The other week, I tried to explain some changes we’d made to the way we cover football in London. It was in response to a post on a Brentford FC fan site by a journalist called Jim Levack, who was annoyed that the titles I work with no longer send a dedicated reporter to every game.
The reason for doing this was simple: The audience being generated from Brentford FC coverage wasn’t big enough to cover the costs of covering Brentford home and away. It’s not the first time such a situation has arisen in journalism, nor will be it be the last.
I also argued that being present at every game, home and away, is not the thing which makes your coverage of a club credible. There are journalists up and down the country, and plenty of people doing the jobs of journalists in non-traditional ways, who prove that. It’s important, of course, but not THE defining attribute of credible club journalism.
This view generated howls of protest from journalism’s online commentators, some still working in the trade, some not. Very few, if any, were typical readers – as we know, real readers rarely enter such debates.
In various debates on various platforms, I was told I didn’t believe in sending people to football matches (wrong), wanted all journalists to copy and paste from a desk (wrong) and that I clearly didn’t have a clue about journalism to think such thoughts (again, wrong, I hope).
I was also told, on more than one occasion, that journalism shouldn’t be about money. That some things are more important than being able to afford doing it.