Celtic Fan Media Gets Much Needed Support From Someone Who Gets It.

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Every single day, I get up and check Newsnow before I do a single thing.

Newsnow Celtic loads up on my browser the minute my computer accepts my password. I scan the headlines. I read very few. Most of the time it’s the same old thing.

For news, you can click on anything really as long as you see through the headlines which are trying to sucker you into clicking on something from days ago. There are a handful of sites which specialise in that; they are easily ignored. The Celtic sites are usually either ahead of the mainstream press or they offer a decent summary of what is in them.

There is very little reason to click on a mainstream site.

Indeed, there’s only one reason. They have a level of access and the contacts book to get better information than we, the bloggers, do.

At least, as far as Celtic is concerned.

Ibrox fans might find getting good stuff on their club more difficult in future if the mainstream press has to pay for access.

Either way, the hacks will be told what to write.

Ibrox fans probably like the sound of that, but they’ve not thought it all the way through.

If that policy gains acceptance in the press I expect – and hope – that Celtic will follow suit, for our own protection lest the media simply act as a paid attack dog for Ibrox.

But the quality of journalism surrounding our club will be even lower than it is now, which is a scary thought.

But the mainstream press are never going to be my go-to-guys for Celtic information. I read, most of the time, because I enjoy it, for the simple pleasure of well-crafted writing, for the way the words on the page roll out. Reading the Scottish press, you get none of that.

You have to go to the London based media for the quality, and I not only read their columns but I’ve bought their books and listened to their podcasts. They talk about the game, as a whole, in ways which our media simply cannot come close to.

The other day, Mark Guidi was on the radio talking about Callum McGregor. If he has ever said an intelligent thing in his career, I have yet to hear it. I didn’t listen to him talk about McGregor. I read a precis of it on one of the blogs. But he talked nonsense, and that hardly needs to be said. That’s all these people do.

Within a narrow sphere of knowledge – football rumours, whatever tit-bits the clubs dole out and general gossip – they have an audience share. But listen to the podcasts produced by the quality papers down south … they are head and shoulders better, packed with insight and knowledge. Their focus is sharper even as it takes in more of the landscape.

Scottish football writers can barely write intelligently about the game here.

The English guys write about Spanish football, German football, trends in football, tactics, managers, the politics of the sport … there isn’t a single Scottish sports journalist with a fraction of their talent, and I can’t understand why because you only have to love the global game and immerse yourself in it and that’s their job … so if they’re not doing that, what do they do all day?

When I want to read intelligent articles about Celtic I read the bloggers. Guys like Niall and David over at The Celtic Star. Guys like Mike Wood and the others at Celts Are Here. Paddy Sinat on Vital Celtic. Joe McHugh at Video Celts. The Indy Tims guys are brilliant and their work is often hilarious as it mocks the enemies of our club and holds them up to ridicule.

Phil, of course, is required reading, on whatever subject is on his mind.

His work on Irish politics and even his occasional forays into UK current affairs are always insightful and excellent.

I read those guys for the simple pleasure of it, and each has an individual style and a slightly different take on the world. The tones are wildly divergent, but these guys are never anything less than a great read and it doesn’t really matter what they’re writing about.

Likewise, the podcasters; I listen to more and more of them, and even the guys I don’t get along with have impressed me mightily recently with their output and the quality of it.

The language might be a little coarser than you’ll find on Superscoreboard but the wit and intelligence of the discussions, and the sheer breadth of them, make the so-called professional hacks look every bit as dumb as they are.

I’ve been privileged to be on a couple of the podcasts; Jarrod of Celts Down Under is superb and what he does and his commitment to the craft is exceptional. His worst ever episode (probably the one I was on haha) is streets ahead of anything you’ll hear from our sports commentariat. He is in for a vintage year covering his fellow countryman and I cannot wait to see how he gets on.

The Endless Celts guys have had me on a few times now, and their contributors are always smart and engaging guys and talking to them before, during and after the shows you get a sense for how much they care about football, and not just Celtic. And that love and that passion is where great knowledge of the game comes from … and that comes through in the content.

ACSOM are famous for their content.

The boys from E-Tims, one of the oldest Celtic publications on the internet, are even better.

Celtic Underground’s guys produce not only an outstanding podcast but some of the best written articles on our club and the wider game in Scotland that you could hope to read.

I am proud to be part of this community.

These guys (and not a few girls) are what we have instead of a Jonathon Wilson, a Mark Rushden or a Barney Ronay. Yes, some of them are that good … and in stark contrast to a mainstream which is so, so, so bad. There really is no contest as to who is the best.

Which is what makes the media’s assault on Celtic fan media so ridiculous these past few weeks.

You realise that these titles and their spineless writers have spent longer attacking us than they have fighting back against Ibrox’s demand that they pay to attend pressers?

Do you think Celtic charged us to ask Postecoglou those questions?

Do you think any of us would have paid in order to do so?

What a ridiculous idea.

You realise, of course, that our own club is giving us, for free, what the mainstream media is being charged for over there?

It is quite incredible, and I don’t know how they’ll rationalise it to themselves.

How will these people even look in the mirror if their titles have to write a cheque just to get them in the press room?

It’s the ultimate expression of that club’s contempt for them, and that might be one of the reasons they’ve sneered so long and so loud at us; a little misplaced aggression because they and their bosses lack the bottle to channel it where it belongs.

Today, finally, one mainstream journalist gave the bloggers and the fan media the credit they deserve; it was our good friend Kevin McKenna.

(And thanks to Phil for pointing me in the direction of his excellent piece.) 

The irony of this is that the piece was published on a site which is the mainstream media’s latest attempt to do what it is that we do.

Dear God.

Was Kevin’s piece meant as a peace offering? An attempt to nick part of our audience? They never will get it; they never will get why we do this or how we got good at it or why our audiences trust us.

Let me tell you why I laugh at The Herald’s latest effort; Newsquest should be the first organisation telling Ibrox where to get off and where to stick their £25,000 demand. The minute their journalists attend the first presser at that ground their two wee “fan” projects disintegrate under the weight of that scandal.

The first key criteria – trust – is gone.

Anthony Haggarty will be worth reading from time to time. He writes well, and if you’ve ever heard him on ACSOM you’ll know he’s one of us in that he gets it, and he cares and he knows both Celtic and football itself.

The Ibrox section is so bereft of talent it’s unreal.

They don’t have a Tony Haggarty. They certainly don’t have a Kevin McKenna.

Kevin is respected across Scottish journalism. He reminds me in some ways of Marina Hyde; he’s the only person in the Scottish press corps who is comfortable writing about football, politics, the media, religion and popular culture.

I would read Kevin on any subject because he writes brilliantly and he’s clearly intelligent.

The other thing about Kevin is that although he’s spent a lifetime at the very top of Scottish journalism, he is not arrogant or elitist about it.

He’s a grounded guy. He remembers where he’s from.

He comes from one of those places where education was a ladder. He has no arrogance or sense of entitlement; that flows through our media corps and it is catastrophically misplaced.

Kevin is not afraid of new media because he doesn’t have to be. He’s written for the blogs. He wrote a wonderful piece on this site in defence of Neil Lennon when I was angry at his hiring. Kevin is a long-time friend of the Celtic sites, all of them, and his respect for us all and his support for us all has been greatly appreciated for a long time.

And never more so than it was here.

Not only was his message of support and encouragement welcome, he called everything in that article absolutely right, and especially at the end where he said the media had a lot to learn.

They definitely do, and the proof of it is that Kevin himself did that piece supporting us on a site set up by a mainstream outlet which tries to do what we do without understanding it first.

Kevin understands us by instinct and by temperament.

His respect for us is genuine. His gets it because he cares like we do. Even as they try to copy us, even as they publish his words of support and warning, they’re repeating the same mistakes as before.

They’ll never be able to do what it is that we do. They aren’t built for it. If they want to best us they have to do it by doing the job they actually exist for. When they get that right they’ll be halfway there. As it stands, their industry can’t even muster the courage to fight for its own independence against the club across the city.

I’ll tell you this, even if it were his bag, Kevin McKenna would never sit at a media event where his organisation had to pay just to be in the room. He has way too much integrity for that.

That made his fine words today all the more important, and all the more appreciated.

You can read Kevin’s outstanding article here.

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