Playing long balls into empty space since 2012.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

South of the Border: A Consumate Manifesto

This is a response by Paul Mavroudis to a Joe Gorman post on his web site. It's a manifesto and a contribution to the recent  local soccer coverage twitter debate.

For my blog, at some point I developed a rationale or manifesto of sorts, and for the most part it still holds true.

"I started this blog mostly to practice my writing and to establish a public space that was independent of the official South Melbourne media juggernaut and the closed off smfcboard; a place where South fans could read and provide independent views on all the club's happenings."

Notice what's absent? No mention of the mainstream media. Probably because I'd come to the conclusion very early on that they had no interest in what South were doing - and off the record conversations with others who've had to deal with them have only confirmed those suspicions - it didn't even occur to me to include them.

But at the same time, the internet is not an entirely new platform for people like me. Soccer fanzines have existed for decades around the world, and have even existed in Australia before the internet really took off. Club match programmes in Australia, prior to the A-League starting anyway, have often been the default fanzine, created and maintained by ordinary supporters rather than as part of an organised marketing department. Peter Desira started his career by doing the Green Gully match programme way back when.

Certainly, I see myself as part of a continuing tradition, in both a literal and cultural sense. Literal, because my blog started off as a failed takeover of another, dormant South blog. Cultural, because I know that people like Damian Smith (a real inspiration to me) were doing the things I'm doing now (and then some) long before I arrived on the scene.

The internet makes it perhaps a little easier - if you use a free platform, costs go way down - but the investment of time and effort is still pretty much the same, the kick in the teeth when no one reads your work is still the same, the thrill of a re-tweet or hearing about how someone liked your work is still the same. And if like me you have a real reticence for self-promotion, then it's also hard to get the word out there, which is bad enough when you are focused on a niche interest like I am.

But it's not just the mainstream media who create boundaries of taste, style and content. The blogosphere and aggregators also do it. We all choose who we follow and re-tweet on Twitter, who we link to on our blogs. People have followed and unfollowed me on there. Australian Football pRSS followed Ian Syson, made him 'blogger of the week', then started following me, then unfollowed me.

I might be confused by how and why people make these decisions, but at least when it comes down to individual tastes, an argument can be made that it's based on a democratic process. No one's obliged to like the things I or other bloggers do. I do the same - I have my biases, based mostly on a lack of interest in bloggers and members of the Twitterati whose main avenue of football discourse is overseas football or the A-League, and thus I don't follow, link or promote their work.

But the issue then becomes for me, that the mainstream press is not so democratic, and yet they often feel they can dictate what we can and should read - and then get annoyed when we call them out on that. OK, so for whatever valid or invalid reasons the VPL doesn't get coverage in the daily press. But the NPL is a huge story affecting the sport and thousands of players in this state as a whole, and not just my bitter ex-NSL brethren - where's the coverage?

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