As a resident of Aber I have been absolutely appalled by this week’s front page of the Cambrian News. Yes, it has always been famed for its sub-standard journalism but this one really takes the prize for most utterly ridiculous headline ever.
Let’s recap on exactly what has happened:
In 2001 a young, English travel writer called Mike Parker came to mid Wales and met some people who lived here. In an article he wrote he said that there was a “sprinkling” of people who had moved over to rural mid Wales from England in order to avoid the multiculturalism which had grown in their native cities – he called them out for their racism. Mike Parker called out the small amount of racists who had moved to the area and his article was enjoyed by the few who read it. No problems occurred, as you might expect from an anti-BNP article.
Fast forward to today and our joke of a local paper decides that standing up to racism is a ‘Nazi slur’. Bear in mind that the word “Nazi” never appeared in the original article. If you actually read the original article you will find no resemblance with the headline that the Cambrian News have embarrassingly spouted today.
This article is a tricky one for me to write because while I feel passionately that what the Cambrian News has done today is despicable, I don’t want to appear biased towards one party.
I, and so many others in Aber, have the following problems with what the Cambrian News has done.
- The headline itself – It varies throughout the county, but this is the collection,
- “Incomers are ‘Nazis’, says would-be MP”
- “Plaid candidate says incomers are ‘Nazis'”
- “Candidate compares incomers to Nazis”
- “Plaid election hopeful defends ‘Nazi’ slur”
Now if I were to run through every single problem with these headlines I would be here until after the election so I will keep this brief. The headline suggests that Mike Parker called incomers Nazis, when in fact he never said the word Nazi and said that only a “sprinkling” of incomers from England were racist. The second problem I have is the use of the present tense, “says”. The article from Mike Parker was written 11 years ago. The use of the present tense suggests that the comments (which of course are different from what the Cambrian News reported) were made very recently. The accusation is wrong and is completely out of date. In three of the four headlines the word ‘Nazi’ is put in quotation marks, suggesting that they are a direct quote. When you read the original article and fail to find the word ‘Nazi’ in there at all I’m sure you’ll agree that this is a very shady bit of work from the headline writer. My final big problem with the headlines is the use of the phrase “Nazi slur”. They are suggesting that the candidate made a Nazi slur and is defending that remark. A Nazi slur is defined as “a remark made with the intent of causing offence or demeaning those of one of the races, religions or cultures who were and continue to be targeted by Nazis”. What Mike Parker actually did was attack racism. He was doing the absolute opposite of what is being suggested here.
- The second problem is the time of release
Why is it only now that they are reporting this? There is clearly an agenda at play. Mike Parker has been a local writer for over a decade and if the Cambrian News had had a problem with it then they could have reported it at any time. I would venture that they are either facing a massive reduction in readership (in which case they have made an enormous error by alienating every Plaid voter and many others like me.) Or, and perhaps more likely, they have a significant desire to see someone other than Mike Parker win in May. I cherish the freedom of the press we have here in Wales, without it I couldn’t write this article, but I am extremely worried about the fact that our one and only local paper seems to be backing a particular party. If our entire local press is backing one party then do we truly live in a democracy here in Aber?
I realise at this point that this article is quite a long one. Therefore I will be brief in what I have left to say.
- The final issue I want to raise is perhaps the most worrying of all. I, like many others in Aber, know that the Cambrian News is not blessed with the most energetic journalists.
I can not for one second believe that the Cambrian News have looked through every article ever written by Mike Parker. Bear in mind that he is a writer, that is what he does for a living so there would be countless articles to trawl through. There is just no way that the Cambrian News have found this themselves. Somebody else has given them this story and I can certainly guess who. I am doing my best to remain impartial here. As I’ve said this is not a pro-Plaid article but a scrutiny of the Cambrian News. However, I can tell you quite happily that I will not be supporting the Lib Dems. I am not saying that Mark Williams or his office leaked this story to the Cambrian News, I wouldn’t want to get done for libel of course (I’ll leave that to the Cambrian News) but someone must have. Who has the most to gain?
Finally I must say that I’m disappointed at all of the other candidates who have jumped on the bandwagon without checking their facts. It is unfortunate but, perhaps with the Cambrian News being so definite in their assertion about a ‘Nazi Slur’, it was unavoidable that the other candidates would be swept up in the hype and hysteria.
This election just got dirty and the Cambrian News have their hands caked in mud. To anyone who buys it next week will you please tell me how full the letters’ page is with complaints? I think I’ll skip it for a while.