As a non-fan, I find the world of football strangely fascinating.
Not the game itself, I mean – that bit’s dull as ditchwater – but the whole world of football and how it works (or perhaps how it doesn’t work).
Y’know: the hilarious Fifa circus, the endless hoo-hah over transfers, the annual outrage at the price of the new strip, the protests against dodgy club owners – all that stuff. To an outsider it’s bewildering, but intriguing, like watching a nature documentary.
The latest football news I spotted was a piece in The Guardian about football clubs banning journalists in favour of their own “in-house journalists”.
“In-house journalists?”, I hear you snort. A contradiction in terms, no?
I suppose the club’s point of view is: why would we welcome reporters into the ground for free, only to have them slag off the club and dredge up controversies, when we can control access (it’s our football ground, after all), and provide our own exclusive reports?
From the fans’ point of view, that means you only ever get news from the official mouthpiece. Your local team has become a little totalitarian state, complete with its own Pravda.
I’m sure there’s a fascinating debate going on about what this means for football, but what interests me is how it reflects wider trends in media and communication.
Big businesses in all walks of life are doing similar things – upping their content marketing efforts and pulling away from “traditional” media, or sponsoring whole sections of media websites to better curate and control their message.
Just as the internet has allowed individuals to become media stars, so too it has given corporations the potential to compete with traditional media outlets too.
The world has room for both, but if it’s a choice between one and the other, the reader clearly loses something when independent journalism is replaced by “in-house” journalism.
But from what little I know about football, the fact that it’s a bad idea doesn’t mean it’ll stop happening.
Photo: Kieran Lynam (via Flickr)