Tuesday 19 August 2014

Carmarthenshire News

Wrapped in its eco-friendly plastic bag and addressed to 'The Occupier', the latest edition of Pravda is dropping through letter boxes across Carmarthenshire. Three things stand out this time.

The biggest event in the county's recent history, with heavy involvement from the County Council and all the other members of the local service board which contribute to Carmarthenshire News, was the National Eisteddfod in Llanelli. Among other things the Eisteddfod was a showcase for Carmarthenshire and a chance to show off to a large audience - a public relations dream opportunity in other words.

Admittedly the timing of the Eisteddfod was a little awkward for Carmarthenshire News, with the first week in August coinciding with the paper's publication schedule, but there is no law which says that it must be published on a certain date (in fact there is no law which says that it must be published at all), and it would have been easy enough to postpone publication by a couple of weeks.

As it is, the Eisteddfod does not make an appearance in the paper until page 5, half of which is given over to an advert for concerts and other events which have already happened. There is no point in ringing 0845 4090 900 to order your tickets.

Whoever paid for that either has money to burn or may want their cash back.

And that is about it as far as the Eisteddfod is concerned. No mention of any of the competitions or the winners. What we get instead is the drearily familiar litany of awards won by the council and its partners interspersed with overt propaganda.

Hywel Dda Health Board goes to town on page 4 with a piece telling us that a High Court judge kicked out an application for judicial review of its plans to reorganise health services, the downgrading of Prince Philip Hospital in Llanelli in particular.

Only Hywel Dda's management doesn't like the word "downgrade", and what we get is an entirely one-sided account celebrating the court victory which attacks critics for forcing it to spend £300,000 on legal costs.

No attempt at objectivity, no explanation as to why people felt it necessary to challenge the authority's plans or what was worrying them.

Carmarthenshire News is and always was a mouthpiece for those in power, with precious little in the way of genuine news and no hint that there is anyone out there who has a different point of view to those running the show.

For example, it would not be Carmarthenshire News if we did not get at least one picture of the Labour council leader Kevin Madge cutting a ribbon, turning a first sod or admiring a project in a hard hat.

In a piece which gets as much space as the National Eisteddfod, Kev is pictured turning the first sod at the planned new Gwili Railway Station in Carmarthen.

Carmarthen has six county councillors, and all of them are members of Plaid Cymru. The current Mayor of Carmarthen is also from Plaid.

If any of them were invited to the ceremony, they have been airbrushed from the official photograph, and we are treated instead to a snap of Kev (Lab) and his "Independent" coalition partners (Pam Palmer and Irfon Jones), along with the deputy mayor of Carmarthen (Ind).

The third thing which stands out from this edition of Carmarthenshire News is that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of private sector advertisers. Perhaps advertising space is being sold at a heavy discount, but what is evident is that the council is employing someone to sell it. Is that what we pay council tax for?

This edition features adverts from an estate agent, NFU Mutual, the FUW, a half page advert extolling the benefits of private sector education, various contractors who almost certainly do a lot of business with the council, the evangelical bowling alley (of course), a solicitor encouraging people to sue for medical negligence and a few who really should know better. Why is Gwasg Gomer, the Llandysul-based publishing company, supporting a publication which from its inception has been dedicated to undermining a free and independent local press? What price free speech and pluralism?

Hang your heads in shame, Gwasg Gomer.

And finally, to end where we began.

Carwyn Jones's latest initiative to show that he is trying to promote the Welsh language is called Pethau Bychain ("little things"). Pethau Bychain has splashed out on a half page ad inviting readers to pop over to Maes D at the Eisteddfod for a chat - too late for readers of Carmarthenshire News, and a truly appalling waste of scarce resources.

As Dewi Pws would say, MOMFfG.


Anonymous said...

Could it be that Bronwydd is within the constituency of Irfon Jones & the terminus of the line is within Abergwili and Pam Palmer is the councillor . Or do you think there is a conspiracy Cneifiwr ?

Cneifiwr said...

As you know, the council's propaganda rag almost never includes pictures of any opposition councillors - it simply pretends they don't exist.

In the case of the new railway station you would probably need to get a tape measure out, but I'm not sure it is in her ward. The reality is that the terminus, whatever the name, is in Carmarthen, and that's how it will be marketed if the railway company has got any sense.

Excluding councillors from Carmarthen was just petty and partisan.

Anonymous said...

How many Copies are printed ?
I would like to know how many Copies are actually read.
Everyone I know gives it a fling straight away.

kev francis said...

We have been told that this news paper is now self funded,no more liability to rate payers.
At least a step in the right direction