You too can be a researcher for the Belfast Telegraph…

From Robert McNeill’s column in yesterday’s Tele:

Worse happened to another Manchester colleague, Darron Gibson, whose misspelling of his own first name was not a hopeful sign.

He had to delete his Twitter account after just two hours when it was inundated with allegations that he was not particularly good at his chosen profession and complaints that he’d chosen to play for the Republic rather then Northern Ireland. Many of these latter criticisms came from citizens with a strong intellectual interest in 17th century theological disputation.

Mr McNeill (who also seems to be under the impression that Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney play for a team called “Rovers”) is repeating an allegation made by his colleague Amanda Poole in Tuesday’s paper edition of the  “Northern Ireland’s Newspaper of the Year

 NORTHERN Ireland-born Manchester United player Darron Gibson has been subjected to a campaign of sectarian and personal abuse within minutes of joining the social networking site Twitter. The attacks forced him to close the account less than two hours after opening it. The chief executive of the Irish Football Association has now called for an end to sectarian abuse in football after the attacks on the footballer.

In 2007 the Derryman was at the centre of a dispute over his international football allegiance. His decision to play for the Republic of Ireland instead of Northern Ireland infuriated some fans. IFA chief Patrick Nelson told the Belfast Telegraph the abusive Twitter comments were “unacceptable”. “This is very disappointing. I do not condone any negative comments,” he said.

Curiously, the Telegraph has refused to either print or provide evidence of that “sectarian” abuse to the several people who have contacted the office. Bearing in mind that no other paper has seen fit to list abuse of the player which could in any way be construed as “sectarian”,  one must then wonder if the journalists (or, more probably, whoever dictated the editorial tone of the articles) had actually read the twitter feed in question. If they hadn’t (apart from being an example of diabolical journalism), then why did they automatically decide to label the abuse/banter as having  such a motive? Was it purely the old N.Irish MSM’s maxim:

“Sod the facts, Sectarianism is sexy and Sectarianism sells”? 

If they did read it, then which “Darron Gibson”  feed exactly were they reading?

Interestingly enough, Gibson’s colleague, (that’s his Utd, not “Rovers”, colleague for the benefit of Robert McNeill) Rio Ferdinand, gave this reason for Gibson doing an online runner:

 ‘Darron Gibson says he came on to see what the lads were up to… he came off because he couldn’t be bothered with it, not [for] any other reason.’.

The Telegraph, again curiously, has been quiet on that particularly relevant (you would have thought)  quotation. 

But, hey, bloggers can make “mistakes” too occasionally with the truth. So, bearing that in mind, I’m more than happy to help out both Ms Poole and Mr McNeill, by issuing this challenge to Slugger readers:

 If anyone can produce a message of a sectarian nature sent to Gibson in the period between the opening and closing of his twitter account on Monday, then I will forward them post-haste onto the Telegraph’s (assuming it exists) “Research”  Department, so that they can update their reports with what I believe is generally termed in the news-gathering business as “evidence”. 

Please Note: I know this is a Slugger Football post but it is not one asking for your thoughts on whether N.Irish fans are sectarian or, indeed, whether you think Darron Gibson should be thinking about a career change- quite frankly, this time, I couldn’t care less what your opinion is on either subject.

 No, it’s much more important than that- the Ulster institution that is the Belfast Telegraph is obviously badly struggling at the minute in the “fact” department, it is our duty as potential/present/never-again readers to help them out the best way we can.

 Get cracking.

  • Mark McGregor

    I found two that get the closest, both using the term ‘traitor’ – in one case the user also seems to have deleted their account:

    @dgibbo28 is on twitter, a traitor to his country and a shite footballer

    @dgibbo28 is a TRAITOR – born in Northern Ireland and he chose to play for the Republic of Ireland- should not be allowed #cheat

    That’s the best I can do for you.

  • Balor-Vy-Ysbaddaden

    MSM N.I.-Sectarianism sells.Poverty doesn’t.Rather like the south.Orwell would be fascinated.Some of the newly elected seanadites were on TV3s vinne brown last night talking about how their going to have a n impact on politics in the south.Bob geldof is the ‘father of this station,the man who failed as a ‘punk and re-invented himself as a ‘saviour of the starvin’………

    He’s a millionaire now.Peaches is a hipster.She’ll be a millionaire soon.Suppose poverty can be sold…………

    The comedian on the show remarked that they were all talkin’ bull****.

    RTEs Late Late had a Glasserite Psychoanalyist selling out the porn industry.Accusing ‘plumbers of extra terestrial affairs….Larry F. would be disappointed.

    Comhra TG4 offered a decent insight of the ‘crack culture in Donegal……..Nothin’ worse than a dry drunk …………

    The Twitterati and the Telegraph…….Roy Keen would sort them out…….

  • Drumlins Rock

    Did he get paid to write that article? the average, make that below average, comment on here is more coherent and newsworthy, as he has said himself, it would be better if he just watched the news happen and skip writing about it.

    Twitter is NOT news, it is pub gossip, it is school girl phone chat, it is meaningless prattle, very very very rarely should it be taken seriously, and only then when there is evidence it is a hint at something much bigger. Never should it form the central plank of any news article.

    There that is my rant for the day, wonder could I get the Telly to publish it and pay me?

  • Mark,

    The first one was actually used by the Tele.I didn’t think it was sectarian in that it wasn’t attacking him for his (perceived) religion or even “community background”.


    “Twitter” and the other online medias should have been a godsend to lazy journalists everywhere. In this case, I am guessing (and I’ll not put it any higher than that until all the evidence is or is not in) they have been even more lazy and just assumed what a twitter feed about Gibson would contain.

  • stewart1

    It look’s like Derry’s Newcastle defender Shane Ferguson has seen the light and will be joining the growing number of northern players who are deciding to represent Trapattoni’s Ireland rather than the Windsor Park mob.

    Long may it continue.

  • Anyone actually wanting to do research might want to look at a thread “Darron Gibson….is he good enough? on a website “Red Cafe”, the premier fan message board thingy of Manchester United fans….the best contributions as one would expect….come from me.
    Started in November 2009, the “Darron Gibson…is he good enough thread?” has now got a total of 5,034 posts.
    There are of course other Darron Gibson threads notably on his exercising his right to play for Ireland.

    As with football supporters of any team…Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester Citeh etc… make their minds up quickly about a “new” player.
    If they believe him to be brilliant, they will sustain and post that belief while evidence mounts to the contrary.
    Likewise the fan who believes that the young player is useless will cling to that belief…..regardless.
    Mature and sensible football fans like ….me….are from the “lets give the lad a chance” camp. Doubly so when we want to encourage him at international level.

    The curious thing about the Red Cafe site (which of course covers general football topics, entertainment, current affairs etc…….including international matches) and the various Darron Gibson threads is the crossover between them.
    For example MY encouragement of him is (I am sure) linked to his nationality.
    For others (not necessarily from Norn Iron) his nationality IS a factor in rubbishing him.
    Thats how football fans are.
    Thats how football fans based in Norn Iron are.
    It beggars belief that people rubbishing Darron Gibson on his Twitter account are not of the same mindset.
    No “evidence” of sectarianism…..just a commentry on his football skills alone.
    Meanwhile no thread on Neil Lennon….who gets death threats because…..ummm he is a ginger. Yes that must be it.

  • FJH,

    Ah, another Red Cafe man:)

    It beggars belief that people rubbishing Darron Gibson on his Twitter account are not of the same mindset.

    No “evidence” of sectarianism…..just a commentry on his football skills alone

    My point behind this thread, is that the Tele can only use for evidence what was actually written by his various “fans” (the vast majority of whom were Utd on this occasion as it happens)- if the Telegraph had decided to label the article:

    “We are guessing that people attacking Darron Gibson quite possibly may have had a sectarian motive in mind”,

    … then perhaps your point would have held more water

  • As would yours……if it wasnt so obvious that Neil Lennon is the victim of a hate campaign unrelated to his managerial skills.

  • My “point” is journalistic ethics ie the inconvenient matter of needing the existance of evidence to back up assertions.

    Your point, I’m seriously struggling to understand- we must necessarily assume the motivation of sectarionism even when there is no written or oral evidence of it?

  • Mark McGregor

    Since this is a thread on a newspaper I’ll add a comment on the Andytown News bombscare:

    A suspicious object found at Teach Basil this morning is understood to have been a newspaper.

    Staff arriving at work this morning were deeply concerned by this complex device which is believed to have been contructed from aspiration to accuracy, impartiality and search for the truth.

    The confused ATN reporters have been evacuated to the nearby Roddy McCorley’s club where their editor is dispensing comforting doses of vitriol and bile from his seat at the bar.

  • Cynic2

    Que a column from Gerry (takes out onion) on the evils of the Dissers and how everyone must rally behind SF to stop them (pushing for a United Ireland)

  • I think it would be naive not to see a subtext or undercurrent.
    Indeed it would be disingenuous.

  • I think we need a slight rewind at this point FJH.

    The Tele was not talking in the abstract, or the subtextual, they said that the abuse posted was of a sectarian nature.

    I don’t think it’s asking too much of our media that when they make that kind of claim, such statements are backed up with evidence?

  • Then ask it of the Media. The Telegraph still have a Letters Column. (I dont actually read it but Im assuming that they do)

  • Cynic2

    look, the Bel Tel is now a total rag. It has no money, few staff and relies on mining FOI requests for Scoops of the “MP buys Mars Bar on Taxes _ Shock Horror” variety.

    Think of it as National Enquirer without the style or ethics.

    So why be surprised when it makes this one up? Sectarianism sells.

  • Cynic2

    ” The confused ATN reporters have been evacuated to the nearby Roddy McCorley’s club where their editor is dispensing comforting doses of vitriol and bile from his seat at the bar.”

    If the ATN was blown up half the distress loan companies in the West would collapse in a week.

  • FJH

    “Then ask it of the Media. ”

    We have (reread the post).

    In the absence of any kind of adequate response, I thought I’d ask the readers on here if they could help the Tele out with their fact deficiency problem.

  • Good luck with that.

  • jthree

    No regional newspaper has employed a dedicated researcher, let alone a whole research department, for many years.

  • Sean o Russell

    William Martin Murphy would be proud of todays media.The Tele y has done a tremenduos amount of work in ending conflict in other places like Vietnam.The media have a duty to the state.The State,unlike the Senate,has a duty too all it’s people.No newspaper has an interest in facts.They don’t sell.Science fiction sells.The truth about the 120,000 guns shipped in from South Africa for Peter Robinsons Ulster Resistance is a fact.The INC did in fact have a policy paper on Decommissioning.It clearly stated-

    Take The Gun Out Of Irish Politics-

    Decommission 300 IRA volunteers.
    Decommission 30,000 British Troops.
    Decommission 12,000 Ulster Resistance guns.

    If the british government had of acted in good faith,maybe the conflict would not have slipped into another generation.
    If the British Government had of set a date for withdrawl of Troops then the IRA would be devoid of purpose.The IRA acted in good faith.At least the average activist did.This is not 1939.The republican congress of the 1930s was gone within five years.Ireland remained quiet and divided until the 1950s.We all know what happened next.Those who don’t learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it.

  • Cynic2

    Hi Sean. Another new SF poster. Things must be busy (and worried) at Connolly House for all of youse to to putting this effort in on slugger. And all of you seem so knowledgeable (all of a sudden) on INC policy documents and the like.

  • ayeYerMa

    Mark, calling Gibson a TRAITOR is not bigotry (as the Belfast Telegraph calls it) and it is not “sectarian” in the typical NI sense at all. It is stating FACT – any footballer who ditched a club in the manner that he did for another would be justifiably be labelled a traitor by the fans. It’s as “sectarian” as supporting the red team over the blue team.

    More than that, what I found the worst was the attempts to link this story to the completely unrelated incidents involving Neil Lennon.

    This is quite simply shoddy journalism, possibly by a journalist wanting to feel all pious and sanctimonious about themselves and the Belfast Telegraph in general.

    The prominence of the story also makes you wonder how this got through so unchecked. Which leads on to the despicable and common trend in our local media outlets to make sensationalist headlines around incidents – “sectarianism” may sell amongst a certain demographic, but really it is quite sectarian itself in trying to sell sectarianism, because the only group that are going to buy or revel in sensationalist sectarianism are those from the hard-line on the opposite side of the sectarian divide wanting to add it to their list of “how bad themmuns are”. I find the BBC particularly guilty in this respect – labelling someone caught in an attack of some nature or another as “protestant” or “catholic” before details of the attack are even known properly (even if they are sectarian attacks, I’m quite sure they have little to do with theology).

  • ayeYerMa

    … not to mention that subjective terminology such as “bigotry” should be reserved for opinion pieces.

    Having used the term subjective term “hard-line” myself above (I meant to say “extremes”), that reminds me of something else. I also found the Belfast Telegraph’s recent obituary piece on Bill Craig particularly shoddy and distasteful as well (comments were closed on that one) – they used the subjective term “hardline” in the headline and about 5 times throughout the piece. When was the last time you even heard the ones planting the bombs described as being “hardline”, especially so frequently and prominently?