Footy’s (Dud) Fourth Estate

Since North Melbourne’s on-field season has pretty much gone, along with Boris the chicken and Dean Laidley, the media’s patronising and dismissive coverage of our proud club has petered out to next to nothing. If North weren’t in the hunt for Nathan Buckley as coach, biased match reviews would be the only time the media bothered to mention NMFC.

A blogging peer has done an astute analysis of footy’s mediocre broadcast media – time to put the spotlight on the online portals of the old print media.

Real Footy

Fairfax’s flagship online AFL presence is embarrassing. Even prior to the latest round of staffing cuts, the Real Footy homepage seemed to be updated about as regularly as Stephen Kernahan’s hairstyle. Commenting remains confined to a tokenistic array of sanitised (and largely unused) blogs, and all the AAP newswire does is inform readers which sound-bytes will be used in the following day’s ‘reports’.

Caroline Wilson’s normally interesting, albeit polarising take on footy has taken a backward step this year. While her negative NMFC coverage culminated in an engrossing on-air showdown with James Brayshaw on Footy Classified, her journalistic integrity copped a caning. The truth is the demands of filling too many column inches has left Wilson clutching at straws; sometimes there just isn’t enough news.

Rohan Connolly’s insightful opinions on North Melbourne have been heartening, and John T. Harms’ musings from the outer (once you find them) almost seem out of place on Real Footy, due to his writing brilliance. Unfortunately, Martin Flanagan’s equally fascinating stories have lost their punch, given the subject matter has largely been limited to the Melbourne Football Club .


News Ltd’s expensive venture into the footy new media world is certainly light years ahead of Fairfax. But Superfooty’s design superiority is dragged down by it’s own ridiculous contributors:

  • ‘Iron’ Mike Sheahan – Ridiculously overrated journo who hasn’t been on the beat for decades. Needs to be taken off the pedestal or put out to pasture.
  • Jon ‘Ralphy’ Ralph – This private schooled, college graduated prototype is all about Ralphy and not much about footy. Rarely do his musings constitute either news or analysis.
  • Kevin Sheedy – Since when did Supercoach competitions constitute news?
  • James Hird – Get off the fence already.

Superfooty’s biggest shocker so far has been the Terry Wallace (non)-sacking, which turned out to be a fascinating story about the sorry state of footy media, and a shit-boring non-story from the media about footy. (Although I confess to holding a strange respect for Mark ‘Robbo’ Robinson’s brash and direct style.)

But when it comes to calling a spade a fucking shovel, Jason Akermanis has to take the cake. A breath of fresh air in a world of full of media trained (read: dull, fence-sitting) players.

The Contenders

Thankfully, the people’s medium (the ‘internets’) has given rise to a number of other media options, particularly when it comes to something as popular as football. Here’s a quick snapshot:

  • The Footy Almanac – brainchild of John T. Harms, this brilliant concept exploding with content (plenty of which is actually interesting) has massive potential. It’s design and functionality could do with some Gen Y input – but nevertheless, an exciting space to watch.
  • Contested Footy – Enthusiastic attempt at citizen journalism by a bunch of uni students. Needs to find a unique angle.
  • North Melbourne Writer’s Group – A couple of gifted writers from Harmsy’s stable with royal blue and white blood. Again, needs a bit of a redesign (including proper commenting functionality), but a great contribution to the bloggosphere.
  • Half Back Flanker – Unique take on the AFL headlines, done with good humour and solid writing. Could be broken up a bit more, but worthy of patronage.
  • Sportal – Pointless.
  • FootyHeads – Hutchie’s little side project. See Sportal.

Did I miss any? (BTW – forums don’t count)



Filed under Off Field

2 responses to “Footy’s (Dud) Fourth Estate

  1. mls88

    Good to see I inspired your post!

    I couldn’t agree more about Mike Sheahan; I can’t understand why he’s rated so highly.

    Another thing neither of us have really touched on is some of the player columns.

    I’d love to know how much of these are actually written by the players, because I just can’t imagine Ben Cousins or Barry Hall typing away at their computers. The ghost-writers try and make them look legit by using simplistic language, but all that does is make them a complete waste of space.

    And speaking of online content, if I hear one more plug for “…..that’s sport s.e.n t.r.a.l dot com” I’ll go mad. The website’s just full of the AAP and Sportal crap you mentioned.

  2. Pingback: Superfooty vs Realfooty « Roo Beauty

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