Why The Media Will Ignore Rugby League And Its Fight For Better Coverage

Imagine that you own a Newspaper based in London.

London is the biggest media market in the country, and the vast majority of your newspapers sales are in the greater London region.

The good people of London are like any other people anywhere else in the world. They want to be informed about what is going on around the world, but, at the same time, they are naturally more interested in news that is more relevant to their own daily lives.

To understand how this all works, you need to have lived within a major city in your lifetime, and then have lived in a more regional area at some point a well.

You see, a regional newspaper has it pretty easy. They can focus heavily on very localized events. Many regional newspapers actually have the luxury of completely ignoring major national and international news and cover things like local council elections or maybe someone that grew a really big pumpkin.

A major newspaper in a big city can’t do that. They have to cover a lot more bases and provide much better coverage over a wider variety of subjects. Because of this, newspapers based in cities such as London need to take a greater world view of certain events, while also offering their readers coverage of what is happening in “the big smoke”.

How do you balance those needs?

It is difficult, and not everything makes the cut.

Some issues and events are easy, you put them in your news paper without hesitation. Others, well, you only have a limited amount of space in your newspaper and you need to be providing content that really packs a punch when it comes to sales.

So, you own a London newspaper. You have sales targets to reach in what is probably the most competitive newspaper market on the planet. With everything that is going on in the world, where do you draw the line on what misses the cut?

The Rugby League Four Nations are on. Only two games will be played in London, both on the same day in a “Double Header”. Rugby League has not given you ANYTHING worth writing about for a long time. Hell, try remembering the last time the London Super League club did anything interesting outside of changing its name for the 15th time!

There is not even 1 London based Rugby League player in the English side. They will be playing at a half full Wembley against an Australian team that will probably beat them….again. Oh, and did I mention that the Final is played in Leeds, again.

How relevant is this event to your readers? An English team that actually has more Kiwi’s and Aussies in the side than it does “Southerners”.

You’ve got to remember, this Four Nations tournament comes out of the blue. I mean, outside of a mess of a Super League club in London that just gives you nothing with writing about, and the annual Challenge Cup Final, what ongoing stories does Rugby League give your London based newspaper to print on a regular basis.

Of all the other sports stories you can cover during the year that are relevant to people in London, that they read every single week, that is relevant to them, what makes Rugby League think that you should clear the desks for them?

Do you want to put completely random sporting contests into your London newspaper? You really want to use that space on yet another English Rugby League failure when instead you could write about the Premier League or the Rugby Union World Cup, both of which are a thousand times more relevant to people in London and both of which draw in readers and satisfy advertisers?

How many newspapers are you going to sell in northern England? Better yet, how many advertisers are paying you money to focus your coverage away from the wealth capital of the nation?

I’m sure the good people of Hull, Leeds, Wigan and Warrington would appreciate you covering the Four Nations, but really, will they buy your newspaper over a regional newspaper in their own area? Won’t they go with what they know? Won’t they buy papers that cover Rugby League on a regular basis, that is targeted at them?

In answering yes to all of those questions, tell me again why a London based newspaper should be covering the Four Nations for YOU again?

A newspapers job is to sell relevant content to its readership. Yeah, I know, in an ideal world there would be much more noble goals to aim for, but the reality is, you fish where the fish are and you used the the best bait for the fish you are trying to catch.

As soon as the sport of Rugby League starts making itself relevant to newspapers in London, I have no doubt they will start writing about Rugby League on a regular basis.

I have said many times before, had the now London Broncos won Super League as many times as Leeds or Bradford have in the last decade, newspapers would have relevant Rugby League content to write about and they would have covered the sport.

As it stands, Rugby League in Great Britain is a game that is mostly confined to small towns in Northern England, a useless team in London that give your nothing, oh and a team in Southern France.

What is a London based newspaper supposed to do with that? Should they lead the back page with “Small northern town beats other small northern town” again and again?

This is something that Rugby League in Great Britain has never come to grips with. Officials, players and fans all bleat over the lack of national coverage the game of Rugby League receives and yet nobody asks WHY the game receives such poor coverage.

I live in Sydney. I live in a big city. Sydney is the major media market in Australia.

The chances of the Queensland Cup being covered by the Sydney media is zero. The chances of the New South Wales Cup being covered by the Brisbane media is zero. Why? Because both sets of media in those areas are in the business of selling relevant content to their markets and hitting circulation goals to gain advertising revenue.

The same thing is happening with the “Southern media” in England, and I for one don’t blame them at all for it. The “Southern media” is just doing what the Irish media, the Welsh media and the Scottish media are all doing themselves.

The Four Nations has very little relevancy to any of these markets. Why should they bother covering it?

Last but not least, I want to say something about the picketing of the London Daily Telegraph offices on the 1st of December.

Good luck to them, their heart is in the right place.

However….

I’ve have watched over the last week as some of the most famous people in the entire world have sat before an inquiry in regards to media standards and the invasion of privacy that many major newspapers in Britain have practiced over the last decade.

For newspapers, what is happening now is Armageddon. They have been caught. They have been found out. All of their dirty laundry is being aired and at the end of all of this it is very likely that some people are going to jail.

If you owned a London newspaper right now, how much of your day do you think you would spend worrying about a couple of Rugby League fans holding ups signs outside as you watch your entire industry crash and burn?

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