Erik ten Hag and Manchester United have today taken steps to fight back against the supposed lies uttered against them in the media during this past week. As always with Manchester United, stories are published at length in the media in the days after a defeat. The media often see this as an opportunity to generate as much traction as possible due to the nature of how well a negative Manchester United story sells. The problem is, and this is a problem for all journalism at present, it’s hard to separate fact from fiction.
This has gone largely unpunished since the days of Sir Alex Ferguson. The former boss banned several journalists from a press conference when he was in charge due to reports in the media that he deemed lies. He scolded the media in the press conference and declared it was their job to tell the truth, and not to spin their narrative to sell newspapers.
Erik ten Hag seems to have taken a leaf out of Ferguson’s book to deal with the abuse his players and his character are currently receiving in the media. This goes beyond any normal form of reporting. It’s a legalized witch hunt, and he’s not the first Manchester United manager to come under this sort of pressure from the media.
Objectivity & Fairness:
Our main mantra in college was to always be objective and fair in our reporting, no matter the topic. The sole purpose and existence of a journalist is to tell the truth to the masses. Inform and improve the general knowledge of a selection of people on a certain topic. The reporting on Manchester United in the media does not improve the general knowledge of the club because the vast majority of what is reported is a lie. United fans can no longer separate fact from fiction because all their being fed is fiction.
When all you’re being fed is fiction, you begin to believe in it. And that’s where the lies being propagated in these stories gain their merit. That’s why they keep happening continuously. They have a target audience.
Erik ten Hag Has Had Enough:
Manchester United today banned 7 journalists and 3 media outlets from attending Erik ten Hag’s pre-match press conference for the Chelsea game. These various media publications have all reported in recent days that Erik ten Hag has either lost the dressing room or is on thin ice regarding his job. One media publication even reported that senior Manchester United players had raised concerns about the signing of Rasmus Hojlund. A 20-year-old striker, who is currently the top scorer in the Champions League, and Manchester United’s only out-and-out recognised number nine.
The statement from Manchester United said the following, “The club have taken action against several media organisations, not for publishing stories we don’t like, but for doing so without first contacting us to give us the opportunity to comment, challenge or contextualize.”
Enough has now become enough for Erik ten Hag. These ‘leaks’ are never visible when United are doing well. As soon as they lose, it becomes the talk of the town. Ten-minute segments on TalkSport from Graham Souness talking about Anthony Martial. Marcus Rashford’s body language is the topic of conversation every single day at length on every major media corporation in the country. Manchester United’s turmoil sells papers, and that would be fine if the papers were being objective.
Manchester United have allowed these stories to roll free for far too long. They’ve been the butt of the media’s paychecks for many a year, but sooner rather than later a line had to be drawn. Sports journalism seems to be the only line of work where lying goes unpunished. The only line of work where someone springs open a laptop to type lies into a blank page and sell it to the masses as fact. Manchester United is a bestseller, and these fiction writers cannot wait to publish the next installment of their saga every time the readers get tired of the last one.
A Precedent Has Been Set:
Manchester United have now set a precedent going forward. Lies are not tolerated. Report fairly or do not report at all. Many are suggesting United have gone about this the wrong way, but why should they stand by and allow lies to be reported as fact in the media week after week? Why are these stories only sent out when United lose? Where are they when United are the form team in the league? Martin Samuel said it best years ago and effectively sold out his colleagues when speaking about why the media consistently write about Manchester United.
“Unfortunately we discovered that what everyone reads is Manchester United, that’s all they want to read about. You will never ever go poor if you fill your website full of Manchester United stories.”Martin Samuel, Daily Mail.
We in the media have always had a duty of care when reporting our stories to the public, it’s time we start respecting that again when it comes to Manchester United.
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