The new football season starts in a few weeks times, and this is going to be an historic one for a number of reasons. There’s no Edinburgh derby, and in fact no team from the capital in the top flight. The Glasgow derby will, again, be between Celtic and Thistle, but at last we’re going to have a clash of the neighbours in Dundee.
When one door opens, another closes, my friends.
Change is everything in Scottish football. There hasn’t been a dull summer in the last few years, not since a club calling itself Rangers was flailing around in a bear trap of their own making. A lot of things are different than they were five years ago.
One of these things is the media, although the media hasn’t changed as much as other organisations. Yet, they’ve changed enough that it’s worth noting, and thinking about a little bit. A lot of the veteran hacks have gone, an inevitable consequence of the creeping influence of the blogs and their own increasing irrelevance. Some of them realised there was one last big pay-day in their collapsing profession, and took the money and ran.
They leave behind an industry that’s been gutted, that’s been hollowed out, one that I would say had been lobotomised, although that’s frankly ridiculous when you consider the names of some of those who have gone. Television, radio, the papers … they have lost a number of well known, established names and whilst I won’t be glad to see the back of any of them they were, quite literally, the devil we knew.
They were incompetent, inarticulate, lazy jokers, easily humiliated if you could get a chance to quiz them on how little they actually knew … but this familiarity was comforting in some ways because you knew who you could ignore without worrying that you were depriving yourself of information or knowledge. The Sunday papers will never be the same again. I don’t care, as I don’t buy them, but some still do.
Those who have stepped into their shoes are not so well known, but some of their own articles and opinion pieces in recent weeks have made it clear that they’ve taken their cue from those who came before them. That worries me in some ways, because some of these guys are young enough that we’re going to be reading their pieces for years and they’ve already started to push dangerous myths. Many of them aren’t well known, so the reaction of readers can’t be presumed in the way it would be if the same nonsense was being written by a Keevins or Waddell.
That’s bad, because some of what they are pushing – like the Sevco Victim Myth – is positively insane stuff. If these people are going to become editors or senior reporters their version of history could very well wind up gaining some kind of surface acceptance.
I already have grave doubts that things will get better with the departures of the old heads, those who made a mockery of their professions and who latterly became cheerleaders instead of being honest reporters. There are already signs that a grave irresponsibility infects the ranks of these up and coming hacks, and a number of them are better at chasing glory and headlines instead of facts.
At a first glance, the idea of a media where guys like Matthew Lindsay are the senior hacks doesn’t seem bad when you compare that with one run by Traynor, Keevins and King, but is it really? These people, without the experience of those who’ve gone, are probably still making their way, and they have to cultivate contacts and make friends if they are to keep their jobs. The quality of those contacts will determine the quality of their “news” … and I worry about that most of all. Are any of these people possessed of the backbone to question what they hear, or is the regurgitation of press releases from clubs and PR firms going to remain the norm?
If it is, many of our tabloids, and even our broadsheets, are dead as yesterday’s fish, because those bad habits will infect the next generation of writers too, and then the press becomes nothing but a windsock.
It seems clear to me that our scrutiny of the media has to increase, that we have to avoid the complacency that comes with thinking we’ve got this thing won. We should not assume that new faces on the deck of these ships means a change of course. I very much doubt that it does, especially as the course they are on right now is more headed for the bottom of the ocean than some distant port. These ships are sinking, and if they’re to stay solvent they will, more and more, have to come to represent the views of their “core readership.”
Who do you imagine that is? They already know, which is why the Sevco Victim Myth is currently being pushed like crack cocaine on a support that is inhaling it a drug.
I think a Scottish media environment without people like Keevins can only be an improvement, but that’s not exactly difficult to imagine. After all, the last generation of hacks before them was comprised of folk like Gerry McNee and the repellent David Leggat, and I can’t be alone in having thought that things would get markedly better when those people were gone, but atrocious, and embarrassing, idiots like Jackson, Keevins and Darryl King stepped into their roles.
Over the next few months, it’s going to become ever more important to challenge every media lie or mistruth before it grows legs. The spiralling crisis at Sevco Rangers makes it vital that we, who care about Scottish football, ready ourselves in case that club goes nuclear, and ends up creating another summer of confusion and chaos.
It was only because we were on top of the media last time that we were able to rally ourselves, and then our clubs, to resist the firestorm to have Sevco playing in the top tier which was being whipped up in the press. If Sevco collapses the same newspapers will be re-fighting that battle all over again, with different names on the articles and different people at the helm, but with the same fervour and, if we let them, a very potent weapon.
The Victim Myth is a rewrite of history that seeks to influence the future.
The media is laying down a marker and saying that what happened last time shouldn’t happen again, that if Sevco crashes against the rocks that, this time, we have to act in a “civilised manner” and be more “understanding” of their plight.
This is why the Victim Myth has made me angry … you can see exactly what it aims to achieve. It’s trying to put us on the wrong side of a debate, and not one over what’s already happened but one that’s concerned with what might happen next, and the trouble with the departure of so many old heads in the press is that people might just view their successors in a different, perhaps even a favourable, light.
We must scrutinise the media more, not less, in the season to come. Every half-truth and lie should be ruthlessly exposed as one before it grows roots.
Let’s continue as we’ve started, giving these people not an ounce of credibility unless they prove that they are worthy of it.
Nailing this Victim Myth, and calling it the lie that it is, would be a damned good start.
I’m not holding my breath though. Are you?
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