For those who didn't get around to reading the Guardian's excellent article on Saturday about the phenomenal job done by the blog 'Rangerstaxcase.com.', I would urge you to make time to give it a read.
Even if you are not a football supporter, there is much to ponder on from the perspective of the performance of traditional media sources and in terms of the impact of social media.
It is a story with multiple themes; alienation of the traditional football fan; a perceived failure on the part of traditional media and the use of social media as a catalyst for the sharing of vital information amongst stakeholders.
For those who don't have the time let me summarise the story for you here. An anonymous football supporter, ironically not a Rangers supporter, got wind of the tax trouble that Glasgow Rangers was in, but could find no mention of it amongst traditional media outlets.
Instead, traditional media fed its readers, namely the club’s supporters, the usual stories including the building of a super casino and transfer gossip, including, apparently, a 'link' to the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo. The result was that many Rangers supporters had little clue that their club owed £70 million to HMRC until last week when it went bust.
In frustration, our anonymous hero set up a blog, 'rangerstaxcase.com', and started digging deeper. The blog has ‘broken’ a whole host of stories in relation to the case and now has a daily traffic of over 100,000 views with reader comments coming in at a rate of about 1,500 per day. Bear in mind that these people are not discussing football, they are discussing accounting conventions and insolvency law!
How did this happen? Our hero blames an unholy triangle of trade in which traditional media sources have got too close to the club and felt unable to cover the story for risk of losing their ‘access’.
For the record, I am fully aware of the role that PR has probably played in all of this. PR people at Rangers, let’s assume they were in the know, have been feeding these stories to traditional media outlets, in the guise of ‘doing their job’.
So what can we learn from all of this? Media owners from Rupert Murdoch down have blamed the internet for their woes, but this case begs the question whether certain sections of traditional media are giving readers the information they need and perhaps explains why so many are turning to alternative sources of information.
It must also be remembered that not all traditional media is scared of questioning itself. After all, I read this story in The Guardian. Kudos to them for running it!