Freedom of speech

by Mystical Mike

Friday, December 7th, 2007

Freedom of speech is probably the bedrock of a democratic society in the modern world but should we be looking at the damage and negative effect that the newspapers, in particular, are doing to the sporting world the effect they are having on our sporting teams and sports personnel.

Tabloids often tend to pick and choose facts that make their story interesting or, in some cases, blatantly avoid the truth. These scenarios bring into question the freedom for “reporters” to write what they want. Gone are the days when newspapers would report the news. Today, newspapers are more concerned with how much controversy they can get into their reports, the back pages being the most abused.

The most recent high profile example of this, is Martin Jol’s sacking by Tottenham Hotspur. It is the events preceding the actual sacking that I will focus on.
When the story started to break about Juande Ramos and Paul Kemsley in the same hotel, the press smelt blood. They quickly created the characters: The Villain – Daniel Levy and the Spurs board and the Victim – Martin Jol. The facts, as I believe them to be, despite the redtops attempt to only tell one side of the story, are these: In the last 6 months, Martin Jol’s agent sounded out two potential managerial jobs, possibly the manager of Ajax and the Holland job. Aware of this, the Spurs board appeared to sound out Juande Ramos, the only top manager, likely to be available if Martin were to leave.

That is not what was reported. What was reported was the second part of that story only. The harassment and bombardment that followed in the tabloids were unrelenting. This continuous onslaught of back page story after back page story was, without a doubt, the major factor that has led to the team’s poor performance and the players uncertainty. Ultimately, its led to Martin Jol’s sacking. The reality is neither the press nor I have the exact facts. Only a handful of people know the truth and they, I am sure, would not divulge but was it right and just for the press to act in that manner?

There are various other examples of this, both inside and outside of football, lets not forget the press’ part in Princess Diana’s death. Other footballing examples range from the pressure put on Steve McClaren to drop Paul Robinson, which ultimately led to England’s failure to qualify for Euro2008 or the hounding of Sven Goran Eriksson, during his tenure as England coach and let’s also not forget the sensationalist and xenophobic reporting football hooliganism that has been going on for ages.

Recently Tottenham Hotspur banned the Evening Standard from their ground. The ramifications of this have not been felt as of yet but this something that could have a serious effect down the line. Should Tottenham have the right to ban a London newspaper from reporting at their ground? If clubs start banning newspapers that print stories they don’t like, that flies in the face of freedom of speech. Where is the middle ground?

My view is we need to be more stringent in the credibility stories before going to print. Maybe every report needs to have 3 or 4 sources as back up. Either way, how long will the press be allowed to get away with false reporting before freedom of speech is damaged irreparably?

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  • Darren

    It’s a catch 22 situation, everyone knows they build people up in the media, then kick them down at any given opportunity. They did it with Gazza and even tried it with Rooney, (Granny shagging), a few months later he was the countries only hope of victory, without him we were doomed.

    No wonder why Lewis Hamilton f****d off to Switzerland!

  • Daniel

    I couldn’t understand some parts of this article Freedom of speech, but I guess I just need to check some more resources regarding this, because it sounds interesting.

  • Clown farmer Peggy

    I think what he is trying to say is it’s a catch 22 situation, careers and peoples lives are destroyed by what the media print, and yet we love reading about it.

    Have you read the Ben Elton book called ‘Popcorn’? The ending is based on a terrorist group threatening to kill everyone unless people turn of their Televisions, of course they don’t because we are all voyeuristic and like to be shocked!

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