It is not every day (oh come on James, it’s nearly every day) that I find myself accusing the Scottish media of rampant bias and even sectarianism, and it’s certainly not every day that I do so poolside from Tenerife. Yet here we are, because some stories just won’t wait until I get home and some thing need to be pointed out prior to events elsewhere.
This weekend, tens of thousands of jubilant Celtic fans filled the streets of Glasgow and elsewhere to celebrate the Ange Postecoglou revolution and its successful culmination in the league title. I’ve seen much footage of those scenes and they are the only things that make me wish I could have been in Glasgow instead. It looked glorious.
Yet over the last 24-36 hours the media has unleashed a torrent of bile on our fan-base and amidst the pathetic, petty nature of it is a bias that reeks from the newsrooms to where it chokes me from hundreds of miles away.
We inhabit a footballing environment where to get good journalism you have to look to the blogs and further afield. Scottish sports journalism has to be the worst in the world and it’s so because of the stinking standard of individual they have in the newsrooms and who they allow to hold roles in their titles. Any profession which thinks Barry Ferguson should have a weekly column has lost the plot. Any that thinks Kris Boyd should have one may never have had a clue, or any self preservation in the first place. How can you take that seriously?
Worse still is the news groups trying to capture the “authentic” voices of fan media by hiring bloggers; let me tell you something, I’m shamelessly partisan. My work doesn’t belong in a national title. The problem with the press giving bloggers a platform is that national titles should be about presenting facts, and their opinion writers have to be reasoned, educated and on point.
The trouble with this gig is that anyone who can string two sentences together thinks they can do it and many of them try to; the media seems to think that this is a substitute for fact-based coverage.
What you get are small men like Jackson, Jack and others … people pursuing agendas. People who think the ignorant twaddle in their own heads is important to the national debate when it fact much of it makes any real debate impossible. And you get bad writing too … God, you get screeds of it, so much of it that you can feel your own IQ drop sharply as you go through it.
National titles more and more tilt towards a “core audience” and in this country that isn’t us. Scottish journalism is like a bad lab experiment involving a variation of the chicken and the egg question; what came first? Writing that sets the bar so low that anyone with any appreciation for craftsmanship or who might want to read a fact or two rather than pig ignorant garbage deserts in droves … or a core audience filled with goons and knuckle draggers, and titles that adjust their talent pool accordingly?
I stopped caring about the answer a long time ago. Our media is a joke. It is biased to the point of being offensive. Most of the time it’s at least partially funny. These last 36 hours have not been that. The have been a gross insult to our supporters.
The arse-rag tabloids are the forefront of it, of course.
The Record is produced for the kind of intellect that I wasn’t surprised to see a guy on my flight over here, dressed in a horrific orange football shirt, make one last the full four and a half hours. Hilariously, he called his made from Tenerife airport and said he would inquire the following day about taking a boat over to Seville.
Yeah, that’s a two day journey from the West Coast of Africa, so you better get on that.
Such is the audience for that pitiful excuse for a newspaper, which had its crack team of investigative reporters out all over Glasgow yesterday looking for fag ends, broken beer bottles and any piece of graffiti which they might obliquely associate with our club.
The Sun was just as bad, but we should never forget that paper pitches to a core audience which makes The Record’s look like Cambridge University dons. There are beer gutted, tattooed yobs who buy it and still spend the first hour wondering why they can’t find the tits on Page Three. How many do you think go into the paper shop and ask “Are you sure you gave me all of this?”
The paper of the working class Tory voter. I rest my case.
The coverage in both of these rags has been lamentable, and this of course, spreads like a virus to the so-called quality press. The Herald’s had a wee go, boosted of course by its increasingly tabloid-esque junior publication The Evening Times, where the aforementioned Chris Jack has his comic strip and whose media house – Newsquest – is the one that just branched into “fan media” … the clue is in the name though. Written and published by fans, not by a conglomerate which apparently doesn’t realise that it dumbs down the rest of their titles.
Which isn’t to say that their Celtic publication doesn’t have some intelligence and wit. Anthony Haggarty is always a pleasure to read and I see our good friend Kevin McKenna is writing today on a similar subject to this … but then both of these guys have written for mainstream titles, back when the profession actually required a basic level of talent, and they have enough of that to spare. If they could share it around the newsrooms it would raise the intelligence quotient by at least a dozen or so points. The trainees on those titles might even stand a chance.
To read some of this coverage is to believe that my city was visited over the weekend by a riotous mob, smashing, looting, breaking, fighting … there are some in the press who have, frankly, done nothing but embarrass themselves by their coverage of it, as obviously keen as they are to create their own myth of Glasgow’s “night of broken glass.”
The trouble is, the official line from Police Scotland and the Council is that aside from the usual silly behaviour you will always get when a large bunch of people congregate and drink in a public place, that nothing like that actually took place at all.
“Broken glass covered the streets …”
Yeah from bottles, which you’d seen in the back gardens of many a house party in Glasgow on the same night. That so many of the hacks are pissing their pants over some smashed beer bottles shows you the desperate lengths they’ve got to in their quest to write something negative.
“There was so much litter everywhere …”
What do these people think we have a Cleansing Department for? Have these people never seen the city centre after a major march or event in town? I can speak with some authority on this; I was a Parks worker and I was drafted many a time to assist with the clean-ups after big events at Glasgow Green and in other public green spaces … litter is not terribly unusual and it is certainly not worthy of some of the ridiculous headlines of the past 24 hours.
“There was drug use and excessive alcohol consumption …”
The kind of people who express surprise that some people in this city like to take drugs or that some might like a drink have obviously lived colossally sheltered lives and as a consequence have been to way too few parties … and with this kind of curtain-twitching moralising I am not surprised that they don’t get more invites. This stuff is also commonplace in any city centre on any weekend night; the idea that it’s suddenly newsworthy is preposterous.
One newspaper blubbered and bitched because a theatre event was cancelled; I seem to recall that when a certain other club’s fans congregated in George Square that dozens of businesses – dozens of them, right? – had to close for the day … nobody in our press corps shed a single tear for them, not even when some of them were vandalised anyway.
Which, of course, is the rub of it and what makes all this coverage sectarian and biased. Some of these same titles did everything they could to present that public order disgrace as if it were nothing but jolly japes. Yet it involved widespread violence, including against the police. The broken glass wasn’t just from beer bottles but from several local businesses which came under attack. There was widespread property destruction … which is to say nothing for the bigoted singing that went on all day, making the city centre a decidedly dicey proposition for anyone who didn’t fancy having others dance up to their knees in their blood.
Oh yeah, and the whole gathering was illegal in the first place as we were all still under lockdown. So it’s more than possible that a lot of people died as a consequence. Which of course is something we’re not supposed to talk about.
The Police statement this time made it clear that there were no arrests – none, nada, zero – for serious offences. You could have filled every Police Scotland van in the country during the George Square disgrace and put the courts on 24 hour shifts to handle the overflow.
Still, the media continues to comb through the rubbish looking for as much negative shit as they can stick up online, and the tongue cluckers are having a field day. Before long you’ll get people demanding to know why these sorts of gatherings are allowed.
And here’s my answer to them; maybe they shouldn’t be. Maybe Police Scotland should not have let it happen, but after allowing George Square to happen, when that was widely trailed on social media for weeks beforehand, whilst the country was still battling a pandemic there would have been serious questions as to why.
But let’s say we ban these things in future. There goes the Highland Games or Gig In The Green or any chance Glasgow has of putting on an Edinburgh Fringe type event.
Which brings me to that other quintessentially West of Scotland annual phenomenon where you can find – shock horror – drug use, alcohol consumption, littering and even broken bottles, including a lot of them being put over the heads of passers-by; yes, I am referring to Halloween in July, the yearly bigots beano, when the Orange Order parades through the city … and that’s not a one-off event either but a series of them which the media never subjects to this level of outrage although the whole thing is an outrage in a tolerant society.
This, of course, isn’t just a story that is designed to put a better tint on events past but one which is intended to provide a context for events soon to come; there are tens of thousands of the Peepul converging on a city where we excelled ourselves in 2003, and there are tens of thousands of German fans descending on the same. It will not be a meeting of like-minds or folks destined to become fast friends. The potential for carnage – not a wee bit of littering but carnage – is obviously high, and history both distant and recent points to it being more likely than not.
So of course, this will be used as a deflection for that; “Hey at least these football fans destroyed someone else’s city … look at what the Celtic fans just did to their own.”
You can read these people like a book, albeit a bad book, a shit book, a dreadfully written book with a predictable plot, one dimensional characters and a cop-out ending. Our media is the real national disgrace; manufacturing a story where none exists even as they offer excuses and gutless apologia instead of writing the facts when a real story presents itself.
They are beyond shaming … and I suspect this week has more disgrace to come for them, as they try to rationalise or blame someone else for what I am certain is looming on the immediate horizon. Let them try.