Newcastle’s main local evening paper, the Evening Chronicle, have instituted a fund for not-for-profit sports groups to apply for. The money’s being provided by payday lenders Wonga, sponsors of Newcastle United.
I pointed out last week that the controversy around the sponsorship of the football club and stories linked to that meant that the association between the paper and Wonga was unwise. The Chronicle are a major source of news for NUFC fans and when they come to report on these issues, as they must, their impartiality is bound to be questioned as a result of their relationship with Wonga. There are some who have no problem with Wonga’s business model and the exposure they have gained in a city never far from issues of poverty. Even they will surely be able to see that the Chronicle’s editorial standpoint has been compromised over this.
Can we see this beginning to happen already on a small scale? If you run a search for “Wonga” on the Chronicle’s own website, it’s perhaps telling that since just after the Wish Sport fund was set up, there’s been a subtle change in how Wonga are referred to. A post on July 4th was the last time Wonga were referred to as a “payday lender”. Since then they’ve become a “digital finance company”.
Still think the Chronicle will cover United’s sponsorship as they should, providing the reader with all the relevant information and opinion to allow them to make up their own mind? Lets hope this outbreak of politeness towards Wonga is temporary for the duration of the funding scheme.