Maybe the solution to fake news lives on our sports desks


Many millions of words have been written about the scourge of fake news, and I’ve some bad news: I’m about to offer a few hundred more. But hopefully they will convey a point which hasn’t been discussed up until now.

Fake News isn’t new. The impact Fake News has had (if it can be proven) has maybe taken a new turn, but the scale of the problem isn’t new. Or at least it isn’t if you’re a sports reporter.

While many rightly lament the apparent inability of the public to separate fact from fiction (and certainly on my Facebook feed, those doing the lamenting were also in some cases also sharing some of the bogus Donald Trump stories just a few days earlier), few have offered realistic answers beyond ‘Blame Facebook’ and ‘Do something Facebook.’

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What does it tell us about sports journalism when speaking up for fans is called ‘bold’?

So he’s finally gone. Steve Kean, that is, the now former manager of Blackburn Rovers. As I write this, Blackburn sit third in the Championship and, if they carry on like this, are in with a good shout at returning to the Premier League at the first attempt.

This, however, didn’t appear to be enough for Rovers fans. Since relegation, attendances have dropped by around 10,000. Fans, of course, have every right to express their thoughts on their club in any way they choose. Whether they were right to

turn on the manager, when the real problems seem to stem from the owners, is a source of hot debate (especially if you are a listener of TalkSport. Crikey).

And, to me, it seems blatantly obvious that if the fans – in large enough numbers – want the manager to go, this should be reflected by the local newspaper. Late last year, the Lancashire Telegraph ran this front page called on Kean to go.

The response from journalists on Holdthefrontpage at the time was interesting – generally the consensus was that the paper had got it wrong. Indeed, one commenter  called Ill-informed (unintentionally ironic, I think) posted a month later:

What’s the Telegraph saying about Kean and the Venkys now, I wonder?

This was after Blackburn had strung together a few points – but, as it turned out, not enough to stay up.

This week, as confusion reigned over whether Kean had quite or not – not helped by a tweet from local MP Graham Jones who has ‘sources’ saying Kean had been sacked but had refused to go, only to admit later his ‘reliable source was now confused’ the Lancashire Telegraph voiced its opinion again, this time calling on the club to ‘end this absurd farce.’

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