I realise I’m on very dangerous ground here already, but bloggers are the scum of the earth. I’m allowed to say it, I’m a blogger and I’ve made a career out of being a blogger. Which is why I know more than anyone else how much I am part of a group that is the scum of the earth. And us football lot are the worst, and I’m going to explain why.
(And, yes, I realise I’ve essentially just walked into my own party and shouted “hello everyone, hope you’re enjoying the evening and, just so you know, I’ve pissed in the punch,” but there is thinking behind my madness.)
We write reactionary pieces, we spread rumours, we don’t check our speling and grammar, we have crap web design on free sites with adverts, we tweet incessantly about what we’ve just written (if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know how much this one is true), we beg for RTs of our articles, we take any excuse to name-drop, we dig up old articles whenever they become current again, we steal pictures for our blogs and post them without credit…
I could go on.
The problem is, what I have just described above ISN’T every blogger. Take Manchester City – you’re reading a City website, so I’m guessing you, like me, support the Blues – and you can find some really good and insightful comment from a selection of City bloggers. Some are written in articles, some are tweets or videos, and one is a brilliant online radio show called The BlueMoon Podcast (I may have created it and work on it all the time, but still you should check it out – see, self-promotion is something I just can’t steer away from).
But, as is the way with the internet, to get to the gold, sometimes you have to wade through plenty of crap.
In the days when football writers were people who had done their badges on newspaper sports desks and were producing features regularly, there was a level of quality control. Commentators used to have worked their way up through the low levels of media to get on the radio to talk about things like Manchester City – now they let me do it, are they mad?
Back in the day, a writer would only have their novel published if it had been approved by a publishing company – meaning bookshops were willing to take a chance on it because somebody who knows about that sort of stuff has said it’s not bad and somebody else has checked it for spelling errors, grammar problems and plot holes. These days, anyone can put anything up on to Amazon Kindle – and I know, because I have. There are some great ebooks out there from authors who aren’t with a publisher, but there’s so much crap surrounding them, there’s a better chance of finding a working class woman in the cabinet.
Or even a woman in the cabinet.
But this is where the football lot have got canny when it comes to blogging. There are thousands of young writers out there who really want to be able to make it in the world of football and there are a lot of websites that like people like that because they’re naïve and easy to exploit.
They come with promises of future payments or stories of how it will look good on a CV, when, in actual fact, none of it will materialise – the website earns their ad revenue from articles with sensationalised headlines and the writer is encouraged to produce more content that is click bait. All the time, the author is thinking, “This isn’t what I wanted to do,” and, soon enough, they’re reading comments left on their columns talking about what nonsense they’ve typed. It’s not long until they’ve sent that email explaining they’re stopping writing – some will say they’re upset at having received no money, but most are too polite to.
As each writer leaves, disillusioned with the situation and cynical to the point of falling in to a dull office job, another young, naïve one is taken on and the cycle starts again.
The best blogs out there are all kept by fans – people who do it for the love of doing it, rather than people who are looking to make their way up the ladder. I’ve not done the research, but I’m willing to bet newspapers take on more writers that they keep their own, well-organised, well-spelt blog site in order rather than if they’ve written for a number of different low-level opinion websites with a by-line and photograph.
Of course, I’m exaggerating in all of this. It sounds like I’m being cynical.
I’m eternally grateful for the career I’ve been able to forge by smashing my fingertips onto keyboard every day and I’m especially thankful that I can get paid doing something I really enjoy. I certainly don’t want to put anybody off from doing it, but I do want to make people aware of certain behaviours online that piss people off.
Writing for click bait, advertising one’s own work all the time, retweeting praise of oneself, spamming links, stealing research and not crediting it…
I’m as guilty as the next writer for continually tweeting their links (and I will do it with this article, too), but I always try to make sure it’s spaced some time between all the other nonsense that I type in 140 characters or fewer and I always make sure that it is a general tweet. I’ve not directly told people I’ve written something by sending it straight to them – people should always have the choice to click my link or not, whether they follow me or whether I’ve been retweeted into their timeline. It’s just a matter of etiquette.
And, as if to prove that football bloggers are indeed the scum of the earth, the misspelling in the third paragraph was intentional and the sensationalised angle in this article was, of course, click bait.
Made you look.
Written by David Mooney