Hello – and welcome to our first Everton fans’ podcast.
Spiking The Debate
The Liverpool ECHO has, for some time now, been heavily criticised by a section of Everton supporters who feel we do not do enough to challenge and campaign for change in the boardroom at Goodison Park.
We decided to invite leaders of several of those fan groups in to air their views and discuss them with our Everton editor Greg O’Keeffe and Deputy Head of Sport David Prentice – all with a view to producing a podcast.
These other fan groups are a misnomer, having listened to the first half of the Echo’s podcast in which one Cardiff based blue lists the near omnipresent view of pro-board fans that is frequently echoed in the media for 10 minutes on the phone.
In contrast a group of supporters critical of the board got 20 minutes.
My issue is that this is false balance. The Echo got those supporters to attend the podcast to give them an opportunity to air their own views of the club. Views that are not represented in the Echo.
This was the balance that was required and that is how it was sold to them.
What they weren’t told was that they were going to include other “fans groups” that supported the board.
In the end they found two supporters and one is from Cardiff and is understandably unaware of the strong local feeling against the board.
He is entitled to his views, but the Echo have set him up to be a patsy for the sake of false balance.
Balance is not just about giving equal weight to opinions, it’s also about the facts upon which those opinions are based.
The pro-board fans have opinions, the anti-board fans have facts. Where should the balance lie? With the facts always the facts.
You can hold a different interpretation of the facts to my own and I will accept that, it happens all the time in academia.
The Echo’s approach to balance, at least in the sports section approach, would give equal space to Holocaust deniers and Historians. That’s not balance at all. One side are anti-Semitic liars and others are serious historians that have done years of research.
Should both sides get equal coverage?
The only balance that is acceptable is to allow both sides equal time and the echo allowed this podcast because it would allow the critics of their coverage of Everton, those anti-board fans, a serious opportunity to air their views.
Twenty minutes for a group of under-represented fans and ten minutes with a Cardiff based blue that has been set up as a patsy by the echo is not balanced.
They also decided to sit on it for two weeks, citing technical issues and staff holidays as the reasons behind the delay.
This was not true, they were leaned on by the club to provide false balance and to wait for a slew of good news stories regarding the Tom Cleverley signing and season ticket sales.
In the end they got a Cardiff based blue named Joel, as no-one in the local fan base wanted to defend the board. That is very revealing and exposes the Echo’s balance as false balance.
The Echo have committed a breach of trust as those anti-board blues were at no point informed before the recording that other “fan groups” would be invited. Or a Cardiff based blue ignorant of local feeling.
Fortunately those anti-board blues made their own recordings and did not release it at the Echo’s request.
They have behaved decently and honourably, while the echo neutered their critique of the board and their coverage of the club.
In the name of balance.