American journalist (we use the word loosely) Alex Beam this week caused a stir with his “Hardball in Liverpool” article in the Boston Globe newspaper, describing the Hillsborough disaster as a “soccer riot” and Liverpool the city as “grotty”.
The offending article was quickly edited by Globe staff following a mass of disgusted Reds fans on both sides of the pond letting their voices be heard. The article also quotes this website and Red And White Kop, stating that we are “excitable Internet fan sites” that “are still agonizing over a 21-year-old soccer riot that killed 96 people”.
The following is a letter we sent to the Globe, written by Tetteh, a This Is Anfield writer and lifelong Red from Boston.
I recently read Alex Beam’s article on the globe titled “Hardball in Liverpool” and I was horrified to read his characterization of Liverpool fans as deranged and bonkers. His statements, that “even by the deranged standards of European soccer, Red fans are totally bonkers” and that “excitable Internet fan sites are still agonizing over a 21-year-old soccer stadium disaster that killed 96 people” was in appalling bad taste. The note that his original letter characterized the tragedy as a “riot” shed some light on the author’s uninformed predisposition towards Hillsborough – he was clearly simply aping a discredited tabloid article from The Sun and giving further voice to the unsubstantiated vile claims of “pickpocketing corpses, and other outrages”, as he put it. His cursory treatment of the Liverpool fan boycott of The Sun (which contrary to his claims is not merely an “internet” fan phenomenon but a boycott with roots throughout the Liverpool community with backing from Liverpool fans and Everton fans alike), once again indicated his slipshod approach to the entire affair.
The entire piece was not merely disrespectful and rude, but showed a shocking lack of journalistic integrity – repeating unsubstantiated claims, and not even suggesting that Mr. Beam made even a cursory effort at researching the tragedy and its aftermath. Clearly he made no such effort as such sincere reporting would have interfered with his scathing attack on Liverpool, the city, fans and club. His characterization of the City as “Grotty Liverpool – Worcester without the glitz” only further cemented his obvious ignorance and bias. Liverpool was designated by the European Union as the 2008 European Culture of Capital – hardly consistent with his foul portrayal of the city at all.
As a lifelong Liverpool fan myself, and with friends who personally lost loved ones on that fateful day, 15 April 1989, I found Mr. Beam’s article absolutely shocking, and in appalling bad taste. There is absolutely no excuse for such slanderous writing, and I believe, you, the Globe and Mr. Beam, owe an apology, not only to Liverpool fans and residents, but also to your general readership. The Globe should not be lowering its journalistic standards in such a fashion. I would wager that your advertisers would themselves not be too keen to be associated with the kind of vitriolic drivel that Mr. Beam poured out in his article.
Please consider this a formal request for an apology. Ideally, Mr. Beam would take the time and effort to thoroughly research anything he writes about. It would be fitting for him to make the effort to thoroughly research Liverpool and the Hillsborough disaster, and to perhaps pen a more appropriate tribute to those who lost their lives, their family and loved ones, and to the football team, fans and fansites that cherish their memory through the Hillsborough Family Support Group’s Project 96. Though such an action would be the honorable and appropriate response, I am under no such illusions that Mr. Beam will feel the urge to do so having felt enough hostility and vile disgust towards the people of Liverpool to spur him to write his original article. However at the very least, I believe an apology is due and would go a long way towards repairing the harm and hurt caused by his maliciously insulting article.
Lifelong Liverpool Supporter and resident of Boston.
This Is Anfield hopes that John Henry will intervene and ensure that Beam is put in his place, and that any other journalists who may be so privileged to accompany him to Liverpool are clearly educated on the Hillsborough disaster before they spread their hurtful lies.
Justice For The 96