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Collymore’s sacking is yet another symptom of the festering wound of News Corp

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Newcastle United v Aston Villa - Premier League Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Editors Note: There are some images of the Hillsborough disaster in this piece, so please be warned that there is content within this article that may cause distress.

Stan Collymore is the embodiment of divisive.

Everything he says is taken in one direction and pulled apart by Villa fans. That’s simply the nature of sports fandom, but is also multiplied by Stan’s high standing in the world of sports media.

Even though he can be easy to disagree with, to me Stan represents good journalism. When the cloud of violence hovered over Marseille this summer, he didn’t hide away in a cafe and shove his nose into an iPad and a book only to declare he was there and saw it happen. No. Stan dived headfirst into flashbangs and tear gas and captured the entire event, putting his own safety at risk. Stan’s not got the cleanest of reputations, and I obviously won’t be endorsing any previous actions, I think that is worth saying.

What I will stand up for, though, is his apparent sacking by TalkSport, now owned by Newscorp and Rupert Murdoch.

“After 8 extremely successful years at talkSPORT , the station has decided to withdraw its contract offer from May this year.

If anyone wants a highly motivated, audience growing, award winning and passionate broadcaster dedicated to engaging with football fans around the country, give me a call!

Will comment further when appropriate!” - Stan Collymore

We probably need a bit of backstory.

You see, Murdoch owns News Corp, or News Corporation. News Corp describe themselves on their own minimalist, bland site as a ‘global vertically integrated media company’. I’ve worked at big companies and I can tell you right now that you’re seeing some Orwellian DoubleSpeak of the highest order. ‘Vertically integrated’ means absolutely nothing but absolutely everything at the same time. What I think News Corp are trying to say is this: they own everything you’ve ever read or watched.

Let me break it down for you. News Corp own The Times, The Sun, The Press Association, The New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Dow Jones Index, Sky TV.

By the way, News Corp are only one of Murdoch’s holding companies - the other is 21st Century Fox. The scope and influence of Murdoch is unimaginable. You’d think the barman would have ordered a taxi for him having noticed how much of the media pool the Australian mogul had swallowed up.

Let’s focus on one of the smaller parts of Murdoch’s empire - The Sun. As of May 2015, The Sun is the newspaper with the largest circulation in the United Kingdom.

The Sun has a rather unique reputation in England, for whatever reason, the largest newspaper in our country can say whatever it wants when other organisations are hung out to dry over the slightest mistakes. The Sun can lead with a front page of baseless accusations:

So - when The Sun is forced to apologise for something like, I don’t know, hacking the phones of murdered children (don’t be confused by the terminology in the report - The News of the World became The Sun on Sunday after the phone hacking scandal and News International is still News Corp), they aren’t obliged to print that apology in a section of the newspaper which can be seen by all.

This talk of apologies and The Sun is going somewhere. Don’t worry.

On the 15th of April 1989, Hillsborough - the stadium of Sheffield Wednesday - played host to an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

The match wouldn’t finish, but 96 lives would come to an end that day. Over 700 people were injured in the tragedy. A tragedy that was ruled to be caused by police negligence in 2016.

Of course, at the time that didn’t stop The Sun being The Sun.

What you’re seeing is Kelvin Mackenzie’s famous ‘The Truth’. This cruel cover would actually circulate and manage to twist public opinion of the disaster to Mackenzie’s benefit.

That shouldn’t surprise you though, Mackenzie ran The Sun from a ‘meta’ standpoint and figured out how to manipulate his audience and learnt early on that he could straight up make stories up. Kelvin would invent stories or allow stories to be made-up by The Sun simply to sell copies. Stories were made up about Elton John, Freddie Starr, The Falklands War and of course, Hillsborough.

“When I published those stories, they were not lies. They were great stories that later turned out to be untrue – and that is different. What am I supposed to feel ashamed about?” - The Press Gazette

The Star, Mail, Express and Evening Standard ran with a similar viewpoint, but none would stick so closely to ‘the truth’ as Kelvin Mackenzie and The Sun.

The Sun and Mackenzie would later live ‘in-between apologies’. Mackenzie would apologise on one radio show, only to feign ignorance on his next appearance.

Eventually the squirming editor would confess - saying he was duped by news agencies. He would then say he got ‘caught up’. The issue is that it doesn’t take the normal person nearly thirty years to realise they made an error. No, you only get that luxury if you’re in charge of the UK’s biggest newspaper.

Former newspaper editor Kelvin MacKenzie claimed he “got caught up” in the Hillsborough cover-up.

Mr MacKenzie signed off on the The Sun’s shameful ‘The Truth’ front page in the wake of the 1989 disaster.

He ran a falsified story claiming some Liverpool fans urinated on police and had picked the pockets of the dead.

Those claims were found to be entirely without foundation and the end product of a smear campaign to shift blame onto victims. - The Mirror

The real truth of Hillsborough lies below.

Supporters are crushed

96 people died that day. A smear campaign and lies from the establishment swept the discourse away from the tragedy. The Sun was the WMD and it was aimed right at the heart of working class culture in 90’s Britain. It is bad enough that 96 lives were lost amongst screaming, excrement and tears - and it is truly awful that The Sun didn’t allow those who lost their lives to lie in peace. Even their apology seemed like an attempt to get back into a market that had turned it’s back on the newspaper that smeared the community.

So, back to Stan.

Collymore announced that his employment with TalkSport had come to an end. His popular commentary show on the radio station has concluded with TalkSport apparently withdrawing its contract offer to the broadcaster.

Stan Collymore has been a vocal opponent of The Sun. He's supported the Justice for the 96 campaign. Stan, has stuck up for what is right.

News Corp, owners of The Sun, have recently purchased TalkSport and in what seems to be their first move have let Collymore go. It suits them right to the ground to do that, but it’s bad form to carry out what they’ve done.

News Corp have refused to honour Stan’s new contract offer and maybe it’s jumping to conclusions, but I’ve nearly ten years experience in radio and to be brutally honest, stations don’t just let good broadcasters go. Awards don’t matter, but Stan Collymore was helping TalkSport grow and was building a large audience. Stan wasn’t afraid to dig up serious matters and present them to his following.

The injustice in this is that Stan doesn’t have a say. Life’s not fair, but he wasn’t involved in TalkSport’s sale. We’re asking a broadcaster to bite his tongue, lest he get sacked whilst the sacking side scream and squeal ‘FREE SPEECH!’ whilst their greasy paws slide and wander over the necks of the nation, slowly closing to suffocating grip.

If News Corp want a flaccid, beige and unoriginal front for TalkSport, they can have it. They can mock all the mentally-ill people they want across their variety of print, televisual and now audio platforms. It’s so crazy that if Orwell or Huxley slapped it into a book, you’d find it on the ‘deluded fantasy’ shelf at Borders. We’ve gotten to a stage where humanity is being pushed so far away from serious issues by gossip columns and utter fabrications invented by companies like News Corp.

Free speech is a phrase that gets chucked around a lot right now. News Corp and The Sun have the right to say whatever they want - the issue here is that they’ve apparently dismissed someone for that same reason. He asked for a newspaper to be shut down, they dragged the dead bodies of kids and young adults through the front page and pretty much urinated on the corpses.

Maybe there’s hope though. Since I was a kid I’ve always listened to the work of Colin Murray, whether it be on the BBC or TalkSport. He left TalkSport with his head held high earlier today.

Please don’t buy The S*n, don’t listen to TalkSport, don’t engage or speak about this monopoly. Just ignore it and hope it dies. Then we can hack its phone. Stan will find work elsewhere, but hopefully his presence and reputation can highlight just how wrong this situation is. It’s not just sacking an employee, it’s silencing critics.

In a weird way, The Sun needs to exist - we need to protect the right of all areas of the media to say what they want. We just can’t allow them to steamroll their opposition in the name of the ‘free press’ when that’s the reason we have allowed them to exist in the first place.