailed to individual journalists. That was little value to the reporters who had actually turned up in person.

Digital advances of course mean that the papers can publish the news on their own websites as soon as it appears. But the dear old hard copies of the newspapers are dealt another blow. The value of the Sunday paper as a source of "new" news is diminishing all the time - we can get much of the news quicker elsewhere. The papers' value is their ability to analyse, discuss and develop stories, but those early editions of tomorrow's papers will be hamstrung because their knowledge of the situation at City will be wildly out of date.

Meanwhile, for many journos, this late-breaking story meant a cold and dark vigil, waiting for news and interviews. Ian Cheeseman of BBC Radio Manchester remained at his commmentary point till 7.30pm, anchoring an extended phone-in while Alan Myers and his crew from Sky Sports News had the short straw, waiting in the chilly rain outside the main entrance to pick up what titbits they could.

Many City fans were dubious about the timing of Hughes' sacking. For different reasons, so were the journalists.

Picture: Cold comfort for Sparky: City of Manchester Stadium this evening.

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