Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Guardian Media, grope shenanigans?

(or the curious tale of the never-ending Gobstopper)

An update on the Rochdale art mystery.

Media Spin 101.

When facing a torrent of bad news stories, hold fire, then, in the lull, issue a nice fluffy positive press release with a headline that will tickle the transistors of the Google newsbot.

This is known in the trade as “media distraction”.

For instance, former Rochdale MP Sir Cyril Smith.

http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/41348000/jpg/_41348334_cyrilsmith203.jpg

He faces allegations of past parliamentary sleaze and collusion with killer asbestos corporation Turner & Newall. New Statesman, Private Eye and the Mirror have developed lines of investigation that is unearthing a scandal. An Early Day Motion has been tabled calling for Sir Cyril to be stripped of his knighthood.

In addition there are growing questions about his role as Lib Dem party fundraiser and Rochdale Lib Dem finances. Talk of black holes that even Steven Hawkins could never have predicted?

Then there are the unresolved

and extremely serious

allegations of sexual abuse.

(web transcript of RAP May and June 1979)


What is the Guardian Media Group's take on recent events?

Two local titles apparently loyal to Sir Cyril are the Rochdale Observer and Manchester Evening News. As with many local newspapers, times are hard. Staff cutbacks and overwork doesn't help morale. Some say journalistic standards have dropped. This may be unfair but nevertheless many suggest we are in the age of “cut and paste” “churnalism” where hard pressed hacks over-rely on ready made press releases for media content.


How does media “distraction” work?


Last week was particularly bad for Cyril Smith's media profile and the Rochdale Liberal Democrat party who depend on Sir Cyril's profile and cash raising abilities.


In the aftermath of Kevin Maguire's damning investigation in the Mirror, an EDM was tabled in Parliament on 11th November. Kevin Maguire followed this up in his column and blog in the week commencing 10th November.


On the same day, Rochdale Liberal democrats issued its distraction press release. Sir Cyril “honoured” with the “tribute” of a painting to the National Liberal Club. All very cuddly and respectable. But curious as this was very old news. The painting was actually presented to the NLC in March 2008.


Paul Rowen MP wrote about the event in his "Letter from Parliament" for 4th April 2008.

The Ogden Trust also issued a press release about it to coincide with Cyril's 80th birthday (when heartfelt tributes were a little thin on the ground). It was already 5 month-old article back then.


undefined

The Ogden Trust hands over a portrait of Sir Cyril Smith by Paul Temple to The National Liberal Club, March 2008. Pictured (left to right) are Simon Roberts (Secretary, The National Liberal Club), Tim Simmons (Chief Executive, The Ogden Trust), Sir Peter Ogden, Paul Rowen (Liberal Democrat MP for Rochdale) and Terence Gleed-Richards (Vice Chairman, The National Liberal Club)


So, has Cyril's portrait been used once, twice or thrice?

No, actually at least FOUR times -going back to at least May 2007.

Like a never-ending Gob stopper.

May 2007,March/April 2008, 9th August 2008 and now 11th November 2008.

The fourth time around, Rochdale Online was first with the article on 11th November. A forum discussion began that questioned the timing and recycling of a very old story. it seems the local Lib Dem agent contacted Rochdale Online with extreme prejudice and demanded/pleaded/cajoled that this forum thread be taken off-line. He was successful.


The Saturday edition (15th November) of the Rochdale Observer also ran the distraction article.


Then the Monday edition of the Manchester Evening News.


The Rochdale Online article was updated today (18th November) to include a lovely reference to Cyril's portrait benefiting the NSPCC. Only thing is this is about a different portait reported even earlier in 2008 on Rochdale Online. Who would be nasty enough to question repeated reports of a presentation that helped a kidz charidee?

Well actually, quite a few concerned citizens do. Especially when there are unresolved allegations of serious historic sexual abuse regarding Cyril Smith. There is also disquiet in media circles about the way this old story of Cyril's portrait is being used again, and again, and again. Especially when there are reliances on references to young people's charities such as the NSPCC.

Some of the overworked staff in local newsrooms quietly question editorial decisions that protect Cyril Smith. Those who have been recently 'released' from their jobs are a little more vocal. Something very odd appears to be going on in the Guardian Media Group.


Is Cyril Smith being protected? If so, WHY?


Do some feel hoodwinked by falling for a rehashed press release designed to distract? Desperate media spin from the Lib Dem Last Chance Saloon?


Or is Cyril being built up for a fall?


Only time will tell. Again, and again and again.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Twats - What about Gerald Kaufman? Fact is that his shenanigans was covered up after an injunction in the New York Times!

Prove your stories or else shut up! This is another 'Chris Paul' website. Appalling and quite frankly stupid.

Anonymous said...

13:33hrs Anonymouse.
Late lunch Dave? Or are you posting for the Queen? (meaning paid for by H.M's taxpayers)

Chris Paul said...

How very dare you suggest this is "another 'Chris Paul' website"?

I'm actually giving Hennigan a break because he is supposed to be driving the YES vote on the transport improvements including a tram just down from his office and sadly Rochdale are running behind the other boroughs.

I don't want to distract him from that important work to defend a filthy old, corrupt and stupid, scrotebag. And I'll not be mentioning Norman's spat with the Town Hall management recently. Or some very tasty corruption very near to the top of the authority.

Suggest you do likewise. Give them a break until they have delivered a big YES vote from Rochdale.

Please?

Media Law at Pannones said...

New York Times injunction?

I hope Mr Hennigan that you can make that very vague smear stand up?

Unlike yourself after a night out ... or for that matter a morning or afternoon out ...

Anonymous said...

look at the people who have been involved in the charity auction and this art commission.

Rotary? Freemasons? Rochdale Lib dems?

Is this all starting to form a pattern?