This morning my friend Paddy Sinat emailed me early with a prediction; he was about to post a piece on the standing section.
He wondered, rhetorically, how long it would take for one of the mainstream titles to reproduce his article almost word for word.
It took a little over an hour.
This is not the first time it’s happened, and it won’t be the last.
This is an example of what we have to put up with as bloggers.
We are sneered at by the same people who troll through our work looking for insights and stories they weren’t able to come up with on their own. It is somewhat annoying, but I’ve stopped being particularly bothered by it.
The bloggers can sometimes indirectly influence the national debate this way, as happened yesterday when Callum was asked a direct question, by a blogger, about Kris Boyd for the first time. The result was that the mainstream media were practically forced to give this issue another round in the headlines.
That’s the kind of thing we can do.
The media in Scotland is largely a joke.
It is too filled with the ranks of the otherwise unemployable.
What would Boyd, for example, being doing if he couldn’t get a pundit’s gig?
Touring grubby pubs on the Sevco speaking circuit, that’s what. Or opening one. That’s the sum of their knowledge, an attempt to bleed the last bit of value out of a finished career.
Not all ex-player pundits are bad.
In England they have some outstanding ones. Even in Scotland we have Michael Stewart and a handful of others who got their jobs because they are genuinely talented. They are rare. They are the exception to the rule here.
Even the ranks of the so-called “professional media” are filled with people who you cannot imagine have the requisite qualifications for the gig. They write dreadfully. They don’t do basic journalist research. They don’t investigate claims.
And many of them try to pass themselves off as more knowledgeable than they are.
They get caught out and their ignorance gets exposed again and again too.
I’ll tell you a story, and this is a true story. It’s the first time I’ve ever admitted this publicly, but I once cheated on a high school writing project and I got away with it.
Perhaps cheating is the wrong word.
I brazenly produced something that was flagrantly wrong is a better way to put it.
I was supposed to write a book review, and we had options and I chose Stephen King’s The Shining. But I was lazy and didn’t read it. As the deadline approached, I got desperate. I watched the film and I reviewed that instead.
I chose, as the centrepiece of my thesis, the moment where Shelly Duval examines the book her husband has spent the summer writing, and finds – over and over again – the words All Work And No Play Makes Jack A Dull Boy.
Because, to me, it demonstrates the depth of his madness … and the length of it.
Jack Torrance has been out of his mind since the day he set foot in the Overlook Hotel, and perhaps even longer than that.
I put that piece in, got a passing grade, and was happy.
I didn’t think of it again for nearly 20 years, until December 2011, which was just before we discovered, of course, just how deep the hole in the Ibrox balance sheet was, although myself and others had their suspicions.
It was also the Christmas I got my first ever Kindle and I filled it with a bunch of books I’d always wanted to read, and The Shining was amongst them.
I read it over the course of the Christmas holidays, along with Misery.
And I loved it. Because it’s an astonishingly brilliant book.
But it’s markedly different from the movie in that Torrance goes mad slowly, the Overlook itself is a malignant force which corrupts people and the stench of booze and alcoholism hangs over the entire novel; I would learn, later, that King himself was in the first flush of realising he had a big, big substance abuse issue which was only getting worse.
The entire book is like a metaphor for his own struggle.
What gave me the biggest jolt – other than understanding, for the first time, why King so hates the Kubrick movie (which I’ve always loved and still do) – was that the scene involving his wife finding those immortal words isn’t in the book at all … it was a complete invention by Kubrick and his co-writer.
Here’s what still amazes me, to this day; the teacher who marked up that essay and gave me a pass couldn’t have read the damned book either. He was full of bluff and bullshit just the same as I was.
Much worse than that I got away with it, I still don’t believe that he did
But that’s our mainstream sports media in a nutshell.
How many times have they been made to look ridiculous by asserting things that turned out not to be true?
How many times have they been caught imparting knowledge and wisdom which turned out to be ignorant swill?
Keevins is a particularly shocking example of this; in his article at the weekend, at which he had to try and roll back on his prediction that the Ibrox club would go the rest of the league season unbeaten, he said he came up with that after he had “drilled down into the data.”
Well, if he had he’d surely have realised that we blazed goals past Leverkusen and Betis, and that if we could do that we could certainly smash a few past them. He’d have realised that we, in fact, had the best defence in the league and not their club and that their form had already begun to veer wildly off course.
So of course, there was no drilling down went on.
I remember a particularly hilarious occasion when we were facing a team in European competition and he predicted that we’d be comfortably swatted aside.
A caller to that radio show he’s on asked him if he could name just three players in the opposition side’s starting eleven … and he flapped like a fish caught on a hook for a few minutes before he admitted that, actually, no he couldn’t.
Remember, too, his immortal words that the money we spent on Lubo – “one of Dr Joe’s old pals” – would have been better spent on John Spencer?
I could go on and on.
The hideous spectacle of these people trying to cover themselves at times when they are found out is often amusing but it’s also no laughing matter. These people still have some vestige of influence, and they aren’t shy about using underhanded tactics.
It’s only today that I’ve written a piece asking whether The Daily Record lied last night when it said that the club had slammed the fans for the Back To Hell banner, which I’d not have been happy about if I could find a shred of proof that they actually did so.
In some ways though, I think their ignorance is even more dangerous than their lying, just like my high school story would suggest that maybe we weren’t getting close to the education which we deserved.
We are certainly not getting the media we deserve, and even the bloggers cannot close the gap because the press has an important job … and one so few in its ranks seem to understand as they trawl these websites for stories to steal.