Written by CarlitoII
Fabrication. Bending the truth. Saying that which is not true. Lying. Fantasising. Add to this any number of adjectives that sum up what a football supporter has to put up with in the course of feeding his obsession. It is increasingly difficult to know what to believe. Does anyone really care about the truth?
A good story, as they say, has legs. But the “Fabregas to Barcelona” story of last summer was the most Godzilla-sized millipede ever witnessed. Similarly, the “Cesc disparages ref” story last week was a ridiculously nimble crustacean whereas the astonishing refereeing displayed by the same defamed ref was eel-like in its lack of limbs.
Never let a fact get in the way of a good story, it is said. The yards of column inches in our tabloid press devoted to “definite rumours” of Arsenal signings each transfer window demonstrate this perfectly. I will call out the free gossip rag on the tube for some of the more heinous examples but there are also a number of websites that seem to get a lot of coverage for breaking the ninth commandment as their stock in trade.
And herein lies the rub! We click on these websites or pick up these papers for the promise of the headline, the excitement of the story or the controversy of the author’s standpoint. These actions earn the “news” outlet their money – newspaper circulation and page clicks online attract advertising revenue. A worthy article saying that Mason had written nothing in his match report about any comments from Cesc might get a trickle of Gooners reading it but nothing like the avalanche of eejits who clicked on the “Cesc Ref Rant” headline.
But I can’t stop reading these lies, damned lies and transfer rumours. I want to know everything that’s going on with my club and have had to develop a “nonsense filter”. But now there are blogs (I know they’ve been here for a while but I’m new!) and twitter and facebook groups full of conjecture, speculation and supposition. How good is my filter now?
I have seen it argued recently that blogging is replacing journalism as a true conduit for news rather than rehashed press-statements. I find it hard to disagree that the overall standard of journalism has become sloppier, less investigative and less critical of the powers that be. I also think that in these times when anyone can cast aspersions on a man’s character, the paid journalists have a role to play in protecting the integrity of the information out there and not just picking up every rumour started in cyberspace.
Two articles recently have irked me. One claimed that Wenger was so thrifty because he was financially incentivised to make a profit on transfers. The other claimed that Rosicky was involved in deliberately throwing the Newcastle match. If either of these allegations appeared in a national newspaper they would expect to hear from the club’s lawyers but a website written by an anonymous author with an IP address outside the EU will probably be ignored. Yet some people will believe what they read, wherever they read it.
It obviously doesn’t help when managers deliberately obfuscate the truth, trying to send messages to future opponents, rivals in the transfer market, share holders etc. The number of wailing tweets I see complaining that “Wenger lied” just goes to show how powerful each written word is in fomenting opinion about anyone in the public eye. One of the dangers is the ‘witch-hunting’ tendency of the media to blame everything on foreigners, as has been much discussed on this forum lately.
I was going to end this piece by trying to decide whether it’s better to switch off the antenna that bring me this surplus of distortion and deception? Should I just get my Arsenal fix from arsenal.com, a reputable broadsheet and this fantastic forum of mainly sane people? I was going to ask whether the blogging community serves its purpose unless followed through with scrupulous attention to facts? But in both cases, I think I know the answer! You can fool some Gooners all of the time and all Gooners some of the time. But you can’t fool all Gooners all of the time!