It’s been a rather controversial past two weeks for the game to say the least.
First there was the Bulldogs’ Mad Monday antics being a focal point in the media, attracting the usual annual debate over end-of-season festivities by fans of all codes. Then came the Rabbitohs video chat scandal creating its fair share of headlines in the past two days.
In both of these stories, there is one man who has found himself in the middle – as both the chief editor who gave these articles the green light, and chronologically with a controversy of his own.
Phil ‘Buzz’ Rothfield, sports journalist for the Daily Telegraph, regular panel member on Fox League’s Controversy Corner, and spearhead of the media tyranny against certain Canterbury players’ actions at their end of season function, recently had a photograph of himself with a stripper on his lap at a children’s cancer charity function posted online.
There are questions to be asked of the appropriateness of the appearance of sexual entertainers at a function aiming to raise money to support children with cancer, but that’s not really an issue relevant to the sport. The main concern was the hypocrisy of Buzz spending an entire week bagging the Bulldogs for innapropriate behaviour at a private function, only for this photograph of himself in a similar situation to be posted.
I guarantee most of the viewers reading this article were probably not aware of this at all. There was no coverage of the story on any major news platforms and the reply from Buzz to fans’ claims of hypocrisy just after his week-long tirade was ultimately very dismissive.
So given the circumstances, why wasn’t this a big deal?
The very next day, media outlets began reporting on a video chat scandal involving several Rabbitohs players. This dated back to May and was kept quiet by the victim, until the club did not adequately respond to her claims and she took them to the media as of August 31st, according to her email logs.
That’s an almost two-week period between her reporting the incident to the media and the story actually breaking – considering she had all the screenshots and chat logs to verify what had actually happened, surely it would hit the presses earlier on?
If you’ve read the title of the article it’s pretty obvious what has happened here. The media were also of the belief that while the story was verifiable – it was not worth their time, and the news coming out the day after the article on Rothfield dropped seems a little too coincidental.
In addition to this, using another piece bagging players over the events of their private lives to draw attention away from events in his own private life. Buzz’s previously very active Twitter account has also been MIA since the photograph “leaked”.
But it’s not the fact that Burgess and co were thrown under the bus just to divert attention from Buzz that should concern you. What should concern you is the control the media have over what gets published and when it gets published.
This South Sydney scandal is a story that by all means may not have been published should the diversion not been needed. What else is getting swept under the rug? How long are the media sitting on stories just to release them as they please when we should be getting this news right away?
This media control is an unfortunate aspect of our game and sport in general. But as the consumers who ultimately pay the journalists’ wages with clicks and buying papers, we can choose not to support the sensationalised stories and let the crisis merchants win and control what we hear.