Tedious misogynistic columnist writes tedious misogynistic column in tedious misogynistic shit-rag of a newspaper. Quite the surprise. Meanwhile, Eddie Howe deflects, in an entirely predictable fashion, some entirely predictable questions about human rights in his opening press conference. Do give me a nudge when something notable happens.

But, what’s this? This time they’ve gone too far! The latest salvos in the bitter and relentless media campaign against all things Newcastle have been fired. Boycott The Mail! Complain to IPSO! What about Saudi advertising on Sky? What about the World Cup in Qatar? What about sunrise, what about rain? What about all the things that you said we were to gain?

Undoubtedly, even the calmest of United fans will eventually be provoked into fury by the wilful negativity of our current media coverage, not least my esteemed colleagues at TF who have rightly had their say on The Mail, Sky, and the media in general. Undoubtedly, there are individual journalists who have particular axes to grind against the club and its new owners. Undoubtedly, Richard Littlejohn deserves every last caustic drop of opprobrium heaped upon him until it burns through the empty cavity that passes for his brain. Undoubtedly, every instance of casual misogyny has to be called out, whenever and wherever it appears.

All of these things are true, but it’s also true that perceptions of a coordinated media campaign are fanciful and self-defeating. Perhaps more importantly, while we can’t control what is written or said about us by fans of other clubs, by lazy media pundits, or even by principled investigative journalists, what we can control is our response. And that response currently vacillates disturbingly between obsessive anger and a sense of paranoid victimhood.

Perhaps the only positive aspect of Steve Bruce’s tenure on Tyneside – OK, let’s drop the “perhaps” – was the inadvertent light it shone on the craven and venal shortcomings of a particular and still dominant branch of anachronistic English football culture. A cosy, old boys’ network of amateurism, vested interests, and thinly veiled distrust of outsiders. And, of course, that culture permeates every area of the media.

At one extreme, it’s all too easy to dismiss the professional controversialists on Talkshite, Jordan and White. And while the BBC might give them the cover of credibility, Savage and Sutton are cut from the same cloth, self-conscious provocateurs, simultaneously compromised by their past associations with Bruce and their complete absence of intellectual faculty. But altogether more concerning was the lazy received wisdom repeated, unthinkingly or out of cowardice, by those capable of genuinely critical insight, from the better ex-pros such as Shearer and Neville to keen and otherwise perceptive observers of North-East football like Luke Edwards or Ian Dennis.

While that might feel like the past now, it bears on the present in two crucial respects. First, it is a reminder of the stark difference in perceptions between Newcastle fans, living and poring over every detail of coverage, and the vast majority of media and other fans whose engagement and knowledge is necessarily occasional and partial. Not only do we notice every detail, we feel every slight, usually magnified far beyond its real significance.

Second, there were structural forces at work in the inadequate, uninformed, and often downright malignant journalism of the Bruce era, and those systemic weaknesses persist. For one thing, the click-bait reality of modern media feeds sensationalism. Working in tandem with social media, that desperate need for clicks drives out nuance, reason, and balance. Wilful misunderstanding of opposing positions becomes the norm.

For another, self-interest and personal connections in the closed world of football preclude unwelcome opinions from being aired, or even thought, while further embedding the status quo. The result is an endless self-fulfilling merry-go-round, a circle of belief that all too often remains unchallenged.

Finally, the media landscape is a microcosm of all the institutionalised social prejudices that persist elsewhere in 21st-century Britain, particularly in relation to class, gender, and ethnicity. In this context, it is hardly surprising that the most sustained narrative in recent media coverage of the club – and certainly the one that comes closest to a consistent campaign – is one that casts doubt on the competence of the new owners, and most especially their female figurehead, and that sneers at a region as far removed from London as it is possible to get.

In this sense, we are being subjected to the structural failings of the modern British (football) media. It is unedifying and it is salutary, but it is not an orchestrated campaign against a whole region and its people. That specific focus will shift in time to another object of attention, but the underlying failings will continue.

So, just how should we respond?

First, embrace the political. One of the great ironies of the response to The Mail’s column was fans’ ethical and political objections to that kind of “journalism”, while steadfastly insisting on separation between Newcastle United and any wider political or moral concerns. Everything is ideological, football included. To pretend otherwise is self-deception.

Second, accept contradictions, both in our own positions and those of others. Of course, the media is conflicted. Of course, their professional commitments require them to make compromises and adopt positions that may not always be consistent. The same applies to us as individuals and as Newcastle supporters. There is no entirely pure and virtuous position in any of this.

Third, remain critical and distinguish appropriately between different forms of criticism. To take just one example, Adam Crafton’s sincere and conscience-driven desire to highlight discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community in Saudi Arabia is about as far removed from Littlejohn’s dog-whistle prejudice as it’s possible to get. It helps no-one to mindlessly conflate the two.

Finally, ditch the victimhood. We are not victims in this process, least of all at a time when there are so many real victims of oppression and discrimination. Respond not by circling the wagons and looking inwards, whether in fury or self-pity. We are better than that. Leave bitter resentment and ugly arrogance to others.

At our best, we are open and welcoming, convivial and self-deprecating. Let us not get dragged down by the passing media storm.

Matthew Philpotts @mjp19731