Before the brothel, the BNP: local newspapers’ busy apologist

By way of a footnote to last week’s ridiculous Brothel Advertiser nonsense, it seems that the corporate apologist for the Sadvertiser has previous form in trying to defend the indefensible, having earlier this year ducked questions about whether another newspaper in the group was in some way supporting the BNP ahead of the General and local elections.

First, though, let’s re-cap where we got to last Friday.

There, the Brothel Advertiser (front page: Car drivers are using their mobile phones while driving! Shock! Horror!) could not manage to find any space for the letter of complaint over its hypocritical stance of “exposing” a brothel on the previous week’s front page, yet advertising the same knocking shop in the classifieds of the very same newspaper.

And in this week’s classified section, there again was the ad for the self-same “sinister brothel”.

Prof Roy Greenslade was back on the case in the Grauniad, following up Inside Croydon‘s story.

“Would you believe it? This week’s Croydon Advertiser is again carrying the advert for the massage parlour it called a ‘sinister brothel’ last week,” Greenslade wrote.

Then he reminds his readers of the statement issued by Alan Geere, the editorial director of Northcliffe Media’s south-east weeklies:

“We are aware of the sensitivities surrounding adult and personal services advertising. Conscious of these concerns, we take every reasonable step to ensure that the advertising we carry complies with both the letter and the spirit of the law…

“…we co-operate pro-actively with the police in the event that we have cause for concern. What we choose not to do is to deny legitimate members of the community who choose to provide these services within the law, the right to advertise.” [them’s our italics]

Northcliffe Media told the good Prof that the repeat ad for the brothel in last Friday’s Sadvertiser was a “mistake”, “due in part to deadlines”. They said, “We shouldn’t see it again”.

Hmmm.

It was the same Alan Geere who in April left Greenslade less than impressed when he was dodging questions about a report in Essex’s Brentwood Gazette in which a senior reporter had this published about a BNP meeting: “Proud nationalists … buoyant supporters packed into a patriotic pub … there was much applause and hand shaking as the money came flooding in, uniting the room in the campaign to bring about radical change”.

At the time, Greenslade noted that “Its gushing report treated a British National Party rally as if it was the monthly branch meeting of the Women’s Institute”.

Greenslade also complained that “what was so interesting was the reaction to my calls to the Gazette‘s editor-in-chief Alan Geere and his editor, Deanne Blaylock. They answered every question with a ‘no comment’, as if they were corporate PRs rather than journalists”.

Greenslade described this sort of response to a public-interest issue as “pig-headed obduracy”.

How is this relevant to Croydon or, more specifically, to the Brothel Advertiser?

Well, it demonstrates that the missing routine checks and counter-checks of the editorial process that led to the BNP report appearing in April are still absent in Croydon in August. In short, it is just rank bad journalism.

In April, Greenslade prodded: “What … of the routine checking process? Why didn’t a sub raise the matter? Or a chief sub? Or the editor-in-chief Alan Geere who, I am assured, scans the paper once it is ready to go to press?”

Back then, no one in Brentwood was disciplined over the running of the BNP story (which tellingly was quickly removed from the newspaper’s website; the “sinister brothel” story never even made it to the Sadvertiser‘s web pages).

We wonder whether Alan Geere will allow no one to take responsibility over the Brothel Advertiser‘s balls-up this time?

Oh, and in case you had forgotten, both the Brentwood Gazette and the Brothel Advertiser are ultimately owned by the Daily Mail & General Trust.

You couldn’t make it up, could you, Littlejohn?

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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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