When journalists forget which team they are on.

When you’re playing up front you know and understand that their centre half has a job to do.

He is out to stop you and your job is to make sure he fails.

Some my closest colleagues in the NUJ work in Public Relations.

Some of them work as press officers for government departments and others are freelance mainly working for big companies or celebs.

Collectively they are known as “PRs” and many of them started in newspapers.

When I occasion across them professionally I instinctively understand that I’m the attacker and they’re the defender for the other lot.

There are boundaries and there is a professional respect that I’m trying to do something that might not fully tie in with their client’s interests.

In the Poacher/ Gamekeeper analogy the journalist who becomes PRs are seen to have “crossed over to the other side.”

It isn’t an act of betrayal, but it is a change of role.

When you become a PR you’re playing for the other team.

What a journalist should never do is accept what a PR firms tells them without any corroboration on matters of major importance.

If you don’t seek out independent verification of what the PR is telling you then you effectively become their admin worker.

Here we have a piece from Keith Jackson this week explaining how the Daily Record’s readers were told last November that Mr Craig Whyte was a billionaire.


The following day after Keith Jackson was told to describe Craig Whyte as a “billionaire” the readers of the Daily Record was treated nonsense to this masquerading as news.


The following February I spoke to a Scottish journalist who was over for the Carling Cup in Dublin.

We chatted about Mr Whyte and specifically about the extent of his wealth.

I detailed to the reporter, a staunch Rangers man who has authored a book about the club, the extent of my investigations into finding the truth about Mr Whyte’s net worth.

I told him that despite calling in every favour  with every business reporter I knew that I hadn’t found any evidence to back up the description of Mr Whyte as a “billionaire.”

He then confided to me that the PR Company representing Mr Whyte had told reporters what to write about the new prospective owner of the Ibrox club and they had obeyed.

This, dear reader, is not journalism.

Nick Davies of the Guardian has another name for the type of breathless, gushing nonsense about Craig Whyte being a “billionaire.”


By the close of the summer transfer window it was clear that the only “frontloading” that Mr Whyte would be doing was to his washing machine.

So last September it seemed an appropriate juncture to return to those November days and satirise the output of one of those journalists who had loyally and unquestioningly reproduced information from Mr Whyte’s PR Company.


I recall that I had one tetchy phone call with one of Mr Whyte’s PR people not long after the  Motherwell born tycoon had bought the Ibrox club.

He said:  “I don’t know what you’re up to and that gives me a problem!”

What I was “up to” was trying to get to the truth of the situation apropos his client’s wealth because the official narrative seemed like a fiction.

He was the centre half and I was the striker therefore giving him a problem was at the core of my job description.

I doubt he had much of a problem with most of the compliant chaps on the Scottish sports desks.

Some of those producing this rubbish about Craig Whyte’s “off the radar” wealth are members of my union.

They really should take a minute to read what they’ve agreed to abide by.


Now as the Rangers’ situation becomes even uglier they have another opportunity to finally put the ball in the net.

Discover Phil’s dramatic play Rebellion