Dumb takes because we need content and you're too dumb to notice

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Sweet Jesus

Brownlow Medallist
Dec 20, 2014
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This is something that's been percolating for a while but was brought to a head by the recent Jordan Lewis/Alastair Clarkson "story", which has not only been milked for a couple of weeks of traffic but also used as a peg as though it were a legitimate news story.

Lewis is a reasonably intelligent, reasonably savvy former player. He is now paid for his opinions. He is paid to say things, thereby generating content for his employer. Earlier this month, he dropped a "bombshell" about Alastair Clarkson, questioning whether his former coach was the right guy to take Hawthorn through a rebuild.

And this is treated as "news", even though he is literally paid to say it. And it gets spun out for two weeks, with Clarkson responding, Jeff Kennett responding and Lewis responding in turn. We need content, so former players get paid to say things and that gets reported and re-reported like it's news. It is an industry that needs content to survive, so it generates its own, independent of events.

We all understand this is a cash-for-content pantomime, right? This is the AFL version of professional wrestling. It's what we've been reduced to now that we need new news, new gossip for every day, every week. Gerard Whateley submitted his entry for most pretentious chin-stroking knob of the year when he suggested Kennett somehow crossed a line in his response to Lewis. It's like Mean Gene Okerlund being scandalised that Macho King Randy Savage hit Hulk Hogan with a chair.

Again, Lewis is paid to say things on air. If those comments can then be spun off into "articles" online, even better. If those "articles" then spawn a back-and-forth for several days, or even a week, that's the objective. He's earned his retainer. That's exactly what it's designed to do. He's done his job. It is an economy based on the idea that in the absence of events, opinion will suffice. In the absence of events, opinions are news. It is complete bullshit by any sane standard but it's plastered all over the SEN and Fox Footy home page every day. An industry that relies on you wanting content produces unlimited hot air and tells you it's "content" worth consuming several times for six or seven months of the year. Good model if there are enough idiots buying it.

Lewis is of course not the only example, or even the most jarring example. But just bear it in mind when you listen to former footballers, especially those new to the media who don't understand nuance and are accustomed to following direct instructions to the letter. What have their new employers told them about what they need from them?

I suspect that on day one, Nick "Hoi-loits" Dal Santo and Kane "Kabuki" Cornes were told: "We need content that we can air, but also repackage as 'articles' online, and then churn out as cheap gruel on social media - your job is to say those things." And poor old Kane and Nick have got their notepads out and just written CONTENT in big capital letters across the top, with "say things" underneath, maybe underlined a few times with some exclamation points at the end.

That's why they love lists. Top 5 this. Top 5 that. Reheated online with headlines suggesting there's some big mystery revealed. Guess who Saints legend says was his most hated opponent! And the article therein is a badly written disappointment authored by the work experience kid. You regret reading it. But you clicked on it, so job done. And Dal Santo has done his job too. Because he aired his banal views. And they chopped it up, repackaged it cheaply and got you to read it online. There are probably people even dumber than you responding to it on social media right now. Three bites of the cherry.

Also note that not every former footballer trying to make his way in the media is afflicted by this. Nick Riewoldt and Jon Brown don't do it. They are the most polished media "performers" to have come out of the game recently, so they don't need to. And they are actually pretty damn good. They know they've got something relatively sustainable. They've got some presentation skills, goodwill and credibility. They can do this for 20+ years. They don't need to whore themselves out for hot takes. That's for the guys with not much talent who are desperate now and perhaps badly advised. Just keep this in mind when you hear Dal Santo and Kabuki Cornes talk. Or Leigh Montagna. Or whoever they wheel in next. These guys have been told "you need to say things that we can air and then use and reuse on other platforms - give us Twitter-ready content that we can regurgitate 3 or 4 times". They're lunch meat in a can. They're Spam.

And it's not just former footballers doing it. It's also "journalists", particularly those recently promoted. Tom Morris, for example. He should know better but he's got his own show now on Sunday nights and has clearly been incentivised to have some of those conversations spun out and repurposed as content online and on social media. It is advertised every time he disagrees with David King and whoever else is alongside them. You can see his little wheels turning. Oooh, controversial: Fox Footy hosts in fiery exchange over xxxxxx. Putting it on TV isn't enough. You've got to be able to masticate it again for online and then offer the dregs on Twitter and Facebook. That's the model. That's what pays Tom Morris's salary. It drips off every one of his exchanges when he's trying to be hard-hitting or contrary. He might be a good reporter but he should take a leaf out of Gerard Healy's book when it comes to curating a discussion. Morris jumps at the dangled sardine like a hungry kitten.

To summarise, this is a cheap and dirty content creation strategy and it permeates a lot of these discussions about football, whether on TV or radio. And it treats the audience like idiots. Wait until Monday morning or Tuesday morning. Count how many items on the SEN or Fox Footy home page are regurgitated variations of their own rubbish, completely independent of any actual events. "Someone we pay has an opinion. Here's a 'story' about that opinion." Count how many items are just hot air based on nothing, masquerading as information because there's nothing else.

Please share the examples. Or other associated bugbears.
 
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Spearman

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Pretty spot on about the industry of journalism in this era of SM. :thumbsu:

Unfortunately, this analysis you have provided will probably go unnoticed by the people who most would benefit from being enlightened because they are simply too lazy to read that many words.[SMH]
 

RunningBounce

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Footy Classified went from one night a week to what? Three nights a week? There were no games of football being played when this tripling of content happened.

It's the Croc Media business model.
 

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Sweet Jesus

Brownlow Medallist
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Pretty spot on about the industry of journalism in this era of SM. :thumbsu:

Unfortunately, this analysis you have provided will probably go unnoticed by the people who most would benefit from being enlightened because they are simply too lazy to read that many words.[SMH]
Gerard Whateley's utterly disingenuous, utterly transparent sanctimony about Kennett's response just knocked my socks off.

He's scolding Kennett when they absolutely love the fact he responded. And even better, the response was slightly ill-tempered. That's the cherry on top but Whateley carries on with this ridiculous little fan dance like it's some unseemly breach of decorum or professional courtesy. It's the whole point of paying Lewis to say something in the first place and that commission has paid off. The whole model depends on this kind of back-and-forth but he pretends to be disquieted by it.
 
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TheExtractorFactor

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The worst bit is when they tweet something like 'ex Melbourne legend slams Dees' and you think it will be Barassi or someone so click and then it's Garry Lyon, as though his job doesn't entail him spending dozens of hours a week talking about football. I've had to unfollow all the clickbait accounts now even though I stopped clicking - just seeing the posts pissed me off.
 

Bunk Moreland

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It’s just a game of numbers. Every time something goes out they get a few more clicks. It’s all gain and there’s literally nothing to lose. And there’s no extra work in it, it’s just recycling.

The reality is people gobble it up. People are obsessed with footy and gobble it all up.
 

Adelaide Hawk

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We need to thank the media, it keeps insignificant idiots like Kane Cornes off the streets. Better he spend his time in something trivial like footy media than out there in the real world where he could really wreak havoc.
 

savagelunchbox

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The club's won't let any media anywhere near the insides of their club and the players are coached by the PR team to the point of being robots or trained monkeys.

When the media make their money off clicks these days, they need to produce content for people to click on.

So if the club's rarely give them any news, they need to find other methods, so they try to turn opinions into news as if a former players opinion has any more weight than yours or mine.

Then, to continue to content, they create opinion articles on the opinions.

It's slow motion BigFooty in clickbait form.
 

tombomb

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The club's won't let any media anywhere near the insides of their club and the players are coached by the PR team to the point of being robots or trained monkeys.

When the media make their money off clicks these days, they need to produce content for people to click on.

So if the club's rarely give them any news, they need to find other methods, so they try to turn opinions into news as if a former players opinion has any more weight than yours or mine.

Then, to continue to content, they create opinion articles on the opinions.

It's slow motion BigFooty in clickbait form.
Except rather than relying on clubs to spoon-feed them content, the standard afl journo could come up with their own original well thought out content.

Speaking for my own club, I would say there is about one article a year in the mainstream media that reads like it took the journo more than 30 minutes to write.

The rest is just clickbait garbage like 'is Buddy's contract worth it?' for the 500th time. It is much easier to churn out that crap than actually watch games closely and form your own original ideas.
 

savagelunchbox

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Except rather than relying on clubs to spoon-feed them content, the standard afl journo could come up with their own original well thought out content.

Speaking for my own club, I would say there is about one article a year in the mainstream media that reads like it took the journo more than 30 minutes to write.

The rest is just clickbait garbage like 'is Buddy's contract worth it?' for the 500th time. It is much easier to churn out that crap than actually watch games closely and form your own original ideas.
Seeing as they're not getting anything more than what is leaked here, it's no more valuable or 'thought out' opinion as what Lee from Lilydale may say on SEN or Peternoth from Bigfooty may post.
 

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Sweet Jesus

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Listen to Gerard Whateley wringing his hands about Tom Lynch likes his pay cheque doesn't rely entirely on an economy of false controversy and a dynamic of agree v disagree.

OMG how have we got to this point?!
 

CrowsB4hoes

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We need to thank the media, it keeps insignificant idiots like Kane Cornes off the streets. Better he spend his time in something trivial like footy media than out there in the real world where he could really wreak havoc.
Think how many burning houses have been saved because someone who knew what they were doing was holding the hose.
 

wagstaff

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Great post. It's one of the reasons I avoid the Foxsports website. So full of hyperbolic tripe that its coverage is incredibly tedious.
 

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