The Media Will Not Adopt Standards Voluntarily. Celtic Should Consider Forcing Them To.

Image for The Media Will Not Adopt Standards Voluntarily. Celtic Should Consider Forcing Them To.

Chris Jack’s article yesterday, where he brazenly misrepresented Celtic’s stand on the Ibrox ticket scandal, was only the latest piece this summer where a journalist has basically lied about our views on something. After posting the piece I got the inevitable barrage of messages asking why we don’t simply ban these people and their papers.

It is a question that has been raised time and time again, and all that I can say to it is that our club believes that the media has a right to be critical and that this right extends much further than you or I would tolerate in our day to day lives. Celtic believes that banning people is counter-productive and that it will actually do more harm than good.

We have, in this country, lamentable standards of journalism, not just in terms of sport but in politics and other areas too. A media firestorm has forced the resignations of two top banking officials because they denied someone an account with them. If that someone wasn’t the publicity whore and attention seeking Nigel Farage who would have cared?

The consumer rights expert Martin Lewis, in a scathing response on Twitter yesterday said that, “UK banks deliberately, systemically, mis-sold, by script, over £40bn of PPI, ripping money out of the hands of the public including many vulnerable people – no bank CEO resigned. Let’s hope the standards of accountability set today … continues for all scandals going forward.”

He is correct, but why did it take him to write that and say it?

Whose fault it is that the bankers got away with what they did?

Part of it, in fact, was down to the same media which has blown up the Farage case and allowed him to play the victim card whilst it attacks anyone who suggests tougher regulations on the industry itself.

Our media is a corrupt joke, cosying up to special interests, sucking up to the power, whoever holds that power, and refusing to act as a check on it as has traditionally been their role. Our sports media, as stinking as it is, has nothing on their political counterparts.

In political writing lying and misleading and whipping up hysteria is now commonplace. But what can you do? People don’t get the facts they deserve; that’s a misconception.

They get the “facts” they choose. They get the information they go looking for, to confirm their own prejudices. As long as those prejudices exist, there will be outlets to cater to them.

But as with Coutts, Celtic is a private entity. We do not have to accept custom, and we do not have to allow people in our house who would soil it with their dishonest behaviour.

The more I do this job the less tolerance I have for these people, and the less tolerance I have for our club’s stand on this. Because I absolutely do believe that certain actions justify bans. Basic criticism, no matter how hysterical, is fair enough … lying isn’t.

As I laid out some of my thinking on the away ticket situation and how it could be fixed, let me lay out how this could be done.

If a journalist writes a story that is provably untrue, or one which twists a club statement or a player interview or comments by the manager, and creates a misleading impression based on that, then that individual should be asked to explain that, by the Celtic media department, and if the decision makers at the club are unimpressed by their answer, that individual should be banned from Celtic Park for six months.

No appeals, no second chances, a straightforward ban.

A second offence for that individual should result in a ban for one full calendar year.

Needless to say, a third offence and that person should no longer be allowed to cover our club from the official media box under any circumstances, ever again.

But let’s not stop there, because every newsroom in the country also has a sports editor, and that person is the ultimate decision maker.

If Celtic banning someone twice does not force the sports editor to take action and get his or her employee under control, then in the event of a third offence that entire sports department should face a season-long ban.

I’ll go you further than that; if that same sports department has more than one offender in its ranks then it should get a six-month ban automatically.

And if the message isn’t clear enough then their strikes count as the company’s strikes; if that newsroom racks up three offences between its staff then the outlet gets banned for a year. If it reaches five over a two-year period, then that’s three strikes and you’re out until there’s new leadership at the top.

What Chris Jack wrote yesterday and what other outlets have repeated is as much a work of fiction as a piece of reportage. It flagrantly misrepresented the position of our club, and I have not the least doubt that Chris Jack was wholly aware of that when he wrote the piece.

His sports editor should never have allowed that to be published without the caveat that there was no suggestion that Celtic were even considering denying Ibrox an allocation.

He should certainly never have been allowed to characterise an offer which was identical to the one Celtic rejected last season as a “fresh start” and an “olive branch”, which any sports editor knows to be a lie.

As far as I’m concerned, the basic failure to hold Jack to any standard of accountability makes his offence one that the entire sports department shares some responsibility for, from the editor down to the lowliest member of the digital media team, and it is only right and proper that his conduct should carry a collective consequence for them all.

Strike one of five.

Let the honest pros within that organisation demand that the editor gets its man into line behind the simple task of reporting the facts, lest they suffer for for his conduct.

These people are never, ever going to up their game voluntarily, and as they depend on access then it’s time that we imposed on them the standards that they are unwilling to adopt themselves.

And since copying Celtic is what other clubs do it will not be long until these measures are adopted across the boards … and not before time.

Share this article