There was a time when the mainstream press could twist a Celtic manager’s words, or even invent them whole. That was before TV cameras, before streaming, before their profession was under siege from every avenue. It was before fan media.
More than anything else, it was fan media which changed the game. Because if we hadn’t been around the press would still lie about what our manager actually said and did. They would edit, cut, copy and reframe the debate in whichever way they wanted. Fan media stops them from doing so.
We draw the line in the sand over which they can’t cross.
Don’t get me wrong, every once in a while they try it … but they always get caught now and always subjected to the mortification of having their lies broadcast to a wider audience than most of them ever dreamed of.
The Celtic blogosphere doesn’t miss a thing.
I wonder sometimes what fan media does at other clubs. I’ve checked out forums and blogs right across the spectrum.
Outside of Celtic, there are few fan media sites which look at the larger issues in the game; governance, refereeing, reform. They don’t have the issues in England that they do here, although there are issues specific to certain clubs.
You cannot be a Chelsea fan at the moment and be talking exclusively about football, just as West Ham fans were consumed by the issues surrounding the off-field behaviour of Kurt Zouma. I know one fan rep at West Ham who found himself thrust into an unexpected media spotlight at around that time; he handled it brilliantly.
But those are momentary flare-ups.
Our own fan media is engaged in constant, close quarters, contact with the mainstream press and usually not for the purposes of debate and discussion. We are constantly forced to challenge their narrative of our club.
Our media here is hopelessly partisan.
You do not find that issue in England where even those who support big clubs treat the others with respect. Succulent lamb culture could never have flourished down there.
The best journalists have written books excoriating the way the game is run.
They don’t mistake their hopes for their own clubs for reality … and they know what every good journalist knows deep down.
That you don’t need “access” to cover big events, and that, in fact, you are often better off, from a credibility perspective, without it.
When you really think about it, most of the big stories of the last two decades could have been broken without reporters having controlled access to clubs. I am on the Celtic fan media list but I did this job for nearly a decade without being on it and I could do it for another decade if I suddenly no longer was.
Even if we had exclusives, I could live without them.
This morning, The Celtic Star put up their latest piece savaging The Daily Record for the way it covered their question to Ange at the last press conference.
I didn’t listen to the presser until this morning; I read the transcripts on various sites so I didn’t realise that the team from The Celtic Star had put the question that elicited Ange’s brilliant slap down to managers who hide behind refs and the way the media has become focussed on refs.
But it certainly doesn’t surprise me that it was a Celtic fan site which asked the big question, and it doesn’t surprise me that the question wasn’t about refs – as the hacks tried to make out – but about the role of the media itself and the way our games get special scrutiny.
I was correct to infer that Ange’s comments were a dig at them for that.
I can only congratulate the Celtic Star team on such a fine question, and I share their frustration and anger that the media chose to misrepresent both what the question was about and how Ange decided to answer it.
That they actually lied about this – brazenly lied – is telling.
They know that fan media represents a grave threat to them.
They know, in fact, that fan media is more widely trusted and not because we take the side of the club over everything. It’s because we have integrity whilst most of them do not.
But what it’s really about, of course, is their continued frustration with the way the landscape has changed in the last decade. The mainstream press is no longer able to move public opinion in the way it used to.
It no longer controls the narrative. It no longer gets to decide who is up and who is down, who is popular and who is not.
It no longer wields power. It no longer commands respect.
And boy, some of them are still not quite over that yet, some of them are still struggling to acclimate themselves to this new reality. The harder they struggle, the more I know we are right.