The Sentinel misses the point with Vale coverage

The Sentinel misses the point with Vale coverage

The Stoke Sentinel has a surprise Vale lead story on a day that could have enormous consequences for Vale’s future direction.

According to the Sentinel, the most important Vale story of the day is… that youngster Sam Morsy may sign a new contract.

To the observer looking in, it looks like the Sentinel is comfortable with its cosy club relationship…

That’s certainly not the news that the 3,500 signatories to Mo Chaudry’s petition would expect to see on the backpage of the local paper. For those who, like the Sentinel, appear not to know, today just happens to be the deadline for Mo Chaudry’s multi-million pound takeover bid.

The Sentinel and Radio Stoke remain the only informed and independent media sources for Vale fans without Internet access.

But while Radio Stoke has at least made a decent pass at covering Vale’s chaotic season – with coverage of take-over saga, alleged player discontent and the continued board protests covered via Prase and Grumble phone-ins, Twitter updates and regular bulletins, the Sentinel seems reticent to join in.

North London Valiants are engaged in the first major canvassing of Port Vale shareholders since Valiant 2001 took charge. The Sentinel hasn’t even covered it. The club promised an update on the ‘busgate’ sage on Monday. Have the Sentinel chased the club to find out what happened to their promised statement? It doesn’t look like it. Multiple allegations of board shenanigan fill fans forums – have the Sentinel spent any time investigating them either as truthful or false? What about coverage of Starve ‘Em Out or Black and Gold’s letters to board and manager? Nope, hardly a word reaches the Sentinel backpages.

Now, some may argue, I have an agenda in highlighting items that fit the anti-board agenda, but that’s not the point of this article. The Sentinel is totally within its rights to cover all the above and come to a different point of view to mine and that of other fans. But what’s not acceptable, in my view, is to simply ignore them as an irrelevance or an inconvenience.

To the observer looking in, it looks like the Sentinel is comfortable with its cosy club relationship, filling the week’s pages with player and manager interviews (courtesy of the regular press conferences at Vale Park), match previews and match reports. Yes, there are columnists to offer a personal view. But little else.

It’s time for the paper to follow the established traditions of journalism – that is the practice of investigation and reporting of events, issues, and trends to a broad audience. Some of those words are worth repeating namely – investigation and issues – not cosy and safe chats with players, manager and board members.

How come a web blog such as 200 Percent can find the time to look in-depth at the relative merits of Valiant 2001 and Mo Chaudry, not once, but twice? Yet, the Sentinel, today, cannot even bring itself to report what is on the minds of the majority of Vale fans.

And for the record, it’s not the possibility of Sam Morsy signing a new contract!

Rob Fielding has been a Port Vale fan for thirty years. He founded the award-winning website in 1996. These are his personal views and he welcomes your comments on them.

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