I would say that the English press is more known for their tabloids than for their actual journalistic integrity. There are some media outlets that have quality, but so often they get sucked into the rumors that fly around and can’t resist getting in on the act.
I will start by saying that I’m a fan of the EPL. I’m not a journalist. My views on this matter come from a fan’s perspective and my own expectations of what the media should be providing for fans.
I’ve been thinking about this quite often throughout my time as a fan, but these past two weeks it has been on my mind even more than usual. There have been several stories lately that have pushed me to write this including: pressure for Arsene Wenger to quit, Arsenal pursuing Ashley Williams (with no sources listed), Rafa Benitez’s so called rant and all the aftermath following it, and most recently Wayne Rooney’s supposed move away from Manchester United.
What I Dislike about the Media
I find it disturbing how easily the press (especially written press) can conjure up stories without having to reveal where they even heard of it. The Ashley Williams story is perhaps the worst since it seemed to be completed fabricated speculation on the part of the “journalist” writing it. I know that there is always a certain amount of bias that the press will carry when doing a story, and that is something I can accept. What I do not like is when the press decide on a story that they think should exist based on their own view of a situation and so they run with it. How often have a person’s comments been taken out of context largely because of the way a question was worded? Or simply because the press decided to print only a portion of a statement that made it sound much more inflammatory than it actually was.
I am also not a fan of the “source” as a way to bring us news. If the person doesn’t have the guts to come out and tell us who they are, then maybe they need to just keep their mouths shut. It is so easy to just say that news came from a “source,” but why not prove it actually came from a person? It is far too easy to come out saying that the news came from a “source” and never reveal them even when that source could be the reporters publisher who just wants a story.
Journalists are supposed to rely on a set of ethics and standards to maintain their journalistic integrity; in particular the principles of maintaining truth, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, public accountability and fairness. In analyzing some newspapers and some reports it seems that there are some in the press that have forgotten all about this.
I often listen to the NPR radio program/podcast, This American Life. Earlier in 2012 they had a story on involving a writer who did a show about visiting Apple and the horrible working conditions there. Following the story it was revealed that there were parts of the episode that were not factual, or were embellished. They had attempted to follow up on the facts to begin with, but had let their excitement about the story take over and they aired it without fact checking everything. After they were able to confirm the discrepancies they released a new episode as an apology in which they delved further into the issue.
While there were certainly parts of this episode that bothered me, the overall intent was to prove their own integrity as a program and I can appreciate that they want to get the truth out for us as the public.
As a member of the public we need to rely on the press to bring us so much news of what happens around the world. It doesn’t help anyone to doubt what is being given to us. I am at the point where I do doubt what I hear in football news. Transfer rumors are so over hyped that it is annoying. I never know what to believe so I don’t believe anything until it is actually confirmed outright by a club. It’s even to the point that I don’t even believe managers, players, or clubs who deny reports. It has all become a game, and one that I don’t find to be much fun.
We, the fans, are the ones who end up losing out. Let the rumors and debates surrounding the game take place among the fans. There should be no excuse for the press to rile everyone up over something that is simply speculation. Save it for the bloggers.
A Call to Duty
What I want from the press is facts. I don’t want the same tired old questions that come out after every match. All of these same old questions just lead to clichés, frustration and avoidance. I feel like there are more and more lazy questions and lazy journalism being spewed at us by media that just want to get the best, most sensational headline. The more sensational the story, the more likely they can get everyone talking about it and everyone reading/listening/watching their news.
The media’s job is to bring us the news. If the press doesn’t have news to brings us, then please, PLEASE don’t bring us anything. You don’t need to push people into making headlines, you don’t need to fabricate headlines, and you don’t need to misquote people just to stir things up. Just bring us the news.
I really do feel like the media has gotten to a point where they just want to one up each other and are thinking more about selling us the news than actually bringing us the truth. The Premier League has enough drama of its own without needing to add to it with falsities and half-truths.