This blog is six years old today.
When it began in that long forgotten hinterland that was 2006 I was primarily a journalist, frustrated by the attitude of newspaper sports editors towards snooker and looking for my own outlet to provide news, some opinions and hopefully interesting features for snooker fans.
In a media sense, 2006 now seems like a golden age. It’s harder than ever to interest newspapers in snooker. That’s why most stories that do appear tend to revolve around people having a go at each other.
I am now primarily a commentator and salute Hector Nunns, now snooker’s leading freelance journalist, who does his level best to keep the sport alive in the newspapers.
Private Eye editor Ian Hislop said at the seemingly endless Leveson inquiry into press ethics that “news only becomes news when it appears in the newspapers. On blogs it’s just noise.”
He has a point. The main problem with the internet when it comes to information is the blending of fact and opinion. Indeed, this is only following what has happened for many years in newspapers.
The point of journalism is supposed to be to find out as many facts as possible and then present them to the public.
In a world of instant communication, facts seem to matter less than having an immediate opinion.
This is why on a 24-hour news channel the reporter on the scene often knows no more than the person in the studio: they haven’t had time to find out what’s going on because they are stood in front of a camera.
On the internet too, particularly now Twitter has come along, it’s a world of instant judgements: a miasma of words, but how many facts?
And so the media gorges on itself: stories fill newspapers now based on what famous people have said on Twitter. This is a very cheap form of journalism: you don’t even have to leave the office or, heaven forbid, talk to anyone. In a similar way, blogs feed off newspapers and ‘news’ gets recycled.
There are many snooker blogs, written in the main by dedicated people spending their own time promoting the sport unpaid. They should be encouraged and congratulated. Look at the effort Matt at Pro Snooker Blog puts into keeping the seedings list updated: a vital service much used by the players.
Snookerbacker even ran a tournament to provide free entry for two players to Q School. One of them, Martin O’Donnell, not only got through but made a winning start at the qualifiers last week.
There are blogs cropping up outside the UK and Living Snooker is a promising new addition because it carries the thoughts of various players.
But sponsors want their names in newspapers. They want people not interested in snooker to notice them. They want the right target markets to notice them.
One of the problems is that snooker is sneered at by large sections of the media, including on sports desks, who think their opinions outweigh that of their readers.
They ignore it all year and then when the World Championship comes around, because they have ignored it all year, they don’t know who any of the players are and so run knocking pieces complaining about the ‘lack of characters.’
The dominance of football doesn’t help and the amount of paper given over to the Olympics would fetch Sting out in a cold sweat.
World Snooker didn’t help the situation by agreeing to an absurd arrangement whereby the Press Association, the national press agency which sends copy to almost every newspaper in the country, rewrite worldsnooker.com copy rather than reporting independently themselves (or by using freelances).
All this has done is further reduce the amount of coverage in the newspapers. And the shame of it is that the truly good news of the game’s recent revival under Barry Hearn is not being told. This in turn makes it more difficult to attract new sponsors to the sport. We may all know it, but people outside the snooker bubble do not.
What point am I making? I’ve forgotten now. That’s the thing with blogs. If this were a newspaper piece I would have been given a set amount of words to get the message across. On a blog you can ramble on for as long as you like, hoping your readers haven’t fallen into a catatonic state before getting to the end.
I actually prefer blogging in between tournaments. Unless something out of the ordinary happens during an event then I don’t think there’s much to say because fans have seen it all for themselves.
There used to be weeks – sometimes months – between tournaments. Now it’s usually a day or two.
Long may that continue. I for one am delighted at the way Hearn and his team has filled up the calendar and taken snooker to new territories and given the sport a boost of confidence and some much needed direction.
Things aren’t perfect and never will be but they are considerably better than on June 12, 2006 when I first started writing this blog.
As ever, thank you for reading.
As ever, thank you for reading.