The article headline Benzema Completes Medicals, Welcome To The Emirates which was lifted directly from another blog (as a prime example of how the press and the little blogs are manipulating interest in Arsenal to their own ends) caused a bit of a hoo-haa.
It came 15 hours before the Metro ran the headline “Arsenal transfer news: Karim Benzema agreement, Julian Draxler offer, Grzegorz Krychowiak move”, which it then ran just below the headline Manchester United hijack Arsenal deal for Karim Benzema with David De Gea swap.
The Guardian also clanged in with the thought that “Arsène Wenger may have finally realised he could do with midfield reinforcements and is set to splash £22m of Stan Kroenke’s cash for Sevilla’s Polish marauder Grzegorz Krychowiak.”
The Telegraph, anxious to distance itself from the Benzema fiasco, in which their old storyline was used in the to-and-fro of “according to reports in the Metro” and “according to the Telegraph” has now come along with a new tale which says ‘Gunners eye Cheryshev after Russian tells Real he wants to leave’
Confused? Join the club.
As usual, the press is absolutely resolute in not asking what is going on. So it’s down to Untold to try and decipher if not actually disinter or at least de-construct the weird world we find ourselves in.
So here we go…
One rather worrying thought is that by running the Benzema article, we actually influenced a bit of the transfer sage nonsense and associated gibberish that populates the press. The story did bring our site down with over 80,000 people accessing it the space of a couple of hours.
But it seems we did a little bit to put the mockers on the story.
I must admit, if we really could have an influence on the journos and the blogettes that would be nice, bringing just a tiny smatter of sanity into the proceedings. And for those who wanted to push on with the nonsense, we could after all come up with our own stories and see who picks up. Of course they’d have to be possible. “Harry Redknapp recruited as Arsenal’s new fitness coach”, might be a step too far.
But I think doing this is worthwhile, because the insanity of the suggestions about who we could transfer if only Wenger weren’t so mean and Gazidis so slow (as the bloggettas have it), and the lunatic notion of the “hijack” concept in transfers, is just too dopey for words.
Quite clearly there are a lot of people who want Arsenal to make a transfer. Probably any transfer. So they will follow any and every story that suggests there is a transfer. But why?
Is it really like a drug, where they need a daily fix?
The mega transfer of the season before last has been criticised. I certainly don’t criticise Ozil, but some do, which might make one think that big name transfers are not the best way forwards. Besides last season although we had one big name transfer in Alexis, we had two players stepping up – Coquelin and Bellerin. Yet possible “step ups” are not on the agenda. Even the young Adelaide was only famous for the statutory fifteen minutes.
But the fact is that a significant number of tiny web sites, all using the same formula, seemingly run by the same company and sponsored by the same two betting companies are running the same stories over and over again with headlines that are palpably untrue. One might think that when one sees a particular site and realises that it is all a con trick, that the reader might think – ok on that site it will be rubbish – but no, they still get the hits. People pour in.
These are the little sites mostly are using an annoying trick which leads one to click on the advert when in fact you want to read the article. There is a waiting time of around 10 seconds before one can actually click to close the advert (if you work out how) and go on the site. So they have every reason to print twaddle if it gets people on the site.
In fact what they have discovered is that although there is no relationship between the headline each site sets up and the story – and I think that is a major discovery that really ought to be at the heart of degree courses in journalism and psychology. Untold ran Benzema Completes Medicals, Welcome To The Emirates – the actual headline from one of the spoof sites – because it was one of the most outrageous lies yet found. There was no suggestion in the article that Benzema had even met with Arsenal officials let alone signed a “subject to medical” contract.
But the site that ran it originally is still up there doing more and more rubbish of the same site, and still getting the hits. Abraham Lincoln was wrong when he spoke about fooling some of the people. If he were here today he’d need to say, “you can fool some of the people some of the time but you can fool a lot of the people all of the time”.
The articles referred to within that Benzema piece as back up for the validity that Benzema might sign for Arsenal used week-old links to try and suggest there was something going on. In fact the stories that the article linked to were themselves highly speculative and referred back and forth to each other.
And yet, despite all the evidence that this transfer is not happening, and 99.99999% of the transfers mentioned are not happening, the articles keep pouring out and from the data we’ve seen, people keep reading them.
So we could say that the reason why these articles keep appearing in the tricky spoof sites is to capture the unsuspecting to click on their adverts. But why do supposedly serious papers and trivial junk papers likewise, keep running the rumours – all of which once again cite each other around and around?
The answer here can only be because it too gets hits on their websites, and is a hell of a lot cheaper than journalism.
Which takes us to the rather unfortunate conclusion that this is going to get worse until people stop reading. Papers are losing more a more money since the advent of the internet, and driving readers to the web site in order to click on articles is the last sally forth of a desperate industry.
Now each time we run a Sir Hardly Anyone story exposing some of this nonsense we get a handful of readers saying “you are as bad as they are,” which is not really where I am coming from. I would like to expose all this nonsense for what it is, and for the damage that it does to the simple minds who still, despite seeing all the evidence that this is all a spoof story, write in and say, “Wenger: just get on and sign him”.
Untold does carry some fairly detailed articles about phantom transfers, particularly in relation to the Higuain affair two years ago, but they don’t do anything to take the message to non-regular readers. This way, I think we are pointing out to a few people just how much they are sucked in.
When the transfer window ends, nothing stops. Four years ago it was different, once the window closed (or “slammed shut” in journo jargon) the rumours paused, but no longer.
It is now a very silly part of football which causes some simple minded souls to think that Arsenal is not being serious about wanting to win the league and that as a result the manager should go. I could ignore the process, but first I want to see how much it is going to cost to buy enough bandwidth and extra security devices to protect Untold, if we do decide to run another piece from Sir Hardly.
(I think there were ten things in there, but if not I am sure you can make up the extra one of two that are needed to complete the list).
Follow us @UntoldArsenal for news of where we are posting in case the site comes under attack again.
Anniversary of the afternoon:
13 August 1968: Arsenal’s new handbook announced that the club was formed in 1884 but “the project failed” and that the club elected to division 2 in 1894. The second claim was certainly false and no evidence given to support the first.