Labour liars’ love-in goes mainstream

Kissy kissy.

Draper and many bloggers defend strategy

Derek Draper, editor of LabourList, has rejected suggestions that his web strategy is too Westminster-focused. He told PRWeek: ‘There is a massive spread of issues on the website. It should be about the whole country and the Westminster village is part of that.’

He also pointed out that top Labour politicians were onside: ‘When I have asked them to do something for LabourList, not a single member of the Cabinet has been anything other than keen.’

Draper was speaking in the wake of rumours that his web tactics were dividing the party.

One Labour insider claimed: ‘There are lots of people at all sorts of levels of the party very uncomfortable with the Derek Draper ego show.’

But Cabinet Office minister Tom Watson told PRWeek that Draper was doing ‘sterling work’.

Meanwhile, LabourHome’s Alex Hilton said: ‘The one thing that Derek really has brought to the table is that he has delivered buy-in from senior figures.’

Fellow LabourHome founder Jag Singh said: ‘He has done a good job of getting upper echelons to buy into his project.’

Blogging Labour MP Paul Flynn was also supportive, saying: ‘We were underperforming before. It is nice to have a presence at all.’

I’m loving this ham-fisted PR. So reassuring. So organic. So “2.0 without the hype”

I live in hope that Tom Watson’s quote is only two words long because they’re the only two words of praise they could dig* out of his statement.

(*See: Movie/theatre posters)

More love and kisses here. I can’t help but wonder if MessageSpace money was spent on this massage.

(Not that they have much of it. They throw some big names about, but I’ve seen a lot of Commission Junction ads filling their inventory lately.)

UPDATE – Alex Hilton and Jag Singh ‘disappeared’ two entire conversations from their website yesterday without so much as a placemarker (or gravestone). They do this in the name of using the authenticity of blogging to reach ‘normal’ people, you understand, and have no wish to dwell on the hang-ups of ‘anoraks’.

A valid question is being shamelessly dodged here and here, if you’d care to watch. The ‘nutter’ tag just made its first appearance (not far behind ‘obsessive’ and ‘anorak’), and here, I get a lecture about leaving politics to the experts.

(Grass roots, baby. Welcome to 21st century campaigning. Now, shut up and do what we say. … No, don’t do what he said. Besides, he didn’t say anything. … No, he didn’t. Look, here’s the big empty space that proves he didn’t say anything: ___________________ Satisfied? Now run along…)

UPDATE – Not that we’re anywhere near that stage, but wouldn’t it be funny if there were a major division about them trying to ‘disappear’ information about a minor division?








Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | 8 Comments

The Royal Academy of Media Watchery

I’ve noticed on my travels that it’s often the biggest frauds who put the most official sounding names on things.

Like John Beyer, that clown who’s claimed the name ‘Media Watch’ and secured it exclusively for the narrowest of agendas, or a publicity-hungry quack who calls a school for other quacks something like the Royal Global Academy of Alternative Medicine College.

It’s a worrying trend, and I’d hate to be mistaken for any of these people… so I’m calling my new project The Media Watch Rock-a-Hula:

media watch rock-a-hula

Don’t make that face. My mind is made up.

(Besides, I can delete this later… like it never happened.)








Posted in Old Media, Rupert 'The Evil One' Murdoch | 2 Comments

On the subject of retro-moderation

I’ve just made my very first post – ever – to Labourhome.

I hope it doesn’t get deleted or anything…

UPDATE – Prepare to choke back just a little bit of vomit; a joint statement from Alex Hilton and Derek Draper has just been released.

UPDATE – LabourList mirror here. Oh, and Tom’s likely to be disappointed if he’s seriously expecting me to kiss and ‘make up’ with Draper.

Here; I made an easy-to-understand diagram…

me and people I choose to associate with

__________________________________

lying, cheating scoundrels

Note the line. It’s not at all fuzzy. Also, Hilton and Draper are desperate for a Labour-oriented career. Me, not so much. Tom’s waiting for something that isn’t going to happen.








Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | 3 Comments

The Media Watch Project

I really wanted to have a better logo ready for today, but hopefully you can see where I’m going with this, and I won’t need a long paragraph explaining exactly what this change in priorities means for ‘Murdoch Watch':

The Sun: Tabloid Lies needs a tidy up and some focus, but I’m very happy with the ‘document the lies’ strategy so far, and plan to expand on it very shortly with a similar project targeting The Daily Mail.

The latter project will finally stagger into a soft-launch following a post from me within the next week.

I found the time cataloguing the dishonesty of amateur hacks like Iain Dale and Paul Staines to be very useful on this front, because with up-and comers and amateurs it’s not only easier to see the strings, it’s also easier to jiggle them about a bit and watch where/how the puppet show falls apart (and, crucially, where/how it manages to keep the illusion going).

If you can picture the skills/experience/resource gap that exists between Derek Draper and Paul Staines, you can easily appreciate the skills/experience/resource gap that exists between Paul Staines and Rebekah Wade. All that really separates them is practice in (or access to) any given format; the techniques they use are almost identical.

[Psst! Those watching Paul closely these past few years will have noticed where Paul’s character has, for example, evolved from showing casual indifference to torture, to having a more tabloid-like position; selective outrage (depending on who is doing the torturing, natch). Baby P was a watershed moment in this ‘growth’.]

Some of the blow-back from the Glen Jenvey affair (that I’m not at liberty to share with you just yet, but it will blow your effing mind) follows the same attack pattern and plugs in neatly with my wider experience with tabloids especially.

The short version is this:

If you remain calm, and simply document outright lies, they will have very little to throw back at you.

It won’t stop them trying, mind, but they’ll be operating without a scrap of evidence (i.e. they will be forced to make shit up) and anybody who takes 30 seconds to look at your site will see…. evidence, evidence and more evidence.

What also helps is a united front. A group is harder to classify as being a bit mental, which is the usual charge thrown about by someone not wanting people to read clear evidence that they’ve been lying, cheating, stealing etc. (“He’s delusional! And it’s *catching*! Stay away, children!”).

[Note – ‘Boring’ is the other one; it’s ‘mental’-lite. But, I’m working with a variety of writers, each with their own engagement/communication skills. We should be resilient enough, and it’s not a damaging tactic, so there’s room for improvement on the fly.]

The only time this ‘mental’ tag is ever likely to become a problem with a group? When that group strays from the ‘lies only’ mission and editors begin to lose their independence.

Putting what I personally think of them to one side, the fact is that the position of ‘Biased BBC’ is easily undermined because they as a group operate on a single almighty assumption and build every case from this perspective.

‘Bias’ is a perilous area to go into, as many of us will have learned in the past.

It is a slippery slope, and you even need to watch your step near things like hypocrisy, omission and obfuscation. It’s going to be painful to stick with at times, but it is my opinion that you’re better off sticking with cataloguing outright lies, because if you have a worthy target, there will be plenty.

Even if you stick to this, there will be people that won’t believe you.

But that’s OK. I’ve grown beyond unrealistic expectations of stopping this or crushing that, and now work towards speaking to the ‘softs’ in any given audience.

Paul Staines will never admit it, but I’m one of the key reasons why he mainly has “window lickers” on the loose in his comments. His page views may have gone up, but the quality of his (public) feedback has plummeted. Reasonable people started abandoning him in droves once they realised what he’d been up to and Staines reacted by giving his shouty anonymongrels more and more room to play.

MORE SHOUTING! THAT’S THE TICKET!!! ZANU LABOUR! RAH RAH RARRRGH!

*ahem*

(Hell, I was one of those people once; I bought into Paul Staines’ bullshit, and it took me far too long to snap out of his spell, because I was so focused on the poor souls having their genitals slashed in the name of T.W.A.T. – the turning point came with Oaten and Paul’s attempt to put the whammy on me at a later facetime event. He’s a lying, manipulative scoundrel who will say pretty much anything to get you to do what he wants you to do, and Alex Hilton is a damn fool to trust him.)

So, starting with The Sun and The Daily Mail, I’ll be documenting lies in tabloid newspapers with the help of other talented writers and bloggers.

New projects will emerge as opportunities present themselves and/or priorities make themselves clear, but the prime directive will remain the same; show readers of any given title/broadcaster if/when they are being lied to.

Every day, millions of people in this country needlessly worry, rant and rave about stuff that Just. Isn’t. Real.

Perhaps I can ease their minds on one or two specific matters.

Maybe, just maybe, I can teach some people how to recognise (or identify!) habitual liars; the heartless fuckers who play on your fears to profit monetarily and/or politically.

I’ll probably do no more than dent, deter, or isolate people like Wade and Staines… but I’ll salt great swathes of earth for those who wish to follow them.

Hopefully, especially because it brings other bloggers along on projects, it will also set a better pattern of blogging development than the often shouty, spin-heavy not-at-all-credible strategy folks have been following behind Iain Dale, the grand ambassador of political blogging

(FFS, the sponsor of the UK guide to political blogging for three years running has been APCO. They *astroturf* for a bloody living! We need to step away from such influences if we want blogging to be any different or more democratic than other channels.)

So, just before I get started, does anyone see any downsides to the ‘lies only’ plan? Does anyone think I’m being a wee bit unfair to certain tabloid editors (or bloggers)?

Now’s the time to speak up, because this is where I want to take Bloggerheads for the next year or two at least… and this is not a strictly ‘my site, my rules’ issue.

I’ll be sharing power with a lot of other people, but everything will be built on this framework, and I trust you appreciate that this deliberate landscaping will have an impact on the layout of at least one corner of the playing field.








Posted in Old Media, Rupert 'The Evil One' Murdoch, The Political Weblog Movement | Comments Off

Eight(ish) items about Derek Draper and Paul Staines

1. The Draper ‘Downfall’ video comes to us anonymously. It a situation like this, I suspect sock-puppetry. The video gets no linky-love from me.

2. Given Draper’s wider antics and the excuse he provides for his use of the term “window lickers”…

Derek Draper – Apologies and regrets over the use of a derogatory term: At that point I thought the phrase meant someone looking in a window, like a kid at a candyshop, wishing they were inside.

… I thought you might be interested in this article from 2005:

Guardian – The lady and the scamp: Looking back on his “idiot years” now, after seven years of therapy – the last three in daily analysis – he attributes the self-destructive impulses to an unconscious need to get out of politics. “I believe now, as a psychotherapist, that most of what we do is motivated by the unconscious. And I think slowly, over a period of time, not being at the centre of power but having my face pressed up against the shop window, I’d unconsciously decided I didn’t really like what I saw. But it was very hard for me to recognise, because it was all I’d wanted to do since the age of 11.”

That article is linked prominently from Draper’s Wikipedia page, so the connection with that excuse could be coincidence, a product of the subconscious, or a lovely bit of weaselling.

3. Draper put himself in a position where he had to apologise for use of the word that Paul Staines throws about without a care in the world. He’s a fool, on top of everything else.

4. Paul Staines got in touch today to (finally) help with the ongoing uncertainty about his bankruptcy. He claimed (in a lofty, dismissive and contemptuous manner one normally expects from a bloody politician) that he was fully discharged from bankruptcy on 23 December, 2005, and that this is a matter of public record.

a) Pity nobody told these people about it.

b) We still only have Paul’s word for this. He refused to produce anything to back it up. The sniffy bastard.

c) He seemed so put out that I would dare to ask questions about it. FFS, his grand plan involves a two-bit banner-advertising network exclusive to political weblogs. WTF did he think would happen? Did he seriously think no-one would ask any questions, or does he still live in that fantasy world where everybody has to be held accountable except for him and his mates?

d) Anyone might think from his reaction that Paul doesn’t subject people to far worse treatment on the basis of even less evidence every damn day on his Guido Fawkes non-blog.

e) Staines even uses his anonymous free-for-all comments system to help baseless rumours evolve into ‘open secrets’. And he’s moaning because I’ve got some questions based on hard evidence? Forget him.

5. I’ve been thinking about it, and I can’t for the life of me work out how exactly a key member of a two-bit banner advertising network expects to benefit from a regularly-risky widely-damaging comments free-for-all that is constantly refreshed… in more ways than one. Unless it’s a matter of profit before principle/politics, of course; then it makes perfect sense.

6. I’ve noted elsewhere and wish to repeat here that Paul Staines appeared online earlier than 2005, failed miserably in his attempt to gain a worthwhile audience, and returned with a new identity. In short, he has such a boring and unpleasant personality that he had to invent a new one for his website. So far, people prefer Paul Staines’ invented personality to Derek Draper’s real one, but some might argue that this doesn’t make for a fair fight. Paul has had far more time to perfect his spin, smear, comment manipulation and censorship techniques, too.

7. Do take some time to think about how much Paul Staines and Derek Draper have in common, because there’s a lot; the early career-ending mistake, reinvention, crawling back into politics by faking it as a blogger, the endless cheating under comments, selective faux-outrage, a multi-faceted resemblance to David Brent… Staines even insisted today that he more than anyone was above scrutiny. I had to check the ‘From’ field to make sure I wasn’t getting my meatheads mixed up.

8. Finally, to close, a quick note about Derek Draper’s funding*; he’s New Labour, used to write for the Express newspaper, had his wedding snaps featured in OK! magazine, (reportedly) isn’t averse to a little adult-oriented entertainment… if anyone’s drawing up a list of possible LabourList backers, you might want to add the name Richard Desmond. Just a thought.

(*Paul Staines assures us that he’s had no secret backers. Ev-ah. He just magically emerged from a financial black hole with the capacity to blog pretty much full-time… and that seems a reasonable enough claim to me.)








Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | 17 Comments

Alex Hilton = Derek Draper

Got any doubts about that equation?

Well, we’ve all watched Derek Draper’s manufactured outrage about words used or ‘defended’ by Iain Dale and Paul Staines (aka ‘Guido Fawkes’)… now I invite you to watch Alex Hilton playing the very same game.

Alex is reacting here to my calling Paul Staines a ‘pussy’ in an earlier email. He’s talked himself into a hole on one of his own damn websites (latest here), and is either ignoring me or attacking me, depending on if he thinks he has the upper hand at any given moment. On this occasion, he clearly thinks he has the upper hand because he is speaking to me:

—– Original Message —–
From: Alexander Hilton
To: Tim Ireland
Cc: Guido Fawkes; Jag Singh
Sent: Tuesday, February 17, 2009 2:25 PM
Subject: Re: For the record

Tim,

The use of the word “pussy” in this context is both mysogynistic and frankly offensive.

Too often women’s body parts are used as a term of abuse which simply adds to the commodification of their sex.

But hang on a moment – I don’t actually believe you are a mysogynist, you seem merely to have had a lapse of political correctness on this occasion.

Not to worry

Alex

I’ll happily admit that Alex might have some pudding here… somewhere among all those eggs. I love the casual sign-off, especially. He makes a big deal about a little nothing – after announcing that he won’t be emailing me any more, I might add – and then ends with a casual ‘not to worry’.

So he’s outraged, but he’s not, but he is, but he’s not. This is not 100 miles from his position on asking people what they think (and please note that I’m paraphrasing here):

Tell me what you think. No, tell me what you think based on what I claim, not on what you know. Or what I told you. Or what you think about that. Yes, that’s it; tell me what you think, but don’t think. Hang on… what exactly are you driving at? Why are you being so mean to me? That’s it; I’m ignoring you!

(Psst! Alex’s invitation to publish our private correspondence on this topic is here, BTW. I sent an email to him almost two hours ago announcing my intention to publish on my website, but it looks like he’s ignoring me again… until the next time, when he won’t be. But he will be, but he won’t be. Oh, and I should point out in the spirit of disclosure that in that same email I called Paul Staines “a pathetic, sock-puppeting fallopian tube” and I bloody well meant it. Sorry, ladies.)

UPDATE (18 Feb) – It’s just past midday. The two posts that Alex started about this on LabourHome (and subsequently every comment underneath those posts) have been deleted/withdrawn without explanation. This is what we bloggers call ‘retro-moderation’. Why does Alex want to hide this all of a sudden? He seemed awfully keen to wave it about until a few minutes ago. Are the secret ‘threats’ now so secret that even Alex won’t talk about them?

URLs of deleted threads:

http://www.labourhome.org/story/2009/2/16/131227/809

http://www.labourhome.org/story/2009/2/17/11307/3162








Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | 1 Comment

Alex Hilton, secret ‘threats’ and MessageSpace

All of the anger generated over Alex Hiltons claims that he was confronted with secret threats rests on the dual assumption (a) that Derek Draper made the call, and (b) that Hilton is being 100% honest with us/himself about what was said and how it was put.

Whoever is talking to Hilton has a point (stay with me…) up to the point where Hilton’s association with Paul Staines (aka ‘Guido Fawkes’) might damage his relationship with other Labour members, or the members of any semi-responsible political group, come to think of it.

If they’re saying what Hilton is claiming and making secret threats about deliberately tagging Hilton with Staines’ popular brand of casual racism (1, 2), then that’s not on, but I’ve come to expect misrepresentation from Hilton’s quarter.

Hilton could have been issued with a warning that such association would happen naturally and without interference or effort; that’s a warning that could easily be passed off as a threat.

That, and Hilton often starts calling people ‘comrade’ when he’s laying it on thick.

I’m not saying that this is the way it’s happened, but it’s a bloody likely possibility from where I’m standing.

A lot depends on who made the call. Draper, I’d expect such threats from, especially after his over-reaching attach-a-word attacks on Dale and Staines and his finger-jabbing attack on Hencke.

But if almost anyone else made the phone call, I’d have serious doubts about Hilton’s claim. That I’m not able to hear the context of what was said forces me to make that judgement call, and Hilton is one of the people in this world that I trust the least.

Why? Well, one reason is the secret and none-too-subtle ‘I/we will ruin you’ threats sent my way from… MessageSpace.

Once, after I blogged about MessageSpace, a threat of legal action was issued from their office building by Paul Staines, who MessageSpace later claimed; “is neither a shareholder, director or employee of MessageSpace and never has been.”

All of these threats were marked PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL and I was advised that revealing any details and not caving immediately could cost me big time. I was also ordered (yes, ordered) to apologise, hire a lawyer or provide an address (more).

Meanwhile, I was receiving all sorts of nicey-nice reassurances from Jag Singh. On the condition that these remain secret, too.

Alex was dismissive and disingenuous about it, the only saving grace being that he was publicly dismissive and disingenuous about it:

“This article is the first time I have heard of Guido suing Tim. What for? I don’t know and can’t really be bothered to look into it. “

Meanwhile, I was being threatened by a man based in their office over an article I wrote about their company. I hate to be ungracious about it all, but fuck them, and fuck MessageSpace.

And you know what? It strikes me that the best way for Alex to get everyone onside is to have everyone think that poster-boy-for-tosspots Derek Draper is somehow connected to this call he bases his claims on.

To close, let me be ab-so-lute-ly clear on my central point:

I don’t entirely trust Alex Hilton’s claims about this. I don’t entirely trust Jag Singh’s claims about this.

That position is only likely to change if someone I trust less turns out to be behind these calls…. and there are very few people I trust less than the men behind MessageSpace.

That goes especially for the coward, liar and bully who “is neither a shareholder, director or employee of MessageSpace and never has been”.

For more, click here.

UPDATE (18 Feb) – It’s just past midday. The two posts that Alex started about this on LabourHome (and subsequently every comment underneath those posts) have been deleted/withdrawn without explanation. This is what we bloggers call ‘retro-moderation’. Why does Alex want to hide this all of a sudden? He seemed awfully keen to wave it about until a few minutes ago. Are the secret ‘threats’ now so secret that even Alex won’t talk about them?

URLs of deleted threads:

http://www.labourhome.org/story/2009/2/16/131227/809

http://www.labourhome.org/story/2009/2/17/11307/3162








Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | 8 Comments

Googlebombing YouTube

[Note – A Googlebomb is something that (a) typically involves Google, and (b) making something that has no textual relevance to a keyword or keywords respond to that query regardless of this by external influence (typically, linking to a target page using those same keywords).]

I found out recently, quite by accident, that it is possible to Googlebomb YouTube.

Syndication and/or the reputation/maturity of bloggerheads.com may be a factor here, but from where I’m sitting only a single link in a single post is needed.

I found out about this after I linked to this ‘Ninja Cat Fail’ video in this post, using that nice Mr Draper’s name in the linked description. The next day, I was looking for a clip of the man, recognised the 2nd-to-top result (screengrab), and realised immediately that I alone had artificially/externally provided the only ‘relevance’ to this query.

– Rather than keep this YouTube glitch to myself (and maybe slap a fancy name on it and sell it as a ‘viral marketing’ service like some people I could mention) I thought it might be better to point it out in a very public fashion so it can get fixed.

– Speaking as someone who has been maliciously impersonated on Blogger and advised by Google that I should email myself in an attempt to reach the person pretending to be me, I can say with some confidence that simply emailing Google is likely to be a futile gesture.

– So I propose that we overtly play with the glitch until Google wakes up and fixes it.

:o)

Yes, I said ‘we’, white man window licker comrade.

Here’s how easy it is; I linked to a video when using the name of not-very-good-lawyer Donal Blaney today, and within 12 hours, YouTube presented a far more amusing top search result for his name:

I really liked the way this one looked; the Simpsons’ colours are bright and immediately recognisable, as are most of the characters in that series… so here is the approach pattern I’m prescribing for this little project, if you want to join in:

-

LET’S GOOGLEBOMB YOUTUBE TOGETHER:

1. Choose a personality (or even a nobody/wannabe) from the world of British media, politics or blogging

2. Link to a fitting YouTube-hosted Simpsons clip with their name

– like this… Nadine Dorries

– or like this… Alex Hilton

3. Tell your friends!

4. Check in as soon as you have a result.

-

[Psst! I was going to include myself in this post, but couldn’t find the clip of Ned Flanders berating Lisa Simpson for being “Springfield’s answer to the question nobody asked.” Ditto for Phil Hendren, but I couldn’t find a clip of Comic Book Guy retreating to his store “where I dispense the insults rather than absorb them”.]








Posted in Search Engine Optimisation | 4 Comments

Torture: those lying, torturing, mother-forgetting scoundrels

Guardian – Miliband faces new ‘torture cover-up’ storm: David Miliband, the foreign secretary, was last night facing fresh pressure over torture allegations after it was revealed that his officials asked the US for help in suppressing crucial evidence. The Foreign Office solicited a letter from the US to back up its claim that if the evidence was disclosed, Washington could stop sharing intelligence with Britain. (via)

They went looking for an excuse to claim to be powerless.

Bastards.

Note also that they asked the previous U.S. administration for this and then tried to give the impression that it was the (unsolicited) position of the new administration.

See also:
Bloggerheads – Jack Straw, Tony Blair, and the ‘truth’ about torture
Bloggerheads – Jack Straw is a lying weasel (and other facts about torture)
Bloggerheads – More lies about torture








Posted in It's War! It's Legal! It's Lovely! | Comments Off

Roger Alton: why I’ve lost faith in The Independent

Hi folks. I plan on chatting with you about the credibility of old and new media this week. Please bear with me…

(Psst! Or, if it’s more to your speed, perhaps instead check out Sim-O on The Sun and their defence of their reporting on Baby P or, if you can stomach the bile, have a laugh at Donal Blaney attacking Derek Draper over his use of the term ‘window lickers’ when Blaney’s client* Paul Staines is the man most deserving of his criticism, and all Draper is guilty of is outstanding ignorance and a desperation to be part of the ‘in’ crowd.)

[*I say ‘client’, even though there’s a very good chance that the ‘fee’ in this case was a couple of bottles of wine.]

… even if it seems at first that we are going over old ground:

Iain Dale has a self-penned bio that he puts about, and it contains a number of claims that may or may not be true. When this results in a newspaper or broadcaster making a claim that definitely is not true, Iain is fond of claiming that this is something beyond his control (presumably on the basis that his bio is open to interpretation… so when someone takes it at face value, it isn’t entirely his fault).

One claim that definitely isn’t true that was in Iain Dale’s distributed bio until very recently is the claim that Iain Dale has 300,000 to 350,000 readers every month.

This claim was distributed by Iain and repeated in a number of places long after it was revealed that Iain was, at the very least, a little bit confused about the difference between a ‘visit’ and a ‘visitor’ (more).

That claim also (somehow) found its way into this puff-piece in The Independent.

Iain later claimed that (a) this was an error, and (b) not his fault.

But this figure matched the bio claim so very closely, and Iain has been known to be less than forthcoming with the truth, so I emailed the author of the puff-piece (Nigel Morris, Deputy Political Editor of The Independent) and asked how he arrived at the “350,000 readers every month” figure in his article.

There was no answer, so I chased.

It was conference season, I was told. Nigel was busy.

So I waited. Later, I sent a follow-up email or two. But still there was no answer.

A month passed.

Without. So. Much. As. The. Courtesy. Of. A. Reply.

I get this from associates of Iain sometimes – even the loose ones – so I gave up chasing the monkey and emailed his organ-grinder; Roger Alton, the recently-appointed Editor of The Independent

In that email, I pointed out the following:

– The Independent had published (and was still broadcasting) a ridiculously overstated claim
– The most likely source of that figure was known for (ahem) some confusion on this front
– The most likely source of this figure was also acknowledging it was false, but blaming this on a mistake by The Independent

I also repeated my question about the origin of the claim/figure.

Roger Alton took a look at this, and my surprise at being ignored for four weeks, and described me as ‘fixated’.

He then went on to say that the ridiculously overstated claim meant very little to him because his own website received far too many visitors for a figure/error of this size to be significant to him.

The question about where the figure came from was entirely ignored.

I’ll let my response at this stage of proceedings speak for itself:

It seems like such a small thing; you would think that answering a small question about it would be no bother.

And yet here I am, a month later, really quite annoyed that I have to take it to this level just to have you ask why I bother.

Thanks for that, by the way.

So is it seriously your position that numbers that seem inconsequential to you personally will be allowed to stand uncorrected (and not even investigated) in your publication, no matter how incorrect they may be?

I ask because my trust in the Independent has been seriously shaken by the failure to address a really quite straightforward question and your reply has taken me quite by surprise.

I dread to think what would happen if you got your figures wrong on an article about the minimum wage, for example, and delivered this as your response.

Tim Ireland

(PS – Bloggers with integrity take readership figures quite seriously; just as seriously as you do circulation figures. I am sure that you would have something to say about another newspaper vastly inflating their circulation estimates, not least because such behaviour undermines trust in all figures, including your own.)

Roger Alton skipped over all of these points and responded with an email suggesting that I “write a letter to the editor”…!

That was over three months ago, and I haven’t bought a copy of The Independent since.

I was a regular reader, buyer and supporter of that newspaper for a decade prior to this, and must admit to initially having some reservations about the measure, but I felt more than a little vindicated when the ‘grooming’ spin on Damian Green’s arrest emerged, and The Independent led on it.

I may return to the paper once Nigel Morris and Roger Alton have moved on, or there are other signs of improvement or renewal, but until then, they’ll not get a penny from me.

UPDATE – The article in question used to carry a series of comments underneath. Those comments have now been retro-moderated out of existence. It looks like The Independent, like most other newspapers, can’t be trusted to maintain an honest comments facility, either… but for further comment on that subject from moi, you’ll have to wait until later in the week.

UPDATE – It surprises me not at all that a selective listener like Roger Alton supported the invasion of Iraq.








Posted in Old Media | 17 Comments