Thursday, 15 August 2013

A disgraceful and wonderful addition to the newspaper stands

You've got to hand it to the recently launched Pembrokeshire Herald. Within a couple of weeks it was propelled from backwoods obscurity to international fame thanks to a sabotaged advert for van hire featuring promises of oral sex. The dust had not settled on that before the paper hit the headlines again when the editor resigned following a spat with the proprietor over a column called "Badger Knows Best".

We can safely assume that neither of these events was in the paper's marketing master plan, but they will probably do wonders for the Herald's circulation figures.

Ordinarily the overt intervention of a newspaper publisher in the day-to-day editorial operations of a newspaper would be a cause for concern, although we all know that covert interference goes on, and you can clearly hear the collective tut-tutting of the press equivalent of the Mothers Union at what has happened, because not only did the publisher overrule the editor, but the offending piece attacked another newspaper.

Horror of horrors.

The interesting new service on offer to customers of the van hire company is best left to the reader's imagination, but you can read the Badger Knows Best column here, thanks to the great Robert Lloyd.

In essence what the Badger is saying is that the Western Telegraph chose to lead with a partly manufactured story featuring choreographed indignation about a Twitter bot instead of "the numbers hit by the pernicious 'bedroom tax', the threat to close a County secondary school, the end of the threat of legal action against members of the Community Health Council, the deaths of two young men in Milford Haven, and anything at all critical of the County Council".

To readers of much of the local press over the border in Carmarthenshire that sounds depressingly familiar.

One of the founding principles of the Pembrokeshire Herald is that it will not rely on council advertising, a reliance which has done so much to strangle the free press in Carmarthenshire.

There has been some improvement in the Carmarthen Journal since the departure of the previous editor for the bright lights of Swansea, but the newspaper still lives in fear and trembling of the spin doctors at County Hall. Readers of the James Journal have been told nothing at all about Towy Community Church and its links to Mercy Ministries, for example, and yet over the border in Ceredigion where it is free from the strings that come attached to council advertising in Carmarthenshire, the Journal runs a column written by old sourpuss J.B. Evans who spends most of his time ranting about the local councillors who have done so much to transform Cardigan.

The chances that the James Journal will pick up on rumours that a very senior Carmarthenshire County Councillor has been trying to emulate the chief executive by getting the council to pay for a libel action are also slim to vanishing.

That sort of thing has to be left to the blogs, and in that respect Pembrokeshire is fortunate to be served by the excellent Old Grumpy and upstart Jacob Williams (age before beauty).

The Herald's publisher, Tom Sinclair, says the newspaper will survive (BBC article here), and here's a toast to that.


Anonymous said...

Heres wishing Tom Sinclair and his team at the Pembrokeshire Herald every success. Heres hoping that they expand into Carmarthenshire and produce an equally riveting newspaper with you and Caebrwyn at the helm.

Anonymous said...

senior councillor?

Cneifiwr said...

Anon @15.41 I can say no more, except that you forgot the word "very".

Anonymous said...

Surely, in light of cuts to services and the knock on effect to employment, CCC wouldn't entertain such an absurd request from a "very senior councillor," would they?

Jacob Williams said...

This young upstart has noticed a few hits coming to his website from this article!

There aren't many blogs I read on a regular basis, but I do read this one and Carmarthenshire Planning Problems, after which I usually wonder to myself "would this things I read about happen in Pembrokeshire." The jury is still out as to which authority's antics are the most blogworthy. And by blogworthy I mean rotten.

Whilst Pembrokeshire doesn't (yet) have bible-bashing-bowling-alleys, it does create its fair share of brow-raising headlines, most of which, as you rightly say, can be read on the excellent!

I also read Mike Stoddart's original (but still not the best), but don't tell him I said that. Promise?

(P.S. Deciphering the verification characters to be able to post a comment is very difficult!)