by Tony Attwood
The news that the President of the USA has started to remove various news organisations such as the BBC, the Guardian and the New York Times from press conferences is interesting in its own right, of course. But it is also interesting in the light of the campaign that Untold has run since its inception against the way newspapers in England report football. (Which is not to say the two issues are of remotely the same importance, only to note that media issues seem to be everywhere).
While Trump has jumped right in and banned various newspapers for their fake news, the response of banning newspapers that say the wrong thing has largely been limited to a modest number of cases. In 2015 for examle the BBC boycotted Rangers matches and press conferences after one of its reporters was told to stay away from the club’s ground. Rangers also banned the Times columnist Graham Spiers.
Newcastle United in recent years has routinely been restricting access to the national and local press and instead have given access only to its own reporters. Swindon Town, Crawley Town, Rotherham United, Southampton and Port Vale were also involved in similar situations in that year and the media asked the FA to intervene. As far as I know they failed to do anything so no surprise there. At other times Leeds have done quite a bit of banning. And to balance the comment about Rangers, Celtic have banned journalists too.
The chief football correspondent for the Guardian and the Observer, Daniel Taylor, was banned by Nottingham Forest. Alex Ferguson ran a vendetta against the BBC for seven years because he didn’t like something the Corporation said about his son. So it goes.
Since 2015 the story has stopped being a major issue, mostly because it is just happening and there is no more news in it. Some clubs ban journalists and that’s that, it is now accepted. Liverpool banning the Sun in 2017 made a few headlines because of the historical context, but otherwise, it has all gone quiet.
Does any of this matter? Does the media and its coverage of football matter?
Trump and co have accused the media (including, rather amusingly, the Daily Mail, a newspaper that is now so right wing that it appears to exist solely in order to make Nigel Farage look like a jolly decent level-headed liberal), of generating fake news – exactly the charge brought against the media in the UK over football matters, by Untold. Indeed we’ve sometimes suggested that newspaper football journalists created the fake news concept with their gibberish about transfers. Our argument was not just that the transfers that were “rumoured” were complete journalistic fantasies but also the notion that transfers generally worked for the improvement of clubs was a media invention to create news without actually leaving the pub.
And that really is the point: the media in reporting football decide what to is the news, and pursue that agenda remorselessly, excluding all the stories that don’t fit. Plus sometimes (I suspect) with quite a bit of nudging from certain organisations that require that specific topics are not covered.
And some other times they highlight specific issues simply to get more audience engagement and thus get their numbers up.
This week with no Arsenal match in the offing (despite our last post – and I must say in passing it was extremely amusing to see how a few people on twatter wanted to have a laugh at our ineptitude for publishing a preview of a match that was not happening without actually reading even the first couple of lines, which revealed that it was all a spoof) the papers have been forced to go elsewhere for their headlines. So for once other clubs feel the force of the media’s negativity as with stories such as…
- United’s Mkhitaryan and Carrick set to miss Wembley after St-Étienne victory
- Everton face losing injured Yannick Bolasie until end of year
- Mane calls on Liverpool to put woeful 2017 behind them
- Where has it all gone wrong for Crystal Palace? A fan tries to explain.
- Southgate critical of England’s ranking as 13th ‘isn’t good enough’
- AC Milan considering summer move for Spurs flop Sissoko
- Luke Shaw will consider leaving Manchester United in the summer if he does not play regularly between now and the end of the season.
- Five things we learned as Spurs are humbled by plucky Gent
But in the end they can’t resist and so we have to have more anti-Arsenal even when we don’t have a game…
- Five areas behind Arsenal’s malaise
- Arsenal fans are terrified Alexis Sanchez will injure himself in Storm Doris
- Hector Bellerin could join Barcelona if Arsenal let Arsene Wenger leave
Banning any media outlet from any football ground or any club isn’t really the point. It is having a media that between them covers all aspects of the debate. In the US they have this – they have pro-Trump and anti-Trump publications. That is what makes the banning orders so sinister, as well as being possibly against the 1st Amendment to the Constitution.
In football though we are still a very very long way from having a media that covers all sides of the debate. In fact, most of the time there is no footballing debate at all. Although it is the US battle that is important, it is worth noting, we’ve got it worse than they have.
Arsenal History Books on Kindle
The novel “Making the Arsenal” by Tony Attwood which describes the events of 1910, which created the modern Arsenal FC, is now available for the first time on Kindle. Full details are here.
Also available on Kindle, “Woolwich Arsenal: the club that changed football” the only comprehensive history of the rise of Arsenal as a league club, and the attempts to destroy the club, from within and without. For full details please see here.