Are the media balanced in their reporting of Arsenal, or is it all bias? The evidence.

By Tony Attwood

It is interesting that the amount of space in the media given over to the rejection of the demand for a pay cut by Chelsea to its players, is much smaller than the coverage of the alleged refusal of Ozil to go along with the pay cut demand by Arsenal.

But that is the difference in the way clubs are reported.    There is a headline in the Telegraph today that says “Chelsea rejects players request for smaller paycut” but it sits alongside the news that Arsenal is planning to reopen London Colney and the rather old news that when football restarts it could be at a number of venues.  It gets nothing like the coverage Arsenal got over its paycut story.

The Guardian makes the Chelsea story the ninth piece today on its website under “Coventry stun Spurs after extra time to win first FA Cup”.  The Chelsea headline under that is “Chelsea reject players’ offer while Villa’s take 25% reduction.”

Five headlines higher in the Guardian we have “Arsenal to return to individual training at London Colney”.  Is that more important?

In the Daily Mail the first Arsenal story is “Borussia Dortmund ‘eyeing Arsenal left-back Bukayo Saka’ with the 18-year-old’s contract set to expire in 2021 after a breakout season for the Premier League side”   That story can now run and run, either as a “fact” or with the word “reportedly” tucked in among it somewhere.

The Chelsea salary saga for the Mail is news, but of little interest – it comes in 18th on their website – but at least it is there with “Chelsea pay deal hits the skids as club confirm they have NOT agreed wage cuts with first-team players…but Blues still hope for salary drop resolution.”

It all goes to prove what we have all known for a long time, that football in the media comes with agendas.

And actually in this regard the Mail’s lead story is quite interesting, not because of the news it breaks (there isn’t any) but because of the way it reveals something about the thinking of the editorial team.  It reads…

“OLIVER HOLT: Denying Liverpool the Premier League title or refusing Leeds promotion because you loathe them is no reason to void the season… ending it now is about clubs trying to dodge what they deserve because it allows failure to wriggle off the hook”

Indeed that is true, doing pretty much anything because you loathe that company, organisation, individual, place or whatever is not normally a good reason for any action.   But the second part of the sentence doesn’t actually carry on the logic.   It seems rather hard to do anything at the top other than give the league title to Liverpool, although perhaps with an asterisk for future generations to note that it was a shortened season.  But relegation is quite different.

There is little certainty about who goes up and down in any league, and clubs most certainly can argue about the fact that they have played fewer games than others.  And indeed that they have had a harder set of games than others.  That is where the big problem lies, and simply writing a headline in the sort of giant type that the Mail is rather fond of, doesn’t actually make the argument.

If I were involved with a club that was sitting second or third from the bottom of League One, but which had had a particularly tough run of games, with several more readily winnable games to come, I’d be fairly annoyed with being relegated without finishing the season, and would protest long and hard.

The media has long since been critical of Arsenal: and it all goes back to the two Arsenal men who were banned from football for life – as we covered in the story through that link.

But it goes on.  For example, back in 2016 we did a snapshot of the reporting of Arsenal and found theme after theme that was circulating at the time that was negative about the club.  There was nothing remotely like this about other clubs.

And then we asked why people so negative about Arsenal    Plus we asked Why are the media so critical of Arsenal? analysing how the habit developed over time.  And then one of our readers took on the almighty task of analysing a whole raft of media stories. It is a most revealing article and the full research is here.

Contrary to popular belief, we don’t just sling down opinions.  Of course there are opinions here, but unlike most people, we do actually try and do some research.  It is not always perfect research, but it is invariably better than no research and mindlessly expressing opinions.




12 Replies to “Are the media balanced in their reporting of Arsenal, or is it all bias? The evidence.”

  1. In my option the reason most reporters look for the negatives in Arsenal about something I have noticed as an Arsenal fan.
    Every player that is mensioned in the transfer market is linked with Arsenal and the reason for this is because the reporters have no genuine information
    about the

  2. The reason why reporters write negative news about Arsenal is because they do things right and don’t allow any information out until there deals are done and this frustrates reporters so the try to link every available player with Arsenal simply because they have no idea.
    I laugh at some of the top reporters transfer news knowing Arsenal have no intention of even taking the player for free.
    If you throw enough muck at the wall some of it will stick and that is what reporters are doing.

  3. You might as well have asked “Are the media balanced in their reporting of Donald Trump, or is it all bias? Anyone with half a brain knows the answer to that.

  4. Johnno, spot on, and Tonys favourite ‘The Guardian’ is one of the worst offenders on politics but Tony seems to overlook that…
    Having said that, there aren’t many genuinely independent reporting media sources so you need to read from various sources to get the true picture, whether that’s about football or about politics.

  5. My Dad told me that the papers only tell you what they want you to know ,I was about 16 at the time , I am 73 now .it’s not new , there is and always has been bias .
    We now have a larger dependence on social media which is just as difficult to read between the lines . Balanced reporting has never existed , news is now on your screens as it happens and so all the papers can do is comment and their comments are influenced by their bias.
    Be they left wing , right wing , momentum , Fascist , Trumpish , Chinese ,Russian there is no real point in worrying about it , if you read something and instead of taking it as gospel take the time to think about it and form your own opinions.
    no real point in worrying about it , if you read something and instead of taking it as gospel take the time to think about it and form your own opinions.

  6. The question wasn’t “is the media biased’ but rather is it biased against Arsenal.

    Yes of course there is political bias in the media but we usually know why that is and it is of course down to the mega rich Capitalists that own them.

    Yes there are Left Wing papers but they are few and far between.

    But the fact papers having a political bias is different from them having a bias against a football team, and totally irrelevant to the question being ask which is are the media biased against Arsenal, and if so more importantly why ?

    I don’t see any of you answering that.

    And as for saying it is not worth worrying about I have to disagree.

    Whether we like it or not the media shapes opinion, for good and bad.

    It happens in politics and in football.

    If you don’t think the constant negativity perpetrated about Arsenal has a negative effect on our club that’s up to you.

    Personally I think it has a massive effect, and no of it good.

  7. Re. Andy Mack. Yeah and he`s not alone, I suspect a lot of our fanbase these days are Guardian readers. You only have to look at some of the daft flags around the Emirates to see that.

  8. Quite so Nitram and as in the case of the above, no one wants to focus on the pure question – it’s about Arsenal, not bias in general. I have found it futile to argue with those who cannot see as they never will, because they don’t want to.

  9. Re. Nitram. Most people still get their “news” from the TV and that has an overwhelming left wing “liberal” bias. As for The Arse, the reason we get a bad press is obvious. We are seen by many supporters as the establishment club who behave a little bit differently to others. “The Arsenal Way” is a well known saying within the game and it gets up people`s noses. The North West is the traditional hotbed of football and the media up there like to have a pop at the biggest and most successful club in the Capital. Also, I suspect a fairly high percentage of these “journalists” down South support Spurs. You only have to look at their surnames but that leads us down another path doesn’t it. What group of people are overrepresented in that industry? Guardian readers wont like to touch on that subject although the Momentum rabble might.

  10. Johnno

    Your take on why Arsenal get a bad press is fair enough. I agree with most of it in fact, but Why you feel the need to politicise the question I dont know.

    If Tony is Left wing or not is irrelevant to the question. As it is whether I, you, or anyone else is.

    As a rule I have no problem bringing politics into a football debate per se but I fail to see any connection between somebodies bias against Arsenal and somebodies political leanings.

  11. Johnno

    The person most invited onto Question Time a hard right winger who has failed to get elected as an MP seven times out of seven and was once even beaten in a general election by a man dressed as a dolphin? That hardly sounds like left wing scheduling to me………

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