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Opinion

Green Lights and Good Sauces – Newcastle United takeover (and how modern media works)

6 months ago
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The Newcastle United takeover has the ‘green light’, a headline that like me you will have seen any number of times, sometimes with the words mixed around a little bit.

So what’s it all about?

Is there a green light and how did anybody spot it?

Well for me, the Newcastle United takeover is a great thing to study, as to how the modern media works. Or indeed, doesn’t work.

In years to come, maybe it will form part of media degree courses for students, how absolutely shameless and useless this whole process has been. How the media have covered the takeover.

To understand exactly how we have come to this point with the media, newspapers in particular, you have to understand the background first of all.

Year after year the sales of (paper) newspapers have been falling ever faster, along with the advertising income as well, lower paper sales the less that advertisers will pay. Publishers have desperately tried to grow their online presence to make up the shortfall but very difficult, if not impossible, to replace that money as online advertising revenues far lower than the glory days of newspapers with paper sales booming.

Along comes this current virus crisis and for a newspaper industry already struggling, a disaster for many, with sadly bringing closer the day when so many more people will lose their jobs. Paper sales dropping even lower / faster in recent months and advertising massively hit, both in papers and online. Nobody allowed to go on holiday, new car sales down 97% and so on, advertisers not spending the money. So even if online viewing figures are up for some, it still is almost guaranteed in every case to have meant far less advertising revenue.

So so bad are things getting, the newspaper industry have now stopped the publication of monthly paper sales figures, the sales auditors (ABC) will no longer publish the monthly figures, so the general public can’t see just desperate things are getting. Only if newspapers choose to tell you, will you find out, though of course they will still privately share the sales figures with advertisers.

So with that background, you can see why newspapers are so desperate to grab you online. No wonder their attempts to grab you look ever more…desperate. Battling with each other to put out the most eyecatching headlines and ‘new’ stories.

No wonder we end up with these Green Lights and Good Sauces / sources.

I have three examples of just how desperate the whole thing has become.

A local newspaper declared today that¬†‘The process has moved through the latest stage without any red flags’ at the Premier League. It is meaningless, does anybody really believe they are being fed any kind of inside information, stage by stage? In reality, surely this should be ‘we haven’t got a clue what is happening and the only thing we do know is no announcement has been made, by the Premier League or anybody else.’

Then a national newspaper has announced that ‘…once the funds and paperwork are sorted an announcement will be made on or around June 1.’ Hmmm, so despite clearly 99% of journalists / newspapers guessing wrong time after time, we are honestly supposed to believe that one of them has been told when exactly an announcement will be made. Of course ‘on or around June 1’ would probably see them claiming any time from now up to the end of June as ‘proof’ that they have been proved right.

The ‘green light’ story is probably the best of all though…

Claims that the Premier League have now approved the Newcastle United takeover (given the green light) and just waiting for an announcement, appears to have originated from arguably one of the very worst sources (no names mentioned as don’t want to name and shame here, they are with very few exceptions, all guilty) for NUFC news. That newspaper running the story and then going…viral, in the end nobody has a clue where it originated, maybe we need track and trace when it comes to media coverage of the takeover?

That original (totally invented?) ‘green light’ story is then repeated everywhere in the UK media, before then picked up overseas and repeated by them, without any source quoted, or if there is, tending to be an English paper that picked up the story so many stops down the line from the original invented story.

English media, local and national (and NUFC fan accounts on social media) then pick up on the coverage in other countries and start quoting them as the source as proof that the ‘green light’ has been given by the Premier League.

It doesn’t take a genius to then see how once that original story is put out there, there can then be a continuous chain of it being passed back and forwards from UK media to overseas, then back again, then repeat until the viral saga eventually wears itself out.

So remember the next time you read the next ‘green light’ exclusive, you read it here first…

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