Not so long ago, I was at a public event with a panel of well-known Scottish sports writers. It's interesting to hear insiders speaking candidly and they were entertaining and informative, but there was one point that the panel all agreed on that still rankles now.
Asked why some Old Firm managers can't deal with the media - think Paul Le Guen, Wee Gordon Strachan, Tony Mowbray - the journos were unanimous in the belief that such people bring their problems on themselves. By being cagey and snarky with reporters, the managers invited bad headlines and, come the inevitable downturn in form, effectively hand the journos the weapons of their own destruction.
I didn't get a chance to ask about it, but this struck me as an oddly self-serving view. I recall that Strachan's demeanour changed rapidly after some initial innocuous comments were blown up into a series of OMG CELTIC BOSS URINATES IN TRUSTING FANS' FACES scandals. He became increasingly bitter with the hacks, not because he's naturally grumpy, but because he knew full well that they'd be pally and jokey to his face, then knife him on the back page the following morning.
One of the journos explicitly said that managers need to be able to play the game with the press. Speaking as a fan, I'm not much arsed whether the boss plays tonsil-hockey with the papers, preferring to focus on the team's performance.
It was clear, however, that it will never occur to the hacks themselves to ask whether inflating non-stories into outrages is a reasonable or honourable activity. This may well be an unfair judgement, but it seemed like they had never considered the idea that journalists could theoretically restrain themselves from grabbing every opportunity to pour buckets of shit over their subjects. It was almost as if they were entirely blind to their role in their own business.
Glasgow is a poor example for football journalism, of course, for a number of reasons that I won't list. Generally, atmosphere around football in the EPL seems a lot healthier, in that players and managers can screw up without being instantly trampled to death in the mad scramble for sales... On the pitch, at least. Get caught in a brothel and you're toast, whoever you are.
Still, a small insight into a world I don't see much of. Makes me wonder how far, say, Westminster or foreign correspondents would identify with the mindset.