The Athletic “gutting” British newspapers

Needham

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Let's start an online fanzine style parody called "Neil Custis's stomach looks uncannily like London Planetarium".
 

manutddjw

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I was thinking about subscribing but the issue with their coverage of football is at the end of the day these are still football writers who spent the bulk of their career making up stories or writing opinion pieces. They pretty much have zero value.

I always found it interesting that in North America particularly the NFL there is several reporters who have inside info for every team and if they say something you can pretty much take it as gospel. In football, there’s zero credibility and whatever they say you take it with a grain of salt.
 

HankHill

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I was thinking about subscribing but the issue with their coverage of football is at the end of the day these are still football writers who spent the bulk of their career making up stories or writing opinion pieces. They pretty much have zero value.

I always found it interesting that in North America particularly the NFL there is several reporters who have inside info for every team and if they say something you can pretty much take it as gospel. In football, there’s zero credibility and whatever they say you take it with a grain of salt.
Are they not writing what they are told to write, when it comes down to it? The orders from the editor at the Daily Star won't be the same as the orders from the editor at the BBC, for example.

Different publications have different levels of professionalism and journalistic integrity and if the word from the top at the Athletic is to focus on high quality, thoughtful articles sans embellishment then that's what the writers will do (assuming they have the ability).

Time will tell, I suppose.
 

simonhch

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I was thinking about subscribing but the issue with their coverage of football is at the end of the day these are still football writers who spent the bulk of their career making up stories or writing opinion pieces. They pretty much have zero value.

I always found it interesting that in North America particularly the NFL there is several reporters who have inside info for every team and if they say something you can pretty much take it as gospel. In football, there’s zero credibility and whatever they say you take it with a grain of salt.
Well firstly, it is pretty daft to say football journalists have zero value. There are a lot of good sports journalists around the country who have produced excellent content for many years. Just because some produce the sensationalist headlines over transfers that the mouth frothing, attention span of a insect, fan base generally want - does not mean you should tarnish them all with the same brush.

Secondly, I have already subscribed and the last three articles I have read have all been more interesting and informative than anything I’ve read about football for quite some time.
 

mu4c_20le

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Secondly, I have already subscribed and the last three articles I have read have all been more interesting and informative than anything I’ve read about football for quite some time.
So why didn't they write like that before, when they worked for the BBCs and Guardians? Why suddenly increase the quality now, after being paid more?
 

simonhch

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So why didn't they write like that before, when they worked for the BBCs and Guardians? Why suddenly increase the quality now, after being paid more?
Maybe the subject choice made by the editors, and the mandate is better? Pretty sure they don’t write in a vacuum.
 

The Boy

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Are they not writing what they are told to write, when it comes down to it? The orders from the editor at the Daily Star won't be the same as the orders from the editor at the BBC, for example.

Different publications have different levels of professionalism and journalistic integrity and if the word from the top at the Athletic is to focus on high quality, thoughtful articles sans embellishment then that's what the writers will do (assuming they have the ability).

Time will tell, I suppose.
Not sure what you mean by this. If you mean editors at the BBC are telling journalists to write that Manchester United are bidding for X player then that just doesn't happen. If you mean editors at BBC are saying find out what is going on with Manchester United and is it true they are bidding for player X then fair enough. But there is no serious media company in the UK where people are told what facts to write, I cant speak for online or trashier publications like the Star.
 

The Boy

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So why didn't they write like that before, when they worked for the BBCs and Guardians? Why suddenly increase the quality now, after being paid more?
Depends on the style wanted and the audience.

The Athletic is trying to sell itself I guess like a Sunday Paper, long thoughtful and insightful articles for people who are willing to take the time and have the time to read them all the way through. The BBC website is aimed much more at quick visitors ie give them the news as quickly as possible, with the occasional long form blog for visitors that have more time which is why sometimes you get very good insight articles on the BBC website.

The Guardian online and in the paper has some excellent long form articles as well along side the quicker newsier articles. The more trashy publications like the Mail or the Sun also know their audience, they don't want long form thoughtful stuff they want more sensational writing.
 

HankHill

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Not sure what you mean by this. If you mean editors at the BBC are telling journalists to write that Manchester United are bidding for X player then that just doesn't happen. If you mean editors at BBC are saying find out what is going on with Manchester United and is it true they are bidding for player X then fair enough. But there is no serious media company in the UK where people are told what facts to write, I cant speak for online or trashier publications like the Star.
The tone comes from the top - they know exactly how far they can "push the truth", look at the massive differences in numbers we get when transfer fees, wages etc are being talked about. The more reputable publications tend not to inflate figures like the gutter rags do and I'm sure the journos themselves are told how far they can stray from the facts.

I doubt a journo is sitting at his desk plucking figures out of the air of his own volition. There is a way of doing things unique to each publication and it seems logical to me to assume that that comes from those higher up in the organisation.
 

The Boy

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The tone comes from the top - they know exactly how far they can "push the truth", look at the massive differences in numbers we get when transfer fees, wages etc are being talked about. The more reputable publications tend not to inflate figures like the gutter rags do and I'm sure the journos themselves are told how far they can stray from the facts.

I doubt a journo is sitting at his desk plucking figures out of the air of his own volition. There is a way of doing things unique to each publication and it seems logical to me to assume that that comes from those higher up in the organisation.
You clearly have inside knowledge, but I can absolutely guarantee that no one at the BBC is telling anyone "how far they can stray from the facts" their careers and reputations with the organisation, the clubs and the audiences are built on getting things right. Doesn't mean they wont make mistakes but they don't make stuff up and are never told to either.
 

HankHill

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You clearly have inside knowledge, but I can absolutely guarantee that no one at the BBC is telling anyone "how far they can stray from the facts" their careers and reputations with the organisation, the clubs and the audiences are built on getting things right. Doesn't mean they wont make mistakes but they don't make stuff up and are never told to either.
I have no inside knowledge - and you are misreading pretty much everything I'm saying. I'm not sure if you are being deliberately obtuse.

I specifically said that the more reputable companies have a completely different modus operandi to the gutter rags.

I.E the BBC will report the facts, the Star will report made up shite.

This isn't a revolutionary idea.

So is it not plausible that a journalist will adapt to the standards of a new employer and deliver higher quality content than he previously did at a less reputable publication?
 

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Depends on the style wanted and the audience.

The Athletic is trying to sell itself I guess like a Sunday Paper, long thoughtful and insightful articles for people who are willing to take the time and have the time to read them all the way through. The BBC website is aimed much more at quick visitors ie give them the news as quickly as possible, with the occasional long form blog for visitors that have more time which is why sometimes you get very good insight articles on the BBC website.

The Guardian online and in the paper has some excellent long form articles as well along side the quicker newsier articles. The more trashy publications like the Mail or the Sun also know their audience, they don't want long form thoughtful stuff they want more sensational writing.
The pieces will mostly amount to the same thing just more long-winded and self righteous. I have written many essays where there was x number of words required and I managed to dress up what I was saying to match the quota when I could have effectively given the same content in 60% of the amount of words. This is what the majority of these journalists specialise in, you only need to listen to them when they make appearances on podcasts or appear on Sunday Supplement, mostly hot air and a lot of words while saying very little. This is what you will be getting but in written form.

"Alexis Sanchez hated by Arsenal teammates" - The Sun - Sensationalist.

"Sources close to The Athletic have informed us that Alexis Sanchez cut a lonely figure in his latter days at Arsenal, cut adrift by what his colleagues deemed to be an aloof air and attitude which led to his unpopularity in the dressing room" - The Athletic - apparently "deep, thoughtful and insightful"


Bells and whistles.
 

liamp

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So why didn't they write like that before, when they worked for the BBCs and Guardians? Why suddenly increase the quality now, after being paid more?
Don't know how it is in England but the major selling point of The Athletic in the US is that it's been liberating for the journalists involved. There's less pressure to write content designed largely to generate clicks (i.e. transfer bait, spicy hot takes, etc.), less pressure to regurgitate beat columns (recapping the previous night's game as if the digital age didn't make those redundant) and less pressure to rush both of those types of stories to web/print.
 

The Boy

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The pieces will mostly amount to the same thing just more long-winded and self righteous. I have written many essays where there was x number of words required and I managed to dress up what I was saying to match the quota when I could have effectively given the same content in 60% of the amount of words. This is what the majority of these journalists specialise in, you only need to listen to them when they make appearances on podcasts or appear on Sunday Supplement, mostly hot air and a lot of words while saying very little. This is what you will be getting but in written form.

"Alexis Sanchez hated by Arsenal teammates" - The Sun - Sensationalist.

"Sources close to The Athletic have informed us that Alexis Sanchez cut a lonely figure in his latter days at Arsenal, cut adrift by what his colleagues deemed to be an aloof air and attitude which led to his unpopularity in the dressing room" - The Athletic - apparently "deep, thoughtful and insightful"


Bells and whistles.
I take your point, but the subject matter is a bit different here, its not sensational click bait and not just reports of games, the detail in the article about the changes Ole is making behind the scenes you wouldn't really see anywhere else. I'm a Brighton fan and they have an in depth interview with Graham Potter delving into his philosophy and background which I certainly haven't seen anywhere else.
 

Bullhitter

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I take your point, but the subject matter is a bit different here, its not sensational click bait and not just reports of games, the detail in the article about the changes Ole is making behind the scenes you wouldn't really see anywhere else. I'm a Brighton fan and they have an in depth interview with Graham Potter delving into his philosophy and background which I certainly haven't seen anywhere else.
Some will enjoy it and some won't. I just disagree with the premise that the content is going to be substantially different. I don't think it is but I do agree it will be better packaged I guess you could call it. I suppose the same as there are people happy to pay a premium for very well or artistically presented food and there are others who would never dream of doing so.
 

Redo91

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Just downloaded the app there. It asks me to select an payment play after the free trial. I am just ignoring it and using it as normal. I have checked on the App Store and it isn’t appearing as a subscription. I’m afraid that it is selecting the default of around €50 per year and I will be paying that. Am I right in saying if that was the case it would be appearing in my subscriptions?
 

PeteManic

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I think the Football Weekly podcast has improved since Jimbo left and I spent most of last season constantly debating whether or not to stop listening to The Totally Football Show.
I stopped listening to the Totally Football Show after about a month. It was getting too clever for its own good.

Plus how could anyone live without Sid?
 

SteveJ

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Rafa proves his RAWK credentials straight away:
I would like to start my first column for The Athletic with this quote from Confucius, the Chinese philosopher and politician.
 

Classical Mechanic

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You've got the free sub then?
Yeah, you get a month to decide. I might go with the £30 sub for the first year but no way would I pay £60 for it from what I've seen so far. Problem is that there's only one main United journalist so the content is scarce. I don't mind reading the odd things about other sides but my key interest is United by far and away. They have a sports business section which I thought would be good but its all American sports.
 

NinjaFletch

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From what I've seen so far they've taken a bunch of, mostly, local journos and asked them to write the same banal shit they have for years in a slightly higher register and then posted it on a website using a serifed typeface.

Certainly don't see much evidence to suggest that there's significantly more substance behind most of their articles.
 

DomesticTadpole

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I was thinking about subscribing but the issue with their coverage of football is at the end of the day these are still football writers who spent the bulk of their career making up stories or writing opinion pieces. They pretty much have zero value.

I always found it interesting that in North America particularly the NFL there is several reporters who have inside info for every team and if they say something you can pretty much take it as gospel. In football, there’s zero credibility and whatever they say you take it with a grain of salt.
Think it was the same here years ago, because the players trusted the journalist assigned to their clubs, so they were happy to talk. Then the gutter press starting looking for smut on footballers for their front page and inside stories. It put a wedge between footballers and people they usually trusted, got to the stage they daren't say anything, so stuff gets made up to sell papers. Also social media can break stories quicker so newspapers are not in the loop the way they were.
 

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I think the Football Weekly podcast has improved since Jimbo left and I spent most of last season constantly debating whether or not to stop listening to The Totally Football Show.
Agreed, I love Jimbo but I also think Football Weekly has improved over the last year... and it's certainly the much better podcast of the two.
 

Classical Mechanic

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From what I've seen so far they've taken a bunch of, mostly, local journos and asked them to write the same banal shit they have for years in a slightly higher register and then posted it on a website using a serifed typeface.

Certainly don't see much evidence to suggest that there's significantly more substance behind most of their articles.
The first article I read on there was the Maguire transfer one which I thought was brilliant. It had contributions from the United, City and Leicester journalists so it was pretty in depth and there was a round table with the journalists after it where you could ask them questions. I was feeling pretty positive after that but there hasn't been much of interest since then, beyond what you'd get in regular publications that are free as you say.
 
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Ayush_reddevil

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I'm feeling that there isn't really enough content on The Athletic to justify paying for it currently.
I am a huge fan of American sports and Athletic started on American sport a while back and I somehow resisted the urge to pay for all this time . Now I paid 30£ for an yearly subscription because between NBA, NFL and football I feel that I get good value , not sure it's worth it just for football
 

Nick7

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Yeah, you get a month to decide. I might go with the £30 sub for the first year but no way would I pay £60 for it from what I've seen so far. Problem is that there's only one main United journalist so the content is scarce. I don't mind reading the odd things about other sides but my key interest is United by far and away. They have a sports business section which I thought would be good but its all American sports.
Agree with this. What I've read I've liked, but there's not enough United content to make me spend money reading it. I like Michael Cox's stuff though, regardless of what team he's writing about, though.
 

Classical Mechanic

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I think the no match report is a misstep. It was weird to go on there after such a fun win on Sunday and see nothing except for a chat section for fans and then one article on Dan James appear the day after. I was kind of hoping there would be in-depth statistical analysis after each game.
 

P-Ro

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I think the no match report is a misstep. It was weird to go on there after such a fun win on Sunday and see nothing except for a chat section for fans and then one article on Dan James appear the day after. I was kind of hoping there would be in-depth statistical analysis after each game.
You've already got that on the post match thread on the United forum. What more do you want!?
 

JJ12

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From what I've seen so far they've taken a bunch of, mostly, local journos and asked them to write the same banal shit they have for years in a slightly higher register and then posted it on a website using a serifed typeface.

Certainly don't see much evidence to suggest that there's significantly more substance behind most of their articles.
Not sure what you've been reading to be honest. I can understand other criticism of lack of content in a specific field. If you are paying just for United articles then you're paying for around 7 articles a week from 2 writers.

Much better pieces than your usual dross though.
 
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Nick7

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I think the no match report is a misstep. It was weird to go on there after such a fun win on Sunday and see nothing except for a chat section for fans and then one article on Dan James appear the day after. I was kind of hoping there would be in-depth statistical analysis after each game.
Also agree with this. Hope they start doing tactical match reports in the future.

there's a decent article about Maguire now. I’d like to see more of them
 

NinjaFletch

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Not sure what you've been reading to be honest. I can understand other criticism of lack of content in a specific field. If you are paying just for United articles then you're paying for around 7 articles a week from 2 writers.

Much better pieces than your usual dross though.
It's better written for sure, my contention is that most of the writers that they've hired didn't have anything interesting to say when they were working for other outlets and still don't have anything interesting to say now they're with the Athletic. Good writing is important, but it doesn't replace substance.

Take that Maguire article for example, that's a pretty good fluff piece and it's written in an entertaining way. The only thing 'new' it tells you, though, is a bit of seasoning about who Woodward spoke to at Leicester; everything else has already been reported elsewhere.

If the Athletic's model is to work they have to get scoops and produce content that you can't get elsewhere. So far, I'm yet to see any evidence that the people they've employed can do that.
 
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Spiersey

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I've just signed up. Will cancel if it's mundane gossip type articles. Looking for decent insight which they should be in theory.
 

Wumminator

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Agree with this. What I've read I've liked, but there's not enough United content to make me spend money reading it. I like Michael Cox's stuff though, regardless of what team he's writing about, though.
There’s more coming. An excellent piece by Rio soon.