Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Let's Teach British Sports Writers the Definition of Journalism


 noun \ˈjər-nə-ˌli-zəm\
: the activity or job of collecting, writing, and editing news stories for newspapers, magazines, television, or radio

Full Definition of JOURNALISM
a : the collection and editing of news for presentation through the media
b: the public press
c : an academic study concerned with the collection and editing of news or the management of a news medium

a : writing designed for publication in a newspaper or magazine
b : writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation

The real Mesut Ozil  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
When I studied journalism in college I worked as an editorial assistant in the sports department of the Boston Globe. I was fortunate enough to work with legendary writers such as Will McDonough, Dan Shaughnessy, Peter Gammons and Bob Ryan. These guys were pros and I learned a lot from watching them and reading their columns.
In my journalism classes we were taught that the most important part of writing a news story was to report the facts while being impartial
It seems those days are over...and nowhere is that more apparent than in the sports pages of the British newspapers. Headlines are distorted, rumors are reported as fact and "sources" are never revealed. In other words, anything goes. Keep that in mind as we'll return to this phenomenon later.

Arsenal met Bayern Munich in the second leg of their Champions League knockout series in Munich on Tuesday. Having lost the first leg at the Emirates by 0-2 most sane fans knew that Arsenal's task would be difficult. Let's look at the facts to examine why it would be a tough feat:

  • Bayern Munich are currently the defending European champions.
  • They currently lead the Bundesliga by 20 points...the largest lead at this point in the season ever in the German league.
  • In 24 league matches this season Bayern have 22 wins, 2 draws and 0 losses
  • Bayern have scored 72 goals in the Bundesliga while allowing only 11 for a staggering +61 goal differential.
Arsenal were pitted against Bayern at this point in the tournament last year as well, and were knocked out solely on away goals. Arsenal went to Munich last year and defeated Bayern on the day 0-2. While it wasn't enough to go through last season, Arsenal proved that Bayern can be beaten and showed that they were not pushovers.

So my question is why do Arsenal get zero respect from hacks, posing as journalists? It's not like Bayern Munich are Stoke or some other crap team...they are the European champions. While every Arsenal fan was rooting for their team to pull off an upset (they had done it before), there should be no shame in losing to the best team in Europe.

If I was covering the match as a "journalist" I would have come up with a headline such as:

Arsenal draw with Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena 1-1 but go out of the Champions League by a 3-1 aggregate.

As for the facts, here are some that I would include in my article if I was a journalist covering the match:

Arsenal kept Bayern off the board in the first half. Bastian Schweinsteiger scored in the 54th minute. Lukas Podolski pulled one back for Arsenal in the 57th minute. Lukas Fabianski saved a penalty kick and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was Arsenal's star man. Oh and let's not forget the FACT that Arjen Robben dove several times during the match.

Here's the coverage that we got instead:

During the pre-game commentary on Fox Sports the worthless and inane Eric Wynalda offered his opinion on what would transpire. The "expert" that he is immediately predicted that Arsenal would be thrashed and lose by 4 or 5 goals. He also referred to defender Thomas Vermaelen as slow and ineffective, proving that he really has no clue what he's talking about. Considering Wynalda was a star player with the world famous San Diego Nomads and Bakersfield Brigade, it's clear he shouldn't be allowed to play with the big kids in the sandbox.

After the match, the sports pages were filled with derogatory and insulting headlines such as these from The Daily Mail and The Mirror:

Neil Ashton The Daily Mail
Lost and lazy Ozil cost Arsenal £42.5m but based on that performance against Bayern he isn't worth two-bob... he's nicking a living

John Cross The Mirror
Mesut Ozil looks lost at Arsenal after his lacklustre display stuck out like a sore thumb against Bayern

Dumping on Mesut Ozil rather than reporting on what happened on the pitch is not journalism. John Cross & Neil Ashton might as well go work for TMZ and speculate about Kanye & Kim if that's what they call "reporting".

Even funnier is the consistency of their "reporting". Last week might as well have been national put down Mesut Ozil week. All week we heard he was crap, disinterested, a waste of money. Then this past Saturday, he scored the opening goal in Arsenal's FA Cup meeting with Everton and assisted on another goal. Suddenly, Ozil was back to the amazing player we all knew in a number of newspaper stories.

Now, three days later, he's back to being crap and a waste of money.

I'll admit that he didn't have a great game versus Bayern. However, it was revealed after the match that he was taken off after the first half because he injured his hamstring and will miss a few weeks. Does the paper report that fact? No, instead "journalist" Neil Ashton declares that Ozil isn't worth what Arsenal paid for him and that he's ripping off the club.

Then John Cross piles on declaring that Ozil was lacklustre and stuck out like a sore thumb?! Really that a "FACT"? No it's your ridiculous opinion and it shouldn't be part of your reporting on the match.

It's time that John Cross, Neil Ashton and other British hacks like them go back to school and learn what journalism is. In the meantime, they can read the definition at the start of this post.

The lazy British media's Mesut Ozil

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