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The evidence of a conspiracy against Arsenal: part 4: Conspiracy, simplicity and false predictions

Previously in this series…

By Tony Attwood

In the last article in this series we looked at four key factors in the media’s coverage of Arsenal.

1: Unity of ownership: a lot of the media is owned by the same company and thus run the same stories).

2. Unity of commentary: the fact that very few media outlets ever mention PGMO, and never criticise the organisation.

3.  Laziness and lack of expertise on the part of writers, preferring always to take the same line as each other rather than engage in real research.

4.  Repetition: a desire to say what we someone else has said before.  (This dominates talk about transfers – very few journalists claim a story as their own, instead reporting is as being highlighted by another outlet.)

Now to move on in our exploration of why football journalism is as it is…

5.  Conspiracy and simplicity

As a result of the processes outlined in points one to four above, clubs and most particularly agents, know that they only need to talk to one or two journalists and very quickly the story will be all over the media, without anyone checking its veracity.

Besides very few people in football journalism quote statistics to prove their point beyond the most simple, “Arsenal have had three red cards in the last four matches” and “Arsenal have scored one goal in the past four games” and so on.  The notion of looking at the last six games or the last 19 games, or at league games only, to gauge form is generally completely beyond them.

Yet occasionally we do get articles with a whole plethora of stats piled one on top of the other.  The BBC website does this just before each weekend match which is full of such obscure facts as”Arsenal have not won a league match on a thursday since 1976,”  (That’s not true by the way, I just made that one up).

However most curiously the article and the prediction which appears on the BBC website before each game, is then removed as the game starts and the web page is overwritten with a report on the game.  So if you know the URL of the original article and look it up to see what was predicted … it is not there!

Thus in our run up to the Wolverhampton game we carried the note and link about the BBC  predicting a 2-0 defeat for Arsenal.   But go to that link now and you get the match report with no mention of how completely and totally wrong all their predictions were.  And indeed how they utterly ignored Arsenal’s recent form and Arsenal’s form since the first three games of the season, in reaching what turned out to be wildly wrong predictions.

From a different perspective I can recall how in the heyday of local newspapers which regularly had their first edition appear around lunchtime, the journalists and management would all check the 1pm news on the radio stations, to make sure their local evening paper’s headline national stories were not totally out of step with the broadcasters.

Of course, editors copying editors over what are the bigger stories of the moment is not exactly a conspiracy but it does have the effect of keeping certain stories out of the news, and continuing the momentum of other tales.

Thus Arsenal getting red cards and defeats in cup matches was taken as the big story.  Arsenal doing well in 19 league games after those opening three defeats was not, and every media outlet ignored that one.  Likewise, Arsenal having only two red cards in the league by the time of the League Cup defeat to Liverpool was never mentioned, and indeed when I mentioned this to supporters, no one would believe it.  (We’ve since had one more with the sending off of Martinelli in most curious circumstances).

6.  Hiding the false predictions and living the lie

No one in the media is going to admit that 96 percent of their transfer rumours last summer never came to pass, nor that some summers we get to a 99 percent failure rate. (This January it was a 100% failure rate!)  Just as virtually no one ever claims to be the original source for a transfer rumour; each outlet quoting another as its source – a fact that can become quite circular on occasion.

And since transfer rumours fill up a lot of time and space (the moment the January window shut, the media were talking up next summer’s transfers) without the need for any research or validation of the story, everyone just keeps them running.

When they turn out to be totally untrue, either the story is dropped and never mentioned again, or Arsenal are blamed for being too slow or mean.

But more than this – the fact that the transfer stories are around for most of the year, and most of them are utterly and totally without foundation, encourages football journalists and commentators to make up anything they like.  After all, that is what their media outlet is dealing in every day.

When 99% of what you say is nonsense, who is ever going to check anything?

The final part of this series “Lay off the proof, stay clear of the facts” follows later today.

5 comments to The evidence of a conspiracy against Arsenal: part 4: Conspiracy, simplicity and false predictions

  • Nitram

    Is there really a conspiracy against Arsenal?

    To me the answer to the question is a resounding yes.

    Personally I think it is undeniable that there is, and there has been for many years now a disproportionately negative narrative in the media when it comes to commenting on Arsenal. But the point I want to address here is regarding the notion that even if there is a lot of negativity in the media about us, who cares ? The notion that, nobody believes what they read in the papers anyway, so how on earth can it have any influence ? I contest that that is clearly not the case.

    The media do clearly have an influence on what people think and do. In an earlier thread somebody said: “what some no-mark writes in the Guardian or anywhere else for that matter will make no difference at all…” I beg to differ. In fact as I said earlier, anyone who believes that simply has no understanding of how, not only the media/mass media works, but how people work. Just search the web for articles on the media and how it affects opinion and you will be flooded with papers and articles explaining in depth exactly how we are all massively influenced by what we read in papers, hear on the radio and see on the TV.

    It is said that elections have been won and lost on the back of one front page headline in a tabloid. That is how powerful the media can be.

    Legal trials have collapsed simply because of the possibility that peoples minds have already been made up by what they have read in the papers.

    This opening paragraph from an in depth paper on the subject sums it up pretty well.

    “The role of the media in shaping public perceptions and opinions about significant political and social issues has long been the subject of both speculation and research. It is widely accepted that what we know about, think and believe about what happens in the world, outside of personal first-hand experience, is shaped, and some would say orchestrated, by how these events are reported in newspapers and communicated through the medium of radio and television”.

    “….IS SHAPED, AND SOME WOULD SAY ORCHESTRATED”

    I have even likened what the media do to us as a form of propaganda. Again from and article among many on the internet explaining how propaganda works:

    “Historically, however, true propaganda hasn’t been full of outright lies or deception, as many people believe. Rather, it’s the statement of facts and beliefs with the intention of influencing a particular audience, trademarked by the omission of any details that might persuade the audience to the other side.”

    “…..TRADEMARKED BY THE OMISSION OF ANY DETAILS THAT MIGHT PERSUADE THE AUDIENCE TO THE OTHER SIDE”

    In other words, for example, they will highlight one of our transfers that actually didn’t work out too well to ‘prove’ a point. But they wont give any context by way of comparisons to other transfers we’ve done that have worked out well, or to other clubs transfers that also haven’t worked out well. So what they say isn’t a ‘lie’ as such, but without context or comparison it is utterly misleading.

    They do this all the time to us. It IS propaganda in it’s modern form. There is no question it works which is why people, Arsenal fans, come on here claiming we are worse than everyone else at buying and selling players. They do that by pointing at this player and that player as ‘proof’, whilst completely ignoring the transfers that worked out well, or referencing every other clubs poor transfer dealings. In other words, not a lie exactly, but absolutely no context, no comparisons.

    This sort of misdirection has been used to influence opinion and control peoples, for thousands of years, and it is still used today. People constantly coming here telling us they are not influenced by what the papers say about Arsenal is fine. That’s them. But to suggest that is the case for everyone is clearly not true, as a vast majority of intellectuals and scientists that have studied this subject in depth over many many years, will attest to.

    Why on earth do you think the rich and powerful own and control 90% of what is said in the media?

    They do it because by controlling what the media say they control what people think and do.

    Conspiracy ? Propaganda ?

    Whatever you want to call it, I believe the medias constant negativity does have a detrimental effect on our fans and in turn that effects our club, our team and our players.

    It affects how we are perceived by fans in general “same old Arsenal always cheating’ ?

    It affects how we are refereed.

    Personally I think it is undeniable.

  • mick shelley

    Very well put Nitram, you have summed it up nicely. You have my 100% agreement.

  • John L

    Betraying my advanced age, I can recall the media treatment of the 1970-71 Double season. For the most part, the narrative was that Arsenal were lucky, boring and not very good and would not win anything. As for the Double – well that was ridiculous, as that was a once and for all achievement on the part of the wonderful THFC.

    As the season progressed and we were obvious contenders, we were still written off as being runners-up, at best. Stoke would win the semi-final. Leeds would (deservedly) win the league.

    When we won the league at WHL on the Monday of cup-final week (something that the media had refused to contemplate, since the superior “Spurs” team would be determined to deny us matching their once and for all Double win, the narrative immediately changed to how Liverpool would easily beat us in the Cup Final.

    As soon as that prediction was proved to be wrong, the bulk of the football media suddenly transferred their attention to the forthcoming England-Scotland international as well as the usual transfer rumour bollocks, with hardly a word of praise for Arsenal’s double win and no recognition of how wrong the forecasts had turned out to be.

    So, it seems that the conspiracy against Arsenal is long established.

  • Nitram

    John L

    I think I’ve betrayed my age on here many times, but at the risk of doing so again, I remember in the 70’s we were always referred to as ‘Lucky’ Arsenal.

    Then in the 80’s it changed to ‘Boring’ Arsenal.

    Then in the Wenger era to ‘Cheating’ Arsenal.

    Our players were portrayed as the dirtiest. They apparently invented diving. And of course they whinged more than anyone else.

    At one stage we just kept breaking our own legs simply to get our opponents in trouble.

    Even our stadium didn’t escape insults, being labeled ‘Highbury the Library’

    It is endless John.

    And so it continues. Surely we are the only team that could possibly be ridiculed for celebrating an away win against a team who’s recent form reads:

    Spurs A Won
    Arsenal H LOST
    Brentford A Won
    Sotton H Won
    Man Utd A Won
    Chelsea H Drew
    Brighton A Won

    and whats more, doing so playing for 20 minutes with 10 men !

    That performance above is actually remarkable, and yet the media see fit to join in with the Wolves players objections of our players celebrations.

    No other team faces the kind of mindless, groundless, endless abuse we face, NO ONE !!

  • Chris

    The bashing Arsenal has been ingrained for so long that it is a standard operation procedure.
    Add to that the fact that these people need to produce content, not report and you’ve got a rat-pack behaviour that kicks in.
    The more so that many outlets in fact belong to the same organisations, so that ‘ said it to myself becomes the tangible proof that something was said.

    None of these ‘writers’ would eran a penny in a normal journalist job.

    But, seriously, if you think about it, maybe what we are seeing is AI used to produce content. They do it to produce film scripts I’ve read. All you need to feed AI is ‘data’. As you’ve all read it, AI is biased against women, coloured people, etc because the algorythms are mostly developped by white young males obsessed with drinks and sex. So maybe the AI producing the content having been fed with crap from the equivalent of these guys but applying to the PL, it just had to learn from crap content. And thus it produces what goes online and influences people pretending to be journalists to create their own content based on the crap produced.

    Technically, manure helps produce good crop. Apparently, digital manure generates worse crop.

    AI Artificial Idiocy

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