When you consider that Spotlight won two Academy Awards, you have to wonder how many could its director, Tom McCarthy, take home if he were to turn his hand to one of the countless WhatsApp scandals that did the rounds on Irish dark social this year. While in bygone years, great journalism was carried out inside the walls of establishments such as the Washington Post or New York Times, today it happens within the confines of a Junior B group chat.
2017 will forever be remembered as the year of the WhatsApp journalist so it only stands to reason that we should reward such heroism. That's why we're introducing the Balls Award For Outstanding Journalism In A WhatsApp Scandal. We need to you to cast your vote:
What's the story in Ballyragget?
Well where do we begin with this one? In the words of Lyle Lanley, 'By gum it put them on the map!' I doubt many people outside of Kilkenny had ever heard of Ballyragget before their intermediate championship win but rumour has it people are booking minibuses down to it now.
In the mid-morning WhatsApp screengrabs of their celebrations starting making their way around the country, by Tuesday morning it was on the front page of tabloids. Now it was a free-for-all. 'If anyone asks it was a 21st lads!' Even the cover stories were being leaked.
The photos had accidentally found their way into an underage team parents group. The star of the show, Fifi was giving interviews left, right and centre. This scandal had lost the run of itself!
In the intervening months Fifi has made appearances around the country, while Ballyragget went on to win the Leinster title. Other clubs have tried to copy their blue print but took it too far. Their WhatsApp scandals were not considered eligible for this vote.
The Tipperary hurling nonsense
The rules of WhatsApp journalism vary slightly from your standard online or print publication. Truth is not necessarily an essential element in a story. That's the wonderful thing about social media.
Some old fogies took umbrage to the Tipp thing though. Michael Duignan, for example, thought for some inexplicable reason that spreading unfounded rumours about players was disgraceful. 'It's a sad reflection on society,' he said. Get with the times Mick! We're living in a post-truth society and it's time you and yours got with the programme.
Lee Keegan has 'multiple sclerosis'
Speaking of post-truth, sometimes lies aren't even enough to make a proper scandal. Those lies have to needlessly cruel as well. Somewhere, somehow, some WhatsApp journalist discovered that Mayo star Lee Keegan had multiple sclerosis. When you consider that the doctors weren't aware of it, Keegan wasn't aware of it and of course, the fact that he absolutely did not have MS, you'd have to say that this was pretty outstanding work.
The story ended when Keegan had the gall to call this person out:
I’m 100 perfect fine and healthy, and thankfully have no illness like that. I was disappointed to see my family upset by the rumours and it's not nice for people who do have MS, for my name to be thrown around in conversations like that, with false rumours.
Conor McGregor, the celebrity
Did you know that it is now scientifically proven that nothing in this universe travels as quickly as a Conor McGregor WhatsApp rumour? Did you hear the one about the fight in a pub in Crumlin? He fled to Lanzarote the next day. Not only that but he's now living in Albuquerque and has changed his name to Clive.
It's hard to narrow down which McGregor WhatsApp scandal to go with for this poll but I think his fleeing Lanzarote, and Tony flying out to Dubai, has to be the one. Whatever about the others, this one was definitely the most entertaining given he showed up in Blanchardstown District Court a couple of days later, driving a 1.5 BMW.
So who wins it?
There are the nominees, now it's time for you to decide who should take home the award.