Instant Media Raises Its Ugly Head Once Again

Posted: January 7, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , ,

The latest hot topic in the footballing world right now is racism. We have Luis Suarez being found guilty of using insulting words with reference to race, and just this evening it is alleged that Oldham FC footballer Tom Adeyemi was racially abused by a member of the Liverpool crowd during tonight’s FA Cup game between Liverpool and Oldham. I should stress that this is only an allegation, coming mainly from Twitter, and mainly from a particularly odious (in my opinion) reporter in the name of Ollie Holt, who writes for the Mirror.

Now some of you may remember that I have written before about how Twitter has become too powerful in the world of instant media and gormless hacks all rushing to be the first to get an exclusive – even if they get the story hopelessly wrong, as the Daily Mail did when it wrongly reported that the accused in the Meredith Kercher case, Amanda Knox, had failed in her appeal – and even provided helpful yet entirely fabricated “statements” from prosecutors on the case.The excuse given by the Daily Mail for this error was that they routinely had two stories written up, in the event of possible different outcomes. What the article also made clear was that internet media sources such as the Mail were willing to put blatant fabrications into these stories, and report them as fact.

That was inherently wrong, and is why I do not trust any internet source of breaking news – it often turns out to be incorrect. But that’s getting slightly off into a different tangent, so back to the topic at hand.

Anyway, Twitter this evening is awash with people from all over the place rushing to be the first to condemn or defend things they didn’t really know about – like I said, the full facts haven’t emerged yet, and Ollie Holt is basking in the glow of spreading unhelpful unsubstantiated opinions using Twitter as his medium, whilst other people retweet and turn this into a juggernaut that may be difficult to stop – as tends to happen on Twitter with certain stories.

Meanwhile we have other journalists tweeting that no such racial abuse happened, and that Adeyemi was allegedly called a “Manc bastard” by a member of the Liverpool crowd. A journalist from the BBC also reported that no member of the crowd was arrested in connection with anything shouted at Adeyemi.

Who are people supposed to believe? The Mirror journo who is in all probability looking for a story where there may be nothing more than a misunderstanding over something shouted? And who wasn’t even at the game? Or someone who was actually at the game and in a better place to report on what happened?

It may be that Adeyemi misheard what the fan shouted. It may be that the fan did actually call Adeyemi a “black bastard” as opposed to a “Manc bastard” as understood by the reporter in the crowd who was near the situation. In either case, it most certainly does not help that newspapers and journalists use Twitter for so much of their dirty work.

Lord Justice Leveson is currently conducting an inquiry into the way that the print media as a whole do their daily business – I do hope that he includes a review of the online section as well as the print section, as I feel that there is a massive problem within this area regarding inaccurate reporting, unsubstantiated rumours being passed off as facts, and lazy journalism propping up ailing businesses.

We all know why newspapers take these courses of action instead of undertaking proper journalism – it’s to sell papers. Instant media means that in order to get a scoop, publishers need to take risks that they wouldn’t necessarily take if they had the time to fact-check their stories properly. Another example of this from recently is the story being run by the Independent alleging that Manchester United are preparing to sell Wayne Rooney. When asked about this story by Radio 5 Live, the journalist who wrote the story, James Lawton, admitted that his headline was not actually based in fact at any level, or sourced from anywhere at Manchester United. In other words (the words journalists hate to actually say), he made that up and tried to use possible tension over a fine handed to Rooney as the base for making such a claim.

Welcome to the fantastically accurate world of instant media, and long may it continue. That last sentence may or may not be accurate.

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