By Sir Hardly Anyone
What happens to the bloggettas owned by newspapers when their computers get overheated in the, well, err, heat? This morning, Wednesday 8 August, we find out as Foot Lond, the Daily Mirror’s endlessly automatic computer generated churning bloggetta, runs the story, “There’s less than a week left of the transfer window – where did that go?”
And yes I suppose they are technically correct. Two days is less than a week, but it seems a very odd way of saying it when in fact the buying part of the window creaks closed on Thursday. Is it, perhaps, the famed temporal anomaly?
Of course not everyone is as bad as everyone else – of course we want to know about possible transfers but at least they should be written by humans and with a certain amount of realism. I’d go with Transfer Hound if you want to avoid the computer generated whatnot and keep feet on terra firma
But computer generated whatnot is with us a lot because not to be outdone by the Daily Mirror the Yorkshire Post doesn’t quite start with “Eeh by gum” (the Yorks slang for “Oh my god” according to the often wrong Urban Dictionary – perhaps wrong because much of Yorkshire is rural) but it does open with
Hudds v Arsenal hdyhdydy hddydydy hdyhdyhd hdyhdydh (by RICHARD SUTCLIFFE), Published:
The Post did recover and eventually diverted the headline to this morning’s non-football news instead, but it was a reminder that running football reporting and rumours by computer (as the newspapers now exclusively do), can go wrong. Ceaselessly rechurning the old stories with the computers left to move words around to try and convince readers the story is new and has some sort of human input, does have its dangers.
Talk Sprout – the radio station with a website – tries to get around this by having its presenters do rants which they then count as news. (Just to make the point, the news is no longer what happens in the outside world, but the mindless chatter of the person in front of the microphone, thus meaning that the radio station’s staff no longer have to leave the building, ever. A disadvantage to them as they don’t see the real world, a benefit to the rest of us as we no longer are in danger of bumping into them.)
Speaking of Arsenal supporters as a whole A Durham (which is a person not a county is seems) said words to the effect that, “You’re the most boring, self-centred, self-indulgent, pompous load of prats.” This rather uninspiring phrase was then wheeled out as their headline of the day, at which point I guess most of us knew that we were observing the end game of the reporting of football. Not just of the transfer window (although that too) but of any serious attempt at journalism for football supporters.
Adrian Durham’s desperate attempt to find some way to get Talk Sprout into the headline by trying to insult Arsenal fans (which is what the “most boring” bit was), was based on the premise that Arsenal are not going to go bust so what is the problem with the bid by the owner to buy the rest of the shares? With a side issue of the fans not being happy unless they are calling for someone to leave – be it the manager or the owner or someone else.
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And I think Durham’s little bit of chat (it hardly seems worthy of the word rant) confirms (if we need confirmation) that commentators today really can’t quite grasp what is going on at the club and why supporters care. The old phrase “you ought to get out more” seems singularly appropriate.
Of course part of the problem for the Sprout and indeed for Football London and all the other drainpipes (sorry “outlets”) that churn out computer generated football stories 24 hours a day is that to fill that time seriously one would need to have quite a bit of insight. But insight is one of the things that computers can’t really give. (New job: Computer insight generator – become one of those and you could earn a fortune).
What one can say of Adrian Durham is that his conscience is clear in the sense that he clearly doesn’t have a conscience, no more than most football journalists have. Indeed if you ever were to ask them about such a thing they would certainly say they had something much better: a company lawyer.
And so the media plods on with all the insight of a burglar who on entering a likely looking property and smelling gas wanders around looking for the source of the smell, illuminating the way with the glow from his cigarette lighter.
But, I hear you cry, is this it? Is this the end of football journalism as we knew it? Well, no, because there never was any football journalism. Just stirring up anger and bitterness and making up tales with the smattering of truth in the middle. Such as the tale in the Sun that Reiss Nelson has agreed a new long term contract.
Which seems more like it than, “Arsenal’s reported £50m summer transfer budget is set to be smashed.” This is Arsenal Mania saying that Ousmane Dembele could be signed by tomorrow for £89m. The board has agreed to the bid. They claim. The Metro has much of the same.
The Mirror blames Mundo Deportivo for the source of the story, and indeed there is such a publication (it’s yer actual Spanish for Sports World) and not to be outdone they take the price up £100m.
Not to be outdone by being outdone Foot Lond’s computer generated output is straight back on the scene with “Dembele to Arsenal: Initial £10m loan move & £100m permanent deal next year – report.” There is no “report” of course. It’s just a tale.
And we know, not all of these predictions can be correct. But the worrying point is that the most likely outcome is that none of them is correct. All that is happening is that the computer program is simply seeing what the last headline from a rival said and writing it bigger.
“Arsenal to offer the entire value of Western Civilisation for 19 year old” is where it finally ends and the computer program eats itself.
Read Arsenal, trying valiantly to keep the window a viable proposition for discussion claim that “ARSENAL LINKED WITH CLUB BRUGGE STRIKER WESLEY” which must be true because it is in capital letters. And in case we didn’t get it they then say, “Arsenal are reportedly interested in a deal to sign Wesley from Club Brugge.”
But daily it is getting desperate out there is fantasy land, as this headline from the Express shows…
News: Surprise Rafael Benitez prediction made about Unai Emery
“Unai Emery will win games tactically as Arsenal boss according to Carragher”
And really, at that point we seem to have reached the end. As TS Eliot wrote, “This is the way the world ends: not with a bang – with a whimper.” It is of course a very well known quote, but perhaps not everyone remembers that it comes from “The Hollow Men”. Was ever there a better phrase to describe the contemporary football journalist?
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- All the experts agree: at least one of these Arsenal transfer deals will happen in the next 48 hours