Update 24 August
In striking contrast to our local newspaper, the London-based Guardian has published an obituary of the late Eileen Beasley written by her grandson, Cynog Prys. You can read it here.
Eileen was a remarkable and brave woman, and we owe her a debt of gratitude. Heddwch i'w llwch. May she rest in peace.
If asked, most of the dwindling number of people who buy a local paper would say that they buy it in order to keep up with the local news. In the case of the Carmarthen Journal there must be other reasons for forking out 65p.
Despite recent changes to its personnel, the paper's editorial policy towards the county council appears still to be a case of only printing what County Hall tells it to print.
Last week we had a big feature celebrating the St Catherine's Walk shopping centre, complete with some rather dubious facts and figures courtesy of the council's press office.
This week, readers of the Teifi Valley edition will have been pleased to see a picture of pupils of Ysgol Gyfun Emlyn celebrating their A Level results. What readers who rely on the Carmarthen Journal for their news would not know is that the school has been experiencing a difficult time since the publication of a very critical Estyn report earlier this summer. The headmaster left, and it is unlikely that there will be a replacement until early next year. Not long after the report was published, a packed emergency meeting was held at the school to explain to concerned parents what was happening.
Of course, this did not reflect well on Carmarthenshire County Council or its Education Department which has been accused of starving the school of funding and resources.
None of this appeared in the Journal, although the Cambrian News, which normally ignores this southern extremity of its patch, ran a lengthy and dramatic report on the affair.
Last week the Western Mail picked up an important story about the long running dispute between Carmarthenshire's chief executive, Mark James, and Councillor Siân Caiach. Mr James had bombarded the Public Services Ombudsman with complaints alleging that Cllr Caiach had breached the councillors code of conduct. The ombudsman dismissed every single complaint and had some important things to say about freedom of speech.
The Journal appears not to have noticed, just as it also failed to spot news about another controversy involving the council and the ombudsman in a case involving planning enforcement, a blacklisting by the council of an elderly couple and a libel suit.
It is probably a fair bet that many of the readers of the Journal are mature in years and that they would have been saddened to hear of the death of Mrs Eileen Beasley, one of the most remarkable women in the county's history. The story of Trefor and Eileen Beasley's campaign may even have interested younger readers and others who had never heard of them.
The Journal remained silent on this, and its sister paper in Llanelli managed only a paltry 10 lines.
It is also a fair bet that many of the Journal's readers will have been at some stage in their lives to the Elli Theatre in Llanelli; they may also have been interested to hear about Brynaman Lido, built by miners in the 1930s and now, like the theatre, being shut for good by the council. Both stories made it on to BBC radio but failed to find space in the Journal.
On the other hand readers were treated to a story about a collection of local photographs, accompanied by a black and white photograph of Meryl Gravell's wedding.
Next week: Pam Palmer's holiday snaps: 1966 - Caravanning in Grimsby.
It's staggering that the Chief Exec's failed bid to censure Cllr Caiach was not reported in the Journal. This was real 'council news' as well as an important decision by the ombudsman. Staggering but very predictable.
Disgusting lack of reporting of important matters. I despair. I live in NCE but I don't think I will buy this paper any more.
This is ridiculous. So many important and newsworthy events being simply ignored by the Journal. Eileen Beasley, Theatr Elli and Brynaman Lido quite literally going into oblivion, not to mention the repeated bloody nose received by CCC.
Does the paper have a newsdesk, journalists, that sort of thing? Or does the Journal just carry stuff direct from the SirGarPR emails?
I was just looking at the web site Wrexham.com Is it time that Carmarthen had somethign similar?
After reading your excellent piece I would imagine any proffesional journalist working for the CJ would feel quite embarresed and a little bit silly.
I buy the Journal out of habit - I dont actually expect to read any local news other than the sterile stuff that comes from the council or the next time/place to meet your local PCSO etc.
Habits can be broken however and the CJ can not rely on people like me. I had hoped that the new editor could have made a difference and returned the CJ back to what it used to be years ago A NEWSPAPER !
Letter to Editor " Please be proffesional in your duties. Accept that sometimes your paper will have to print articles that do not conform to the Councils PR Depts view of things. Be assured that if the CJ had more news circulation would rise. Try not to worry about withdrawal of advertising. This in itself would be a news story. In any case much of the advertising is statutory in nature"
Sadly local print media is in terminal decline, largely because of the explosion in digital media, and I don't think the journalists can be blamed too much because they are overworked -- they don't have time for investigations.
When I started as a local newspaper reporter we had specialist reporters for local government, crime, entertainment, business, sport and more, and area reporters too -- all paid! That's all gone.
Eric Pickles is, I think, seeking to give local bloggers in England the right to press accreditation. I would really like to see this in Wales.
You are absolutely right, Patricia, although there seem to be special circumstances in Carmarthenshire where the council has a well established track record of interfering with the editorial independence of local newspapers.
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