Social networks are an essential part of the modern sports media

Evan Morgan Grahame Columnist

By Evan Morgan Grahame, Evan Morgan Grahame is a Roar Expert

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    Yesterday morning, Bruno Fornaroli accidentally assumed the role of communications manager at Melbourne City, tweeting out a photo of him posing with Fernando Brandan, Iacopo La Rocca and, most interestingly, Marcelo Carrusca.

    Now, as the announcement of Carrusca’s signing hadn’t actually been made yet, the tweet was quickly deleted, but not before all the dexterously-digited Twits had seen and saved the scoop. The news was reported on all of the major Australian football media outlets, and the cat was out of the bag, clawing and meowing and kicking up its litter.

    This kind of social media mishap is commonplace in sports these days, and it must be a nightmare for clubs. With 22 players, even more staff, a lot of them placed firmly in the age group that tends to Twitter, Instagram and the rest like a monk might the monastery gardens, and all of them need to be managed.

    Direct interaction between the players and the fans has never been as easy as it is now, and for the sports media, it’s become a join-or-die situation when it comes to social media.

    Stories like Carrusca’s signing might once have only been uncovered by dogged beat reporting, liaising with anonymous sources. Now, with leaks only a ‘send’ button away from oozing out, all you need is an internet connection and a refresh button.

    Of course, the immediacy of networks like Twitter has also loosened certain journalistic standards. When James Troisi was seen, in the space of a few weeks, in New York City with Tim Cahill, then in Israel holding a Maccabi Haifa scarf, then back in Melbourne, these movements – all traced, Carmen Sandiego-style, on social media – were reported on, extrapolated, and made concrete in the media.

    It turned out to be a red herring of Hitchcockian proportions, the George Kaplan of transfer sagas, because Troisi ended up re-signing with Melbourne Victory anyway. Every news outlet is petrified of losing readers – read: clickers – and relevance, and is forced to jump on any online tidbit that might bait a page view or two.

    People click on tweets, we know this, so why wouldn’t they click on articles about tweets? Twitter is an animal that sheds and regrows its skin every few seconds; all those stories about Troisi that turned out to be wrong or irrelevant haven’t really hurt any of the outlets that wrote them.

    James Troisi(Melbourne Victory) Aarom Mooy go for the ball (Sydney Wanderers) go for the ball (AAP Image / Joe Sabljak)more commonly seen on a Canadian ice rink than it is a football pitch.

    The footage of Austin being relieved of the air in his lungs was inevitably a hit on Twitter, and when Fox Football tweeted the vision out, describing it as “the best hit you’ll see this season”, Austin was quick to retort coarsely.

    It’s probably not wise of Austin – however justified his irritation was – to enter into profane dialogue with the league broadcaster, but how can you expect him to lay his thumbs down when there are 140 sarky characters to exhaust?

    Are sporting heroes best left, to a degree, unknowable? I’d have preferred not to know Stephanie Rice casually used homophobic slurs, or that Lebron James enjoys taking cringe-worthy, pompous selfies.

    Players all over the world have tweeted their way into tangible trouble. Premier League players Rio Ferdinand, Andre Gray, Robert Huth and a horde of others have been punished by the English FA for inappropriately expressing themselves on Twitter over the last few years.

    Gray was given a four-match ban while playing for Burnley last season for homophobic tweets he forced repugnantly out into the universe back in 2012; it seems the statute of limitations is generous here, and rightly so.

    It’s easy to cheapen the gravitas of social media mutterings, effortless as they are to make, but in reality they are public statements, made to huge, listening crowds, and their impact just can’t be dismissed. In Australia, Brisbane Roar’s Director of Football Craig Moore is extremely active on Twitter, calling out journalists, conversing with ex-teammates, even quashing transfer rumours in 140 characters or less.

    When the punishment for leaning on a dodgy tweet for a story is little more than a minor stumble, and the reward for unearthing a nugget of gold from the vast social media wasteland is a viral sensation, the choice is easy.

    When players are as likely to break transfer news as club media departments, why not update that news feed a few more times per hour? The stories – and non-stories – are quite literally at one’s fingertips, and the negative effects of this accessibility are – if not quite being outweighed – at least being concealed by the sheer power of its convenience.

    Being able to take part in an impromptu Q-and-A with a player as they’re on the team coach on the way to an away fixture is a privilege past generations would congeal with envy at.

    Seeing a stunning wonder-goal replayed and enhanced literal seconds after it actually happens is something we can all guiltlessly indulge in. The sporting world has flocked as one, all tweeting at each other, a gaggle of social media devotees, enjoying the group benefits and surviving the pitfalls. Join or fly away.

    Evan Morgan Grahame
    Evan Morgan Grahame

    Evan Morgan Grahame is a Melbourne-based journalist. Gleaning what he could from his brief career as a painter, the canvas of the football pitch is now his subject of contemplation, with the beautiful game sketching new, intriguing compositions every week. He has been one of The Roar's Expert columnists since 2016. Follow him on Twitter @Evan_M_G.

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    The Crowd Says (25)

    • August 26th 2017 @ 8:16am
      Caltex Ten & SBS support Australian Football said | August 26th 2017 @ 8:16am | ! Report

      Football journalist are now definitely being challenged with today’s communication technology, when players can get in first, knowingly, or unwittingly, breaking news stories that go against the club’s protocol. I’m still reliant on the good old fashion way of journalists searching for a good stories with good analysis attached to it. It’s disappointing to see some journalists are either too lazy, or can’t stay up with the new medium and have to rely on posters to provide news items for their blogs. Instead of them trying to get in first to write a piece, the professional way. It’s even more important know, than ever before, for football journalists to build up a good rapport with football clubs, media managers and football coaches, to write well constructed informative interviews or breaking news stories. Instead of today’s fractured ill-informed and in many cases, twitter fake news headlines.

      • August 26th 2017 @ 12:35pm
        northerner said | August 26th 2017 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

        The problem isn’t just with the journalists, though: it’s also with the consumers. People want their news fast and furious, not slow and accurate. Twitter wouldn’t exist if people actually wanted nuanced thought and evidence-based reporting – but they don’t, so it does. People, or a lot of them, want whatever is the latest sound byte, and then they’ll move on. So that’s what’s being provided. Twitter and social media are the Maccas of the journalist world: fast, cheap, not very good for you, but nonetheless lapped up on a global scale. Makes you wonder how the future is going to pan out when it’s run by people with an attention span of 144 characters.

        • August 26th 2017 @ 1:02pm
          Nemesis said | August 26th 2017 @ 1:02pm | ! Report

          Totally disagree.

          Twitter is simply a way to dissemenate your message to the world. Like sending out an SMS/email where the “TO” field is all your followers.

          High quality journalism & long read articles are being written every day by intelligent analysts and inquisitive investigative journalists.

          Too many people confuse Twitter as being a news source. No. Twitter is just a messaging source.

          The news source is the actual journalist/writer.. The big difference is that I can read the article written by a competent journalist as soon as he/she publishes it online.

          The Tweet simply informs me that a journalist I respect (follow) has published a piece of writing.

          The news is as close to “real time” as possible. What’s the point of buying a newspaper to read about news that occurred up to 24 hours previously?

          • August 26th 2017 @ 2:49pm
            northerner said | August 26th 2017 @ 2:49pm | ! Report

            I think it’s pretty clear that Twitter is much more than a messaging system. Marshall McLuhan was right: in today’s world, the medium, in this case Twitter, is/is the message. That’s fine if its the CFA telling you there’s a bushfire bearing down on you; it’s not so great when vastly inaccurate statements are put out there and subsequently cited as gospel by those who can’t be bothered delving deeper before they’re off to the next sound-byte.

            Too many people are satisfied with the fast-food version of journalism. They want it quick and short and simplistic. Then they’re on to the next thing. You only have to read the banalities that come out of twitter and social media to know that 90% of it is dross, but that’s what people want, so that’s what they’re being given. And that doesn’t bode well for quality journalism or for quality governance. Timeliness is important in journalism, yes, but not at the expense of truth.

            • August 26th 2017 @ 4:01pm
              Nemesis said | August 26th 2017 @ 4:01pm | ! Report

              So, you’re blaming the media platform for people not having quality control over what they choose to believe, or for not doing research before accepting a statement?

              The world is filled with people talking nonsense. That’s always been the case.

              In the past, you were only exposed to an individual’s nonsense if you were in the same pub, office, dinner party, etc. etc.

              Twitter allows every person who has an internet-enabled device to put his/her nonsense online. That’s it.

              It’s up to each individual to decide what should be believed & what should be binned.

              If you only Follow reputable media sources & people with credentials/experience, that is the most basic step in filtering out the nonsense.

              I wish The Roar had a function where I could only read the posts of people I choose to follow & never have to see what is posted by people, for whom I’ve got no regard about football topics.

            • August 26th 2017 @ 5:09pm
              northerner said | August 26th 2017 @ 5:09pm | ! Report

              “So, you’re blaming the media platform for people not having quality control over what they choose to believe, or for not doing research before accepting a statement?”

              Umm, no. I thought the context of my response to Caltex made it fairly clear I was blaming the consumer for the increasing banality and inaccuracy of journalism today. I no more blame twitter for the poor standard of journalism than I blame Maccas for Australia’s obesity levels. A large chunk of the population (no pun intended) wants it fast, cheap and uncomplicated – and that’s what’s being delivered. The success of Twitter, like the success of fast food joints, is a symptom of the problem, not the source of it.

              As to filtering out my comments, you do have just such a filter: see my handle, and move on. It’s called choice. I’d greatly appreciate it if you did just that, actually.

              Incidentally, this is, strictly speaking, not a “football” topic. It’s a sports topic. Or, more broadly, a social topic. And I’m as well qualified as any other member of this society to state my opinion on it. Toughen up and learn to cope with divergent opinions. It’s the adult thing to do.

              • August 26th 2017 @ 5:17pm
                Nemesis said | August 26th 2017 @ 5:17pm | ! Report

                So, what’s the problem?

                You make a choice about whether you want to eat Maccas. I make a choice about what news sources I reference.

                Before the internet, local media barons controlled the messages I received. Now, I have the opportunity to access news from sources in every country on earth. I also have the opportunity to access news reports directly from journos on the ground who can report without fear of favour.

                So, having lived “before the internet” & after, I can categorically state that, for the discerning consumer of news, there is absolutely nothing that was better about accessing quality journalism before the internet.

                I’ll repeat: Twitter is not the news. I don’t pay attention to 140 character opinions. The Twitter feed directs me to substantive opinion pieces & highly researched investigative journalism.

              • August 26th 2017 @ 7:29pm
                northerner said | August 26th 2017 @ 7:29pm | ! Report

                I am almost aghast at your inability to understand the point I’m trying to make.

                “I’ll repeat: Twitter is not the news. I don’t pay attention to 140 character opinions.”

                Fine. But this is not about you. It’s about society. Try to park your ego somewhere else and understand what’s happening in the society you live in. A whole lot of that society does pay attention to 140 character opinions. And you can’t blame journalists for catering to that rather large part of the community, any more than you can blame McD’s or Hungry Jacks for supplying burgers and fries, or FTA for broadcasting “Reality” tv programs. Because that’s the market.

        • August 26th 2017 @ 2:28pm
          Caltex Ten & SBS support Australian Football said | August 26th 2017 @ 2:28pm | ! Report

          “People want their news fast and furious, not slow and accurate.”

          Yes and no. Personally, I want detail and accuracy. I think Evan, has rightly pointed out twitter invites calamitous fake news contributors.

          • August 26th 2017 @ 7:32pm
            northerner said | August 26th 2017 @ 7:32pm | ! Report

            Caltex – of course, some of us do want our news, or more, our news analysis, detailed, insightful and accurate. But journalism has to cater for those that don’t, and that’s a lot of what’s happening. Fast food for the mind 🙂

          • August 26th 2017 @ 8:21pm
            chris said | August 26th 2017 @ 8:21pm | ! Report

            Cal and Nem I think its great that we can get info from a different source other than agenda driven mediums like we used to.

      • August 26th 2017 @ 8:19pm
        Freddie said | August 26th 2017 @ 8:19pm | ! Report

        Are you a football journalist Caltex? You seem to have a heck of a lot of “specialist” knowledge regarding the profession. Or is it just all speculation on your behalf as to what they do? My guess is the latter.

    • Roar Rookie

      August 26th 2017 @ 10:01am
      Grobbelaar said | August 26th 2017 @ 10:01am | ! Report

      This is the great strength football has in this country, our young demographic completely lives on social media and football rules social media in this country as a result.

      Just to give you one small example, the Wanderers’ official twitter account has 131,000 followers while the Giants only have 48,400 followers, which is a massive disparity in anyone’s language.

      • August 26th 2017 @ 10:06am
        Nemesis said | August 26th 2017 @ 10:06am | ! Report

        “Giants”?! Whom are you referring to?

        I just checked and the New York Giants have 1.6 million followers. But, they’re one of the biggest sporting brands on the planet. Why would you compare them to WSW?

        • August 26th 2017 @ 11:25am
          Cantdtoplaughing said | August 26th 2017 @ 11:25am | ! Report

          Hahahahahahahaha giants biggest sporting brand. It’s an irrelevant league at most.

      • August 27th 2017 @ 9:10am
        LuckyEddie said | August 27th 2017 @ 9:10am | ! Report

        Anyone or company or sports club can buy followers for their twitter accounts, to make them look important. There are companies in India that will, for a fee, allocate followers to your account so people quoting the number of followers are being seriously taken for a ride. I would have thought the real test of football in Australia would not be the facebook likes or tweets followers but how many people are paying to go to games and or take out club memberships. So people can tweet away but in the real commercial world its who is paying to see your product. Tweeter/Facebook actually do nothing for your club except use their devices to con money out of you. Does anyone really think those companies and the ‘followers’ actually care about football. Those companies like one thing MONEY.

    • August 26th 2017 @ 5:00pm
      Sam said | August 26th 2017 @ 5:00pm | ! Report

      Good article. I think it’s easy in the age of social media to assume or state that Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest make the world go around. Social Media is like Ivy. It grows on the surface mostly. Deep connections are made through websites, forums and blogs where good interaction exists and relationships and communities are formed. Good journalism still requires good knowledge, good research and the ability to conform (although creatively) to the text types expected by the reader, be they feature article, preview, post match analysis or what have you. To do it in a timely and efficient way to be relevant is also challenging. There are some great citizen journalists out there for sure but there’s nothing like reading a well read article by someone who knows the topic.

      • Roar Rookie

        August 26th 2017 @ 6:13pm
        Grobbelaar said | August 26th 2017 @ 6:13pm | ! Report

        Your post did get me thinking. So many appear to be very quick to attack mainstream football journos, even when they try and do what you describe above: demonstrate knowledge and back it with good research.

        Case in point is the latest article by the much maligned Ray Gatt in the Australian. He was very quick to knock on the head this idea that that all 10 stakeholders had reached a consensus in this FIFA/FFA stoush. Very, very early in the piece he posted on twitter that he had three credible sources that it was all rubbish. He was doing precisely what we expect of the best journos.

        Nevertheless, he remains much maligned amongst the footbal community.

        Excerpt from his article:

        No end in sight for Australian soccer’s unholy war
        The Australian11:07AM August 26, 2017

        RAY GATT

        Australian soccer’s unholy war over the control of the sport is no nearer to being resolved despite suggestions an agreement has been reached and will be presented to a meeting of stakeholders in Melbourne early next month.

        Contrary to some media reports, The Weekend Australian understands there is no agreement and that an offer from Capitol Football chairman Mark O’Neill for all stakeholders to get together on the day of the Australia v Japan World Cup qualifier at AAMI Park to discuss the situation has been politely rejected by the A-League clubs and players union.

        While the Australian Professional Clubs Association, representing the A-League clubs, and Professional Footballers Australia, who represent the players, both wrote this week to the state federations urging them to come to a consensus over the make up of Football Federation Australia’s congress, they have now taken a step back and are prepared to wait it out.

        According to one source, the two parties will not entertain meeting with the federations again unless the state and territory bodies “all have consolidated positions and rationales to work from.”

    • August 26th 2017 @ 5:52pm
      Footoverhand said | August 26th 2017 @ 5:52pm | ! Report

      It’s not just social networks, but football journalism is more likely to be an opinion and sometimes only loosely based on fact’s, Phillip Mccalif being one of the worst offenders.
      Lately there has been a lot of articles on youth development and the NC, FFA bashing and FIFAgate. There is not a lot of objectivity or research and quotes are usually from people who are as clueless or have an agenda.
      Which would be fine if the objectivity and research was there, not just opinion.

    • August 28th 2017 @ 10:09am
      Nemesis said | August 28th 2017 @ 10:09am | ! Report

      Massive BREAKING NEWS for Australian media & Australian sports broadcasting

      Ten Network to be purchased by US giant CBS.

      Full story:

      To get an idea of financial buying power:

      Annual revenue
      CBS: US$14 billion
      Seven West Media: A$2 billion
      Nine Entertainment: A$1.2 billion

      • August 28th 2017 @ 10:27am
        valhalla said | August 28th 2017 @ 10:27am | ! Report

        not long ago you were convinced lachlan murdoch and bruce gordon were going to buy it …..

        • August 28th 2017 @ 10:32am
          Caltex TEN & SBS support Australian Football said | August 28th 2017 @ 10:32am | ! Report

          Does it really matter—-Australian Football, will be shown live on TEN on Saturday nights during whole 2017-18 season and that’s all that matters. Nice work Nemeses.

          • August 28th 2017 @ 1:23pm
            chris said | August 28th 2017 @ 1:23pm | ! Report

            Yes totally surprised when I read it this morning. The demographics of Ch 10 are way more appealing to advertisers (in the long term) than what Channels 7 and 9 provide.
            Will be interesting to see what their strategies will be going forwards esp in the sports dept.

        • August 28th 2017 @ 10:36am
          Nemesis said | August 28th 2017 @ 10:36am | ! Report

          Yes, this CBS deal has caught everyone by surprise. I don’t think there is a single Media Analyst who predicted CBS would be the buyer. I don’t recall anyone reporting CBS even even being short-listed for putting in an offer.

          The potential buyers were: private equity funds & Murdoch/Gordon. As recently as Saturday, the media were reporting only one private equity fund remained as a potential competitor to Murdoch/Gordon.

          Even social media didn’t have rumours of a CBS deal.

          No certainties in life – especially true for business. Deal is never done until the ink is dry. Murdoch (the old man) will be livid.

    • August 29th 2017 @ 2:17pm
      Post_hoc said | August 29th 2017 @ 2:17pm | ! Report

      There are also great social media stories. Once again it comes down to individuals common sense.
      Aron Mooy is on social media, not a lot but somewhat, I have a personal story and his interaction.

      When he signed with the Wanderers and we became members my young son gravitated towards him and had posters, his number on his jersey,his autograph.

      Once birthday I sent Aron a tweet to see if he would wish my son a happy birthday, his reply came straight back, with Hey [sons name] happy birthday keep playing etc etc.

      For a young boy that was massive, walked around all day feeling special. It wasn’t much for him to do, BUT he did it.

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