Roy Greenslade Jumps The Shark With A Fictitious Article On Resolution 12

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Today The Guardian’s esteemed media expert and renowned journalist Roy Greenslade published an article on Resolution 12 that was so ridiculous that one would be forgiven for asking if he’s gone from his usual role at the newspaper – exploring issues in the media itself – and embraced fiction writing instead. It would be tragic if it wasn’t so serious.

This guy spends his time analysing other newspapers and he’s got a reputation for criticising other writers and publications, and pointing out to them where they’ve got their facts wrong or simply written nonsense because it reflected their own views and biases.

He’s made his reputation on being straight, right down the line, because his job requires that he be. Otherwise it’s open season on him and his paper.

Greenslade’s piece, entitled “Why The Guardian Rejected An Advert About Scottish Football” is so full of misrepresentations and untruths that it ought to become a reference and rebuttal point for every single news outlet that this guy has criticised in his column over the years.

That’s how bad it is. Its reek stinks even over the smell of what the newspaper he works for has already done this week.

What Roy Greenslade published today is either extraordinarily lazy and inept or it is the wilful distortion of facts in the service of defending censorship inside his own house. This is the kind of thing that calls into question someones integrity as a journalist.

I write that with no pleasure whatsoever.

I am a huge admirer of Roy Greenslade, who has written about numerous subjects close to my heart and is a vigorous defender of free speech, but I genuinely cannot believe what I’ve just read. If this is copy that was slipped to him by someone in the paper’s office – and that’s no defence; he didn’t even bother to check it out – then he’s been hung out to dry, and I would expect him to react accordingly, because there is barely a word of truth in the piece.

Just for the record, here are the untruths that appeared in the article.

1) Greenslade claims the ad was “created by Celtic shareholders” and has “little resonance outside of Scotland” or “in fact, Glasgow.” Utter nonsense. The ad might have originated on a Celtic site, but it has been crowdfunded by people from all across the country and beyond. Resolution 12 certainly resonates outside Scotland now, or did no-one tell him about the copy of said ad that appeared in a newspaper in Switzerland? I understand that to a lot of people in metropolitan London media circles that issues such as this aren’t big news in the way a head of the English FA having an affair with his secretary would be, but it’s sheer ignorance, and a wilful distortion of reality, to suggest this is a “Glasgow obsession” with no relevance to anyone else.

2) Greenslade says that this issue revolved around the granting of a UEFA license to “new” Rangers; this demonstrates his complete ignorance of the subject and on its own would be enough to dismiss his article as little more than a joke, and a textbook example of journalistic laziness. This, as everyone who’s familiar with the issue is well aware, has the sum total of nil to do with Sevco, who have never been eligible to play in Europe since their founding in 2012.

He acknowledges that the background is “much more complicated” … but he’s clearly not bothered to look into it right or try to grasp the facts. He’s simply written nonsense and published it without doing even the most basic check. Shameful stuff. But it gets worse.

3) He repeats the lie – and I have no trouble calling it that – which was being circulated to Guardian readers who inquired about this yesterday; that the article was received by the paper in French and that it was only refused once it was translated into English. This is, if you’ll pardon my expression, nothing short of absolute bullshit. He then says the article was originally published in French which is garbage, as anyone who bothered to take two seconds to check would have been able to verify. Even the Sevco fan sites know better than that; some of them gloated that the article had been meant to run in French but that it had been published in English by mistake, to the embarrassment of all concerned. I wonder who feels embarrassed right now?

He goes on to say that he doesn’t understand how it raises issues of press freedom because it was a “commercial matter.” He then, brazenly, hides behind “impartiality” to cover what is a litany of lies, innuendos and misrepresentations.

Yes, I think we’re all well aware that this is a “commercial matter” and some of us can hazard a guess as to who helped to make it one. There is nothing whatsoever in that ad that would risk or harm in any way the “impartiality” of sports reporting in the paper. It poses questions and asks for clarity – that’s what the media itself is supposed to do.

Press freedom isn’t the issue at all, but I would seriously question the paper’s “impartiality” in basing a decision which closes down a discussion on whether football in Scotland is run on a fair and even handed basis – when there is ample evidence to suggest it’s not – on “commercial considerations.” Someone didn’t like what this ad said, and threatened the paper with financial consequences. That’s what one of Greenslade’s media colleagues, Peter Oborne, resigned from The Telegraph over.

What Greenslade appears not to understand – but which is made ever clearer by his actions and those of his paper – is that refusing the ad under pressure is, on its own, a diabolical act which is an affront to journalism. But it’s what they’ve done in response to the very deserved criticism they’ve got for that which is far worse.

They’ve lied about it and published those lies – those easily disproved lies – for everyone to see. They’ve tried to distort what this campaign is about. They’ve tried to play the man, not the ball, and they’ve done so under the cover of “journalistic integrity.”

Absolutely incredible, and an indictment on their whole profession.

Greenslade hasn’t bothered to educate himself on this, so it may shock him to realise that one of the things we’re most concerned about up here is media collusion in these events. Ironically, this matter came to his attention because people were tweeting him about it; that’s the real tragedy here. They tweeted him because they trusted him but he’s reinforced every negative perception we have of his paper and his profession in spades today and that makes this into an issue of press freedom, and whether we can believe a word we read in the mainstream media, that will haunt he and his vocation long after the Resolution 12 dispute has reached its inevitable and victorious conclusion.

He and others at his paper ought to be absolutely appalled by their own conduct today.

It is a day of shame for a once proud title.

The Guardian owes those behind the campaign, and every single one of us, an apology for this lamentable conduct, and I’ll tell you what would suffice; they could agree to do what they already had before, and run the ad. For free. The money can go to charity.

Let’s see if they have an ounce of integrity left.

Their credibility is going to be a lot harder to rescue.

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