The Cumberland Throw

The Spotlight – The Rugby League Media

There’s a question I’d like to pose to our readers. It’s something that’s been a source of internal conflict for me, and no doubt for other supporters.

Over recent weeks, the Parramatta Eels have featured regularly across mainstream and social media over a variety of topics.

From the stadium deal, to salary cap dilemmas, shopping players around and of course the Jarryd Hayne issues, it’s all been fodder for those who ply their trade reporting on rugby league.

This is nothing new to Parramatta supporters. We’ve long known that casting an Eels related headline into NRL waters is genuine clickbait – but we seem to gobble it up regardless.

Back in 2016, the media coverage of the salary cap breaches was relentless. Before that, the mess surrounding the recruitment of Foran, the departure of Hayne to the NFL, and Ricky Stuart’s “Projectorgate” shone the media focus on the Eels – and that was only the tip of the iceberg from the last 6 years.

Undoubtedly supporters want to be in the know. Back in the days of my childhood, I grew up on a diet of Big League, Rugby League Week, The Rugby Leaguer (for a season and a bit) and four daily newspapers. The “gossip” content wasn’t as high back then, but it was becoming popular.

A passion for footy, a love of the Eels and an ambition to be a rugby league journalist drove my reading. I’d exhaust my pocket money on nothing but footy, with newsagents reminding me that I wasn’t in a library when I’d look through such publications in their shop when the funds were limited.

These days, television and the Internet have become the domain for rugby league journalists. There might be paywalls to prevent quick access, but in reality newspaper columns are easily accessed online, especially through supporter websites.

There’s always been quality to be found in the media – brilliant investigative journos who research and write on important issues. Chris Masters was a prime example of the impact a journalist can have. He literally changed the rugby league landscape in 1983 with his report on the malpractice surrounding dismissed fraud charges against then NSWRL Executive Secretary, and ARL Chairman, Kevin Humphreys.

However, the appetite for gossip and speculation has also produced journalists who seem to “specialise” in this endeavour.

And then we have greatest consumer and facilitator of rugby league speculation – supporter forums. Let’s be honest, we might bitch and moan about how inaccurate certain columnists are with their “mail”, but their columns are read nonetheless. And reacted to. The latest gossip is discussed in forums, at work and in pubs. And the rumours gain a life of their own.

In other words, we, the supporters, literally drive the very thing that we complain about – inaccurate rumours and innuendos about players, coaches and clubs.

Which brings me to my question. Do we get Eels related news, regardless of whether it’s good or bad, simply because we provide unqualified demand?

I would suggest that Eels supporters would be unsatisfied if Parra didn’t feature in rugby league news, regardless of its nature.

You could literally imagine the response of “Nothing about Parra?” being uttered in the homes of supporters after episodes of shows like NRL360 if the club wasn’t mentioned.

What do we crave?

Inside news is always at the forefront. Whether it be about the players themselves, team selections, their preparations, the uncensored opinions of players or coaches – we enjoy reading something unique about our team.

It’s this quest for something unique that likely inspires rumours on forum sites. You’ve got those who want to be seen as having “scoops” and you’ve got readers looking for something that they may not find in mainstream media. And of course, everyone has an opinion.

Player recruitment is unquestionably a big ticket item. The rumours will often get bigger reactions  than actual signings, given that the rumours always seem to feature big name players, and the signings are often a previous rumour.

And when the club “misses out” on a big signing, whether they were actually pursuing the player or not, look out because the fans are going to react.

That press conference.

Player retention probably sits just below recruitment, unless that player is Jarryd Hayne. People have their favourites and people have their scapegoats. Interestingly, Hayne seems to polarise fans along those lines. (I regard him as a must to retain.)

Of course a season such as 2018 throws coach rumours into the mix in a big way. Coaches are the easiest target in a poor season and the recent merry-go-round of coaches only serves to add credibility to the countless whispers that mostly fail to come to fruition.

Away from the football itself, rugby league is a soap opera with a never-to-be-exhausted script. Social media faux pas, player behaviour scandals captured on phone cameras, and the occasional drink driving along with other run-ins with the police, are a source of headaches for administration and the gift that keeps on giving for journalists.

Players and clubs do plenty of good in the community, and supporters would probably respond well to good news stories. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the balance falls more on the negative than the positive.

Maybe, this is just the nature of news. I challenge anybody to tune into the evening news programs and find a bulletin featuring more good news than bad. It seems that the importance of information is measured by potential negative impact.

So, do we get the news we deserve? Can clubs do a better job of controlling that balance or is it completely out of their control?

As we head into the NRL pre-season, whether it be Parra or any other club, I’m hoping for more good news than bad.

But I certainly want my news.

Eels forever!

Sixties

 

33
Click Here to Reply ...

avatar
9 Comment threads
24 Thread replies
2 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
13 Comment authors
BDonSteve MooreMattLJohn EelAnonymous Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
colin hussey
Guest

Very interesting and thought provoking article sixties. News is something I like especially in regard to the eels, when we have seasons like this past one from hell its quite unpleasant especially with the subsequent abuse columns on social media, but I stay away from the thumbs machines sites for a good reason, and that is to limit the amount of garbage that I can handle. The eels as supporters, and all know that we are passionate about our team and why shouldn’t we be that way. In the end I try to be reasoned in what I put out… Read more »

Shelley
Guest
Shelley

Well written. The problem as I see it, is that there is no distinction between reporting the news and writing an opinion piece. What a journalist thinks a club should do becomes what they are doing ‘ according to sources’ and as league has very few independent journalists the writing becomes self serving. On Hayne, six weeks ago I would have been very unhappy with Parra not signing him.Hayne is the most talented player I have seen play in a Parra jersey and I have no doubt at all that he really does care for Parra. But now I am… Read more »

Trouser Eel
Guest
Trouser Eel

I think you’re right, Parra sells papers (or in the modern vernacular, gets clicks.) I’m over it to be honest. I want to go back to the days when I went to the game hoping my team would win, knowing nothing more Thant the team selection and the injured list.
I read this website because it’s not littered with rumour and innuendo. I wish there were more like it.
If someone could show me how to get all the other media bulls$#!t out of my Twitter and Facebook feed, I’d be forever grateful.

John Eel
Guest
John Eel

Trouser just close down your Twitter and FB. I have never had either, am I missing something?

Trouser Eel
Guest
Trouser Eel

Hi John, how would I keep up with all the cat memes?

DDay
Guest
DDay

Some good questions posed. Agree Sixties, Eels supporters provide “unqualified demand”. I feel the previous constant leaking of information from Eels Board members has conditioned Eels fans to go looking for the content and for the media to realise the value of Eels clickbait stories – creating a virtuous circle. The new Board is tight and I think many of us Eels fans are struggling with the transition and the media are struggling with the void leading to creative writing. Maybe the club’s media team could do more to fill the void? Another factor is Parramatta are not a team… Read more »

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Another interesting article Sixties and again the media therein lies the truth and also where the truth should be. Who knows? I know i have no idea. Parra do sell- yes they do. This was seen in 2016 and the continual coverage through leaks it seems from some disgruntled staff and or people in the know. What i found interesting was the level of outrage from some in the media, yet when we saw Melb issue after which they won a comp or two, the media seemed to focus on the players and coach staying together etc. besides some receiving… Read more »

John Eel
Guest
John Eel

Sometimes I feel that the club is slow to respond to social media. Notwithstanding all times it is appropriate to ignore.

Speculation on recruitment is one such time. When there was speculation over Mark O’Neil that was an example of where they should have stepped in

By the way has anyone spotted MO yeti?

rowdy roddy
Guest
rowdy roddy

G’day John, Yes mate I saw him at Saleyards two weeks back on a Monday or Tuesday just before lunchtime, earlier in the week that official training began. I was having a chat to our S & F trainer Adrian J. who was so eager to start a full off season with his mates from Melbourne days BA and David K. He really spoke positively about our expanding coaching and training staff and their hopes and plans for the coming season. There was not a hint of confusion or disappointment in our current roster just a determined confidence that the… Read more »

John Eel
Guest
John Eel

Thanks for the feedback Rowdy. Much appreciated.

MattL
Guest
MattL

Great discussion topic. I have been thinking the same for ages, especially re Hayne.
The media uses him for a reason though, even in non Hayne related social media articles by the 2nd or 3rd comment someone’s already brought his resigning into the conversation.

The media feed us whatever we will swallow.

Steve Moore
Guest
Steve Moore

Having lived in the Parramatta district for the majority of my life, and now I live in Brisbane (where we are convinced there are only 3 Teams in the NRL), I can say I crave *any* Eels news — no so much from the News Ltd camps, but objective reporting without the ridiculous spin. Unless there’s a scandal, Eels news never makes it into the mainstream Brisbane airwaves. … just my 2c. 😊

BDon
Guest
BDon

Challenging topic! My head hurts thinking about it. Recent events tend to be more top of mind for people and we certainly have generated a stack of unqualified demand for all forms of media over the past 10 years since the Hayne year 2009, and it seems about 80% bad news since then. Click bait heaven. Can’t help but think the whole thing is what it is, society has chosen a path and Rugby League trudges down it with everybody. The media ‘presented’ its topics more carefully, more respectfully pre-internet. I loved Controversy Corner, never missed it before getting out… Read more »