Untold Arsenal Media Watch: The Daily Mail
Daily Mail Coverage of the Newcastle and Liverpool Matches
Note: Much thanks to Shard and bjtgooner for their research contributions to this article.
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’
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.
Untold Media Watch
The index of past articles now appears in our Media Index
- What the media won’t tell you about football, part 4 – referee variations
- The final transfer rumours: 3 new names to make 66 players tipped for Arsenal
- What the media won’t tell you about football, part 3 – referee home bias
- The real live facts that the media won’t ever touch (part 2)
- Could this be the best PL season ever for Arsenal in terms of goals?