HAVE you been watching the new season of Peaky Blinders?

If so, I know what you’ve been saying about it. 

Episode three of the BBC drama’s final season aired on Sunday, and was notable for the introduction of consistently outstanding actor Stephen Graham. 

Naturally, people were excited, and many chose to express that emotion on Twitter.

“Peaky Blinders fans all say the same thing as Stephen Graham makes entrance as Hayden Stagg” claimed one outlet, while another went with “Stephen Graham makes debut on Peaky Blinders and viewers all say the same thing”. 

If neither of those articles quenched your thirst for people saying the same thing about Stephen Graham, you could also read “BBC Peaky Blinders fans say same thing after Stephen Graham’s debut”.

The first article features quotes from people criticising the new season of Peaky Blinders (“Halfway through and this series of Peaky Blinders is easily the most boring”) and others defending it (“How are people disliking this season, the show is maturing and it’s been amazing so far #PeakyBlinders”). 

It turns out these people who are “all saying the same thing” are ... saying different things. 

The article even acknowledges this. After quoting some negative tweets, the journalist writes: “But not all fans were disappointed by tonight’s episode, with some viewers insisting that the series is taking a different direction”. They’ve explicitly disagreed with their own headline. 

Ironically, the only people saying the same thing were the websites claiming that everyone was saying the same thing. 

Having spent a couple of years elsewhere as a digital sports journalist,

I’ve written my share of “fan react” pieces. 

When you’re set targets based on the amount of clicks your stories receive, they’re a no-brainer. 

Once you get the hang of them, there should be no more than eight minutes between you deciding to write a fan react piece and tweeting out the link to your published article.

Get a trending topic in your headline – Peaky Blinders in this instance – and those eight minutes of work will virtually guarantee you thousands of clicks, while a 3000-word piece on a serious subject that takes weeks of researching, interviewing and carefully weighing your words will be lucky to get 10% of that traffic. 

As it turns out, Peaky Blinders is far from the only talking point that people have all been saying the same thing about recently. 

As of Wednesday, here is The Week in People Saying The Same Thing About Things...

Thursday 10th: “Good Morning Britain viewers all say same thing as Ranvir Singh hosts with Ben Shephard”.

Friday 11th: “Rod Stewart and Penny Lancaster dress to impress at star-studded party – and fans are all saying the same 

Saturday 12th: “Nottingham Forest fans all saying the same thing after Steve Cooper’s team selection”. 

Sunday 13th: “Holly Willougby (sic) fans say same thing as dog Bailey in naughty corner”.

Monday 14th: “Coronation Street fans all say the same thing after Imran Habeeb makes a decision about Abi’s baby”.

Tuesday 15th: “Countdown viewers all say the same thing as Rachel Riley makes epic return – with a special guest”.

Wednesday 16th: “ITV The Chase viewers furious and all saying the same thing after watching this week’s episodes”.

My personal favourite is the Holly Willoughby story, which consists of 221 words about the TV presenter’s dog eating parts of her vacuum cleaner. 

Aside from spelling Willoughby’s name incorrectly, the “fans say same thing as dog Bailey in naughty corner” headline reads as if her fans are actually in a naughty corner saying the same thing as her dog Bailey. 

Earlier this month, one website published the headline “Top Boy fans all say the same thing as Netflix finally drops trailer for season two”.

The story contained the following quotes from viewers:
“Top Boy about to be INSANE”
“Looks like it’s going to have an incredible sophomore season on Netflix. F*** yes!”

Setting to one side the fact that all three people quoted said different things, as a Top Boy fan I would never have said the same thing as any of those people. My reaction to the trailer was probably: “Cool, new Top Boy.

Oh, someone just called me a dick on Twitter. Time to make a sandwich.”

“Fans of X all say the same thing” never really means that they’re saying the same thing. 

It means “I copied and pasted eight tweets and padded the article out with 180 words of fluff at the top in order to hit Google’s required word count”. 

It’s easy to laugh at these articles, but they’re having a detrimental impact on journalism. 

If you’re under pressure to hit targets, what motivation is there for you to spend your eight-hour shift writing one well-researched, substantial piece when you could churn out 12 inconsequential bits of fluff that get picked up by Google’s search algorithm?

We run the risk of a day coming when all that’s left on supposed “news” websites is a series of fan react pieces quoting opinions from Twitter.

And we’ll all be saying the same thing about it.