Wales assistant boss Raymond Verheijen called journalists „incompetent amateurs“ in a tweet, because they reported of Gareth Bale’s injury in the build-up to Wales’ 2-0 defeat by England on Sunday, 27th April. In fact, there was no injury. Furthermore – he didn’t train at all.
His point of view is that the journalists who reported about the injury are “incompetent amateurs” and he does a good job in tweeting ‘honest’ things and speaks out his mind.
Is it right to blame journalists for news coverage, which probably doesn’t meet the reality?
To approach an answer we have to be clear about our contemporary media system. From an outset it has two major functions, which stand often in a conflict to each other. The first is the serious notion of news gathering and processing as a watchdog over the powerful. Basically, the media is an estate for informing the public sphere. The second function came when media companies built up, which operated in accordance to the free market model. They construct the idea of the ‘public interest’. And this idea generates money, especially for the political, economical and social elite and the ownership. Because it serves their interests. To generate sales, reach audiences and stay ahead of the competing media companies, you need to be the first who brings the news and sensations. The sensationalism is a crucial part to approach topics and attract readers such as viewers. The effectiveness is measured in sales and viewing rates.
A well educated journalist usually has the ambition to write and generate quality content. But the media system mostly doesn’t require investigative journalism with a precise research and allocating sources. It is even too expensive. This job of research, if we leave out the word ‘precise’ is now done by news agencies, which supply the TV-stations, newspapers and media in general, with news. So, nowadays less journalists have seen or researched on their own what they report about. They depend on the correctness of others work. This is another reason why false news can appear.
Media creates news and pseudo-events to meet commercial interests of their advertisers and their shareholders. It is clear that quality suffers from it.
This system is questionable, of course. But Verheijen is a part of this system, also if he doesn’t seem to be aware of it. He enjoys privileges of the media coverage of soccer and its stories behind, as well. Such as a notable salary.
I don’t say that the system is good. But if he wants to change and improve something, he should enter the media business. As an assistant boss of a football club, he is not in charge to judge about the quality of media coverage. Hence, he isn’t qualified for that.
Moreover, with his statements he has shown that he is absolutely not aware of the media mechanism. He was tricked by the danger of Twitter and co – the simple usability repeatedly misled people to write spontaneously and emotional, which some regret later.
So, if someone wants to find a person or a lobby to blame in particular – the owners, shareholders, politics and advertisers are in charge of that. In short: The social elite, but not the journalists, who are restricted by the system, as well.
Should clubs and sporting organisations control who uses Twitter and social networks for reporting or should high profile sports personalities even be prohibited to use Twitter?
Twitter and social networks can be used by everyone, if it is a private or a public person. This system is based on the idea of freedom of expression and shouldn’t be undermined by a sporting organisation. So, a sporting organisation shouldn’t forbid anyone to tweet, write a blog or post things in social networks.
A sporting organisation or club should intervene in so far, that they build up rules about what can be said, what not and to which time. News which are traditionally covered by the media shouldn’t be first revealed on Twitter by a sports personality. A person which works for an organisation represents this. He might speak out his point of view. But he can damage the reputation of his organisation with it, as well. In addition, there should be a clause, that forbids insults of any kind and against anyone. Therefore it should be in the organisation’s own interest to control their image by rules for online content, created by sports personalities.