By Tony Attwood
Getting your ideas across in the modern age can be difficult – which is odd when we have more technology to help us do just this, than ever before.
For example, you are reading a website run by a small bunch of Arsenal supporters who believe that there are issues that need to be explored, and which are not getting an airing on the mainstream media, or indeed on the little website that like to pretend they are part of the mainstream media.
Twenty five years ago we (and thousands of campaigning websites in all walks of life) couldn’t have existed, and the mass media had the message all its own way
If you agree that the sort of issues we raise are issues that should be raised (but which are generally kept quiet) then maybe you feel slightly lifted by the notion that at least there are a few other like minded souls out there.
If you don’t agree then you can look away, or write a comment which gives some evidence as to why we are wrong, or perhaps which tells us to “move on” or that we are “obsessed” or “pathetic”. We might, or might not, publish it.
But none of this says anything about change – about the notion that just by being here and giving publicity to issues such as the organisation of refereeing in the Premier League, the way in which Fifa and the FA work, why England have difficulty winning trophies, the fact that transfers or having a top goal scorer has little to do with winning a trophy, the way in which newspapers deliberately mislead their readership etc etc., anything might change.
However I still believe that it is possible to change tiny aspects of the world. Maybe not much, and not very fast, but a bit.
And that belief of mine has grown a little of late.
One issue that made me feel a little better about stuff (despite the decision of a large number of people in the USA who have no medical insurance other than that provided by the state, to vote for a man who claimed he wanted to remove that medical insurance on day one of his tenure as president), involved Stan Collymore (a man whose style of broadcasting and whose history I often don’t personally like) standing up to TalkSprout and leaving when when were taking over by the Murdoch monolith.
That stand didn’t change anything about Murdoch and the way he runs papers, but it did say that Collymore was a guy who would stand by what he believed in. Not too common in sports journalism and I took my hat off to him.
Then more recently I read about Lego, which announced (following numerous comments) that it had finished its agreement with the Daily Mail and are not planning any future promotional activity with the newspaper.
That in turn followed a campaign by people who felt that Lego – the makers of a distinct brand of toy for children – should not be associated with the Daily Mail. Lego didn’t demand that Mail should stop its campaign of creating distrust of foreigners, blaming immigrants for everything, and attacking top judges in the UK for being gay while making a legal judgement. It simply said “no more”.
There is a campaign Stop Funding Hate, that has also been urging companies including John Lewis and the Co-Op to stop advertising in papers that it says are running “divisive hate campaigns” and that too seems to be having a little bit of success too.
Of course the appalling newspapers are still out there still pouring out their divisive vision of humanity, but it’s one little step.
Another came when Gary Lineker, a man again for whom I don’t personally have too much time in footballing matters, went to Walkers Crisps, the brand that is deeply involved in funding him, and talked about Walkers link with the Sun newspaper, after the newspaper called for Lineker’s removal from the BBC.
Walkers at the moment don’t seem that interested in any sort of moral stand. On the other hand Lineker recently publicly supported the Stop Funding Hate.
In essence Stop Funding Hate argues that the same companies that run adverts featuring messages of unity throughout Christmas, then make profits out of Christmas which they spend on advertising in newspapers that spread a message of hatred in relation to foreigners and the refugee crisis. They argue that if these companies really do value the contemporary Christian message of inclusiveness they should not be funding the right wing press.
Walkers however made the classic “not our problem” response saying, “Our advertising approach is not determined by the editorial stances of individual newspapers.”
And that really is the problem that Collymore highlighted. Who you work for, as much as which newspaper a product advertises in, should be influenced by the editorial stance of the newspaper. It is wholly immoral (in my view) for such issues not to be linked.
But the Sun thinks that there is a link between the messenger, the medium and the message as last month the Sun called for Lineker to be sacked from Match of the Day because he described the treatment of young migrants arriving in the UK as “hideously racist”.
The Sun then claimed (without evidence of course) that the BBC was “under pressure to fire” Lineker. To his credit Lineker replied on Twitter. “Getting a bit of a spanking today, but things could be worse – Imagine, just for a second, being a refugee having to flee from your home.”
Of course these suggestions that the messenger (in these cases the right wing press) is inherently linked with the message, and should be avoided as an employer or as a place where your companies adverts are seen, are not new.
But the fact that one or two people and one or two organisations are realising that while (it appears) the majority of people who vote in free elections can choose to associate themselves with messages of separation and isolation, and messages of “them” and “us”, that doesn’t mean that those of us who feel that humanity and linkage are more important, can’t do anything.
Maybe pointing out where things are going wrong can have a bit of an impact after all. We shall see.