AFL 10 months ago

It’s not a lie if you believe it

  • It’s not a lie if you believe it

    BALLARAT, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 19: Ken Hinkley, Senior Coach of the Power celebrates with Chad Cornes during the 2017 AFL round 22 match between the Western Bulldogs and the Port Adelaide Power at Mars Stadium on August 19, 2017 in Ballarat, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Earlier this week it was announced Ken Hinkley had signed a three year contract extension at Port Adelaide and the media commentary before, during and after has been somewhat perplexing.

Whether a new deal was justified is certainly debatable and a rational case can be made for and against. The media reporting surrounding the new deal however is a completely different story.

Since the Power’s Elimination final loss to West Coast much of the discussion has been around David Koch and his comments made at an after match function in which he was critical of Port Adelaide who suffered defeat in heartbreaking circumstances.

So offensive were these comments that were blown out of all proportion that some scribes declared Hinkley’s time at Port was up.

Trying to reach a conclusion on what actually took place between the senior coach and Port Adelaide management following the Elimination final is difficult given minimal comment was made from either party during this period.

But this has not been a barrier for certain journalists providing in-depth insight on everything that supposedly transpired.

Unfortunately speculation and guess work is the modus operandi much of the mainstream media currently operate under. Providing an opinion is fine but presenting something as fact without any real evidence is a different matter entirely.

The need to break news first and create headlines has sadly seen a real erosion of quality reporting and analysis as we deal with the reality of living in a click-bait environment. 

Why worry about fact checking if you can get hits on social media and generate some buzz. The more controversial the better.

If you get it wrong then no big deal and no need to apologise. You can always shift the blame to an unnamed source you refuse to reveal.

The former Geelong and Gold Coast assistant had asked to be released from his contract for the 2018 season as Port Adelaide senior coach to take the vacant coaching job at Gold Coast on a multi-year deal according to Greg Denham in the Australian.

Of course Denham rather than retract any statements since being proven completely incorrect has continued to dig a hole for himself.  Apparently Ken did a remarkable back flip to remain at Alberton.  Yeah of course that must be it.

The Australian journalist has since reported Hinkley was also the target of a Victorian club and would not change his tune on SEN radio this week on what happened “He can’t stand the joint and can’t stand the chairman but he’s there for four more years” Yes Mr Denham whatever you say.

Last Friday in Adelaide Channel 7 and 9 ran stories simultaneously on Hinkley’s proposed move to the Suns on their respective news bulletins.

7 reported Hinkley was likely on his way to the Suns while 9 at the exact same time reported he would remain at Alberton. Maybe some media outlets have a coin toss to decide what version of events they will present to the public on any given day.

Any story portrayed as fact with no official comment from anyone actually involved in the story and containing such quotes as “It is believed” or “sources close to” or “our understanding” certainly triggers the radar. I simply had no confidence in what was being reported because no one was able to provide any substance.

The senior coach may very well not have liked what Koch has said at times but that does not mean they cannot co-exist within a football club.  Nor can you conclude they hate each other without anything but innuendo and rumour.

People often do not see eye to eye and have robust discussions within an organization. Many of us probably do regularly in our own working lives. Despite this we still work with people that are not our best friends but we maintain professional working relationships.

Programs such as Talking Footy obviously decided the two could not work together. For melodramatic affect the viewers were told of the strained and fractured relationship between Koch and Hinkley * Insert dramatic sound effect*

Of course there was no need to provide any real examples apart from taking random comments from Koch and making assumptions the Chairman had alienated the whole football club.

At least the official announcement on the coaching extension by Port Adelaide would finally put everything to bed and the misreporting would be over.

Well no, Caroline Wilson felt the need on Footy Classified to reveal Hinkley would be earning close to a million dollars per season. In the next sentence she changed her tune “Well at least $900,000” Football is such a ruthless industry. Poor Ken just got a 10% pay cut in less than 15 seconds.

Wilson and others have since reported the figure may be up to a million dollars with various performance clauses in place.

 Who knows what the actual figure is. Putting random numbers on a dart board and throwing a dart to come up with a number would probably be just as accurate as some of the figures mentioned.

The whole Ken Hinkley coaching saga has painted many in the media poorly and you subsequently understand why supporters and AFL clubs often have such mistrust and a lack of faith in those whose job it is to report the news.

We have all got things wrong and I am certainly no orphan there. Sometimes you have to just admit it when you are wrong. Some journalists however just don’t seem to ever retract what they have said. There is no shame in admitting you may have been misinformed.

Maybe this episode of Seinfeld I am watching provides the answer. Maybe George Costanza said it best “It's not a lie if you believe it”

Greg Denham may have convinced himself he is speaking the truth but a signed deal with Port Adelaide for Ken Hinkley until the end of 2021 at a joint he can’t stand would suggest otherwise.

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