Thursday 21 February 2013

The Today Programme and Other Media Matters

Some readers of this blog will have heard an interview with Jacqui Thompson on this morning's Today Programme on Radio 4. If you missed it, the programme is available here for another seven days. The interview was broadcast at just after 8.30, two and a half hours into this morning's edition.

As someone has already commented on the previous post, Jacqui came across as a calm and thoughtful person, and having had the pleasure of meeting her on several occasions, that is exactly what she is like in real life. The same is true of her husband Kerry who is a local lad born and bred.

In other words, utterly different from the picture of a couple of menacing obsessives painted by the County Council.

Despite employing 20 people in its press and PR operations (this figure was one which the council gave the Chartered Institute of Public Relations towards the end of last year), the council declined to take part in the programme, just as it declined to cooperate with the BBC on documentaries about the Delyth Jenkins case, the Patricia Breckman case and the Towy Community Church bowling alley project.

After Evan Davies had finished saying that the council had been invited to give their side of the story but declined, John Humphreys let out a loud and disapproving groan.

Back in Carmarthenshire, the council obviously had to think long and hard about what to say about the events of the last few days. This is what it came up with:

Statement regarding court action 

WE respect Mr Justice Tugendhat’s decision to reserve judgement. It would not be appropriate to comment further until such time as that judgement has been reached.


Just before 5pm this afternoon, i.e. eight and a half hours after the broadcast on Radio 4, the ever-alert council press office woke up and felt a bit miffed about what Evan Davies had said. So it put out a calarification on Twitter as follows:

To clarify, requested a statement (not an interview) late last night. It was supplied, however it wasn't used.

Attached to the tweet was a link to the "Statement" above. Doh!


In other news the Editor of the Carmarthen Journal, Jonathan Roberts, is moving on to take over at the South Wales Evening Post, which is owned by the same group. Mr Roberts was appointed to the Journal only just over six months ago, and this move represents something of a rapid promotion.

During his very short stint in Carmarthen Mr Roberts presided over "structural changes" to the newsroom and a makeover of the paper itself, which is now 25% bigger than before.

Cneifiwr has to confess that he no longer buys the newspaper on a regular basis, but made an exception this week.What is good about the new-look paper is its sections dealing with news from the different geographical areas covered. Not so good is the pagination and navigability of the paper. It is very hard to find your way around it, in other words.

Not good at all is the paper's continuing policy of only reporting council stories approved by County Hall. In fact quite a few of the stories this week appear to have been produced on Jail Hill and reproduced wholesale. Gone are the days when readers could expect this local newspaper to scrutinise and question the county council.

The letters page contained the usual barrage of missives about wind turbines, with one letter praising the county council.

In return, the Journal can show a healthy crop of council adverts, including one full-page, colour announcement of a tyre and waste amnesty outside Morrisons in Carmarthen. With acres of empty space surrounding the few words on the page, the council's marketing department is clearly flush with cash at the moment.

Finally, and a topic Cneifiwr hopes to return to before long, Delyth Jenkins gave an interview to the South Wales Evening Post about the Public Interest Disclosure Act. There are growing calls for this act to be overhauled to give real protection to whistleblowers, such as Delyth.

As readers will recall, the Delyth Jenkins story was set in Johnstown, a stone's throw from Carmarthen, but the good people of Carmarthen will have to buy either the Swansea-based Evening Post or The Guardian if they want to read about something which shows Mr James's regime in a less than flattering light.


Delyth Jenkins said...

Diolch Cneifiwr. I have had loads of calls of support since the Guardian covered the story last Saturday and the coverage by the evening post yesterday. I had a very similar response following the S4C Taro 9 programme last March, and I am very grateful to everyone for their support. Support I should have received from my employers, Carmarthenshire County Council, when all I did was report abuse and say the truth.
Instead officers used their energy to ridicule and belittle me and tell me to 'back off a bit'
instead of dealing with the problem and holding managers to account. I don't think the situation can be ignored for much longer. I am extemely disappointed that the several councillors I have approached have done nothing to help me. I have also written to several more but it seems to no avail. I thank the general public anyway for their support.

towy71 said...

I have to agree with your critique of the latest new look for the journal and its lack of vision with regards to the County Council.
I used to be an avid reader and indeed buyer of the paper but it has lost its way in recent years.
The Council has come out of this with no credit whatsoever, shame on all parties or none, if you know what I mean ;-)

Tessa said...

Likewise Cneifiwr - inasmuch as I too bought the Bum Fodder known as the Carmarthen Journal. The libel action didn't even warrant a write-up on the front page!

nightsiren said...

Tickled that the tweet from Carms Press Office "putting right" their stance on the Today programme was timed at 5.04pm.

What a shower.

Anonymous said...

Cneifiwr, many thanks for keeping us updated and signposting to various other media reporting on Jacqui's case. I don't know Kerry Thompson but if he is anything like his wife Jacqui, then he must be a lovely person. Jacqui is the most kind, considerate and unassuming person I have ever had the pleasure of speaking to. Jacqui, if you are reading this, I am truly grateful to you for lending me your ears which served to help me to heal. Thank you also for having the audacity and sheer determination to promote transparency and hopefully bring about change in CCC. I hope the outcome of the case will be positive and acknowledges your efforts. Best wishes Jacqui x

Anonymous said...

Delyth, it is clear that both you and Sally were victims in this despicable case. Shame on you Carmarthenshire County Council!

Anonymous said...

Heard nothing this week on BBC Radio Cymru/Wales news programmes. It's as if the High Court case isn't happening.

Patricia B. said...

Anon 7.40

My feelings too. That's precisely why this culture in Wales goes on and on and on.................

Delyth Jenkins said...

Anon 18.44

Thanks, it's been very hard. Harder still to see the Management structure still there even though they were slated by the Ombudsman.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it interesting that most of the vocal support for Jacqui, and indeed the true assessment of this case from press coverage, has come from the other side of the bridge. Those of us that are aware of the shameful failings here and support Jacqui are not helped by the muted Welsh media, and the ever silent Welsh Ministers. They should take note.