One of Scotland’s best-known sports writers, Jim Traynor, said farewell to his Daily Record readers yesterday in a final column after 37 years in newspapers.
It began with a typical recitation of happy memories. “It was never a job. More of an absolute joy,” he wrote of mixing with the great names in various sports. “It’s been a privilege to have seen them in the flesh.”
But the valedictory by Traynor – who previously worked at The Herald, Daily Express and BBC radio – became untypical as he lashed out at unnamed fellow journalists and “anonymous bloggers”:
“My work here is done and I’m glad – but just for the record, I’ve not been sacked or made redundant. I was asked to remain but my conscience won’t allow me to stay in our profession.
The kind of journalism needed by the country, never mind sport, no longer exists in enough of the media outlets.”
Traynor’s anger centred on the journalistic treatment of Rangers, the Glasgow football team that got into financial troubles and was required last year to play in the third division of the Scottish football league. He wrote:
“Unfortunately, there has been the last twisted and bitter year during which Scottish football, unable to deal with the Rangers crisis in a civilised manner, has tried to tear itself apart…
For the last couple of years some of the most bilious types have been allowed to emerge from the shadows and spew invective that sadly became regarded as fact…
Overnight, all sorts of anonymous bloggers became experts. These champions of decency had all the answers. They knew better than anyone else. They said over and over Rangers would be done for cheating the tax man.
They were wrong, the Rangers Tax Case blog in particular. Yet he/her/they stated: ‘This blog has been accurate on all of the major points of the case except the one that matters most to date – the FTT (First-tier Tax Tribunal) outcome’.
Excuse me? Accurate on all the major points except the bit that matters most. And that’s all right is it?”
The reference to the First-tier Tribunal concerns the fact that Rangers won an appeal against HM Revenue & Customs over its use of employee benefit trusts (EBTs). Traynor continued:
“Even now so many – and I include some fellow journalists – still cannot bring themselves to accept Rangers did not cheat the tax man by using EBTs.
One journalist declared it to be ‘a government conspiracy’ when he heard the ruling in Rangers’ favour.
Perhaps in time more will be written about this kind of hack and the rabid desire to help bring down Rangers… They can’t stop foaming at the mouth… Unfortunately reason was never allowed to be a player in this grotesque game, which quickly became dominated mostly by incoherent imbeciles fuelled by all that hatred.
And let’s not forget how some with telly platforms were prompted by those bloggers and ill-informed commentators. Stupidly they allowed themselves to be duped by supporters with dangerous agendas hidden under the banner of integrity.
And the result? Some of the most shallow and infantile drivel ever written… Despicable, pathetic little creatures craving some kind of recognition but lacking in conscience and morality.”
And he hadn’t finished. In his conclusion he wrote: “Be careful about what and who you read in the future. There are people out there calling themselves by different names. But that’s not the bit that should worry you. They are calling themselves journalists.”
Aside from Traynor’s intemperate piece revealing the depth of the bitterness about what has happened to Rangers, it also reflects the traditional print journalist’s disdain for the growing influence of online journalism.