It’s becoming increasingly regular that a press conference in a sporting context is regulated by a media officer, however, is it correct that they have the power to do this?
One of the most recent managerial rumours circulating the media has been one linking Tottenham Hotspur’s manager Mauricio Pochettino to Real Madrid. The La Liga side continue to be managed by Club legend Zinedine Zidane but, having been dumped out the Copa del Rey by minnows Leganes and currently sitting fourteen points behind League leaders Barcelona, frustration is beginning to creep in at the higer levels of the Spanish side as the pressure grows on Zidane.
However, just a couple of weeks ago, Pochettino found himself being over-ruled by the Tottenham Press Officer following a pressing question from one of the sports journalists present.
As shown in the video, the reporter – whose name we only know as being Jeremy – is repeatedly asked by the Press Officer to ask a different question rather than focus on the ongoing speculation.
In this example, I would say that the Press Officer is doing a good job. He is trying to stop speculation from growing and is therefore advising Pochettino to not answer the question. This way neither the Club’s supporters nor Real Madrid’s supporters are misled by reports in the media.
However, there have also been examples of Press Officers acting harshly on the media.
Following a 2-0 home win over Crystal Palace, Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho walked into the press conference room and lasted just ten seconds before walking out.
As shown by the video above, the former Chelsea manager walked into the room with his media advisor. She briefly asked whether the journalists – of which there only appears to be a handful present – had any questions. Following a lack of response, she then said that the press conference had concluded and they therefore exited the room.
On this occasion, I would say that the Press Officer has been influenced by Mourinho. The Portuguese had just named United’s youngest ever side to play in the Premier League and were now anticipating a UEFA Europa League final against Benfica. However he used this upcoming game as a reason for his shortened interviews.
Prior to entering the press room the Portuguese had spoken swiftly with the Club’s in-house media, stating “Don’t ask me too many things because now I am in a final.”
As a Press Officer myself, I have only ever had to intervene in an interview with press once. Therefore I can sympathise with those at the Club who can be criticised for limiting the media to having freedom, however in some circumstances it is vital that the Press Officer can step-in and guide in order to stop any potentially misleading news articles or rumours.
I’m sure it will happen again in the future but it is entirely based around the subject matter of the question posed about whether a media officer should intervene.