Date/Time: Thursday 4 October 2018 at 11.00 a.m.
Location: Hotel du Vin (Macallan Boardroom)
AGW Attendees: Martin Dempster, Bernie McGuire (Secretary), Steve Scott
The R&A Attendees: Karen Myers, Stuart Moffatt, Mary Flanagan
THE 147TH OPEN AT CARNOUSTIE REVIEW
The meeting was prefaced with AGW comments that the 2018 Open Championship, while another successful Open, had slipped backwards when compared to access at the US Open and the PGA Championship.
ACCESS TO PLAYERS
The AGW stressed the importance of face-to-face time with the players, and away from electronic and social media, is more important than ever and with the written media losing out every day to social media and TV who have everything on-line almost immediately following any conference.
It was agreed there was a good spread of top players over the three days attending the Media Centre and receiving the interview schedule in advance was very helpful.
The Secretary thanked the R & A in being briefed beforehand of a pre-Open interview schedule and the opportunity to suggest changes with regards to players being asked to attend the Media Centre.
The AGW also indicated that looking ahead to Royal Portrush that media may arrive at the venue later on the Monday, something to think about when planning the pre-2019 Open schedule.
The R & A indicated better control needs to be taken on who is permitted entry into the Interview Room. At times there was quite a few non-media attending press conferences.
PRACTICE RANGE FACILITY
The AGW indicated the route to the media area at the practice putting green seemed awkward and took too long and with seemingly too many security check points.
The AGW also highlighted the media barricade in place on the range was too far away from the players and was not moved each day to accommodate the movement also of where the players hit balls. The media can only be allowed to do their jobs properly when they have access to players and that needs to be in close vicinity to the entry/exit point of players on the range..
Access to players on the range works well at the US Open and PGA Championship and with the AGW expressing its strong disappointment with regards access at The Open. It was though the media barricade on the range at Carnoustie was a simply after-thought.
The Secretary mentioned the practice in place at the PGA Championship where media can go on the range if invited by a player. The R & A indicated they would consider look into the matter when the R & A media meet with the R & A Championship team.
FOOTNOTE – The AGW has since the meeting in October again stressed this point when the R & A media meet with Rhodri Price and his championship team and, if necessary, the AGW offered to help advise in the closer lead-up to The Open to avoid the clear short–coming at Carnoustie.
MIXED ZONE / TRANSCRIPTS
The AGW brought-up concerns with regards the Mixed Zone and with the area needing to be completely reassessed. The flow of players simply doesn’t work given also just one entry point for players. There is not the ability for the media to speak with player managers, caddies and so on.
The Women’s British Open mixed zone worked well while the mixed zone at the PGA Championship, though a little tight, worked very well so that media could speak with players away from the microphone.
It was agreed the AGW work with the R & A in the lead-up to Royal Portrush at ways to improve the Mixed Zone.
The AGW agreed transcripts from the Mixed Zone were a big improvement with less ‘inaudible’ questions. The Secretary pointed out also transcripts within the Media Centre do need to be displayed higher on a wall to enable them to be easily located without crouching down.
The AGW stressed strongly its objection at any move to remove access to the locker room at an Open Championship. It is requirement of the media, and as is the scenario at each tournament, to have access to the locker room. While access is usually during practice days, there must be in place the continuing opportunity to catch a player in the locker room during Championship days.
The AGW suggested a policy could be introduced whereby only media with a 72nd hole armband are given access to the locker room area.
This point will be following-up with the R & A ahead of the 2019 Open.
The AGW indicated the digital scoreboard works very well although the rotations are a bit slow at times. Having the information section at the bottom of the leaderboard was good and could be utilised more to provide some key championship stats.
WI-FI / INTERNET
The AGW mentioned the fixed wire internet works very well although the Wi-Fi does drop out at times. The staff at the IT Helpdesk were excellent.
AUDIO FOR TV COVERAGE
The AGW indicated it was essential to hear the commentary shown on the TV broadcast so that you don’t miss anything important.
The AGW indicated headsets are provided at other events to enable you to listen to the coverage, Mixed Zone and Interview room from your desk (US Open, Ryder Cup).
The Audio ‘Everywhere’ app worked well for some, others were unable to access it and gave up trying.
ONLINE MEDIA CENTRE
The R & A indicated the online media centre had all the relevant information required. Though the AGW mentioned the layout could be improved to save scrolling down to the bottom of the page to locate a transcript. Dropdown menus might work better. An alert when a new transcript, bulletin etc is uploaded to the online media centre would be useful.
SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY
The AGW again brought-up the opporunity provided to the media in being permitted to take photos and video in the Interview Room and Mixed Zone as is the approved practice at other events (Masters excluded). There is a difference of opinion between members of the AGW (newspaper v magazine) as to whether this would be beneficial to writers if content from these areas was on social media first.
Magazines are more likely to use the social media platform.
The AGW and R & A agreed the backdrop at the Mixed Zone for social media worked well and was used by members of the media.
CAR PARKING / SHUTTLE SERVICE
The AGW mentioned, although the car park was located off site, the shuttle bus service to and from the car park to the media centre was excellent. The drop off location at the Media Centre entrance couldn’t be better.
MEDIA CENTRE CAFÉ
The AGW expressed the appreciation of all media with regardsd the provision of the pre-paid card for catering in the media centre café. However, it was pointed out the quality of the food and menu choices could be improved.
Martin Dempster indicated there is a good choice of food to take-away. However, more healthy snack options at the coffee counter should be available, currently only crisps, chocolate, pastries etc. Some examples to include would be nuts, cereal bars and fruit.
The value on the card is enough, if the prices do not go up considerably.
Set times for breakfast, lunch and dinner could be an option to keep food at a good temperature with a buffet style offering on times out with. However this option is not favoured by photographers who spend much of the day on course.
COMMUNICATION AND INFORMATION PROVIDED
The AGW expressed the view the media are generally happy with the information and communication provided during the Championship.
However, it was mentioned by the AGW the lack of information with regards Francesco Molinari undertaking media engagements on the day following his victory. The R & A indicated the opportunity to do something with Molinari only emerged on the Monday morning and it was too late to set something more formal up with the media.
ON-COURSE MATTERS – Media movement, Empty 18th hole grandstands for Claret Jug photos.
The Secretary informed the meeting of a conversation he had with Rhodri Price regarding media walking in the rough. It is understood the integrity of the rough should always be respected. The Secretary added he was in an unfortunate location at the right of the 3rd when contacted by Rhodri and where media had no option but to walk in the rough.
It was also mentioned by the Secretary that is was not the written media or photographers but TV personnel who are the main culprits. It was raised the scenario of marshalls and TV cameraman taking pictures on their phones while the media are not allowed to do so. The Secretary also mentioned the practice of TV personnel and live radio media simply walking aimlessly in the rough in making their way from tee-to-green.
It was pointed out to the R & A the complaint by photographers that the 18th hole grandstands at Carnoustie were empty when the new Open Champion was ready to be photographed with the Claret Jug.
The R & A indicated this was down to CEO Martin Slumber’s ‘thank you for coming and safe travels home’ remarks immediately following the formal presentation so that everyone got-up and left. Mr. Slumbers will be briefed accordingly ahead of the 2019 Open.
The Secretary also raised an issue of an AGW member who sought Open accreditation but was denied and with the R & A indicatng the reason for their decision. The AGW will work with with the member, in question, to assist with future Open access.
THE 148TH OPEN AT ROYAL PORTRUSH
It was explained to the AGW that parking for Royal Portrush will again be off site with a shuttle bus service. AGW advised that the easier the route, the better.
Will there be a shuttle bus service to take media out to the 7th?
MEDIA CENTRE LOCATION
The Media Centre location at Royal Portrush was provided to the AGW.
The AGW thanked The R&A for their support of the AGW dinner and Martin Slumber’s presentation to commemorate the 80th Anniversary of the AGW.
The Links Pavilion facility was fantastic, as were the staff and food. However, the back of the room took a while to get served their courses.
The R&A advised that they no longer have a contract with Mouton Cadet and therefore would be unable to provide wine for the AGW dinner at Royal Portrush. However, The R&A will again provide champagne and liaise with Loch Lomond Whiskies to provide favours for guests.
The AGW advised that an Irish connection might assist with the wine.
The R&A advised that there will be a media hotel option for Royal Portrush although details are yet to be finalised. This will include the provision of the media shuttle bus service at no additional cost.
OPEN MEDIA OUTING – 2019
The R & A indicated it would advise a date of the media day once it has been set. If the media day is on the Tuesday, the AGW will play Portstewart on the Monday.
End of the meeting.