This is no subject for sensationalism, Mr Thomson

This time last week Alex Thomson at Channel 4 sent the first tweet. A picture of the front of Celtic Park with the cryptic message ‘Watch this space…’

We’ve covered that already in some detail on The Celtic Star in the past seven days.

Today the next instalment. A new tweet. This time a little lengthier, almost like there had been a wee change in approach like someone had had his ear, but still as unbecoming when it comes to the subject matter it hints at.

The story Mr Thomson is working on relates to child abuse in Scottish football-just in case you’ve been living on the moon for the last few days – I’m not sure the spoiler alert approach would be appropriate.

“Famous for its noise. Now infamous for its silence. Is Scottish football dealing with its past paedophile rings generally? Is Celtic FC particularly? Special investigation with new evidence now being edited for @Channel4News” is how this week’s tweet read.

There is something enticing and appealing in a build up to main event. When you go to the cinema part of the experience is the half hour preamble through adverts and trailers, that Pearl and Dean Soundtrack. It all adds to the ambience, the sense of wanting it all now but enjoying the wait.

The heavyweight boxing encounter on pay-per-view TV. Past fights, knockouts and even like tonight past encounters between the two protagonists. The rematch!

The excitement builds, before you know it you’re paying 25 quid to watch and line the pockets of two average bruisers and their promoters.

One of my favourite television productions in the last few years has been Line of Duty. I love the fact the BBC didn’t take the box-set approach and release all the episodes at the same time. I’m not sure the addictiveness of my nature would have stopped me taking the next day off work and binging on the whole series. I’d also have missed out. I wouldn’t have had the days for it all to soak in for my mind, the to and fro over the infinite possibilities the writers may have thrown into the plot lines.

I loved talking to fellow fans the following day at work. What do you think, where’s this going? The whole hanging-by-a-thread nature of the cliff hanger endings. That’s TV, that’s the beauty of a series there is something enjoyable of being left with enough to anticipate. When it’s fiction that is.

Even before it all began I loved the countdown. The 10 second glimpse and hints for two or three months before it began. Not telling you what was coming but if you watched the series previously you knew the signs. ‘Coming soon on BBC’ building up to a few weeks before. Coming next month. Next Week. Sunday night. Then the press articles the hints on social media the actors being interviewed without giving too much away. Sometimes that anticipation helps whet the appetite for what is to come.

But there are times that wouldn’t be appropriate would it? Say news stories involving real people with harrowing experiences, not a few characters and actors spinning a yarn. That would be crass. To build up to that like a million pound drama on Netflix or More 4 when the subject was say human trafficking or child abuse? We wouldn’t accept that would we? Standards and all that.

Those standards are a bit higher in this country, than to take that teasing anticipation into a world where every time an advert is run or indeed a tweet is sent people are reliving experiences. We aren’t Fox News here in the UK are we? We’re better than that, we take into account survivors experiences we don’t sensationalise stories like that. Or do we?

This country still has respected journalists and broadcasters. People who have the strength of their convictions, confidence in their research, investigations, the hard yards it takes to pull together the evidence and present the case. To sensationalise and build it up like a Hollywood sequel just wouldn’t be cricket, would it old chap?

Journalistic standards at the likes Channel 4 are all we have left to cling to. At least they respect their subject matter, what survivors have gone through, and the courage that it takes to raise their head above the parapet.

If it was a school being investigated and new evidence ‘edited’ would we see a weekly twitter update with 13 second rolling clips of the playground. If it was your local playgroup or nursery would the same approach be taken or would we just get on with the story when it was ready for public consumption?

There are times where sensationalism is appropriate and there are times when the subject matter means it’s simply not befitting.

This is one of those time Mr Thomson. Perhaps it is time to act accordingly.

Niall J

About Author

As a Bellshill Bhoy I was taken to my first Celtic game in the summer of 1987. It was Billy McNeill’s return to Celtic Park as manager and Celtic lost 5-1 to Arsenal . I thought I was a jinx, I think my Grandfather might have thought the same. It was finest gift anyone ever gave me when he walked me through Parhead's gates.

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