Mar 032010

It has been a telling week in the media. Aaron Ramsey’s dreadful injury, and in particular Shawcross’ tackle, have divided opinions everywhere. More pertinently, the way the story has been presented has differed wildly – while most reasonable writers have noted that it was a terrible and avoidable moment, only some have called for a change of mindset in the English game, while others have shrugged it off as ‘one of those things’.

There is nothing wrong with a difference of opinion. I maintain that the Shawcross challenge was not in the same league as the Taylor or Smith equivalents from recent seasons. Some disagree with me entirely, and that’s fine. Having the debate in the public domain has kept the issue on the back pages for four days, and that can only be a good thing. It is an issue that requires attention.

But at the same time, the absolute worst type of journalism has reared its ugly head as a result. There are certain parties that, for any major news story, wait to see what the general consensus is, and then go utterly against it to create controversy. It is perfectly deliberate – I don’t think for a second that these writers believe the words they write, as no-one in their right minds could subscribe to such a preposterous view.

That comes with the territory in the blogging world – there are so many that some see controversy as the short cut to being noticed. It matters little that 90% of the comments slate the writer, because all they care about is that there are comments. But you should be able to expect better of columnists paid to write for our national newspapers. Unfortunately, some of the more poisonous of their number would rather write an abysmal piece for attention, than an intelligent one that causes less of a stir.

There was a good piece on Gunnerblog yesterday, exposing a few such examples. The published views included the belief that Wenger should apologise to Shawcross for being angry at the challenge (no mention of Shawcross apologising for the challenge), that he was wrong to condemn the challenge in the first place, and even worse – that Ramsey had somehow ruined Shawcross’ glorious England call-up by having the temerity to have his leg broken on the same day. Classy.

Tim at 7am Kickoff then posted another insightful piece, exposing one of the most poisonous articles I’ve ever read, that of a Stoke columnist claiming that Cesc and Wenger couldn’t care less about Ramsey, they just wanted Shawcross sent off and paid no attention to the stricken Welshman. The entry is so packed full of lies I can’t even begin to go into it here, but it is an embarrassing read for even the most blinkered Potters fan.

The trouble is this – by getting angry with these idiots they get the attention they so desperately crave. They sit on the comments section, shouting back at anyone who criticises them, lapping up the extra hits and their moment of glory. Fifteen minutes of fame and all that.

But as I said, that is understandable in a world stacked with blogs trying to differentiate themselves. But former players who are being paid to spout this offensive nonsense? How do they even get the job? If anything, it shames the editors more than the columnists themselves, that such drivel is not only tolerated, but encouraged.

The easy answer is always to say ‘well, ignore it’. But when you read something that is offensive to that degree, it is almost impossible not to react. The only good news is that one such article destroys the credibility of the author – if Collymore wants to make a point he really believes in next week, is anyone going to take him seriously?

The main problem is that these columns shift the focus away from the rational and constructive talk, giving the authorities an excuse to do nothing. You can already see how this is going to go – the debate will continue for the next few days, only to be replaced by a new argument based on whatever happens this weekend. A few lone voices will continue, trying to force the change, but sooner or later everyone will go back to normal. It has happened before, it will happen again.

The FA certainly won’t make any strong decisions. Instead of making drastic changes or enforcing stiff new penalties, they only ever do one of two things. The first is to change trivial rules, usually a tweak of the offside rule, or a change of procedure when a player is down injured. The second is to announce a strong new rule, but fail hopelessly to enforce it. The recent example of this is their claim that if three or more players hound a referee, they will support multiple sending offs. Seen that happen?

We may, at best, have a couple of weeks grace – if a strong challenge comes in early from a Burnley player this weekend, they might be carded. But it won’t last.

All we can hope is that in a few years, we haven’t gone full circle again to talk about another horrific injury. Because ‘I told you so’ plainly doesn’t work.

  14 Responses to “The poisonous side of the press – get angry or ignore?”

  1. Excellent article, well written and concise.
    Its sickening how many pundits/journalists/bloggers are quite happy to use this awful injury as an opportunity to criticise Arsenal. A really cheap one in my opinion.
    Keep up the good work!

  2. Not the first time I have read one of your blogs and I like them. Well said on this one fella.
    This is happening all the time, I like to read the blogs, but have to be careful which ones, because some are so full of it, they just make me angry.
    As far as journalists go, Patrick Barclay who writes in the times is pretty spot on and level headed.
    Unfortunately, these days balanced views are difficult to find.

  3. Great piece mate. The likes of the idiots you refer to are scum and dont even desrve a name chack here, suffice to say that whatever media they are on, we should refuse to buy, listen or subscribe to.

    Gunnerblog’s piece and the quotes showed us what we are up against here. Debse, ignorant, bigoted and xenophobic neanderthals.

    Good work

  4. Totally agree with your article and can only advise keeping away from the knuckle draggers like Stan Coolymore,although it is difficult to do in the heat of the moment.As the previous guest said,Patrick Barclay is reliably consistent and intelligent along with Hugh Mcalveny and Henry Winter(barring his ridiculous comments about Henry’s handball).
    I suppose if you can keep clear of The Mail,The Sun and TalkShite you are half way there.

  5. Sent in reasoned comment to that web site you’re talking about pointing out shawcross’s history injuring at least 4 players. With everyone with video evidence but guess what it was not posted.

  6. Thanks for all the kind comments everyone.

    I guess with time we all figure out who to read and who not to read, and it isn’t even as simple as picking papers – certain columnists in papers are awful, yet others in the same paper talk a lot of sense. You really have to have your bullshit filter on.

    I just get worried when certain loudmouth columnists gain readerships. Some people follow whatever they read in the daily rag, and a good portion of it is downright offensive.

  7. The windup merchants want us to get angry and aggravated. I’d say that we have to take the higher road here. Yes- no one’s listening and nor does anyone care about the state of football.

    There were more articles in support of Shawcross (who is on his 4th reckless tackle) than there was sympathy for Ramsey. It is the way things are and there is very little appetite for change. People who should know better have acted shamefully – the likes of Ferguson whose team have skilled players and equally likely to get hurt have gone and supported shawcross.

    The reason is simple. Arsenal is a shining light in the face of all the ugliness around them. Imagine playing beautiful football, continuous revenue streams, excellent balance sheet and a wonderful scouting network. It is a challenge on the mediocrity of English football. It is this combination of jealousy and xenophobia that is making them act this way.

    We can afford to take the higher road.

  8. Very refreshing to read a sensible blog. But you’re right nothing will change. Unless Javier Mascherano break Rooneys leg in similar fashion up to the world cup…

  9. Bravo! great article and confirmation I am not going mad….

  10. Well all Gooners boycott the Mirror and the Mirror website, because their clueless hacks are the most poisonous of all.

  11. Great point! I amazed at how easy it is for many in the main press always knock Arsensl or those connected with Arsenal, especally Wenger!

  12. Great article, and spot on Harry B. Check in talkSport too.
    We need to make the Arsenal haters aware of our feelings, if you get my drift.

  13. I went to Sunderland at the end of the season two years back when we lost the title in the last couple of months.

    The papers leading there and the radio said we were going to protest against Wenger and the club. Obviuosly trying to cause such a reaction.

    The contrast was amazing. For the last 15 to 20 mins we sung over and over again the age old “We love you Arsenal, we do”.

    They will make up any story they wish for sales. Getting worse because blogs like this one are so well written people are coming here for there news on football and Arsenal rather than going to the red tops.


  14. @Prashant gandhi, u ‘ve made my’s all jelous!

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