Remarkable, investigative journalist Phil Mac Giolla Bhain, the guy who broke the Rangers-going-bust story way before the Scottish mainstream media even acknowledged there was a story, has been recognised by the Press Gazette, being named in its list of Top Ten Twitter journalists (see link below)
The reaction of the Scottish Mainstream Media (SMSM) to Mac Giolla Bhain’s exposes and epitomises, among many things, the struggle between some in mainstream media to come to terms with social media, describing journalists like Mac Giolla Bhain as everything from “Internet Bampots” to “not proper journalists”, despite Mac Giolla Bhain having been a NUJ member from many years. Indeed, Phil is on the Irish Executive Council (IEC) of the NUJ and editor of The Irish Journalist, Irish journalism’s in-house magazine.
You will very rarely, if at all, find Mac Giolla Bhain’s name mentioned in the SMSM, despite him being championed by some very heavy UK hitters such as Channel 4’s Alex Thomson and the Guardian’s Professor Roy Greenslade. In fact, the mere mention of Mac Giolla Bhain among some established journalists sends shudders down their spine, partly as a reaction to Mac Giolla Bhain himself but also a reaction of Luddites to the ability of new fangled gadgets to operate at least as effectively as certain “proper journalists”. Mac Giolla Bhain’s is the name they dare not speak as Phil has effectively shamed them into, however reluctantly, doing their jobs properly on certain big stories in Scotland today from the liquidation of Rangers FC (the subject of Mac Giolla Bhain’s best-selling book, Downfall, a book conspicuously ignored by SMSM) to anti-Irish racism, a subject so uncomfortable for some in SMSM in the west of Scotland that they deny its existence. Despite glowing reviews from many respected Social Media sites, Mac Giolla Bhain’s book on anti-Irish racism was studiously ignored by the SMSM, with a few honourable exceptions.
There’s a simmering resentment from some in MSM that they are no longer upheld as only guardians of truth and information. Social media has empowered anyone with journalistic talent and a real story to tell as exemplified by the uncovering some of the biggest scoops, scoops that SMSM lacked either the will or the ability to chase. Mac Giolla Bhain has proved himself irrefutably a “proper journalist” and has established a readership far in excess of many of those who continually ignore his existence.
Still, Phil Mac Giolla Bhain, The Invisible Journalist, is continually recognised for his ground-breaking investigative journalism by many on Social Media and beyond Scotland. The Press Gazette’s listing of Mac Giolla Bhain in their Top Ten Twitter journalists of the year is therefore an extremely fitting accolade. However, it’s unlikely you’ll find a reference to this award in many SMSM outlets anytime soon.
No matter. Mac Giolla Bhain has proved that it is possible to reach a readership from wherever when you have a nose for a story, the ability to generate and cultivate contacts, and the balls to not just chase the story, but to print it. Now, that sounds like proper journalism to me.