By Bulldog Drummond
There is a story kicking around that 13 points from 12 matches is the worst start to represents their worst start to a top-flight season since 1974.
Now I read that and thought that was a rather weird statement because since 1919 all we have had is top-flight seasons, and it would be a bit weird if anyone writing for a newspaper, or indeed the BBC where I first spotted the piece, didn’t know that.
So I went digging, and found that the exact phrase, “their worst start to a top-flight season since 1974” appears on the websites of the BBC, the Telegraph, theExpress, the Star, the Guardian, the Mirror, Football London and on and on and on.
They are all copied from each other, as we can tell by the fact it is nonsense. We have only played in the top flight since 1974 so how can it be anything but a start “to a top-flight season”. Any normal writer would put “their worst start to a season since 1974”.
But that use of “top-flight season” (complete with the hyphen, the use of which is debatable) shows that this is a complete cut and paste job.
And this really is the point about football journalism in England. A story is created and it is copied from one place to another to another over and over again. In fact as I started to find it popping up everywhere I typed the exact phrase into Google complete with quotation marks and was told it had been used 91,500 times.
That is how all the media come out with the same message, a message that people then start to believe must be correct, because it is repeated over and over again.
This is why the entire journalist and blogging industry never touch on PGMO, the proof that refereeing is biased by the home crowd etc, and why when we did a review of every mention of Arsenal we found such a unanimity of thought. It is not independent reviewers of a situation coming to their own conclusion. This is straight cut and paste without any thought.
That’s why the away wins story, Leicester’s penalty glut and tackling, the number of fouls per yellow card, etc etc etc don’t turn up. When we do our original research no one will copy that because we are outside the standard frame of reporting. But when someone in the mainstream says “their worst start to a season since 1974” it is copied word for word, even though “top-flight season” is irrelevant because they have all been top flight seasons.
Technically the story is correct of course for after beating Manchester city 4-0 on 24 August 1974, Arsenal went ten games without a win, losing seven, drawing three, before beating WHU 3-0. We dropped to the foot of the table (although with a fair amount of local company as the table below shows….
|20||Queens Park Rangers||13||2||5||6||11||16||0.688||9|
…although we recovered to end the season in 16th. Tottenham were 19th, and Chelsea went down.
But that is not the point. It is like the transfer rumours – someone makes it up (usually an agent as far as I can work out) and the story flits from site to site. One person writes the irrelevant phrase “top-flight season” and it is copied and copied 91,500 times.
It is all grim stuff, but I am glad to have checked out that “worst start” quote. Being downright misleading, is one thing, but to have it copied 91,500 times really does show us what football journalism is all about. It is about copying text word for word, no matter whether it is misleading or not.
So what of the teams?
The Independent offer
Maitland-Niles, Luiz, Gabriel, Tierney,
Ceballos, Elneny, Willian, Saka,
Sports Keeda give us
Soares, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney;
Pepe, Lacazette, Saka;
Hard Tackle gives us a vision of a very attacking front four.
Maitland-Niles, Luiz, Gabriel, Tierney;
Pepe, Willock, Aubameyang;
Pain in the Arsenal is more conventional
Maitland-Niles, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney;
Ceballos, Elneny, Saka;
Pepe, Aubameyang, Willian
i news has the full back swapping sides which is interesting, or a mistake…
Tierney, Holding, Gabriel, Maitland-Niles,
Ceballos, Elneny, Saka,
Willian, Aubameyang, Pepe
So there we are. I’ve always known that the media copy each other blindly when it comes to football which is why Arsenal get such a bad press – one person writes it and everyone else duplicates it. Now with the use of this same misleading phrase throughout, we can see exactly how it happens.
Maybe we’ll take another phrase next time and see how many so-called journalists copy that too.
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