Thursday, 18 August 2011

Syson vs Lynch!

The Age's chief soccer writer Michael Lynch (left), has his undies snapped by academic Ian Syson (centre), as part of a fledgling annual tradition in which local soccer fans take Lynch and The Age to task for not publishing material about the Victorian Premier League. South of the Border creator Paul Mavroudis (right), looks on, characteristically unamused by the spectacle.

This entry is also known as why Twitter sucks, and The Annual Disaffected, Bitter, Semi-Literate, Quasi Intelligent VPL Fan's Snapping of Michael Lynch's Undies.

I don't like Twitter and therefore I don't use Twitter. The website sucks and 160 characters is a daft number to choose. 255 is a much better choice.

Of course, if like me you don't have a smart phone, it's probably utterly pointless.

And besides, I like to waffle on, see where my muse leads me.

But epic manifestos on my self-diagnosed depression and where to get a good and cheap feed in Melbourne on a Sunday evening aren't for everyone.

And some of you like to consider yourselves as more technologically savvy than this blog, and more power to you in that regard.

So if you're one of those people with the attention span of a newt, then I suppose something like Twitter is your friend, and you may be interested in the stoush being played out between The Age's 'sokkah' writer Michael Lynch and academic (and sort of friend of South of the Border) Ian Syson, about why the VPL doesn't get more coverage in The Age.

Is there anything new here, in comparison to the last time we had this conversation? Nah, but it's become an annual ritual which we like to think we've played a part in establishing courtesy of an angry email I sent a few years ago after our last grand final win, but which is now lost because it was on my Bigpond email account and I'm on TPG now, and I didn't have the foresight to save it.

Why was it via Bigpond? Because I reasoned that The Age would probably automatically filter out my hotmail and gmail attempts at reaching them. All of which should be a footnote, because the arguments being employed are still much the same.
  • We don't cover second tier sport.
  • There's not enough interest/it's only followed by a few hardcores.
  • I would love to do it, but there's limited space.
  • I'll try and get something online next year.
  • The Age is about selling papers and entertaining people, not informing them.

To which this year there's been a couple of new additions
  • We (Fairfax) have a deal with the FFV to get stuff published in local papers.
  • Coverage of Victorian soccer is the best it's ever been!

There are obvious responses to all these things, which have been covered before (see the above links and the Michael Lynch tag on this blog) as well as in this current mini-fracas, but to save time, let's go over them one more (last?) time.

  • The Age does cover second and third tier sport, when they report on VFL, VAFA, District Cricket etc.
  • There would be VPL crowds that would easily match or cover an equivalent VFL, VAFA, District Cricket fixture.
  • The notion of limited space is a crock. Ghostwritten articles by AFL players which probably no one reads are somehow more important and integral than a VPL grand final?
  • When it comes to the internet and getting more content on there, next year never seems to arrive for our daily newspapers. 
  • Yes, yes, we know that we can follow our teams in the free suburban papers. But that goes for the aforementioned aussie rules and premier cricket competitions as well, and yet they still get press coverage in the dailies.
  • Unless one counts the coverage of the Victory and Heart as part of the tally, coverage of Victorian soccer is non-existent in The Age.
  • It is easy to prove that soccer coverage was more extensive just by looking up old papers. Was it as well written? Probably not. Was it to the point and did it cover the main details of the weekend's action? In quite a few cases, yes.
I don't think anyone in their right mind is asking for wall to wall coverage of the competition, merely acknowledgement of its importance relative to the other junk that they cover, as well as a cessation in the bullshit they peddle about why the VPL does not get coverage in their paper. That's what I want at least. If they discarded all the other lower tier sport, then there'd be one less bit of hypocrisy for the cynics, who perhaps see this as just another part of the australian rules conspiracy, to aim at.

The Age may be operating in a global field, but it is a Melbourne paper which should accurately reflect the things which are happening in this city, and not merely favour those things which are the enclave of a few Old Boys, nor use their professed parochialism solely as an advertising tool and not as a deeper operating philosophy. Yes, I've walked past your ads at Spencer Street Station, and no, I don't believe what they're telling me.

Then again, with so much of their material operations being outsourced away from Victoria, are they even a genuinely local enterprise any longer? Who the hell cares, as long people are entertained by what they read in preference to being informed about their world; because the logical conclusion about selling papers and giving people what they want to read, is that you eventually stop giving people items that they should be reading.

I'd wager that there's plenty of people out there who already think that The Age has headed down the path of treating it's readership in an increasingly condescending manner. Me, I just hope to see everyone here again next year, so we can give this ride another whirl.


  1. So much contradictory gobbledygook at the tail end of that piece.

    I guess what I was trying to say was, that 60 years ago Fred Villiers received much the same response that Syson and others have received when raising this issue.

    Instead of sitting back, he fought for increased coverage, and he would later claim that circulations went up because of that increased coverage.

    Giving people next to no choice about what they want in their news coverage, and then claiming that what you give them is what they want is a ludicrous position to take.

    I'd like to sit in on one of these focus groups to see how these decisions are made. Wonder how many leading questions one would get?

  2. Having said of all that, now Lynch is claiming he needs to be told when and where games are being held!

    How the fuck is little old amateur South of the Border able to keep up to date with this shit?

    Listen Mick, you're on the net, you're a soccer writer, can't you figure it out?

  3. Im a reader of The Australian, as thats the preferred choice of the educated. Who is Michael Lynch ?

  4. Michael Lynch is a finance, horse racing and motor sport writer, who in that great tradition of Australian sports journalism, was chosen to write on football because he was the nearest Pom available at the time.

  5. Lynch would actually have to give a crap in the first place. Clearly he does not, and is happy with the status quo at the Age.

  6. i ventured onto and saw this piece by Michael Lynch.

    Check out the last 2 paragraphs.

  7. So, an Ian Syson hissy fit on Twitter gets us two paragraphs. What would the formula look like in order to get more coverage?

    If we smashed his letterbox with a baseball bat, would that get us a whole match preview? Sugar in the gas tank, a march report?

    If we kidnap Archie Thompson and hide him in one of those portables at Paisley Park until our demands our met, could we get a season preview double pager?

  8. The portables at Paisley park are too comfortable for Archie Thompson.

  9. On the other hand, perhaps Lynchy should check his inbox every once in a while... I've been informed that he is on the SMFC mailing list.

  10. Now I know it's a different paper, but look at the way the Hun syncs in with its local papers for suburban footy

    If Fairfax has a deal going with the FFV, why can't we get similar online synchronisation for our game?

  11. Credit where it's due. Lynch reported on the upcoming VPL games in today's Age:

  12. A bit late with that news Ian, it's already been mentioned by the Kiss of Death earlier in the comments for this entry.

    Check out the link for the Herald Sun's 'Local Footy' page just above.

  13. KOD, 1 step ahead of everyone.
    Unlucky Syson.

  14. sorry . . . well done Kiss

  15. Just actually read the twitter coversation between Synson and Lynch, and I can't believe that Lynch is actually arguing that the coverage today is not worse than what it was in the past. One only needs to jump on google news archive and look up the Age to see thats a load of rubbish. Who does he think he is kidding?

  16. I'm such a patsy sell out wanker. Of course I joined Twitter.

    1. But if you hadn't, I might not have! And neither would Nikita From Messinia who followed me. :)


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