The Mainstream Media: Outdated And Outclassed
Across the globe, print media of all kinds is struggling. The increasing array of content available on the internet, coupled with higher and higher numbers of people gaining access to the online world has meant newspapers and the like have had to change their tactics.
Across Britain, the media as a whole have been tarnished by the actions of some in recent years. Honest, hard working journalists have been left to attempt to restore the reputation damaged by revelations regarding phone hacking and breaches in privacy.
And across Scotland, the mainstream media has been left battling falling sales, drops in viewer/listener numbers, and an online media determined to publicise the truth as they see it, twenty four hours a day, free of charge.
It is an undeniable fact that Scotland is, for it’s relatively small size and population, a football mad country. For this reason, from the Granite City to Glasgow Green, a significant proportion of newspapers are sold to people predominantly interested in the sports coverage which lies within. Yes, folk will glance at the general news, but the fact many people start reading their newspapers at the back (where the sports are located) is indicative of a country which adores it’s football.
The role of a free media in society is fairly simple; to supply the population with an accurate coverage of the news of the day, whilst offering opinion pieces dissecting both sides of the debates surrounding any news stories. Oh, and they also have to supply you with at some cringe worthy advertising, two sudokus, and a horoscope (which is often more truthful than some of their reporting).
However, in all seriousness, when a section of the media stop providing an accurate coverage of the day’s news, and only publish pieces which suit a particular set of opinions they become nothing other than a simple propaganda machine. I’d assume some of you reading this would accuse ourselves of that very crime. After all, we do generally look at the world through somewhat green tinted spectacles. Regardless, neither Celtic Football Club or it’s supporters are free from criticism on here (should a reason arise for it), and therefore I would disagree with any statement which suggested we were merely part of a propaganda machine.
And yet, in modern day Scotland, many people, including myself, feel that sections of our mainstream media have become nothing other than the mouthpieces of a certain group. Behind doors in newspaper offices across the country, journalists and their editors are turning to more and more sensationalistic stories in attempts to boost waning sales numbers. Like any injured animal, when they are backed into a corner, they turn to what they know best, and attempt to fight back against those they feel have wronged them.
Unsurprisingly, in a country which is football daft, these battles often unfold in the sports pages. It is difficult to say whether these individuals are anti-Celtic, or simply pro-Ibrox (Rangers, Sevco, The Rangers, etc). Often, these two things can be construed as being part of the same entity.
However, to say these sections of the media are anti-Celtic ignores the views of many non-Celtic or non-Ibrox fans. For example, I know Aberdeen fans who feel that sections of the media are massively pro-Ibrox, but would not agree that they are anti-Celtic. It would also be ignorant not to mention the fact that there are many fans of the Ibrox club who feel that sections of the Scottish media are not only anti-Rangers, but pro-Celtic (incredible as that view may seem). Don’t forget, Alex Thomson, Channel 4’s renowned war correspondent is part of a huge conspiracy to destroy everything “loyal blue”.
Anyway, for these reasons, we’ll briefly look at a couple of “Anti-Celtic/Pro-Rangers” examples, as well as some which are simply “pro-Ibrox”.
Firstly, we turn to a couple examples of the numerous “Anti-Celtic/Pro-Rangers” stories which have appeared over the years. As I alluded to above, these two viewpoints are often intertwined. Regardless, whether it’s the attempted character assassination of the nameless figure behind the Rangers Tax Case blog, the recent criticism of Anthony Stokes, suggestions Neil Lennon brings the hatred upon himself, or attempts to portray the Celtic support as “just as bad” as their foes across the city, the ability of some sections of the mainstream media to leap on some stories regarding Celtic whilst ignoring others regarding our rivals of old is both undeniable and incredible.
For example, when a Celtic fan (who was rightly jailed in time for his crimes) was photographed making monkey gestures at El Hadji Diouf, it was front page, headline news. However, the same newspapers who printed this story continually ignored the equally offensive racist chants of thousands of Rangers supporters time and time again. Racism is condemnable in all of it’s forms. Whether it regards colour, religion, life choices, or anything else for that matter is neither here nor there; the important thing is the presence of racism in society…but not in certain sections of the media in Scotland. Admittedly, if the newspapers in Scotland were to have reported on every example of racism and/or bigotry from the Ibrox support over the years, they’d never have any room for current affairs.
Another obvious case of bizarre reporting came after the so called “Old Firm Shame Game”. In the days after the match, as First Minister Alex Salmond held an emergency summit, many sections of the media criticised Neil Lennon for the infamous touchline spat, whilst leaving Ally McCoist free of any significant criticism. Equally, when the three red cards or numerous arrests were reported, few media outlets highlighted the fact that all three red cards were given to Rangers players and that the vast majority of arrests had been made in the Rangers end of the ground, despite the fact there were far more Celtic supporters in attendance that night.
With regards to reporting which could simply be described as “pro-Ibrox”, I could choose from a plethora of examples, but some memorable ones include Craig Whyte being described not only as a “billionaire” without question or investigation, but also as a “financial whizzkid”. For years, unofficial, “bampot” style outlets were telling the world that financial disaster was on the horizon down Edmiston Drive way, while they were laughed at and ridiculed in sections of the mainstream media.
Even until the final weeks before the Ibrox insolvency event, many media outlets were still toeing the party line, discussing which new players Rangers were going to purchase, and how Craig Whyte was the answer to the prayers of the Ibrox faithful.
And yet, even now, this bizarre reluctance to criticise the current ongoings at Ibrox continues. There is now a different club in residence at the old ground, there are different owners in the boardroom, but the same fear and unwillingness to ask awkward questions continues to permeate large parts of the Scottish media. Mr Green’s claims that “five hundred million people” will watch their matches (yes, almost a twelfth of the population of the planet and over one hundred and fifty million more than watched the last Champions League final) aren’t ridiculed in some quarters, they’re spoken of as ambitious!
Anyone with a laptop can find out with ease that Charles Green was investigated by the Department of Trade And Industry after Sheffield United fans complained regarding their share issue. Any question or query of this in, for example, the Daily Record? Of course not. What about the fact that Mr Whyte recommended Mr Green to Duff & Phelps? Nope? How surprising. Any mention of the views of Dr Heidi Poon, the dissenting judge on the recent tax tribunal panel who claimed there was, in her opinion, a “cover up” and attempts to “give false evidence” to the hearing? No, the papers were too busy filling their column space with how innocent Rangers were, how the new club should be compensated, and how the old club wouldn’t have died if it hadn’t been for the big bad people at HMRC. It’s simply incredible.
And then, today came “la pièce de résistance”, thanks to the departure of Mr James Traynor from the Daily Record. For those of you who may not know, Mr Traynor is the “journalist” who defended the Famine Song as a mere “ditty” and claimed that the infamous “The famine is over. Why don’t you go home?” line didn’t “incite violence” or “celebrate the fact one million people died”, but “if anything the line is mocking the often cloyingly sentimental longing of Celtic fans for the old country, and if you accept that’s all it is it might even border on humorous.”
Now, that’s not me reading between the lines, or paraphrasing, that is a direct quote from the Mr Traynor’s article in the Daily Record, Monday, 22 August, 2008, available here. Once again, there are endless examples of Mr Traynor talking arrant nonsense (for example, in 1998, he said “If anything the signing of Lubomir Moravcik at a cut price has merely caused them further embarrassment”), but as I am writing an article and not a book I shall continue onto what he said in his “final newspaper article” today.
Mr Traynor begins by reminiscing about the good times and the bad times, referring to trips abroad and the people he has met. No one could criticise him for this. After all, if I’d met Pele, I’d never stop talking about it. However, soon this epitaph turns away from football and attention focuses on the Rangers saga.
Mr Traynor states: “…I could never say my job has been anything like work. It’s been a pleasure.Until recently.”
“Unfortunately, there has been the last twisted and bitter year during which Scottish football, unable to deal with the Rangers crisis in a civilised manner, has tried to tear itself apart. All in the name of sporting integrity, of course. Actually, for the last couple of years some of the most bilious types have been allowed to emerge from the shadows and spew invective that sadly became regarded as fact, even though what they were saying and writing wasn’t even close to being definitive. Or honest. Overnight all sorts of anonymous bloggers became experts. These champions of decency had all the answers.”
Ranting and raving, Mr Traynor continues:
“Perhaps in time more will be written about this kind of hack and the rabid desire to help bring down Rangers, a fierce desire that, sadly, was widespread.”
“Just when did they become consumed by such eye-popping rage? Was it always there, a dormant fury against Rangers and their fans, who deserve enormous credit for having saved their club, just waiting for the catalyst? Now they can’t help themselves. They can’t stop foaming at the mouth and we can be sure their determination to have titles stripped will go into overdrive. They need some kind of victory or they might explode and that would be terribly messy. All that bile all over the walls and streets.”
“And the result? Some of the most shallow and infantile drivel ever written. These egotists are so into
themselves they’ve no regard for the safety or well-being of those about whom they have written some awful and completely inaccurate pieces. Despicable, pathetic little creatures craving some kind of recognition but lacking in conscience and morality.”
Now, is it just me, or do the quotes above sound like the comments of a bitter man who knows his brand of journalism is dying? People like Mr Traynor should praise many of the “free media” sources who ran stories which were proven to be correct long, long before anyone like himself did.
It is clear to me that Mr Traynor is afraid of the new wave on the media horizon. Unable to criticise bloggers with solid facts and well thought out arguments, he has resorted to name calling and sensationalist nonsense.
To discuss “integrity” with such disdain is massively ironic for a man who has written more fiction than truth in recent years. Don’t forget, Craig Whyte was the greatest thing to happen to Rangers in years according to Mr Traynor. Funnily enough, we may see James finding employment at Ibrox in the not too distant future. At least his rhetoric will not be questioned there, just as he likes it.
With regards to the media as a whole, as Bob Dylan wrote, “the times they are a changin'”. More and more people, both in Scotland and around the world, have become disillusioned with the “official” media available to them; whether it’s the stories written in newspapers or the points discussed on radio or television. Several outlets have already began to adapt as they see fit, because in an ever changing world, to sit still is to stagnate, and to stagnate is to die. However, some have chosen to fight the tide of change, and it may just prove to be a fight too far.