Date:19th July 2012 at 12:55am
Written by:

I remember in the very first week of my journalism course a lecturer told us the difference between ‘blogging’ and ‘journalism.’ “Accountability and responsibility” he claimed with an air of authority. “Journalists unlike bloggers have to be accountable for what they write and have a responsibility to check facts, quote sources, report accurately etc, bloggers have no such obligations or constraints.”

Well excuse me mister lecturer whose name escapes me but you’ve obviously never trawled through the tabloids during a transfer window.

We all know the Summer is an exciting time for fans, the rumours, the signings, the departure of Joey Barton, it’s usually the sort of period where without any actual football there’s still enough to keep us going. Almost.

For United fans though, the past two Summers have been spent listening and reading hundreds of different versions of the same erroneous story all brought to us under the “exclusive” banner. It seems the national press in this country have neither the need nor the inclination to report responsibly or worry about being held accountable as they churn out ridiculous stories naming ‘sources close to the club/player/manager/tealady’ or other such non-entities.

Take last season as an example, this is what the Mirror announced: “Wesley Sneijder WILL become a Manchester United player this week… if he accepts a restructured pay-deal to move to the Premier League.

The Dutch midfielder’s club, Inter Milan, have paved the way for a £30million-plus transfer by accepting, in principle, a formal offer United made at the weekend.

They are ready to grant Sneijder permission to speak to officials from Old Trafford, and the Mirror understands those talks will take place later this week.

The only stumbling block to what would surely be world football’s deal of the summer is the player’s wage demands, given the tax-favourable status he enjoys while playing in Italy.”

Only one slight flaw in that story, it was all total rubbish. United hadn’t even bid for him let alone had said bid accepted.

Not to be outdone, Bob Cass of the Daily Mail reported: United, who have already spent almost £50m this summer on Phil Jones, Ashley Young and David de Gea, value Sneijder differently and Ferguson’s patience has worn out.
‘If he wants to come he must accept our contract offer,’ said a source. ‘If not, we have other options in mind. We’re done talking.’

Sir Alex was so pleased with the accuracy of that particular story he congratulated Cass by telling him “you and your paper can f*** off” in front of assembled journalists.

There was a time when certain papers like the Mail, may have been considered okay when it came to football stories, with one or two journalists being almost reliable. Don’t get me wrong I’ve never been a fan of the paper and journalists like Jan Moir and Peter Hitchens would be better placed in 1930s Germany but it wasn’t all bad when it came to football.

Now though, like the Mirror and far too many other nationals the Mail doesn’t even seem to pretend to care about what it reports when it comes to United.

You can literally see four or five contradictory stories regarding the SAME transfer deal from the SAME papers website in the space of 12 hours.

It’s United that always seems to be the preferred target of this ‘churnalism’ or ‘turdalism’ and one tweeter labelled it.

The latest example of far-fetched invented nonsense comes from the Mirror which claims: Ferguson is understood to have told footballing friends he believes van Persie will be moving to Old Trafford, despite the interest of money-bags Premier League champions Manchester City and Italian league winners Juventus.

Note the disclaimer almost already in the actual story “Ferguson is understood to have told footballing friends” no semblance of a reliable source, so when it becomes obvious the story is complete bull, no one will be held “accountable.”

I’m sick and tired of reading headlines and thinking “ooh, we’re in for so and so,” only to realise once I read the actual piece that it’s based on pure conjecture with no real reporting to speak of.

It’s almost like the law of averages, in effect, if you make up a hundred United transfer stories one of them will come true. It’s unfortunate for us Reds following every story with baited breath, that we can no longer expect the courtesy of any of these reports being even remotely accurate.

Follow me on twitter for Red-based ranting @RFFH

The Mirror RVP link:

The Mail Sneijder link: Read more: