By Michael McMullan
LEADING Gaelic games broadcaster Gráinne McElwain is calling on men’s football and hurling camps to make themselves more accessible to the media to help improve promotion of the game.
McElwain is the anchor for Sky Sports’ GAA coverage in a career that saw her present ladies football on TG4 for 11 years after giving up her job as an Irish teacher to pursue a different path.
She also feels that broadcasters and journalists must then, in turn, treat players with respect and refrain from conjuring up and angle to suit an agenda or to increase clicks.
“With women’s sport, selectors and managers are very happy for you to speak to their players and the managers will speak to you,” McElwain said.
“It is a different world from the men’s game, access is very, very hard to get. It is extremely disappointing because we need to be publicising our games.”
She understands speaking to the media isn’t a fit for everyone and those not comfortable speaking in public should be respected. However, for camps to totally close their doors to the media is “disrespectful” to fans.
“You are just the conduit for the public at home, the same as journalists writing something so the people at home can read it.
“Some players are great, but you don’t get access to them beforehand. I think managers and players need to take a step back. When they are speaking to me, for example, I am representing a lot of people at home or online.
“I am asking what my Dad at home, or those that can’t make the game, would like to hear. I think it is important the managers realise when talking to the media, it is not just the face in front of you, it’s the public behind that are important.”
There is also the perception that camps don’t engage with the media for fear their words will be posted on the back of a dressing door for managers to milk any extra one per cent on the way to a championship.
Gráinne sees it as a “two-way street” if teams were to increase their accessibility.
“Media and journalists have a responsibility here as well that we don’t twist things around,” she said.
“There is a trust element here, there is a lack of trust that they’ll (media) not say it the way it is, but they’ll twist the words around from what they implied and used as motivation, so it is easier to say no.
“I really feel we need to promote the men’s game more, the women’s game have so much access and they are so open with their stories.
“You would love to get more of that from our male players and they can trust the media to engage with them. We want to hear their voice not rather than waiting until they are finished.”