Eighteen months ago, I heard two stories from cast-iron sources which I believed entirely.
I didn’t write either of them.
The first was in relation to Kieran Tierney and his willingness to go to Everton. To me there wasn’t anything to write about until the deal was done, and as it never was I never wrote it. Because it would have done nobody at Celtic any good.
But that story did inform my thinking when I heard that Arsenal’s interest was genuine.
I knew at that point that if they made an acceptable offer that he would go there, and I tailored every single word that I wrote about that matter according to what I already knew, which is that for one reason or another he’d decided he wanted a move to England.
The other story was about Leigh Griffiths and his emotional and mental state.
I knew he wasn’t in a good place. I knew it was one of the reasons he wasn’t in the team. But that was not a story that was anybody’s business, except for Leigh and his family and those at the club who he’d confided in and were helping him deal with it.
I wouldn’t have written it had someone stuck a gun to my head.
At a Scotland press conference, after he’d pulled out of the national team, two of Alex McLeish’s coaches decided to put his issues on the record. I was furious and wrote a scorching article slamming them both and the whole setup there.
I thought it was one of the most deplorable acts of that whole shaming and deplorable tenure.
The media knew full well what those coaches had alluded to.
The story was out there; it was not something that could be kept secret.
I slag the media mercilessly on this site, and they deserve it.
But in this case I commended them after the fact because they showed remarkable restraint in that not one of them followed those comments up with a story that would have damaged Leigh and set him back. Even when the club officially announced it, almost all in the press acted in a responsible fashion.
There were two exceptions; the first was a shocking piece in The Sun and the second was from Neil Cameron of The Evening Times, who’s article on Griffiths so incensed people that even mental health professionals were scathing about it.
I did a piece on it at the time; it is one of the worst examples of gutter journalism I’ve ever read.
For months, the media was fully aware of what was going on with Leigh and kept it quiet.
I am not the only blogger who knew. I know of at least two others – and there are doubtless more – who had the story as well.
It would have been a big scoop.
None of us wrote it.
Because when you do this, there’s a responsibility that comes with it.
You have to measure what you’ve heard and what you know with what’s in the best interests of not only the club but the wider Celtic Family. You can’t just spread every rumour you hear, and even when you know something isn’t a rumour you have to ask yourself “what good does telling this story do?”
I cannot believe that Griffiths has, again, had to deny unfounded nonsense about his personal life on social media because there’s a section of our fan base that loves gossip, that loves to spread garbage around, that seems to thrive on mixing it up in a way even the mainstream media would never do.
Ask yourself; if the press, which can’t stand us, isn’t running a story like this then how true can it be?
If you think the average guy in the pub knows something that a guy on a news-desk doesn’t then you’ve fundamentally misunderstood how the industry works, and you’ve completely failed to comprehend what the problem some of us have with it is.
The reasons I’m so cynical about our media is that they do have an inside track and a reach the bloggers don’t, and they still resort to making up stuff … and because they don’t pursue every story they should. They also tend to reproduce whatever the clubs tell them without thinking.
And it’s this that gives them access … and they work hard to maintain it.
So if those Griffiths stories which are all over the internet had a word of truth to them then every mainstream media outlet would have them on the front pages, because this isn’t a private matter, one of a guy struggling with a personal crisis … those rumours are of a much more inflammatory sort and involve lawyers and club officials and talks on a termination of contract … all of which would be newsworthy and all worthy of a sensational splash.
So I’m not even really asking for the people who promote this trash on social media to have a sense of restraint … that’s clearly beyond them. How about just showing some sense? Does anyone really think if that story was true they’d have first heard about it on Twitter?
Ask yourselves, who exactly benefits from the spreading of this kind of muck?
The club? No. The player? Certainly not.
Does it make certain people feel good?
As if they know something the rest of us don’t, and can’t wait to share it?
You know why those kind of people never get the inside track?
Because they have no sense of responsibility at all and no-one credible would tell them a thing.
This stuff damages Celtic.
If that’s the business these people want to get into, well there are avenues they can pursue, but they won’t make any friends along the way.
I would question the motives of anyone who claims that the dissemination of lies and innuendo about our own players has the best interests of the club at heart.
It is unconscionable.
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