Confused?: Willie Mason.

Confused?: Willie Mason. Photo: Darren Pateman

I'd like to say I put off writing Discord for a day so I could properly digest the debate about media access on the NRL 360 TV show.

But I put it off because I was lazy.

However, I thought it was encouraging that senior players like Robbie Farah and Willie Mason were generally supportive of the need for good access.

But I would have thought Willie would better understand by now the rationale behind a player like Dane Gagai being asked about something that got him in the news a few months ago.

To Willie and Dane, I explain it this way: the word "news" has been around so long that we don't think about its origins. But it came from the same place as "funnies" and "comics". The funnies are funny, the news is stuff that's new.

It's a reporter's job to sort out what is new from what is old when he interviews you. If Dane had not previously spoken about the incident in question, then that is what the Newcastle Herald "idiot" in question was doing.

It is not the reporter's job to promote the game. If it was, we wouldn't need you. That's your job. The reporter is there looking for stuff that is new.

Advertising in the paper is expensive. The way you promote the game and get free publicity is you submit yourself to questioning from reporters – who are looking for "news". The price you pay for getting the game in the paper for free is to go through this process. There's no such thing as a free lunch. That's the trade-off.

The hard thing for people outside the media to understand is that journalists and their employers have DIFFERENT objectives.

A good journalist just wants to uncover the truth. His employer tries to turn this into something it can sell. It's not like any other workplace; certainly not like a football club.

In more general terms, I can understand the thinking of some NRL clubs on this issue. Newspapers don't really inform any more, the internet does that. Newspapers are now an entertainment medium and other entertainment mediums pay for their access to NRL players.

The best argument against charging papers is that they can no longer afford it.

But while newspapers are on the way to being irrelevant, they're not there yet. We saw that on Thursday night when Souths announced their membership had hit 27,000-odd and their attendance that night was an almost identical figure.

Using social media and the like to promote a sports event is preaching to the converted. Traditional media still has a role in reaching the wider public.

There is no longer any altruistic reason for giving the traditional media good access. They no longer represent "the people". Yes, they are just trying to make money.

But there is still a sound commercial reason for giving them access, that being bums on seats.

The concussion mystery

The NRL's Nathan McGuirk told me on Monday night that no potential $3 billion legal bill for concussions was mentioned at the chief executives' conference last month.

So I went back to my source, who insisted it was (the figure was calculated based on participation; American football has basically no amateur structure at all). The source said McGuirk wasn't in the room at the time.

If someone can help me solve this mystery, I'd be grateful.

Supporters' federation anyone?

The subject of the week has been crowds and why they're down. But it seems one side of the debate is over-represented.

Clubs and stadiums have CEOs, public relations officers and contact with journalists. What do fans have? Sure, they can put a comment at the bottom of this column and I'll probably answer it, or they can call a radio show.

But no one represents fans and perhaps the current debate about them being forgotten by the game's administration can lead to some sort of groundswell regarding the establishment of a rugby league supporters' federation in this country.

As a reporter, I'd love to have a supporters' representative to call for comments on pressing issues.

Admittedly, the English know how to turn fun things into something serious like no one else, but for years they had a supporters' federation – although in recent times it has become a little fragmented.

If anyone would like to try to organise a supporters' federation, use the bottom of this page to register your interest.

The comments

As always, thanks for all the comments on Set Of Six and Discord.

Larry from Granville suggested a four-year cycle for international football that sounded pretty good to me.

JG seems to suggest Shane Flanagan should not be banned from entering Remondis Stadium. He is accused of negligence. He has been suspended from coaching for a year. He probably shouldn't be paid – which he is being. But I don't think he should be barred from standing on the hill. That's my opinion.

David says all coaches should undertake the same training as Flanagan is required to. Since we don't know what that training will entail, how can we know?

Many people answered my open question in Set Of Six about why they did not attend round one games at ANZ Stadium. Arthur Hennessy said scheduling and venue were the main reasons. Geoff said games should not start any later than 7.40pm.

JG says Canberra v Gold Coast sounds boring but if Dave Taylor says in the newspaper that Canberra's a boring town, then he'd go.

GWS says Thursday night is a hard sell for people with families. 

Soot said: "Why go all the way out to a game at that awful stadium when you can watch it on tv??"

Gekko says it was just too easy to go home and watch the game on TV.

Rocky says Frank-Paul Nuuausala should not have returned to the field on Thursday.