Much is said about the state of the game, the consistency of umpires (or lack thereof) and the decisions made by the AFL to constantly change the rules of the game. But an aspect of AFL and one that is as equally integral to the AFL landscape is all too often overlooked, or perhaps a better term would be ‘swept under the rug’.
I am of course referring to the AFL Media. It is a topic that doesn’t get addressed very often, because the media aren’t likely to critique themselves. The usual criticisms are always there, usually in regards to Channel 9’s long-running The Footy Show. Has it run its course? Most likely, but The Footy Show, in terms of serious AFL-related content has always lacked substance and valued entertainment over serious footy-talk.
The exception to this rule is when they try to tackle the serious issues; whether it’s the Essendon saga or a player off the rails, it offers contrast and probably a slight ratings boost, momentarily tricking the viewer into thinking the show is more than it is.
(Fake) News Breakers
The real issue comes with the likes of the Damien Barrett’s and Craig Hutchinson’s. Journo’s who are dubbed ‘the best news breakers in the business’ whenever they’re brought in to ‘break’ a big news story. More often than not it is something to do with a big name player leaving a club and being offered an astronomical amount of money from another club. Usually the word ‘done deal’ is used, despite the fact this news is broken 5 rounds into the season and deals cannot be done until after the season has concluded and Free Agency and Trade periods have begun.
Others have joined this trend. At any time during the season these media personalities are able to claim that their so-called ‘sources’ tell them a certain deal is done or that ‘x’ player wants to return home. Players wanting to return home is quite common so the hit rate is probably higher, but how many times would a media personality have correctly predicted mid-way through the season that a high-profile player had struck a deal with a rival club? My guess is very few.
Free Agency/Trade Period
The rule here is that deals cannot be done until the free agency or trade period and a lot can change in a season of footy. Nevertheless the ‘done deals’ are thrown around left, right and centre by the media, then when they turn out to be wrong, everyone has forgotten that ‘the best news-breakers in the business’ basically lied to them for the sake of ratings.
It’s a classic case of the media preferring to be first than right and it lacks integrity. Throwing information with the most minimal credibility behind it against the wall and hoping it will stick. Actually they don’t hope, because it doesn’t really matter. The bosses don’t care because the news, regardless of whether or not it’s true sparks discussion and is likely good for ratings. So the big question is, who holds these media personalities accountable when they ‘break’ news that is absolutely false? Well, nobody.
“who holds these media personalities accountable when they ‘break’ news that is absolutely false”
The media are as much a reflection on the game as the players and coaches are, and they have a duty to provide us, the fans with information on the game we love, factual information. When they value being first, having exclusives and pumping up their ratings over all else, they are disrespecting and doing a disservice to the fans that rely on them, and this reflects poorly on the AFL as a whole.
Tell us what you think of the media coverage in Season 2017…