I really love Twitter. I use it every day. It’s an amazing way of interacting with folks the likes of which I would never encounter in day-to-day existence. That ranges all the way from the far-flung readers of this blog, to the wife of Bacary Sagna.
It’s also an incredible source of news. The sheer breadth of contributors means it is inevitably faster than any newspaper or television channel. If something happens, anywhere in the world, you can be pretty sure that someone, somewhere has tweeted about it.
I must confess, however, it is rather trying my patience at present. The winds of change have blown the transfer window wide open, and suddenly every @Tom, @Dick and @Harry is telling you who is going where, when, and for how much.
Transfer windows have always been testing times for those who value the truth. Journalists play fast and loose with facts, turning whispers and nudges in to concrete stories to sell papers and attract hits. With the rise of self-publication, millions of individuals are now doing just the same.
It’s a fairly easy game to play. I make an informed guess that Jan Vertonghen will end up at Spurs; I tweet something to that effect, and when it comes off I am proclaimed as being ‘ITK’ – an acronym which supposedly anoints those who are ‘in the know’. If it doesn’t come off, I can always claim the deal fell down at the last minute due to some minor technicality – the kind of insider knowledge that only reaffirms my ITK status.
The big boys are just as bad. Take Sky Sports News, who have developed a habit of ‘understanding’ something about twenty minutes after every newspaper journalist, blogger and fan has heard it via the online grapevine. Twitter poses a threat to their position as the sport’s most prominent newsbreaker, and they need to up their game and do some proper investigative journalism on a day other than transfer deadline day.
Sky have fallen behind because the whispers and rumours that used to be exclusively theirs are now public long before they reach them. A true ‘exclusive’ is almost impossible to maintain – the risk of someone getting to it before you is simply too great. It’s the same old pyramid of murky untruths and occasional scoops. It’s just a bigger, noisier and possibly more irritating pyramid than ever before.
It takes a little of the joy out of it aswell. The ‘surprise signing’ may become a thing of the past. Whoever your club signs, there’s a chance someone’s claimed a deal is in the offing somewhere, so you’re probably bored of the idea before it even happens.
I’m guilty too. I pass on the small bits of information I get here and there, when permitted, in order to try and keep fans in the loop. I’m feeding the machine. The distinction, I hope, is that I’m not fabricating anything. Maybe none of these people are, but I find it hard to believe that there as many ‘ITK’ people as Twitter would have you believe. There simply aren’t enough people working in football to have that many friends/associates to pass information on to. Something, frankly, doesn’t add up.
There is, of course, a very simple solution: switch Twitter off, cancel my Sky subscription, and wait till everything is announced and confirmed on Arsenal.com. But I’m hardly going to manage that now, am I?
Let The Longest Summer commence.