The Devil We Knew

KeevinsFrame1The 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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James Forrest

James Forrest is a writer and blogger from Glasgow, and the author of two books, Fragments and Believers, which are available on Amazon.

9 thoughts on “The Devil We Knew

  • 20 July, 2014 at 10:12 am

    another good read keep at them.

  • 20 July, 2014 at 10:44 am

    I was listening to Vladimir Putin the other day blaming the Ukrainians the West and indeed anyone and everyone except themselves for the atrocity in Eastern Ukraine and guess who it reminded me of.

    Yep. The ole sevconians and their fellow travellers in the media.

    Putin FC and its cheerleaders. No shame, but everyone knows where the guilt lies and they should NEVER be allowed to forget it.

  • 20 July, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    James,I do hope it’s a typing error in your latest offering where you say you won’t be glad to see the back of the likes of Keevins,Traynor et al.l,and many more like me rejoice in the fact that we no longer have to read their lies.lf you,and others like you keep at them,the truth will out one day.

  • 20 July, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    RE Tony B…… If you believe that Putin and Russia are to blame for MH17 then you sir are still sleeping……..look a little closer to home for the true culprits me thinks 😉

  • 20 July, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    Hun breedeth hun. Eyes and ears open,mouth shut. We will prevail. Hh

  • 20 July, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    P.s. Chick the prick (St Mirrin supporter) has declared that he is taking his package. Hh

  • 20 July, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    Good read James. We need more like you to keep exposing that sevco lie. Keep it up.

  • 20 July, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    Over the last few days we have had a number of TRFC players reading from a script it would seem.”It’s going to be the most exciting league”
    “It’s a fantastic league to be involved in” etc, each new day a different player (I may run a sweep to see who it will be next ).
    Yes the regurgitiation of press releases from a club and PR firm is going to remain the norm.

  • 21 July, 2014 at 3:08 am

    Another great read James, as if I expected anything less 🙂

    I have basically given up on the SMSM, the fact that the new comers have taken up the mantra from the old sh*ttalkers is depressing but not unexpected TBH?

    Until such time as they realise they could expand their customer base by printing the truth, they will continue to see their reader numbers dwindle.

    Most of the hordes actually believe the media to be Celtic minded, I know it tickles me as well 🙂

    Take it to them mate HH

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