Heroes and Villains: Why our beloved game’s media men should be next under the microscope

By TuttiFruttiBusDriver

The decision to offer Dundee FC a place in the SPL appears to offer a welcome release from the maelstrom of committees, board meetings and legal chicanery that has consumed the thoughts of many during this dreich Scottish Summer of sport. It offers an opportunity for fans of all teams to focus on summer transfer windows, pre-season friendlies, and, perhaps, foster a wee bit of cautious optimism about what the season ahead may bring. Maybe the dust will settle a little and we can concentrate on the football.

However, while it is undoubtedly healthier to look forward with positivity to the new season, it is necessary to get several things in order if this is not to become yet another missed opportunity to address the parlous state of the game. There are many issues that need looked at from a change point of view, none more so than the role of BBC Scotland’s sport department going forward.

The now notorious inability of a vast rump of the Scottish football media to ask questions of David Murray for fear of being banished from the vineyards, private jets and oak-paneled offices is an embarrassment that will haunt many hacks for as long as they continue to eke out an existence in the media. Many key players at the BBC were not immune from this. Similarly when Craig Whyte emerged from the shadows (with a questionable CV to boot) the prevailing practice of parceling up PR-swill while avoiding asking difficult questions continued. On the evidence so far, and with a few notable exceptions as detailed below, Charles Green hasn’t exactly getting the roughest ride either.

Chick Young and Jim Traynor – Purveyors of questionable coverage?

It is arguable that the senior management at BBC Scotland’s Sportsound conducts a fundamental and radical review of the makeup of their broadcasting team for the forthcoming season. While some have enhanced their reputations with an honest and even-handed approach to the protracted saga (Jim Spence and Richard Gordon spring to mind) others, such as the laughably lightweight Chick Young and the deliberate mendacious Jim Traynor are surely redundant. Young’s grasp of the story is weak and ineffectual. Traynor, meanwhile, has brought nothing to BBC Scotland’s sports output bar a hectoring, bullying, sneering, doom-mongering style that has many listeners reaching for the off-switch.

Traynor can write what he likes in his newspaper (which given the latest circulation figures appears to be living on borrowed time ) but I am sure many license-fee payers resent his views being rammed down their throats in the sake of ‘parity’ or ‘balance’. A slavish desire to see the status quo remain purely out of self-interest has been has main contribution to the debate. Surely this propagandist has no place in a key forum for debate on the issues going forward?

Jim Spence and Richard Gordon, conversely, are notable for the way that they have made room for nuanced arguments. They have focused on complex issues, have tried to make sense of wildly conflicting information and synthesize it into something meaningful for the listening audience. They’ve asked the difficult questions, engaged widely with fans on social media and largely understood that fans are now better informed, more connected, and, with worthwhile opinions (compare that to the loathing of ‘internet bampots’ that you get from Traynor).

It is vital that all those with an interest in the future of Scottish football ensure that the mainstream media charged with holding authorities to account ask the questions that we want asked and provide informed analysis/opinions. Where the pundits are not fulfilling that role then others must be offered the opportunity. Punditry should not be a job for life, it should be determined by an ability to ask the right questions, no matter how uncomfortable those may be, and, a demonstration of sound interpretation of events. The days of the two-dimensional Traynor autocrat or the sycophancy of Young are gone. While social media has radically altered the media landscape by increasing connections, relationships, and, the democratisation of information, it is important that those in charge of the BBC Scotland Sports department fulfill their commitment to serve in the public interest. Weak scrutiny has failed us in the past; it should not be allowed to happen again.


6 Replies to “Heroes and Villains: Why our beloved game’s media men should be next under the microscope”

  1. Spot on. Chico and Jamesie have had their day. Traynors planted DR story on Ally walking as Sir Walter was leading the next takeover consortium was laughable.
    The DR deserves everything it gets on falling circulation figures. Keith “off the rader” Jackson will never live down his “billionaire” Craig Whyte scoop.

    As you say they can write what they like in the Record – its now generally accepted as comic cuts, but do BBC licence payers really need to put up with Traynor’s schlick? I’ll sign any petition going to promote Spence, English, Lamont et al – the quality of the debate and the tone of the entire programme improved markedly when these two buffoons were on their holidays.

    Time for some serious changes at BBC Sport.

  2. The fox news style – “here is your opinion” type of broadcasting and journalism have been torpedoed by fans and social network. Spence, Gordon, Cowan and Cosgrove have continually given a more considered and realistic perspective, completely at odds with the pro rangers Media. For some time the reliance on Rangers attached pundits on BBCSS has been an issue and is now clearly in vision. SS cannot exist in its current format as that product no longer exists.

  3. Agreed about Young & Traynor’s handling of the whole RFC issue. They became so misleading that I stopped listening to BBC. I listened in when I heard Jim Spence was in the chair for a few weeks. What a difference ! Even last night Richard Gordon asked some difficult questions of Doncaster that the first two wouldn’t have.

    In my view BBC Scotland has a big question to answer as the new season begins – stick with Y & T and lose more of the market share or go for quality and increase your share against some other pretty poor competitors.

    Not only Scottish football facing some challenges.

  4. I agree with all of your comments above and would like to add an observation to your accurate description. Obviously as a Hibs fan I see things through tinted glasses but mention should be made of Alan Preston and to a lesser degree John Robertson. Whilst Robbo can at times give a balanced view the BBC seem to think it hilarious to have Preston co-commentate on Hibs games. Invariably he laughs at, insults and parodies their performance. If he was either an ex Rangers or ex Celtic player and gave such biased comments during a game involving either of them the BBC switchboard would go into meltdown. Murdo McLeod and Billy Dodds have the wisdom of Solomon in comparison. The sooner either Preston goes or Hibs fans wake up and put pen to paper the better.

  5. Just come across this post and obviously have the benefit of hindsight. In light of recent events it appears that Traynors opinions are much nearer the truth than some. Especially the real purveyor of total fiction that is Spence. Tonight he broke on Sportsound that Dundee Utd in response to Rangers giving the Scottish Cup monies to charity, he was hearing that Dundee Utd were going to do same and mentioned Utd for Kids. 6 hours later and nothing on this story on the Utd website. I do hope that Spence will write a personal £50’000 cheque to these kids if he has used his own warped commentary to put a better Utd slant on a masterstroke by Rangers

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