It is always a pleasure to see a comment from BRTH pop up on my blog.
So that everyone else who reads my ramblings can see his finely crafted and lyrical prose, I have taken his comment from my RTC thread and put it up as a separate post.
Here it is.
A young journalist, Alistair Cooke I think, was setting out in the early days of a career when his then editor gave him some advice….. or perhaps it was an instruction rather than advice.
The tenor of the message was “Bring me the news! I don’t care if it is late – just make sure it is right!”
The author then went on to explain that throughout a career in journalism, the mantra of getting it “right” was always the Golden Rule which had to be followed without deviation or distortion.
Deviation and Distortion are good words. Good– in the sense that Scottish sports journalism, in my opinion, starts each and every morning, and has started each and every morning for some time, in the shadow of deviation and distortion and with a natural instinct to deviate and distort.
Or to put it another way, sports journalism in Scotland has become, by accident or design, an amplifier for whomsoever wishes to broadcast their message to the sports nation on any given day. The Broadcaster can be a journalist, or an editor in search of sales, a player wanting a move, an agent wanting a client to move or secure a new contract, a manager, a chairman, a football authority or just about anyone else who has access to, and the ear of, a hack who can get things into print.
Whether the broadcast contains the truth, or any analysis of the message concerned, has until recently fallen by the wayside. The press scramble to carry the message has become paramount. Get there first, carry the exclusive, give us the sensation and the headline– that is what seems to dictate the ideology of the modern sportswriter in Scotland, with no one carrying or caring about the mantra ” Bring me the news! I don’t care if it is late– just make sure it is right!”.
Before going further, let me add that this is not always the fault of the written press or any particular journalist– even though it is easy to blame individuals who write on a daily basis and who broadcast into our homes and cars almost nightly.
I have a friend who holds a very senior position in broadcasting in London– a global position. He is a scot– a native Glaswegian– and without wishing or meaning any insult to journalistic colleagues who remain in Scotland ( he originally trained here and returns for visits regularly ), he describes the press pack in Scotland ( with a few exceptions ) as a “Gang with sharp elbows” who are always scrambling and climbing over one another to get to the story or a story which no one else has!
That is the culture. That is the rule of the playground. Being First with something appears to be more important than being accurate– and as a result we find many many examples of a news story coming into print by way of an interview with absolutely no attempt to test or question the views of, or the information provided by, the interviewee.
If you watch any political interview on BBC Breakfast, you will find that guests are repeatedly asked about their policy and a counter argument or differing interpretation is put to them– sometimes making them most uncomfortable or sometimes forcing an answer which in itself becomes a news story later in the day!
Not so in Scotland– or at least in the land of the Sports Press– where over a number of years there has grown the impression that the press will carry a statement or interview but will simply not ask any difficult questions.
Take the famous interview of many years ago where Walter Smith ridiculed Chic Young for asking certain questions. Young was belittled but just laughed and shrugged it off Take Jim Mclean physically assaulting John Barnes at the BBC. yes he was sued and had to apologise– but did he really feel free to just banjo the BBC man?
Take Jim Traynor telling the story about a former Ibrox chairman calling a young reporter to warn him that he – and his organisation– would be watching what he wrote in future and passing on the message that the said chairman knew where he lived, where he went to school, who his family were and so on. What are we to make of such an attitude towards the press?
As examples of the press being first with the story at the expense of getting it write– Hugh Keevins famously told us that Artur Jorge would be the next manager of Celtic only to be horribly wrong. Years later I recall watching a broadcast from outside Celtic Park, where Chic Young exclusively revealed that he expected Owen Coyle to be the new manager of Celtic within a 24 hour period.
Kenny Dalglish, became so disenchanted with the press that he conducted press conferences in the slightly hostile ( to certain press men anyway ) environment of Bairds bar in the Gallowgate– resulting in some dreadful journalism concerning Dalglish’s diction, with personal attacks on his social skills and so on. I disagreed with the idea of a press conference in Bairds at the time and I still do now, but some of the writing at the time was absolutely shameful.
It is against this background that I personally come to examine the value of both RTC and the blog that has been given that name.
These pages are not so much an internet phenomenon as a journalistic one.
There are hundreds of thousands of blogs which have never reached the reading figures that have amassed on these pages. I believe that is because the author made it plain that he had information on one very specialised and precise topic– The Rangers Tax Case.
Further, the information that he or she had, was completely contrary to the message being spouted through the Mainstream Press by those who were engaged in that very tax case.
In short, this blog arose because the press were being used and allowed themselves to be so used– possibly by design, or desire but probably out of sheer bad habit and by this time– custom.
Going back to many many moons ago, If David Murray came out and stated categorically that Rangers PLC or MIH had taken detailed legal advice on the tax issue and had nothing to worry about re any tax liability– then that is precisely what was reported– without question– without dare I say it– deviation or distortion. Without hesitation or pause for thought– or enquiry!
No counter argument, no alternative view point seemed to reach the headlines– unless and until it was forced.
To be fair– over a series of years Graham Spiers tried to question Murray and indeed Rangers ( although please note these habits and practices were not exclusive to matter a la Rangers ) about accounts, finances and indeed the policy on sectarianism. Equally over the years, with no offence to Graham, his voice became weaker and the questioning seemed to wane.
The RTC blog became what it became because in many respects the public had had enough of lickspittle journalism– especially when large sections of that public knew that much of what was in the printed press was just not true– and that same section of the public could work out the consequences of the truth far quicker than the daily journalists could.
No one could have foreseen the impact that Craig Whyte– and the reaction to Craig Whyte– would have on the Scottish Press.
When Whyte’s existence was first reported, that race to be first I spoke of earlier took off like Usain Bolt– the only problem was the runner was blind and headed in completely the wrong direction.
Who can recall Whyte being described as the owner of Braehead? The Motherwell Born Billionaire with the wealth off the radar? Who can forget Roddy Forsyth’s much later lament at the absence of proper financial journalists who could actually look into such things?
“Bring me the news! I don’t care if its late– just make sure it is right!”– aye well not in Scotland unless someone sends in some real proper financial journalists eh?
Well those “journalists” were not in fact needed, because their place was taken by ” The internet bampots”– a motley crew of punters who could check things on Company House websites, google earth, court records and other such places which were as good as foreign countries to your average Scottish Sports Journalist– at least that seems to be the cry!
I recall a period on these pages where contributor after contributor came up with piece after piece of information which countered the Gospel as spouted by sections of the press. The professionally placed spin was disseminated, dismantled, examined, dissected and corrected on here— with the result that the very same press turned their attention to these pages and pronounced that the contributors were without integrity, had their own agenda, were wannabees and followed no professional code.
Names such as “Phil the chancer” were bandied about the net,”Internet Bampotery” became a publicly known phrase and a degree of ridicule was heaped upon anyone who dared to write or bring information to the fore outwith the MSM.
But then– slowly but surely– as others continued to decry as nonsense the comments of the “Bampots”– things began to change.
As more and more was revealed– and remember there has still been no written decision or detail of evidence released by the FTT—some of the mainstream press changed course and in their race to be first ran headlong into that most strange of things– The Truth!
A Sunday Newspaper broke with the story re Dual Contracts– previously fabled as the stuff of nonsense on both Radio Clyde and Radio Scotland– and suddenly the MSM had the whole story and the whole truth all along!
Suddenly there were questions to answer. Tom English ran two interviews that contained some searching questions of Mr Whyte– not devastating questions– presumably Whyte would have refused to answer them– but questions none the less!
Jim Spence gained greater and greater airtime with his knowledge of the views of clubs and fans from the lower divisions of Scottish Football and was able to counter the certainty that “Rangers” in any shape or form would be subjected to the actual laws of the game! Suddenly on air you had debate between commentators rather than just a broadcast which brooked no or little deviation or distortion of the MSM reported point of view.
Mark Daly and Panorama really took the news mainstream on certain issues– those same issues which were common currency on here way long before they were ever accepted as non myths by the MSM.
The point I am making is this. The RTC blog is not, and never should be, a football forum. Yes its subject matter is football related, but it should not be the meeting place to exchange views on Celtic ( there are a predominance of Celtic fans on here ), Rangers , Hearts, Aberdeen or anyone else. There are loads of very good fans forums for that sort of thing/
This was– possibly still is— the place where the football fan can log on, come on and simply say ” Hey– that is not true” or ” I have information on this” or ” there is another side to that story” because there is no such room for that in the MSM other than the comment columns at the bottom of the page– and they are bedevilled by the partisan and the prejudiced in the main.
Further, the contributors to these pages ( the writer excluded lol ) brought knowledge and skills which with respect to the MSM they could not immediately source from their own knowledge.
Accountancy skills, forensic analysis, system analysis, banking knowledge, legal expertise, marketing knowledge, insolvency processes and trends, court reporting and record access. Whilst the blog never became ( thankfully ) the sole domain of the professional, it did house a multi disciplined bevvy of information.. and indeed opinion and debate…. the like of which is not – or was not– openly fostered on phone ins or newspapers!
At no time did the blog as a whole seek to preach– it encouraged debate and information sharing, and in so doing it outpaced the MSM in the all important race to be first with the news or the story– but with the desire for the truth remaining in tact and ever present.
This blog has changed a number of things in terms of reporting the events that it concerned itself with– but I hate to say it– I do not agree with RTC’s most recent post on the issue of wrapping it all up.
My reason is that I am not at all sure that the changes that we have seen are in fact permanent– and for the blog to carry a lasting legacy the changes do have to be permanent in my opinion.
The FTT decision is not yet out. When it does come out it will contain many many details which may well raise many further questions. The detail will be poured over, and is capable of not only interpretation but also manipulation and spin.
Remember that the FTT is only a tax tribunal, and the detail of evidence may well give rise to all sorts of other questions that are more suited to another forum and involve rules and regulations which are outwith the competency of the FTT. We will not know until the fat lady has sung so to speak.
For now, I echo the sentiments expressed by others who state that we have a lot to thank RTC for– and an awful lot to thank so many others for as well– others who brought their knowledge, expertise, time and effort to make the RTC blog a deserving Orwell prize winner.
But the fat lady has not sung– and unless she sings to an audience, and in a language which her audience can understand and have explained without distortion and deviation, she might as well not sing at all– because no one will hear her and her message.
No this blog must stay open– so that when the FTT reports, the decision can be analysed, explained, discussed and clarified.
That RTC has chosen or saw fit to retain anonymity is understandable– some things are not necessary to throw into the public domain, but the readers of these pages– and I genuinely do not know how many there are— have come to expect truthful analysis and explanation of both fact and statements of opinion and will no longer accept without question bland unverified and unchecked statements from the MSM.
Craig Whyte never owned Braehead, had numerous companies with names similar to extremely successful ones as a matter of practice, had different dates of birth on company forms, was never a Billionaire, was disqualified from being a company Director…… and helped destroy Rangers PLC.
David Murray oversaw the running of an unlawful tax scheme, withheld full details of players contracts from the SFA & SPL, ran up huge debts at Ibrox and with the Bank of Scotland.
Various others were complicit and were party to the actions of these men, actions which were not openly reported in the MSM, actions which deceived and fooled the footballing authorities in Scotland and Europe, actions which were not disclosed and covered up by some of the most influential people involved in Scottish Football.
The MSM failed in many respects to report or investigate these matters timeously when they came to the fore, and were slow to accept the fact that RTC and others on here were not fooled by the press proclaimed pronouncements of Murray and Whyte on all or any this, and that they wanted to make the truth public.
” Bring me the news! I don’t care if it’s late- just make sure that it is right!”
There is much more news to come in my opinion– so who do you trust to “Make sure that it is right”?
If the resounding answer is not the MSM……. then the job is not yet done
Posted by Brogan Rogan Trevino and Hogan