Today the Metro is reporting that Newcastle United are ready to complete a £15m transfer for Andros Townsend. That sure sounds like news. It is not.
First, the Metro does my favorite new thing in sports journamalism. The headline is:
Newcastle 'should complete £15m deal for top winger'
Who are they quoting? As best as I can tell, they are quoting themselves. It's really kind of art. People complain that articles "don't contain quotes." So they put selected words in quotation marks but do not attribute them to anyone. It simply expresses the fact that people have used these words, perhaps in the offices of the Metro while coming up with clickbait headline possibilities.
But that's just clickbait fun. What's the story?
It is alleged that Spurs are prepared to do a deal for Townsend, a long term target of the Magpies, for a fee in the region of £15million with several clubs chasing his signature.
Unattributed quotes and the passive voice. This is a bonanza. So we go to the google machine. Who exactly is alleging that Spurs and Newcastle have any kind of negotiations going? It looks like the Express has the most strongly-worded story.
The Mirror claim the Hammers are keen to land Townsend before Newcastle ramp up their bid for the England winger.
Instead, Magpies manager Steve McClaren is reportedly considering a bid, as is Aston Villa boss Tim Sherwood.
Newcastle are considering a bid, which they may also ramp up. This raises the question of how a bid that has not been made might be ramped up. I guess they could ramp it from non-existence into existence. But hey, it links to the original source. Does the Mirror report what the Express says it does? It does not.
Here's the extent of the Mirror's discussion of Newcastle:
Aston Villa, Swansea, Newcastle and Sunderland are already interested in the 23-year-old wide man. Tottenham want around £15 million for him.
So all that was reported was a vague sense of "interest" and Spurs' £15 demand. That was about 48 hours ago. In the following two days, no new reporting on Andros Townsend was done. Rather, what we have is a game of telephone, where each story adds its own aggressive interpretation of the original report, and these interpretive leaps are then taken as if new reporting to be included in the next story.
Newcastle's "interest" in Townsend becomes a (possible) "ramping up" of a bid to the demanded fee. Then this possible ramping up gets transmuted by the Metro into something Newcastle "should" do.
There is no story here, beside the fact that you always have to go to the source when you read a rumor on the internet.