Football journalists, football fans and most importantly the next generation of journalists must take heed of the words by the great Beat Poet. We must continue to evolve or we are nearly condemned to being complacent and forever trapped with what we have now.
In landscape where football journalists are on Twitter, Live Blogging and are going through comment sections with a fine tooth and comb (Hello SuperFooty); it seems as if they’ve turned their obsession into getting a reaction out of us. And before you point out to the idealistic youth that is myself; yes, reactions sell papers and get hits.
Have we become too down pat with knee jerk reactions? Absolutely.
Have aspiring and established footy journalists, in a season like this, already declared their Top 8’s?
Have we thrown flag favoritism around and fallen into the trap of assurance that football’s often unpredictability tell us not to?
There’s a lot of vitriol that’s aimed at football journalists. A lot. A majority of it is uncalled for and just not worth the effort. Ask Mark Robinson and Caroline Wilson; two people that I’ve openly crucified on social media. I don’t question for one minute the love that Robbo or Caro share for certain aspects of footy. Why would they subject themselves to blatant hatred, if they didn’t believe in what they were doing?
Do we take their opinions too seriously? Yes.
Have we unwittingly taught the controversial a path to success via our insane reactions? Most likely.
I do think we, the audience are to blame for some of the hostility. Talkback is a joke and some of the things on Twitter I’ve seen are frightening ways to respond to someone’s opinion. Young journo’s are inadvertently being shown the rewards of targeting an audience’s emotion and looking to stir the pot in general, rather than inciting thought and debate on a rational and healthy level.
I was speaking to a potential sports journalist the other day. Through hard work they had low to mid-level placements in the industry already (the resume itself is highly esteemed); and believe them to be more than ready to enter the game professionally. The discussion obviously came to Caroline Wilson’s articles regarding James Brayshaw.
We agreed to disagree on elements of Wilson’s article, and I was told that they also potentially knew things that would get them “killed” if spoken.
Their potential career in revealing such information would possibly be dead in the water.
I had two reactions.
My first was to completely understand. I know things too. Nowhere near as serious, but would get a few heads turned as to where the hell a student with no known associates (that they know of) inside football clubs; would know such pointless trivia that goes on internally.
My second was to recoil in horror and wonder if the temptation to run or write up those stories would even run through that persons head? Would the industry (with clubs now having greater control over the press than ever with their beefed up media departments) shame, mock and chase them out of town? Or throw them a big juicy pay check and give them the keys to the building; for telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
Of course; what I just did is insanely hypocritical. To have a go at people for not naming their sources and then not revealing my source is shameless hypocrisy, and I’m aware of that. Do you go for the whole truth or part of the truth, which leave many to question integrity? Caroline Wilson would burn so many bridges, but instantaneously would get more credibility.
Which is again; another argument in itself, can you have both a high profile and credibility?
And that’s not to say all of Caroline’s work should be treated in such a way. Her work on covering the self-immolation of the Carlton Football Club at the start of the last decade was sensational, it’s just recent events have raised some serious concerns.
At the end of the day, it’s football. It’s not politics. As much as I love this game more than anything else and want to celebrate it, it is not life and death. Making people chasing around a leather ball a top priority in your life is a blessing not many others elsewhere can afford.
But is it worth getting angry over? Is it worth the bleeding hate? Probably not.
Are we letting football journalism establish itself in way that it becomes something bigger than it’s supposed to be? Maybe.
At some point we need to start asking ourselves these questions, because it’s becoming a bit of a mess. Self-evaluation is needed by all parties.
The only thing I have to say is to other potential football journalists, is there is only one onus on you. Your own opinions and work comes first. Continue refining the craft, continue evolving your opinion and for the love of God, celebrate the game.