Monday 15 October 2012

Stories wot we rote in the last week

There was general agreement among Carmarthenshire's councillors last week that Leighton Andrews had been right to order the regrading of English GCSEs in the summer. In England thousands of children have been invited to re-sit the exam. Perhaps Carmarthenshire County Council's Press Office should get on a bus and join them.

The County Council has one of the largest press and PR outfits in Wales, with 10 staff employed to put the Council's view of the world across to anyone who will listen. It also produces one of the largest, if not the largest, council newspaper in Wales, and as we have seen on numerous occasions in recent years, it is no slouch when it comes to spin, misleading and inaccurate reporting and blackening the names of those who have taken issue with various aspects of the council's activities.

These days word processors, spell checkers and grammar checkers mean that even people who are barely literate should be able to knock out a coherent story without too much trouble.

So here is a selection of the Press Office's output from just the last week for readers to enjoy as we ponder whether we are getting value for money.

Let's begin with a report on the county's Sports Personality of the Year awards:

London’s Olympics and Paralympics and Special Olympics has given a golden tinge to the hunt for this year’s Carmarthenshire sporting heroes.
David Green, who is the current hat-trick holder of the Carmarthenshire Sports Personality of the Year, will take come stopping clocking another victory in this respect having finished-outside the medals but a creditable fourth-in the worlds’s man-killer Olympic 400-meters hurdles event.

Erm, let's move on.

Under a headline which reads, "Man find for dropping littering", you can find the following statement,

Wilkinson failed to attend Carmarthen Magistrates Court for the offence contrary under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the case was proven in his absence.

Next we have the grand opening of the new Odeon cinema in Llanelli, where it seems that confectionery (talking Mars Bars?) greeted people through the doors:

HUNDREDS flocked to the gala opening of the new ODEON at Llanelli’s East Gate last night.
They marvelled at the sumptuous setting with confectionary, Costa coffee shop and Ben and Jerry ice cream lounges greeting guests through the ODEON’s entrance doors. 

Note to press office: confectionary spelt with an 'a' crops up in the King James Bible: "And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers". Otherwise it is spelt with an 'e'.

The Llanelli Odeon story is one of the most bizarre journalistic endeavours you could ever come across. The piece is written in a tone of excitement that borders on hysteria as it crashes through its cliches and peculiar grammar.

ODEON’s chief officer Roger Harris said Llanelli’s ODEON had the best sound system of any cinema in the UK, thanks to the support of Carmarthenshire Council.
Already cinematic aficionados were booking from all parts of the country to visit and experience Llanelli ODEON’s revolutionary 3D sound.

It was probably the same hack who wrote this story about the evangelical bowling alley a few days earlier:

Plan’s to deliver a young people’s Mecca and other community facilities in Carmarthen is bowling along.
That gem would definitely not have been upgraded in Leighton Andrews' exercise, even if we ignore the crass insensitivity of the reference to Mecca.

Kevin Madge, the not very eloquent council leader, is quoted as saying, 

“With all the bleak news of threats on leisure centres and leisure services generally in these financially constrained times, it is wonderful to see an exciting project like this being delivered that is going to be so popular with families and young people."

Nothing horribly wrong with the grammar there, but as Kev & Co cut budgets and raise prices in the county's leisure centres while giving £1.4 million to a fundamentalist Christian group for a bowling alley, you have to wonder why he has not twigged that the threat to leisure services is himself.

The council's output of stories in Welsh is tiny compared with the flood of English drivel churned out by the Press Office, but remarkably the standard of writing is much, much higher.

Perhaps it has something to do with fear of a visit from Peter Hughes Griffiths wearing his Cylch yr Iaith hat.


Emlyn Uwch Cych said...

I agree. The quality of the Welsh copy is far better than that of the English. Grade A compared with Grade D. (It don't think it's idiomatic enough to merit an A*, but close enough.)

So, why doesn't CCC get the Welsh writers to write the English stuff, too? 2 birds, 1 stone: lladd dau dderyn gydag un ergyd.

Anonymous said...

Astounding. If I lived in Carms I'd be very afraid for the future. If they can't be trusted with a press release, what will they do with schools, road, social services and the like?

Anonymous said...

Why is CCC supporting Odeon cinema?

Jack Old Oak said...

Would it be possible for all the staff in the County Council Press Office to be forced to attend classes in basic spelling, English grammar, the correct use of the appostrophe etc? Then they may be "fit for purpose" which they certainly NOT the case now!
Such basic ignorance in council staff is appaling - but only typical of elsewhere?
Who appoints such dunderheads?

Anonymous said...

I think many of them are ex south wales eveing post staff as is the head of PR debbie Williams, funny that