Roy Greenslade, the noted media commentator and professor of journalism at City University (he once managed to edit the Daily Mirror with Cap’n Bob Maxwell breathing down his neck), has today picked up on Inside Croydon‘s story about the Sadvertiser‘s piss-poor stance over local brothels massage parlours.
The Prof, writing in his Grauniad media blog, takes much the same position, even down to allowing himself a little media in-joke chortle at the wannabe News of the Screws-style of writing in the original report:
“It even had the intrepid reporter, having risked his life … using the time-worn phrase about making his excuses and leaving prior to any sexual activity.
“Evidently, the Advertiser journalist was prompted to track down this den of iniquity after a complaint from an unnamed businessman.
“But he could have found evidence much closer to home because page 52 of his own newspaper carried an advert for the very same ‘fantasy massage’ establishment he went to such trouble to ‘reveal’.”
Greenslade also reports on local campaign group CCAT’s letter of complaint to the Advertiser, which Inside Croydon has published (click here to read it in full).
He flags up the difficulties for Croydon’s “family newspaper”‘s owners: “What, I wonder, would the morally upright Daily Mail have to say about its company making a profit from prostitution?” As Richard Littlejohn would say, you couldn’t make it up.
Now given Greenslade’s reputation and influence – he writes a regular weekly London media column in the Evening Standard – if you are a local newspaper hack or editor, when Roy phones, you make sure you take that call.
Not at the Croydon Sadvertiser though. Tellingly, Greenslade reports, “I called the Advertiser‘s editor, Andy Worden but a newsdesk person told me he was ‘not available to comment’.”
When journos duck for cover behind that old piece of nonsense, you know they are in trouble.
Others have also picked up on the story, including a journalism blogger Hapless Hack, who joins the condemnation of the Sadvertiser:
“I ask you, a newspaper that runs a story exposing a brothel which is advertising with them should be exposed as a very, very poor publication, which I am more than happy to do here.
“You can’t take their money then call them scum. Get a moral grip people. We all know this goes on, yet turning a blind eye is one thing, being a damn hypocrite is another entirely…
“And we can’t even read the bloody ‘Exclusive’ story online anyway. If it wasn’t so pathetic it would be hilarious.”
4pm UPDATE: The owners of the Brothel Advertiser have responded to Greenslade with, it has to be said, an entirely feeble attempt at a justification.
They say that they carry out careful checks to ensure that the ads that their newspapers carry are for nothing illegal.
“We take every reasonable step to ensure that the advertising we carry complies with both the letter and the spirit of the law.”
The entire premise of their own newspaper’s front page last Friday was that the activities there are very much illegal.