That piece opens with “This is not a drill. The media is not biased against your team.” And at once we can see the point of the piece. A serious comment about racism, a trivial point of nonsense about not playing on mondays, and then “accusations of media bias”.
And here they use a very clever trick of parodying the complaints that are made saying “the notion that writers, broadcasters, commentators and pundits are all part of one homologous mass that toes a strict set of meticulously thought out party lines is increasingly tiresome.”
No, actually what is tiresome is the parody of a very serious complaint that comments like that. A complaint that football journalists and commentators engage in a simplistic analysis in which they all tend to parrot each other, while all staying away from certain topics that no one else covers.
It is not a conspiracy but two separate things. First, the strict rules from the PL about what TV and radio can comment on. The most obvious being that they must not show or mention in any detail any crowd trouble. That one, when acted upon can be hilarious, as when a fan (I think it was against Coventry) ran on the pitch, and the cameras just had to show the other end of the pitch where nothing was happening and the commentators were only allowed to condemn briefly, and then wait.
Second it is convention. One commentator says it, and the rest join in. It is a question of what is a possible discussion point or not. As with for example, is this referee really up to the job, or is he or she delivering some very strange decisions throughout this game? Have you ever heard that even discussed?
Or let’s try this one more time for a different angle. After the evening of the Europa League semi-final second legs BBC Radio ran the story about Chelsea getting through (just) as their main story, devoting three times as much time to the tale as the report on Arsenal’s quite extraordinary win away. Extraordinary, not just because of the score, but also because of Arsenal’s poor away form through much of the season.
So why did Chelsea get more time and come first?
I can’t say, but when this sort of thing happens over and over again through the season, an intelligent enquiring supporter is likely to ask why.
So let me try by way of conclusion to explain why. In my very early days as a writer and journalist I had it explained to me on a local paper that news had priorities. For example, I was told, news from France is more important than news from Germany. Why? No one knew. That’s just how it is.
That is how it is in all news reporting. Stories have their own hierarchy – which in extreme cases is obvious, but in other cases is obscure. So it is in football. Certain clubs are considered “more important” not because they are more local, not because they have more supporters, not because they are higher up the league or in bigger competitions, but because they are “more important” in the eyes of journalists, editors and publishers.
That’s the problem, and that is what the Guardian will not face with articles that include the “Accusations of media bias” section. All their article does is denigrate fans who are considered as silly people who go around thinking their club is the subject of bias.