Something bad happened to the media at some point over the last three decades, and it’s perfectly obvious what that something was.
The birth of 24 hour news channels obliterated the old ways of doing things. In the era of big money advertising, broadcast outlets had to keep more eyes on the screen for longer. The news was no longer a recitation of facts; it was a constant search for the next story. The result of that was as predictable as it’s been depressing.
We have a media now which believes that one of its primary roles is to make the news as well as to report it.
That’s a big, big problem and one that you can see everywhere you look in the media environment. No segment of the mainstream press has embraced this more completely than the sports press.
It is the single worst thing to happen to them.
Too many media outlets have positioned themselves in the gossip business. That’s their role now. They spread rumours like the worst barbershop chattering circle. They aren’t under the least pressure to get their facts right or even their stories straight. It’s not uncommon to see the same writer post two articles in a short space of time which completely contradict each other.
Celtic are the frequent targets of all this media-inspired nonsense. Or maybe its simply that, as the biggest club in the country, we are seen as an easy source of web traffic. Negative stories about us tend to do well in some markets, and so they are produced with a grim regularity. Never forget that we are not the mainstream media’s target audience.
Part of the mainstream media’s unspoken remit at a time like this is to “give hope to those who must purchase Ibrox season tickets.” So it has proved in recent weeks, as a steady stream of feel-good has poured into the mainstream press even as hacks breathlessly write about which of our players we might not be able to keep. The real stuff, however, is reserved for Ange.
No Celtic manager in my living memory – not even Brendan Rodgers – has been the subject of so much speculation, almost all of it outright bullshit. He has been linked to every club, literally every club, in the EPL who has undergone a change of coach. He continues to be linked with those which will be looking for a new boss when this campaign comes to an end.
Today’s speculation links him to Spurs again. The Scotsman wrote about with the headline that this is the story that simple will not die. Of course it won’t die. They keep giving it oxygen. They don’t want it die. It gets them traffic, hits, stops their writers having to do actual journalism by going out and reporting on the news.
There was a time when if you worked in a news room you were encouraged to hit the phones or pound the streets and find out what was going on … now the newsrooms are filled with lazy writers who spend every day regurgitating each others dire copy, and so it doesn’t matter how fantastical or devoid of truth a piece might be. Once it is up on The Record’s site The Sun puts it on theirs and once its there it jumps to The Scotsman and then The Herald and the Evening Times … and it filters down to every one of the affiliate sites too. And so the business model thrives.
Of course, it also shoots holes in their credibility. Instead of setting a standard for the better blogs to aspire to, it actually plumbs the depths and appeals to the lowest common denominator, which is why there are so many blogs now in the gossip business with them, putting out a hundred articles a day all sourced from mainstream publications, copies of copies of copies of copies of copies.
And it’s in that cesspool of rumours and half truths and even outright inventions in which the stories linking Ange with various clubs are mostly born. Of course they refuse to die. They are the inevitable product of a media industry which invents stories when a brief look around doesn’t inspire anything worth writing about, and those with anti-Celtic agendas can blend in and pretend, as many of them are doing today, simply to be reporting what’s being discussed elsewhere.
The manager himself has knocked these stories on the head. He talks like a guy who has no interest in being anywhere else next season but right here at Celtic. He has talked about his plans like a man projecting well into the future … and still the stories come.
There is no prospect of a respite. Even when the clubs down south have all filled their vacant posts, and there ought not be, in theory anyway, anything else to write about in this area, there will still be talk and rumour and nonsense because that’s what our current media knows how to do. Whatever skill-set these people used to have, they’ve become bloggers now in everything but name, and instead of making the people who do this stuff better, by setting a bar, they keep on lowering it instead.