Can Blogs Like Rangers Tax Case Take Over from Mainstream Media?

Today on the Rangers Tax Case Blog, there has been some detailed and interesting discussion about the nature of journalism and how blogs such as that might take over from the mainstream media as far as coverage of news is concerned.

It seems to be a law that any blogger, after blogging for a while, has to write a Meta piece about blogging, so her I go fulfilling my statutory obligation!

I have taken the liberty of copying the comments from RTC which inspired me to write this, and they are at the end of this piece.

I recently attended a Scottish Press Club meeting at which James Doleman spoke. James was responsible for the excellent Sheridan Trial Blog.

During the trial of Tommy Sheridan for perjury James attended court every day and wrote detailed and balanced reports of the day’s proceedings, at all times making sure he did not fall foul of the rules of contempt. Even the most assiduous newspaper could only produce a fraction of his output, and the comments on James’ blog, like the comments on RTC, provoked much thought and analysis.

James’ blog was, quite rightly, highly acclaimed and as I understand it is used generally as a source by writers now in connection with the events of the trial, rather than any mainstream media accounts. Therefore one would expect him to be an ardent advocate of new media.

He was not, and this is the fear for blogs like RTC and the future of reporting. He mentioned that at his peak he was getting 25,000 to 35,000 hits per day on the blog (James, if I have underestimated that, then feel free to correct me!) He pointed out that the main newspapers, even at the lower end of the scale had a far wider readership, and as for TV coverage, this reached hundreds of thousands of viewers.

Therefore whilst those who read his blog were almost as well informed as the judge and jury, the vast majority of the public and professionals relying on MSM were dependent on what the media fed to them. James posited that the press had a common view, formed unconsciously, and that it was very difficult for any one reporter to go “off message”. In addition, the reporters were working within the possibly blinkered view of their employers, and there is more than one anecdote about press men watching an incident being told by their editor far away that the event is not happening!

Therefore those “in the loop” were well informed – and those outside, including in fact some reporters who popped in to court when a “juicy” witness was in the box, were not.

“Old media” no longer have the will or resources to have a reporter sit all day, every day, in court or the Parliament. As was mentioned earlier, “reporting” has been dropped in favour of “news gathering” and “churnalism” as Guardian journalist Nick Davies says, is rife. PR companies can get their puff pieces into newspapers almost verbatim as this fills a space and keeps some celebrity or special interest group onside. The ultimate fear is having access cut off, as happened to the Herald and BBC with Rangers and also as between Sir Alex Ferguson and the BBC.

James Doleman said that, if there was money in it, he would have been delighted to sit in the High Court for every high profile case and provide the same service. However, there is not, and not just would the press refuse to send a reporter of their own to sit in for the whole duration of a case, but, as I understand matters from sources I have, they would not be prepared to pay to host an equivalent of James’ blog for any upcoming cases.

I think that RTC and Phil Mac Giolla Bhain have done wonders bringing the Rangers Tax case, and related stories, into the public domain. However (and I do not have access to either party’s web stats) I am sure that any article by the “usual suspects” in the press would have an enormously bigger readership.

None of the above is to say that bloggers, like RTC, or journalists, like Phil, should stop. In fact, the reverse. There is a danger however in thinking that the coverage is reaching far wider than it actually is. Take a full Ibrox or Parkhead. How many fans (by definition people with more than an average interest in these matters) will be aware of RTC or Phil, and how many will understand what the tax case means for Rangers? That is before we get on to the even more esoteric topics of UEFA licences, when is a tax bill overdue, how late can it be left to appeal a tax assessment and whether a reference to “disqualified within the last five years” refers to the expiry of the sentence or the date of “conviction”.

Some years ago we entered a time of great peril for newspapers and traditional media. Even the smartest, like Rupert Murdoch, have struggled to cope. His brilliant success with Sky TV has overshadowed a number of failures as he attempts to adjust to a 21st century business model. The Times newspaper going behind a paywall apparently cut its readership by 90%. Graham Spiers tweeted today that he is being made redundant by the Times. Redundancy implies that his role is gone, not to be replaced.

The Herald too seems to be heading behind a paywall too. One suspects that the hard working and dedicated journalists there will not benefit from this. Instead, in an effort to keep their jobs, they will find themselves forced to produce more and more copy, with the result, as mentioned in the posts below, that “investigative” reporting will become a thing of the past.

The journalist Charles Lavery wrote an excellent piece last week about the blind alley up which much of the media has travelled, due to its obsession with sport and “celebrity”. This contributed to the excesses now being pored over by Lord Justice Leveson.

We are in a state of flux. As the mainstream media loses its battle, there are literally thousands, if not millions, of “citizen journalists” contributing to the web. Most see very little interest, but an occasional few, like RTC and Phil Mac Giolla Bhain find topics of interest to many, and write about them so well that they attract more and more interest. But a hugely successful blog post will probably be read by less people than see an article in the Hamilton Advertiser!

Someone somewhere will work out how to turn what bloggers, and journalists with blogs, do into a money making pursuit. However, the only “successful” model so far is to become so attractive to main stream media as a result of blogging that you actually get a job there! Craig Calcaterra is a former attorney in the US. He blogged for some years about baseball, until finally getting a job with NBC to blog about baseball. He gave up the law with nary a second glance.

For every Craig, there are thousands of people like me, who blog because we want to, and who might, in their wildest dreams, imagine the editor of a major paper of magazine snarling to his minions “Get me McConville (or insert the name of the blogger – not everyone thinks about me, I am sure) – and give him the biggest office in the building, with a huge salary, and an unlimited expense account!”

However, that ain’t gonna happen.

So we plug on – Phil, RTC, Charles Lavery and the like making their serious points to large (by internet standards) audiences; small time bloggers like me speaking to our regular reader (hi!); and “proper” journalists writing pieces of vastly varying quality in accord with the agenda of their respective employers.

Are old media methods of news dissemination on the way out? Yes they are. Are new media methods going to take over? Ultimately yes. However we are stuck between at least two stools just now, and where we end up, no one knows.

So, I will keep going. I hope RTC, and Phil, and Charles, and James and the rest keep doing so, and maybe that gig in the Auchtermuchty Bugle might not pass me by…

Acknowledgements – I would like to thank James Doleman, whose blog encouraged me to pick up my own keyboard, and RTC and Phil Mac Giolla Bhain for opening up and then shining a spotlight upon the biggest Scottish sports story since 1967. I also want to thank Craig Calcaterra – if one lawyer can do it, maybe, just maybe…

Finally I want to than RTC and his commenters, especially the ones quoted below, for the excellent, erudite and civilised debate which has ensured that none of us are on Mr Craig Whyte’s Christmas Card list!

StevieBC says:

04/12/2011 at 4:42 pm (Edit)

Any intelligent, Scottish football consumer will now treat the MSM with the contempt it deserves – and will choose to obtain their information from other sources, such as the RTC blog.


Private Land says:

04/12/2011 at 5:41 pm

But that’s where they still have the upper hand Stevie. Exponentially fewer people have easy access to this type of media compared to the print and TV stuff.

That’s the Elastoplast I spoke about earlier. They may be a bunch of incompetents. Many of them may be complete tubes. Some of them are corpulent and lazy with no peripheral vision whatsoever. Trouble is that not nearly enough people are aware of that.

Over time perhaps, things will change – but I don’t think that the greater mass of people are ready to shift their media allegiances just yet.

On another pessimistic note, I can’t see unfettered Internet access going unchallenged governmentally if the threat to the traditional media is maintained.

Not that I’m paranoid mind you


StevieBC says:

04/12/2011 at 6:04 pm
Fair points.

Absolutely, print/TV media is currently most readily accessible. In time that could/should change.
But you could also argue that the people/consumers who currently have the influence/motivation for change are also savvy with current technology. [Yes, I do like to be optimistic sometimes.]

And I do agree re: unfettered internet access. The ‘copyright/IP’ legislation introduced in the States recently is disturbing. This could very well be abused to restrict internet content – not dissimilar to the abuse of terrorism legislation in the ‘interests of public safety’.


Brogan Rogan Trevino and Hogan says:

04/12/2011 at 8:46 pm

Good Evening all,

Can I just add a few comments to the various points made by John?

I was recently speaking to two journalist friends of mine who are man and wife. They work for two different organisations, with one being a fairly senior Editor at one national quality paper and the other being in a senior position for a chain with a number of local titles. Neither works for a Red Top, and both know journalism as their only career.

Both said to me that it was at this time of year when the publishers decide to close offices and make folk redundant in big numbers. It makes the run up to Christmas very stressful whether you are one of the ones that stay or whether you are one of the ones that go. You lose friends and find that your workload is simply increased.

Journalists are not alone in feeling this pressure, nor does it explain the really poor quality of some reporting, as some reporters seem to just go along with, and even excel at the dumbing down of proper news coverage.

There will always be some good journos and some who are rubbish. Worse still are those who write and say (on the radio) whatever it takes to get readers or listeners irrespective of the truth.

Like at least one other poster on here, I used to read papers from cover to cover- especially at the weekends. Now? – Well I couldn’t tell you the last time I bought a paper!

As paper sales fall, advertising gets squeezed, and blogs like this one flourish and gain more and more followers, surely those who control newsprint can see that the public are no longer prepared to accept lazy and trivial reporting. Blogs such as this show that the new media, dedicated to specific areas of expertise and interest, bring out all sorts of different expertise and experience from some interesting commentators and contributors. To be honest, I am amazed that no one from mainstream media has, so far as I am aware, sought to contact anyone with input into this or other blogs, where information and views which are germane to the public interest is so readily and easily available.

Mainstream reporting and media is dying and in my view the only thing that will save it is “quality” reporting and reporters. Perhaps I am alone in that view, but if I were to make a pitch for funding for a new newspaper to Sir Alan Sugar or the Dragons in the Den then I would be pushing “quality reporting” as the market to go into.

In the interim the sports guys could do far more to enhance or restore their reputation, and meanwhile good folk like my friends who want to do a proper job wait to find out if this is their time for the chop. Neither thinks they will be in Journalism in 5 years time and both wonder where people in their 50′s with 30 years experience of print journalism experience will find a job outwith that profession.


Filed under Baseball, Blogging, Contempt of Court, Football, Personal, Press

15 responses to “Can Blogs Like Rangers Tax Case Take Over from Mainstream Media?

  1. Private Land

    Access to electronic media like this has been the new ‘punk’ for several years now. The ability to publish is one of the great plusses of the electronic age. With very little cash, it is a fairly simple matter to have a website/blog/forum or even what amounts to a TV station in a box. I have worked in the industry where it is easy to compete to some extent with big media companies on a shoestring budget, but thus far, online delivery mechanisms for either print or multimedia are no real threat to the old order.

    The wider readership that the traditional media enjoys over the online offering is the main reason that blogs like this and others can exist. It is also the reason that Pay TV companies are still happy to co-exist with the likes of Channel 67 type offerings from football clubs, including a not insignificant UEFA IP deleivery platform for Champions League matches..

    I believe that if the readership/viewership share ever reaches a tipping point in favour of the electronic media, there will be a reaction from traditional media interests, probably in the form of governmental restrictions.

    In the long run, I do not think that access to multimedia platforms are all that important, but I think it would be a tragedy, and a retrograde step, if access to an online audience is curtailed by way of a restriction of websites and blogs such as this.

    It may be that once the genie is out of the bottle it will stay out, but the big money media companies will not cede their influence and cash-flows without a fight.

  2. John

    Some excellent points.
    James’s Sheridan blog was better than good but he is sadly right that without mainstream coverage it only maintained a very small but very loyal readership.
    It is also true that none of the mainstream press would devote the manpower to develop such coverage nor would any of them pay a ‘freelance’ to deliver it.
    The other important point this highlights, is that the media is not just about sports reporting and, at the risk of offending some of our more ardent sports fans, it is not the most important function of the press.
    In this country we frequently hear people lauding our ‘free press’. But, the truth is, we don’t have a free press any more, As i have posted elsewhere our media is owned by a very few companies.
    Johnston Press is one example, another is Newsquest, which owns the Herald and in both of these cases a little further digging shows up some more interesting facts about ownership; Johnston Press’s major shareholder is a far east businessman and Newsquest is owned by Gannet, an American company.
    In addition, not many people will realise that most of the ‘independent’ local radio stations, including Radio Clyde and Radio Forth, are owned by Bauer Media, which boasts a daily reach of 19,000,000 people.
    Everyone is aware of the dangerous influence the Murdoch Press has had in this country but please don’t think his is the only ‘evil empire’.
    For the most part, these owners stay in the shadows as far as the public are concerned. Relatively few people are aware of how much our media is controlled by so few people.
    How many people reading this post knew that decisions about the Glasgow Herald, including editorial standards and staffing, wer ultimately made in Virginia?
    The really frightening thing about so few people being in charge and having so much control over what information is given to the public is that it is relatively easy for them to extract favours in return for favourable coverage.
    Why else do you think that successive governments spend so much time cosying up to media owners?
    This is also why the Conservatives are hell bent on ripping the BBC, and especially its news and current affairs departments, to shreds.
    The BBC is, despite what some may think, still independent by statute so cannot be so easily bought off.
    The other thing that these owners have in common is that they are profit driven and have no real interest in what appears or is broadcast in the bulk of their media holdings.
    Someone on another site said ‘we get the media we deserve.’ This is right to an extent. The ownership and control of the media is murky and as secretive as its owners can make it, look closely at any local paper you buy and see if you can find out who owns it.
    Try looking right at the bottom of page two, one of the pages that hardly anyone ever reads, or at the bottom of the inside-back or back pages and you might find the information there. Wherever it is, you might need a magnifying glass because it will be in the smallest print possible.
    The big owners will never publicise the nature of their ‘shared’ monopoly nor the effect it has on the products you read, watch or hear and, given their control of the information output, where are the general public going to find out about it.
    So, returning to the statement ‘we get the media we deserve’ this is right when we know the truth behind how the media is controlled yet we choose to do nothing about it.
    The good news is that there are campaigns you can get involved in to change this.
    The NUJ has, for example, for a number of years, in both Westminster and Holyrood argued for changes in the rules on multiple media ownership and argued for investment in locally controlled and produced media, but the NUJ cannot do this on its own. Get in touch with the NUJ and ask for more information on these campaigns or at least on who you can write to in government to complain about the crisis in our media.

  3. duggie73

    Would you object if a newspaper printed a link to your blog next to a piece of “churnalism” about one of the subjects you’re blogging about?
    If no is the answer of yourself and the majority of bloggers, then there is no future for journalism as a career. Why pay for something which can be got at a higher standard for free?
    And when internet facilities are universal on mobiles rather than optional, papers are going the way of the dinosaur.
    Which ain’t such a bad thing. Like TV, newspapers are pretty much a medium which teaches “learned helplessness”- there’s nothing the consumer of the media can do to affect its content.
    That’s not really what the world’s meant to be like…

  4. eddiek

    Paul, I think the numbers you quoted do the bloggers no justice. Taken in the context you described, the daily 30-odd thousand does pale into insignificance when compared with any of the red-tops. However, a better comparison would be to the likes of The Herald or the Scotsman and in this arena, the comparative daily figures will look a whole lot better.

    However, that’s not the whole picture – you have to factor in the ‘normal’ blogger’s frequency of output which is by no means a daily event (except for the likes of a court-case reporter). To get the true readership figures, you would need to add all the users/commenters that hit any particular article over it’s lifetime.

    As an example, I do not know a single Celtic fan who has not read your blog (or RTC or Phil’s) fairly religiously over the last 6 months or so. In the same time, I have not read a single printed newspaper and I suspect I am not alone in this.

    I think people have become and will become even more choosy in what they read. Whatever the Daily Record or it’s ilk print, my first reaction is to disbelieve it – particularly when “a source close to” says anything.

  5. Chris McC

    Another good article, Paul. I haven’t bought any newspaper, red top or ‘quality’, for years and don’t plan on changing that in the future. I tend to get my news and sport fix through TV and the Web.

    “Take a full Ibrox or Parkhead. How many fans (by definition people with more than an average interest in these matters) will be aware of RTC or Phil, and how many will understand what the tax case means for Rangers?”
    Perhaps, strangely, more Celtic fans are aware of those blogs and the implications of the (big) Tax Case than those on the south side of Glasgow. That, of course, could just be a case of Schadenfreude vs Ostrich Syndrome.

  6. david r

    I read the post and it was then with interest I happened upon the following stats:,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&biw=1280&bih=603&wrapid=tlif132314505414610&um=1&ie=UTF-8&ncl=dpPk0z_Ql3ZO5gMOFWchcz2f4cXoM&ei=7pbdTsG6EYPqrQekgsnwCA&sa=X&oi=news_result&ct=more-results&resnum=1&ved=0CCkQqgIwAA

    Look to the right of the page and you see a spike when there is a good news story…..perhaps blogs will never win because of the basic psychology of only wanting good news?

    they only want good news,

  7. Brogan Rogan Trevino and Hogan

    Good afternoon,

    The headline in today’s Herald is worthy of some deeper discussion. In particular, stop and think how such a headline ever made its way on to the page? After all the Herald had full access to the SPL statement upon which the article and presumably the headline is based.

    To be clear, there never was any sectarian singing, no sectarian chanting, no allegation of sectarian singing or chanting, no investigation or considertaion of sectarian singing or chanting, no defence against sectarian singing or chanting nor any decision that mentions sectarian singing or chanting!

    So why the headline?

    Anyone familiar with the RTC blog will be familiar of posts from a chap called John. His posts on the state of print journalism in Scotalnd in part inspired a wholly new thread on Paul McConville’s blog which I link here:

    From his comment on this blog, you will see that John highlights the fact the today the Herald is in fact controlled from a boardroom in Virginia USA, and that it will be from there that the money men determine the level of redundancies and cost cutting that will be carried out at the Herald in the very near future. John bemoans the fact that newspapers are controlled by very few owners and that more and more the level of journalism is sacrificed in favour of profit.

    However, no matter the profit or cost cutting, no matter the level of competancy of those at the Herald, nothing can excuse the inaccuracy of the headline today– especially when they had the full report of the SFA as a script.

    Many headlines ask a question of the reader. Others promote an interpretation of events where more than one interpretation is possible and permissable. This headline, however, simply serves to misinform the reader. It is just wholly inaccurate and so it would seem that the first casualty of any cost cutting and lack of quality staff is the truth?

    This headline literally “shouts” that Celtic were investigated for sectarian matters. If the herald were charged on the same basis as Celtic, could they afford themselves of the defence that they had taken “all reasonable and practical steps” to prevent such a headline? I think not.

    Does the headline fall within what the Scottish Government seek to legislate against with the Sectarian and Offensive Behaviour bill? Probably, as such a headline is undoubtedly offensive for being so inaccurate and inexcusable. Is it likely to have caused offence? Could you believe that it appeared there simply as an act of negligence? If so– then someone should get the bag!!!

    Yet should we be surprised at an American owned publication being so inaccurate? Perhaps not.

    After all many an American child is raised in the belief that Mr Paul Revere made the midnight ride on the evening of 18th April 1775 to warn the republican rebels that the “British are coming”. Alas much of what is taught or believed of that night is sheer fiction taken from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem. Longfellow deliberately distotred the facts and continued to do so in the Song of Hiawatha and the Courting of Miles Standish. He regularly jettisoned the truth. Perhaps the herald simply continues in that tradition?

    Such inaccuracy may be ok in a work of fiction or semi fiction, but it reduces a once proud national newspaper to nothing more than a comic, with the result that sales will dip and the money flowing to Virginia will be less and less.

    Of course in Revere’s day wealth was measured at the top end in Gold and Silver, with Revere himself being a renowned Silversmith. Indeed he later expanded the family business into Copper and other precious metals and today the Revere Copper Company is a worldwide business with offices in places like New York and Rome.

    Presumably Revere took the view that Copper was the closest thing to Silver.

    Alas, in these days it is likely to be the case that the Herald would report that the nearest thing to Silver is the Lone Rangers Arse!

    However, given that this whole sorry mess started with a Copper report of an altogether different kind, it may be best not to mention Coppers, pieces of Silver and any “Loan” Rangers in the one sentence for fear of misinterpretation and inaccuracy!

    • John

      You will get no argument from me BRTH,
      One of the first casualties when the Herald embarked on its massive cost-cutting campaign a couple of years ago was attention to detail and the verification of facts.
      The editorial employees who have been in the front ranks of the firing lines at newspapers throughout the country are sub-editors.
      Included in their jobs are to ensure that copy is accurate, properly reflects the information given and ensure that it is verifiable, make sure that comment and opinion are distinguished from straightforward reporting and that the newspaper does not inadvertently become exposed to legal action.
      Finally, they will then prepare a headline to match the story and attract the reader.
      They will also routinely check stories and pages that have been gone over by other sub editors to, as far as possible, make sure that they also meet these demands.
      I would never claim that sub editors always get it right, nor would I argue against the notion that sometimes newspapers will employ deliberately provocative or sensationalist headlines to grab readers.
      In fact, I know of one editor of a well-known Scottish Sunday who over ruled his sub editors and in the paper’s fist edition, put the headline ‘Thugs target Pope’s chopper’ above a story that told of how during the Pope’s visit to Scotland the police were searching for someone who had been aiming a laser pen at passing aircraft.
      The fact that a helicopter carrying the Pope happened to be airborne around the time was apparently sufficient for that editor to believe he was justified.

      But this story does to an extent illustrate my point. The chief sub-editor immediately went above the editor to one of the newspaper’s owners, expressed his and his colleagues concerns, and the headline was dropped from subsequent editions (including the Scottish edition).

      Going back to the Herald, part of its ongoing ‘reconstruction’ involves doing away with sub-editors altogether (I don’t know if today’s headline was ever seen by a sub) and having reporters, who are, to a large part, untrained in the subtler aspects of that part of the newspaper business, write stories and headlines directly on to the page with no intervening ‘quality’ control.

      This pattern is being repeated at most of the other newspaper groups and is creating a perfect storm of inadequate numbers of reporters trying to file an ever-increasing amount of copy with ever-decreasing resources under an ever-increasing amount of pressure and an ever-decreasing level of rigorous quality checking.
      The result will be even more clumsy, ill-thought out and frankly wrong headlines and stories appearing in our papers.

      As I have said repeatedly, I will never defend bad or lazy journalists but I will defend our right and our need for good quality journalism in whatever format it appears.
      I will also continue to speak out against publishers whose motivation is quick profit at any price even where that price is the destruction of journalism itself.

  8. david r

    Brogan & John,,

    Would you both agree that, regardless of how you laid it out, those that might (read your comments) would not accept them?

    Kind regards,


    • Thank you to all the folk interested enough to comment.

      What BRTH had to say reminded me of the film “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” in which the newspaper man says at the end “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend”.

      Is the problem now that the press is stretched so thin that it does not, generally, have the resources to tell the difference, and therefore the maxim would now be “When the PR company tells you, with quotes, that the legend has become fact, print the press release”?

      I realise that I seem to be cynically tarring all with the same brush. There are many hard working and dedicated journalists in the papers (and many now out of work) but the demands for cost cutting have clearly played a huge role in changing how matters are reported.

      In relation to John’s comments about the demise of the sub, it reminds me of the huge changes in the Herald in the early 1980’s. My father worked in the case room as a compositor. New technology revolutionised the craft, ending the need for the skilled workers who had performed the task, and effectively making the journalists, in conjunction with “the computer” in charge of making up pages etc. Effectively therefore the writers and reporters had to devote some of their time to the task that would haev been that of the case room. Now the changes are having them be thier own sub-editors.

      Therefore, in the drive for progress and profit, the journalists are asked to more and more which is not their core role, and expected to produce more in what is their primary function! It’s akin to having policemen spending hours writing up reports for each arrest, thus keeping them off the streets and thus able to make fewer arrests!

      On a wider point regarding newspaper buying, I used to be a voracious devourer of papers – two every day and often three on Sundays. However economics stopped that, and I have not gone back to buying a paper. (I also rarely watch TV news either). I think however that I am better informed that I ever was. This is because of the enormous availability online of information, data and opinion, both from mainstream media and from blogs and Twitter.

      I do read the Hearld online, or at least the bits that I want to, but that will stop (other than my free allocation) once the paywall comes up. With sites like the BBC website, the Guardian Online, and for humour, the online equivalent of Chris Morris’ The Day Today aka The Mail Online, there is no need to pay for content. Now someone needs to fund that, and I can understand writers getting upset at their content being avaiable for free, especially if the quality thereof is equated to the price. For over 100 years however, the funding of newsppers has been related to advertising, and presumably that is the way that media funding will continue. If Google etc are making huge sums through advertising, surely companies whose content is attractive can do the same?

      People far cleverer than me are wrestling with the problem, and the first to work it out for the mass market has the potential to be the next Rupert Murdoch (but without the custard pie).

  9. There is far more accurate and considered information in the blogging world.

    Of course, like any form of media and news the information and belief within them do not have to be accepted by all. Sometimes, especially in written media what people read is taken as gospel. There is no immediate way of challenging a headline or terminology. A Blog is different, yes: there are the morons but for those with genuine interest comment boards like this here provide a platform for the writer to be challenged almost immediately.

    This simple mechanism in place self regulates the information being provided by those reading it. If something is suggested then almost immediately someone will want you to back up what you have said, why you are saying it blah blah etc. The written press have far more technical rules governing their print but little in the way of practical ones.

    Blogs are the way forward, as i have stated many times especially regarding the Rangers Tax Case Blog i do not always agree with everything put forward, but i completely respect it because it is clearly a well sourced website. Yes, there are often some misunderstandings and they are quickly rectified when better fact comes to light. The overall impression from me though is that it is well researched and probably more ethically so and by someone with far less resources at their disposal than a large chain news corp.

    There is a lot to be said about the internet as a platform, the ease of which people can warp information without recourse but if you are intelligent enough to see past the blatant lies and false claims there is some very very good stuff available out there. I just wish more people would respect that.


    • Garry,

      If someone is a follower of a blog like RTC, then over time it becomes apparent that it is generally accurate and reliable. But if someone needed to dip in to an area rather than follow it religiously, then how easy is it to tell if it is reliable and credible? Newspapers at least start from a position of some strength – “it must be true, it was in the papers” (though less so than used to be the case).

      There is a huge amont of guff on the web, and a great deal of excellent stuff – sorting out the wheat from the chaff is the problem!

      • John

        I also think that it is still the case that the majority of topics discussed on the web, in blogs and news sites, can ultimately be traced back to information that first appeared in the mainstream media but its provenance gets lost as more and more people pick up on it. (the Rangerstaxcase blog is a notable exception)

        For example, there are thousands of blogs and twitters on the Leveson inquiry and the scandal at News International but fewer and fewer people remember that it was reporters in the mainstream media who uncovered and broke that whole story and, if you look at any web site or blog you will find stories that are either adapted from main stream sources or the blog discussion itself is sparked by a main stream story

        I am by no means a luddite and I think the web has a very important part to play but I do think that what is needed is a partnership between the mainstream media and the internet to promote and encourage the highest standards across both platforms using the best of skills available.

        The web is very good at getting large numbers of people engaged very quickly but, as a New York Times reporter recently said: ‘You can have a thousand bloggers talking to each other but that doesn’t put one person on the ground in a war zone to give you the story.’

  10. This is a very interesting subject which comes down to two different and increasingly incompatible principles – integrity and power. There are those who write because they are motivated by a wish to record the truth as clearly as they can discern it. And there are those whose primary motive is to strengthen their own power base by manipulating opinion and/or exploiting the prejudices of their target market.
    The former are finding it harder and harder to achieve their goals in an industry which is practically monopolised by the latter.
    At any given time, those who wish to hear the truth – however unpalatable it may be – are always vastly outnumbered by those who don’t. Clearly, the big money is in pandering to those who don’t welcome the challenge of having to reassess their assumptions or open their minds to the possibility that what they want to believe is completely wrong.
    But the people who have the most influence in any society are ultimately the ones who are best informed. Little by little, their insights and perspectives gradually infiltrate the general public’s mindset. It doesn’t happen as fast as they would like it to but still happens nevertheless.

    You said,”Take a full Ibrox or Parkhead. How many fans (by definition people with more than an average interest in these matters) will be aware of RTC or Phil, and how many will understand what the tax case means for Rangers?”
    I think the key point is not how many people know about RTC or Phil; it’s how many people, especially at Celtic Park, have become aware of the *issues* which those blogs have investigated. And the answer to that is probably a substantial majority of them. It’s certainly far more than would ever have become aware of the real significance of the Big Tax Case if they had relied on information coming from the broadsheets, the red tops or even the Hamilton Advertiser. The very little truth which any of the mainstream outlets have published with respect to the shenanigans down Govan way have almost invariably been following the buzz which the blogs have created; and most of the rest of the published output has been regurgitations of the PR spin which was specifically designed to counter the growing influence of those same blogs. There wouldn’t have been a peep in the mainstream press about any of the tax problems had it not been for the influence of the blogs.
    It’s significant that most of the Rangers support remain in denial about the danger in which their club finds itself – these supporters form the bulk of the following of the mainstream Scottish football press, radio and tv coverage and their most popular websites clamp down heavily on any attempts to debate the subject. Genuine attempts to find out what Mr Whyte is really up to are won’t be initiated by the corporate media nor on Rangers websites. But the suspicion that Rangers are in mortal peril is still beginning to infiltrate the awareness of many Rangers supporters and that is entirely due to the points which are put to them by those who follow blogs such as RTC’s. There are also many who may not themselves have the time to follow those blogs but who “know someone who does” and regularly seek updates on the latest developments because they recognise that the credibility of the track record of those sites is strong.

    Journalism is very like the music business now. If you want to make money then you’ll have to sell yourself to the corporate controllers, go with the (artificially created) trends and offer a product which those controllers have already decided is going to be a hit. But you’ll never get the next Bob Dylan coming through on the X-Factor. There are still plenty of Dylans out there but they don’t have recording contracts with Sony; they play to a few dozen people in tiny venues and offer their songs for download on their internet sites. They need to make a living from something other than their art.
    That, I feel, is the future fate of the recorder of truth. For those who care about quality of insight rather than going along with the mob, there will be bloggers out there who offer them stimulating, intelligent reading which has integrity and credibility. The rest can and will continue to lap up the mind-numbing drivel which the corporate communications industries spew out in every medium which they control.

    In short, there’s much more money in mediocrity than there is in quality.

  11. The press commit a position of power that bloggers do not. As i have stated before i would rather relay on a suitable blog to take a story further and decide for myself rather than listen to a newspaper with their own political agenda. And that is what it comes down to, in the light of many press stories newspapers and other official publications are in some form or another aligned to a political stance. Many may not wish to admit such but it is rather obvious.

    I don’t particularly relate that to sport, i certainly do not fall into a category of believing that one newspaper prefers one team over another. When it comes to mainstream stories and politics it is clear to see where each company aligns themself and for that their storytelling becomes quite that. A Story based on their political standpoint rather than down the middle fact.

    Like many have said before, facts can be bent to suit any agenda. I remember only recently reading ” Celtic bigots…..more sectarian arrests at Parkhead than any other ground….Scotlands Shame” . THe person that wrote this backed it up with a series of facts about arrests within Parkhead. What they failed to mention was that the vast majority of the arrests were nt within the HOME support but rather the AWAY support. All of a sudden his ommission of one fact created a seemingly convincing story to shade Celtic supporters in one particular light. This is a tactic used regularly by mainstream media to suit themselves in the world of politics and policy.

    Bloggers, do not often carry the same level of political allegience and can therefore be more down the middle. If you weed out much of the rubbish you can find some real quality out there as has been mentioned above on several occasions.

    Interestingly, my partner is a Journalist and she has completely conflicting views – i would repeat them but all i heard was something along the lines of ….”blah blah blah…lack of ability….blah blah blah….ethics…..blah blah blah…building a real story……”

    I turned over and went to sleep. …. it was late.

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