Ask Rangers fans about journalism in 2021 and you are likely to be met by weary disdain at best and outright hostility at worst.

Relations between football supporters in Glasgow and the media has rarely been more vividly fractured.

This comes amid a burgeoning fan media sector, where many talented hobbyists now have the technology at their fingertips to become household names in a sector where a fan’s voice had been largely confined to a wail from the pit of an abyss.

You get the sense many in my industry lament these shifting tectonic plates, having rather enjoyed a pulpit in which to preach didactic sermons to a silent audience.

And yet, amidst their own palpable disgruntlement, they rarely assess the biggest question of all - how did we get here?

The answer is nuanced, of course it is, but the single greatest factor is an industry model that prioritises clicks above content.

It’s why I’ve become more convinced with every passing year that a media business without paying subscribers is on a relentless death march to the bottom.

Good journalism, like anything else of quality, costs money. Often painstaking, it’s creative work that shouldn’t be rushed.

But in today’s journalistic sweatshops, quality of work is measured not by the elegance of your syntax or capacity for creative brilliance - but by an ability to induce clicks.

The creeping dread that a large volume come from a place of outrage is neither here nor there – we have targets to hit after all.

I must own up to having been part of this culture, but you better believe it takes a toll on one’s soul.

Nobody spends the vast sums of money required to get through a degree to write about what Ryan Kent may or may not have been implying with a cryptic Instagram post - and yet here we are.

We are businesses and ultimately businesses need to make money.

To provide content for free, millions of eyeballs need to see advertising content on each page.

And that pushes often intelligent, creative and diligent editors to invest their time in what drives traffic rather than what people like.

But you can only dupe, annoy and churn out drivel that insults intelligence for so long until they switch off completely.

The answer to all this is not necessarily about different people, but a change of model.

So next time you complain about clickbait culture, about a media that is out of date and losing touch, remember the nuance.

To paraphrase the legendary Bill Clinton campaign soundbite on the economy - it’s the model, stupid.

If you subscribe to a website you have entered a partnership of value.

It’s a union of trust, a bond where a level of content is expected on one end and delivered at the other.

If that bond is broken, then connection is severed, and a message is sent. A serious one.

That’s not a new model but it’s a proven one.

For a generation that grew up in the wild west of the internet it’s a hard thing to get your head around - that things are no longer free - but alas, it’s not 2005 anymore.

From Netflix and Disney Plus to the New York Times, people are rewarding companies for producing top quality content that engages them.

People often say: “we get the media we deserve”.

However, it might be more accurately put: “we get the media we pay for”.

At The Rangers Review we will not take your support for granted. We know the only way for us to produce the podcast documentaries, animated videos, deep dive features and tactical analysis is for you to support our cause.

We believe in it, and it means everything to us that you do to.

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