If you believe the headlines the Birmingham Mail sprouts out, Aston Villa’s new signing Christian Benteke is a certified criminal (see below). It’s a shameless and insulting way (to the reader and Benteke) of trying to boost readership, not to mention hardly the ‘Welcome to Birmingham’, Benteke was hoping for.
When you read the actual content of the articles behind these salacious headlines , they tend to bear no correlation to the substance of the headline. In this case, the article refers to an incident that happened in November of last year, when two of Benteke’s friends were sold a stolen car and then confronted the guy who sold them it; Benteke had just given them a lift and wasn’t involved. As the Birmingham Mail stated, under its headline that might as well have stamped ‘guilty’ on his forehead:
‘Days after the incident in November 2011 the alleged victim gave an interview to a Liege newspaper in which he said Benteke had been present – but had not joined in the attack.
The player himself has consistently denied the criminal charges.
Villa issued a statement on Saturday night saying: “The club is aware of the investigation relating to an incident which occurred in November 2011.” – Birmingham Mail
Now, Aston Villa would have never have signed Christian Benteke, if there was a chance that he would have been involved and guilty of an assault. So why do the paper act in such a tabloid nature? In what can only be described as malpractice. Well, obviously, it doesn’t take Einstein to work out it’s in the desperate and shameless pursuit of more readers, which they’ll lose them in the long run, as they anger both club, player and reader.
For the Birmingham Mail, in terms of its coverage of Aston Villa, it’s in a position of internal conflict. On one hand, they’re keen not to upset the club, since it’s one of its major advertisers, with whom they enjoy the perk of an executive box at Villa Park, and the opportunity to send reporters to follow Villa around, like on their recent US tour (in what’s known in the trade as a press trip jolly). This commercial relationship is why the paper made it difficult for MOMS to place our advert in the paper earlier in the year (MOMS had intended to run the ad at the end of the season, until they forced our hand weirdly to run it before the last home game as a compromise, after trying initially to refuse it).
At the same time, the Birmingham Mail has to critique and analyse Villa, and last year during the McLeish era, they had a front page declaring the club was in ruins and on the same day as the MOMS ad, went wild blowing up the three Villa players’ nightclub incident. It was this hypocrisy MOMS reminded them about when they first refused the ad in order to protect their commercial clients (Aston Villa). Our ad didn’t attack the club, like they had been using their front page to.
So, what’s the solution to the Birmingham Mail’s internal conflict when it comes to Aston Villa?
Well, how about sticking to the truth and keeping coverage within the realms of reality? That would be a good starting point in terms of rebuilding the lost bond of trust with readers and allowing them to work more impartially with the club. The truth is the truth, after all.
Follow MOMS on facebook – click here