Untold Arsenal Media Watch: The Daily Mail

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Untold Arsenal Media Watch: The Daily Mail

by Anne

Daily Mail Coverage of the Newcastle and Liverpool Matches

Note: Much thanks to Shard and bjtgooner for their research contributions to this article.

Newcastle Match

I have to give the Daily Mail credit for being the only media outlet we reviewed that gave an accurate assessment of the Newcastle match, and specifically the events leading up to Gervinho’s sending off. If you compare the Daily Mail’s coverage to the Telegraph’s coverage, for example. the difference is astounding. Rob Draper’s match report was titled “Newcastle 0 Arsenal 0: New boy Gervinho sent off as Gunners start with drab draw,” and began by noting that, for the majority of his EPL debut, Gervinho:
“looked an exciting addition to the Premier League, galloping down the right wing, repeatedly threatening Newcastle. And then came Joey Barton.

Perhaps the former Lille striker is not familiar with the convicted criminal, Nietzsche-quoting Twitter phenomenon that is Barton. He is now.”

With regard to Gervinho’s “dive,” Draper had this to say:

“Gervinho collapsed a little dramatically under challenge from Cheik Tiote in the penalty area, though TV replays showed that contact was made and a penalty would not have been unthinkable in the circumstances”

And on the subject of Barton’s response, he stated as follows:

“Barton took issue with that interpretation of events, aggressively dragging the striker to his feet. Only Stephen Taylor’s physical restraint of his team-mate prevented something more serious but foolishly Gervinho took the bait.

He slapped the protagonist, who then demonstrated his own capacity for exaggeration by collapsing as only a professional footballer can…”

On the Song incident, Draper said:

“In mitigation, Barton had survived a stamp from Alex Song a few minutes before the melee he provoked. Had the referee spotted that it is possible (though unlikely) Barton would have been calmer; and it is also certain that Song, already cautioned, would have been sent off.”

Overall, I consider this to be a fair assessment of the night’s events, and in general, the Mail’s coverage of the Newcastle match stands out as far superior to that of many of their competitors.

The Liverpool Match

Rob Draper’s match report on the Liverpool match, like his Newcastle report, is largely unobjectionable. Shard reported that: “Overall I don’t find anything really snide or malicious in the article. It seems to give a fair reflection of the match, and probably focuses more on Liverpool than Arsenal.”

However, we do see one primary talking point that frequently appears in the Mail’s Arsenal coverage; namely, that Arsenal is fragile and weak and/or “threadbare:”

“Certainly Kenny Dalglish demonstrated the wisdom of completing your transfer business early on, as his transformed team eventually outplayed and out-muscled a fragile, threadbare Arsenal side.”

“Arsenal were fragile enough going into this game, without inflicting fresh difficulties upon themselves, but lost Koscielny in the first 15 minutes…”

“The weakness of the squad was demonstrated…”

Martin Samuel included a similar reference in his opinion column, which referenced “the worryingly threadbare and raw appearance of this Arsenal squad.” Bjtgooner also noted that the print addition of the Mail contained the additional headlines: SUAREZ CAMEO TEARS FRAGILE ARSENAL APART,” and “quality subs lift Liverpool but Wenger’s troops look so threadbare.”
Aside from the above, the primary problem with the Mail is that they tend to use inflammatory headlines, even when their reporting isn’t inflammatory. The following is a list of some of the headlines that the Mail has used:

“WENGER KNOWS HE HAS JUST 10 DAYS TO SALVAGE A SEASON;” “STRUGGLING ARSENAL LURCH TO YET ANOTHER CRISIS;” “LIVERPOOL WIN EXPOSES NEED FOR GUNNERS BOSS TO SPLASH OUT QUICKLY.”  (from the print edition as reported by bjtgooner). Also, “Cracking up! Stressed Wenger forced to admit he won’t walk away… yet.”

In general, the Daily Mail’s coverage of Arsenal was superior to that of the other papers we covered. Our researchers did turn up some issues with the Mail that we would like to explore in future editions, but for the time being, they show much less bias than many of their competitors.

Untold Arsenal Media Watch: Metro & Evening Standard

Metro & Evening Standard Coverage of the Newcastle and Liverpool Matches

By: Stevie E & Anne


First of all, I have to point out that Stevie E did the best research work, by far, of anyone contributing to Untold Media. During the time period he was covering, the Standard ran FORTY-TWO stories about Arsenal in three days, and Stevie E provided me with a list of all of the articles, accompanied by notes.

Unfortunately, the primary conclusion that we were able to draw from Stevie E’s extensive research is that the Standard doesn’t produce much original journalism in the first place, and that they haven’t given us very much to talk about.

So, I’ve decided that the best thing to do here is to just give you some of the notes from Stevie E’s research that he sent to me. It will give you some idea of the quality of journalism the Standard produces, and offer some idea of the mundane realities of media watching as well.

The one exception to the boringness of the Standard’s coverage is a single editorial that Stevie E turned up, which might just be the most creative piece of anti-Arsenal reporting that I’ve ever encountered. So, I’ll cover that at the end. Until then, over to Stevie E.

With regard to the Metro’s Arsenal coverage on 15 August, Stevie E had the following observations:

“The general tone seems to be very matter of fact and all the stories are written in less than 4 paragraphs…It’s as if they’re as bored of writing this rubbish as we are of reading it…

There’s the compulsory 100 Cesc & Nasri mentions but no match reports to speak of. Everything about the Newcastle game revolves around Barton & spending money. The same old transfer rumours have been spiced up by some lesser known names, probably an excuse to mention Cesc & Nasri again…

Three stories about the Newcastle match: two about the Barton ‘incident’ which are just repeating themselves and one about the fans chanting ‘spend some effing money,’ which gave a prime opportunity to mention Cesc & Nasrri.


Cahill story (again???) also mentioning, yes you’ve guessed it, Samba & Jagielka. The Jadson deal is on (Cesc & Nasri mention) even though it was reported in the same paper on the same day that AW has said it’s not happening, and two new names put into the transfer pot again giving the Cesc & Nasri story a run out…”

One of my favorite aspects of Stevie E’s notes were his observations with regard to one particular Standard reporter, James Olley:

“It’s James Olley day!!! James likes to think he’s a proper journalist, but in truth, all he does is sum up all the stories that have made the headlines… He rarely puts his own opinion forward so it’s difficult to find any sort of mood to his pieces. Both stories are pretty much the same, AW spending, Cesc leaving, Nasri possibly leaving, fans chanting… All very wordy without actually saying anything, just getting the day’s quota of Arsenal hits in. The only defining thing is the actual wording of the headlines. Precarious & furious, both very emotive words for two bland stories.”

(From 17 August Evening Standard)

“James Olley (Our friend is back and is showing his true colours ((NOT red & white))

‘Early Theo Walcott goal fails to mask Arsenal’s soft underbelly’

In the first 3 paragraphs, James manages to tick all the boxes by having a dig at Arsene about his UEFA ban, Cesc’s departure, the FA charges from the Newcastle game, the stadium not being full and needing to spend before end of August. He then goes on to basically repeat the above match report, basically saying we’re lucky Udinese hadn’t started their season yet or we’d have been battered! Don’t know if he’s aware we’ve only played one more game than them… A suggestion that Arsenal fans need valium with their tickets and a sprinkling of loaded wording, and James has another masterpiece in the bag.

‘Italians taught us a lesson, says Theo Walcott’

James Olley

17 Aug 2011

Another Olley special, take snippets of an interview and make it into Anti-Arsenal headlines! Theo made the mistake of saying ‘Udinese are very good – technically very strong, quick and at times I think they taught us a bit of a lesson, they are very strong in midfield but it is a good result’ and James is away! Throw in a reiteration of Arsene potentially facing further UEFA sanctions and you have yourself a story.”

Overall, the Standard’s reporting is generally unremarkable in nearly every respect. However, as I mentioned at the outset of this report, Evening Standard reporter Dan Jones did produce the most creative piece of anti-Arsenal journalism that I’ve encountered in our project thus far. So, to conclude our inaugural Untold Media report, I’ll leave you with a brief synopsis of Dan Jones’ tragically poetic take on the Arsenal. This was actually a report on Arsenal’s victory over Udinese in the Champions’ League qualifier first leg, but Dan fails to mention that Arsenal actually won the match….

The story begins with a Gooner and his friend on the road to the Emirates, expressing their desire for a mercy killing:

“The Gooner turned to his mate and said: ‘What are they called?’ as we all walked up Horsell Road on the way to the Emirates last night. ‘Euthanasia?’

‘Udinese,’ sighed his friend but the tone wasn’t very reassuring. It vibed: tonight’s the night that might well put us out of our misery.

And it was understandable, I suppose…”

Following this “optimistic” opening to the article, Jones continued to take us on a metaphorical journey through the Emirates on the evening of the Udinese first leg, and next settled on the Arsenal fan response as worthy of attention:

“What Arsenal’s fans needed last night was a display that could lift them from the tarpit of depression and make them believe that things might still work out for the best…

As the match went on, I became obsessed with the body language of the bloke sitting a few seats ahead of me. He started off sitting upright, looking keen. But after an hour or so he had begun to beat his hands together in frustration.

Then, by and by, he was slumped forward in his seat, staring at the middle distance…

He looked like a man losing heavily at a mafia poker table: aware that the game is writing cheques his kneecaps might have to cash. I felt sorry for him.

The funk crept around the ground like Scotch mist…”

Incidentally, people who were actually at the Emirates on the evening of the Arsenal victory over Udinese have reported to me that they saw no signs of this particular “funk.” Nonetheless, Jones continued to offer the following poignant portrayal of the response of an Arsenal “fan” following the match… once again, Jones is inclined to be sympathetic:

“On the way home I eavesdropped the Gooner behind me. He was on the phone to someone, analysing the game.

‘Fifth at best . . . Known all summer Fabregas and Nasri were leaving . . . Left it too late . . . Two games in Manchester before Christmas? Best we can hope for is a point . . .’

On and on he went, until I felt sorry for him, too. Who was on the other end of the phone, I wondered? Who was listening with such patience to this litany of despairs?

For a moment, the only people I could think of were The Samaritans.”

Jones’ only reference to the fact that this was actually an Arsenal victory was the offhand comment that “It was easy to forget that Arsenal were winning. Ah, gloom. Once it’s with you, it’s very hard to shake.”

So, in terms of accuracy and objectivity, I’m forced to give Dan Jones bottom marks for this report. However, in terms of overall literary merit, and the use of football as a metaphor for life and death, I must admit that he deserves some credit. So, on that note, I’ll leave you to contemplate these metaphysical questions surrounding Arsenal football until we return for our next Media Watch report. Until then, cheers.

16 Transfer and Loan events – who did I miss out

Untold Media Watch

Untold Media Review: the Telegraph

The Sun goes bananas even by its own sub-basement standard – but please note this article may cause distress to sensitive readers

The index of past articles now appears in our Media Index


34 Replies to “Untold Arsenal Media Watch: The Daily Mail”

  1. Once again, Anne et al, a brilliant piece of work which does indicate that The Arsenal is the club that reporters love (or are paid) to hate.
    But I can’t get metaphysical just yet. I’m still concerned that those same reporters use the expression “in mitigation” when referring to the Barton incident as if two wrongs do make a right – which is wrong, right?

  2. @Gooneraside:

    I think you’re absolutely right that what they’re doing is absolutely wrong. Glad you enjoyed the article 🙂

  3. Well, I will be surprised if the press come out to acknowledge that Wenger has been shrewed in the transfer market this time around. I see them all pointing to the fact that he failed to get a core English spine even if the cost of putting this side together would probably not have bought Andy Caroll. Now the season has just started for us today and I think I like the new look first team brimming with seasoned internationals with plenty armoury left on the bench. I pray that Manchester City win nothing and Arsenal get at least the FA Cup to shame that ingrate called Nasri who went for money but hid under the lack of silverware at Arsenal.

  4. Try the BBC.

    Last night Dan Walker broke all rules of impartiality, when discussing the potential Arteta transfer.

    He posted a SUPPOSED best team for Arsenal after close of business and who did he leave out? JACK WILSHERE.

    This tee’d up Robert Savage to say Arsenal would NEVER AGAIN buy £30m players.

    I wonder who is funding the BBC, allowing that kind of bias to prevail?

    I sent Mr Walker a fairly tart email via 606 headline: ‘Dan Walker, get yer act together!’

    I hope he is sacked for gross professional misconduct……….the misconduct being not retaining an unbiased, factually correct stance on issues………

    What shocked me was Martin Keown not telling him, live, in no uncertain terms, the shocking act he had just condoned…….

    Robert Savage should be questioned, live, asking who his true paymaster are.

    And if he refuses to answer, he should be banned from media work for 5 years.

    After all, it’s only Leeds and Millwall fans who resort to holding down thugs and beating them senseless, isn’t it?

  5. Yommex you might be interested in the Guardian today: there are two articles which take utterly opposite standpoints. Either they are allowing their journalists to write their own thing, or else they are getting themselves twisted.

    Paul Hayward seems to suggest we have paid far too much for Arteta while David Hytner and Dominic Fifield say that we got him cheap.

    On the Standard I think the key point that must be noted (and which non-Londoners may not know) is that it is now a free newspaper. For a long old time it was the definitive evening paper for Londoners, and like its long term rival the Evening News, was paid for.

    Then it was bought out, and now you pick it up at the tube station for free. Like most free sheets its reporting is hardly reporting at all. As the article says, just collections of other people’s comments.

  6. Rhys: I think Dan Walker is just forgetful rather than dumb, and Martin has been told that he’s the straight man. I’ve never spoken to Martin but I bet he has a lot more personality and life than he’s ever allowed to express on TV.

  7. I’m just wondering if in reading the Mail (even on the web) it’s possible to contract their peculiar brand of Islamophobia, Homophobia and Xenophobia in general? The whole paper runs every article with an inflammatory headline.

  8. UM, all,
    Two points:
    Stevie E, I’d be curious if LeGrove has a regular column or content in Metro, as you’d once noted earlier this summer. I know time is tight and you’ve done massive work slogging through their stuff, but that might be something to consider, even on a spot check basis of their website every so often.
    In general,
    I think that Barton/Gervinho media coverage that does not bring in nor offer a scintilla of the context and fact that this is one of several confrontations, some violent, with African players is remiss. The absence of context and content like this is as much part of a story as is the presence of spin. This absence in Barton/ Gervinho coverage continues the coddling, enabling, euphemising of what Barton (and in this case his co-conspirator Taylor) has been pulling off for years now. What makes African players like Gervinho ELIGIBLE for such chronic mistreatment? Barton makes his meal of various levels of wind-ups and attacks on African players, and the absence of any of this from the coverage and from our commentary is a blind spot in Barton’s case. A more interesting point might be to wonder out loud why someone like Barton is still in the league. Our Joey.

  9. Bob
    Re. Le Grove, it’s actually better than that! http://le-grove.co.uk/2011/06/03/ In addition to that little gem, it appears that whenever AFC aren’t available for comment, the Metro garners the opinion of Le Grove. After just a brief bit of investigating, I’ve found links pretty much every month.

  10. Woolwich,
    Spot on! And, consistent with their ways, when it comes to Barton vs Gervinho (for one of many such assaults), the Daily Mirror don’t/can’t/won’t hint at a scintilla of Bartonian xenophobia (I’d add racism, to cleated boot). Not now or, I’d guess, ever before.

  11. Stevie E,
    Great link! I wonder out loud if there’s other tie-ins that might yet surface between LeGrove and Metro? Maybe something to watch for?

  12. Tony, UA,all
    If, as Stevie E has uncovered, LeGrove can actually partner with Metro (as the link shows) and spread its AAA swill, then perhaps our UA/UM could find a place in a daily or weekly media partner(s) to carry UA/UM perspectives much farther and wider. I’d would think one or more of them would be game and hungry for content and their readers could then be redirected to and discover this website?

  13. Stevie E,
    Does Metro give its daily circulation anywhere in there? I’d be interested how many potential people it reaches. As for The mirror, its circulation is off the charts, like second only to Der Sun? Or a close one-two among the daily tabloids?

  14. Bob
    According to Wiki, the circulation is 1,349,121 “In its first five years, it achieved a readership of over 1 million daily readers, making it the UK’s fourth largest daily newspaper, after The Sun, the Daily Mail and the Daily Mirror, although it is closing in on the Daily Mirror in terms of distribution. It now prints approximately 1.3m copies daily, and officially has some 3.5m readers, as of March 2010. This high readership is due in part to the papers being left on seats on buses, train or the Underground systems in Glasgow, Tyne and Wear, and London, and then being picked up by the next person to use that seat. Due to its urban and mainly youthful audience, advertising receipts have been very healthy at a time when its older stablemate, the Evening Standard, had not been performing so well. 62% of readers are ABC1, 78% are aged 15–44 and 64% are in work.”

  15. Stevie E, Tony
    So, this means that any individual LeGrovel posting that’s picked up by Metro can potentially reach some part of over 1 million readers a day. Surely UA can find some daily partner in some city or other worldwide among us Gooners which could percolate UA perspectives far and wide. Tony, would you be open to this? or to people trying to find free (or whatever you’d wish) takers for UA content?

  16. bob
    I think I’ve underestimated the influence the Metro has. All Londoners will recognise the sight on the Tube of carriages full of people (literally crammed) with their heads buried in the Metro. Maybe that’s why the articles are so repetitive, to ensure the message is drummed into as many minds as possible, if the first story doesn’t get you, the second or third will…
    With regards to getting UA into a paper as a “source”, I wouldn’t have the first clue how to go about that. I imagine though UA wouldn’t be high on the list of contributors as the message isn’t exactly in line with what’s being published.

  17. Stevie E,
    maybe, maybe not. those freebie papers are published on the cheap and may not care a fig if one article contradicts another. it’s just there to drive up circulation so they can sell their ads. totally profit-driven, my guess. and, in any, case, there are local communities that have their local papers (Islington, whatever) with pockets of Gooners where a free column might well be desirable, especially now as the Ref Reviews are expanding league-wide. Just some positivity in that direction…

  18. @Woolwich Peripatetic:

    “The whole paper runs every article with an inflammatory headline.”

    It might just be a marketing strategy.

  19. @Stevie E and bob:

    Interesting find on LeGrove. This might be worth following up on a bit. I’m going to take a look at it.

  20. @bob:

    “Barton makes his meal of various levels of wind-ups and attacks on African players, and the absence of any of this from the coverage and from our commentary is a blind spot in Barton’s case. A more interesting point might be to wonder out loud why someone like Barton is still in the league. Our Joey.”

    That’s an interesting point on the racism angle of Barton’s conduct. Honestly, it’s something that I hadn’t thought about just because my mind doesn’t tend to naturally go in that direction. I’ll try to keep an eye out for that kind of thing in the future.

    And as for wondering out loud why someone like Barton is still in the league… I don’t know. I guess I just thought that that goes without saying 🙂

  21. @bob and Stevie E:

    “With regards to getting UA into a paper as a “source”, I wouldn’t have the first clue how to go about that. I imagine though UA wouldn’t be high on the list of contributors as the message isn’t exactly in line with what’s being published.”

    I was just about to leave a comment along these lines, before I realized that Stevie E had already said it for me 🙂

  22. @ Anne, Bob et al

    Regarding getting UA/UM into a paper I know you are aiming at a national publication. However, where I live there are a number of local papers. Would there be a “local” in North London and if so would that be worth considering in addition to a national?

  23. Right, so the local freebie is the Islington Gazette who have a dedicated Arsenal tab with quite a few stories. I’ve skimmed a few and they appear to be “gleaned” from other publications. Have a look http://www.islingtongazette.co.uk:80/arsenal/arsenal they also have a send us a story link in their contact us section (I’ll post that link below). Seems like a very promising place to begin the fightback

  24. @ Stevie E

    The Islington Gazette looks like a good link! It would be great if they agreed to run UA/UM articles on a regular basis.
    Enjoyed your superb contributions to UM!

  25. @bob, Stevie E and bjtgooner:

    I suppose this is something that could be worth looking into. I can’t think of anything I’ve done so far that’s in the proper format for a publication like that…

  26. @ Anne, bob & Stevie E

    We have progressed fairly quickly from the original Untold Media concept when we now start considering the press. With Untold Media in its infancy I am not sure if the effort in trying to produce articles for the press might be too demanding at this stage.

    So to start us off – if the Gazette (or equivalent) were agreeable/interested – would a starting point be to ask them to carry the UA match preview? I know this would depend on what day of the week the Gazette was published – this is an unknown at present – but if it fitted in with the availabity of the preview it could work well. The local interest may improve circulation with spin offs etc.

    This is one route, I realise this needs to be considered carefully before proceeding.

  27. @bjtgooner:

    I have enough on my hands right now just trying to make Untold Media works as a regular feature. There is a lot still to do there, so I’m not going to have extra time to devote to expanding right now. Not saying I’m opposed to it, but if it happens, it needs to be someone else’s project. Cheers. 🙂

  28. Tony, Walter, Phil, Dogface,
    What about one of you gents making contact with Islington Gazette to run any one or two or more of UA/UM’s output on any kind of basis – weekly, biweekly, whatever? I would think as bjtgooner points out that it needs careful thought which only you are in a collective position to decide on and to propose to them. Maybe there are other “Islington Gazettes” in Gooner friendly communities that people could propose/recommend that would take UA/UM content? It wouldn’t involve more than offering any of what’s being regularly produced anyway. And each piece would indicate UA as the source and it would increase awareness, readership and impact of UA’s values and perspectives.

  29. All
    I think I may be jumping on this a little late but I don’t think the point of pairing/working with a paper is to write articles, isn’t it just so UA would be used as a mouthpiece for the Arsenal fans? To my mind, only one person is qualified for this and that’s Tony.

  30. Stevie E,
    To be clear, nothing new for the local papers is being proposed. Only funneling what is already being done at/by UA to a willing and welcoming local media outlet. Not writing directly for them. And yes, it’s a Tony/UA decision to decide to propose to share UA content with whatever willing vehicle. It’s meant to spread the same exact UA content and outlook farther and wider.

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