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Editorial Policy

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As we’re about to embark on a 2 and 5 Euro subscription based system here at Grassroots-gaa for 2018, here’s a brief outline of the history of Grassroots-gaa. You can read about our plans here.

Grassroots-Gaa was founded by Cilian Murphy, Ronan Doyle and James Maloney in 2014 to cover the Dublin GAA scene, in a manner never previously done. After an immense amount of work that year, unable to secure the sponsorship required to take it up on a full-time basis, they decided not continue in 2015.

Having been one of the primary contributors to the e-magazine in 2014, having come back from Africa, in 2016 I decided to take on the task of running the magazine

The original owners did huge work in providing quality coverage on a scale never previously done in Dublin club GAA, getting the Grassroots-Gaa name out there and building a strong and healthy relationship with the clubs throughout the county. I thoroughly enjoyed working with them in 2014.

Their endeavours in 2014 were, and are, the foundation of Grassroots-Gaa which had over 5,000 Facebook and over 2,500 Twitter followers when I took over in September 2016.

As the new owner and chief editor of Grassroots-gaa, I’m immensely grateful to Cilian, Ronan and James, the original founders, not alone for the immense work they did in 2014, but also for the help they gave me in transferring ownership in 2016, on extremely short notice. Their assistance was above and beyond what you could reasonably expect.

It is worth noting, however, as you may well have noticed, that there has been a shift in editorial policy since I’ve taken on the mantle as owner and chief editor in September 2016.

Most notably, in 2014, as is quite possibly universally the case in local sports journalism in Ireland, it was editorial policy to report very softly or not at all on unruly incidences which may have reflected negatively on individual players or teams.

This is not a current editorial policy.

My personal outlook is that it’s difficult to see any value in human, sporting or journalistic integrity in failing to report such incidences, if they are significant features of a game.

Furthermore, when unruly incidents occur, whether reported by media or not, the rumour mill goes into full swing around the county, and I’ve known players and referees to have had thoroughly unfair accounts of fairly insignificant incidences, blown completely out of proportion, with their names unfairly blackened.

I think any fair minded, reasonable individual who has seen any incidences which I or any other Grassroots-Gaa writer have reported on, will agree that our reports are perfectly accurate and unbiased.

I’d like to think, that as rumour mills go into full swing around incidents, that reasonable and fair minded people would see our reports as being the place to go to know what actually happened.

To that end, albeit a “cruel to be kind” policy, I believe that our policy protects players who could otherwise have their name unfairly blackened by the rumour mill.

I’d further like to point out that, if we make a report of something related to striking, and if we couldn’t back it up with our own video evidence, we’d leave ourselves widely open to be taken to court for libel.

You can rest assured, anything we write that could be considered as controversial in such regards, has video evidence to back it up.

We appreciate that this policy probably isn’t the best way to maintain the best possible relationship with all clubs and players, as fostered by the original founders and editors.

However, the current editorial aims cannot be achieved by pursuing any other policy.

With that in mind, our aim as an e-magazine is to provide the following…..

-That readers who haven’t seen the games we’ve reported on will have as clear, insightful and unbiased a viewpoint on the whole game as we can provide.

-That we can provide the type of tactical statistical analysis which we feel is truly at the core of why matches are won and lost, which we fell is seriously lacking in most G.A.A. coverage.

-To outline the key statistical patterns of games and how they affected the given matches.

-To write opinion pieces reflecting what consider to be topics worthy of discussion.

With those aims in mind, we should further outline the parameters within which we report. Insightful as we aim to be, we’re very cognisant of the fact that GAA is an amateur sport. Tempting though it would be to give 100% clinical analyses, while it may appear as though we do, in fact, we don’t.

Players and managers give huge amounts of their time to play/manage and even if we consider that the poor performance of a player or manager was a key element of a game, in most cases, we’re not going to report that in its most clinical terms. You’re typically dealing with amateurs who, competitive as they may be, essentially play for fun.

Saying that, it is difficult to properly analyse tactics, something which I think it’s fair to say most of our readers value, without sometimes, at least, insinuating what we see as tactical issues. You can be assured, however, that any such analysis is done as gently as possibly, without losing the overall insightfulness of, or compromising the integrity of the article.

There are, however, three particular exceptions….

Inter-county players are in “the big league”. Though we still have no intention of scrutinising inter-county players as rigidly as some mainstream media may do, or anlaysing them unfairly, the boundaries of scrutiny are applied more liberally than they are for club players.

The second exception is any manager who is managing a club to which they have no obvious affiliation beyond managing the club’s first team. In these circumstances we work on the assumption that the managers are essentially professionals, and therefore we consider that is reasonable that they be open to  non-sugar-coated scrutiny.

I want to make it perfectly clear, as chief editor, that I have no personal objection to managers being paid. If I was offered 26,000 euro a year to manage a team next year, I’d possibly consider quitting teaching and hand Grassroots-Gaa over to somebody else.

But as figures like this, and more, which are being paid, are more than the after-tax wages of newly qualified and full time school teachers, for example, who are open to public scrutiny by rigid inspectors, I don’t believe it to be unreasonable for managers earning this kind of money to be scrutinised with 0% sugar-coating.

Broadly speaking, we have no issue with the existence of this managerial practice, but we do consider such managers to be professionals.

Thirdly, any player who is currently, or has recently been paid by corporate sponsors, has received large “gifts” like cars, for example, (essentially payment for image rights), or players/managers who double as journalists, are considered to be at least a semi-professional, and therefore open to at least semi-professional scrutiny.

Once again, as chief editor, I can personally say that I’m delighted for players who can earn something from their hard work, without compromising the overall integrity of the amateur nature of the games at their core.

I personally had a major issue with the G.A.A.’s stance on this practice being outlawed, before they came to allow it. We do, however, view these players and managers as semi-professionals, at least.

It’s important to emphasise that none of the aforementioned policies, colours the fairness or integrity with which we intend to report. It simply shifts the goalposts in terms of the softness with which we’re likely to report on certain players or management.

Again, I appreciate that it’s not always the best way to foster as healthy a relationship as possible with the clubs, but I stand over the editorial policy and am happy that it falls within the parameters of high standards of integrity which I set for myself and Grassroots-gaa.

With that in mind, I’d like to acknowledge the cooperation of the clubs who always assist, when asked, with team sheets etc. as well as the help and support we’ve got from Dave at Dubmatchtracker, Nigel and Neil at WeareDublinGAA, Barry at Hill16army and the moderators on ReservoirDubs, as well as a handful of go-to people around the county for information regarding payer availability etc.

I’d also like to acknowledge the generosity of photographer, Kyron O’Brien, for giving us a free reign to use any of his photos for articles relating to Dublin and other teams.

Finally, for now, I’d like to acknowledge the work and quality of work of the Grassroots-Gaa team since last September – reporters Conor Dunne and Claire Graham, photographer Liz Forde and web designer and general assistant to all things internet and techie related, Aisha Sarr.

With all of that that in mind, we hope you enjoy whatever we have in store in the future and hope to provide you with reports which are as insightful as we possibly can.

Stephen O’Meara,

Owner and chief editor