Thursday, 28 January 2010

Why Rochdale's "Flat Earth News" is bad for democracy and journalism

The Rochdale & Heywood Independent newspaper has just been launched.

We are big enough to say that our earlier post has been proven WRONG.

Sort of Daily Mail WRONG - (think Zinoviev Letter or "Hurrah for the Blackshirts" type editorial wrongness). In a much smaller way, could the R&HI's own first front page headline create local infamy?

"BOROUGH'S ON THE UP AND UP" ( (c) Roger Ellis 2010 ?)
The R&H "Independent" proudly exclaims that they will only publish good, "positive" news about Rochdale. That may be OK for a newsletter from a religious cult but such patronising drivel can rarely be objective journalism. Rochdale readers do not need to be shielded from the truth. Bad things will not go away if we close our eyes and click our heels.

Keep Calm and Carry On Red Poster

So big deal, a new advertising sheet is launched that will only print light Pollyanna articles. Why is this an affront to democracy?

Because WE are paying for it.

A cursory inspection of the R&HI confirms that a considerable amount of advertising and content is paid for by the public purse. Block, banner and column adverts and "news" content from Rochdale Council and other associated public organisations.
Nick Davies in "Flat Earth News" - his bestselling investigation into the demise of British journalism, coined the term "churnalism". This is when professional press releases are 'cut and pasted' directly into newspapers. This incidous process has been increasing as overheads and staffing levels are streamlined.

The Office of Fair Trading are investigating the use of public money for the production of in-house local authority newspapers. Did Rochdale Council abandon its own propaganda sheet "Local Matters" just in time?

We were critical of Rochdale Council's "Local Matters" but could we now be witnessing a new and and more sinister media business model?
An out-sourcing of council propaganda, paid for by secret contracts and generous advertising guarantees with content heavily influenced by publicly funded media units and consultants?
Much of the first edition content of the R&HI newspaper wasn't new. Over a dozen old press releases from Rochdale Council and the RDA were used, practically verbatim. Critics have already started calling this new venture the "Pennine Pravda" and a "Frankenstein" blend of Rochdale Council's "Local Matters" and a Lib Dem Focus leaflet. The saccharine tone of "Triumph over Adverstity" is an insult to local readers and taxpayers.
If the critics are correct then there must be a full inspection of how public money is being spent.

Let's make things quite clear: We love our town. Rochdale has its problems but the only way to lance the boil of mismanagement, ineptitude and corruption is to investigate - not cover up.

Critics suggest that the tone and content of the RH&I reminds them of the bad old days of the Rochdale Observer when certain politicians and businessmen were given an easy ride. Rochdale has been crippled by the Mafia of the Mediocre. Rochdale deserves the truth about those in power, who are paid such huge amounts of public money, yet have failed our town so miserably.

Hard working Rochdale taxpayers and businesses don't need a commerical, council propaganda rag. Public money should not fund a "newspaper" that lavishes nothing but positve spin and praise on their paymasters yet could be a tad economical with the actualite.

Rochdale deserves much better than this.

If the first edition of the "Rochdale and Heywood Independent" is anything to go by then this is a sad day for journalism and democracy.
'Freedom Is In Peril' Poster


Anonymous said...

And what's Malcolm Journeaux's role in this shadowy operation, RAW?

That's what you should be investigating.

Rochdale Online Observer said...

Will Porn-O be providing the photo for page 3?

It is a classic Rowen Online business model. Lame advertorials drafted in the form of news. Pay for a block advert, get a nice write up with it and make sure any criticism is airbrushed out.

A nice and nasty routine - harass the Council for advertising and then lay off them a bit if they pay up.

Example: Kingsway business park.

Is currant Mayor anything to do with the aggressive advertising model at Rowen Online?

Local businesses have expressed concern at the apparent tactics used Online. If there is dissent or someone who won't pay the piper then it looks as though Bilionaire Badboy Malcolm permits a few nutters to carp on continuously with lies and innuendo.

If there is any link whatsoever between Rochdale Online and R&HI then Rochdale taxpayers should be told.

Freedom of Information said...

You have a right to ask for information relating to any deals between Rochdale Council and Richard Catlow's new venture.

Don't be fooled with any nonsense about "commercial confidentiality".

It is your money, your council and your right to know.

Do it before the shredders start.

Get Real said...

Local Matters cost about £20k an edition. The cost of advertising to Richard's outfit will be less so Roger Ellis will try to justify it that way.

The devil will be in the detail of all of this. It will only take an odd moron to spill the beans and confirm that political shenighans are afoot.

And Rochdale has more than its quota of political odd morons.

Someone needs to cross reference the contant and writing style of recent Lib Dem Focus leaflets. I recall giggling at the brass neck of Messers Power and Hennigan at the "good news" about Rochdale's "exciting" regeneration and their dig at anyone who has had the temerity to question it.

Politically biased publications paid for by the public purse? On the face of it there appears to be clear grounds to demand an inquiry into the budget and behaviour of public servants using public money.

Ugandan Bananas said...

The Guardian, with its job supplement, has been getting away with it for years.

The burning question is, how long will it take Ian Duckworth to get his photo and a write-up in it.

If he can't manage it then I feel all will be lost.

Anonymous said...

Ugandan Bananas. I have already written to The Independent congratulating them on their spoof publication.I have told them I am looking forward to their next edition, no doubt featuring tractor production figures, happy peasants paying tribute to the glorious Council's five year plan to close all the shops in the town centre to reduce our carbon footprint and metrolink to take them all out to Bury.
Not sure about this Soviet/German Pact though.
"You don't have to bribe journalists in this country, they'll do it for nothing." Anon.
Ian Duckworth.

who let the Catlow out of the bag said...

If not a Lib Dem = bad news.

Bad News = no Lib Dem council cash.

Computer and accountant both say NO.

= no nuts trapped in mondeo shocker will be published.

You will have to couch your news in a positive way Ian.

Stand with a Beatles Sergeant Pepper LP and point at a pot hole whilst smiling...

Edition 2 front page headline=

"Great news for Rochdale! More holes than Blackburn Lancashire!!!"

Anonymous said...

Titanic: Maiden Voyage 50% succesful!

Anonymous said...

Why is Paul Rowen and Greg Couzens running round Rochdale forcing The Independent on any fool they can collar?

Are they so stupid that they think Rochdale people will swallow hook, line and sinker a cheap propaganda rag that claims Rochdale is booming?

You only have to lool around to see the hard reality.

Anonymous said...

Has Dave Hennigan got any dignity left?

Sacked by Rowen. Shunned by the Lib Dems and dismissed as an embarrassment by the people he helped get elected. Mocked and humiliated by Adam Power, the tea boy who knifed him in the back, and ignored by Caravan man Swarbrick.

Yet he's still hanging around, drinking the pubs dry in Rochdale and posting nonsense on Rochdale Online.

Pitiful really.

Anonymous said...

So they've replaced Local Matters with The Independent?

And Richard Catlow has taken over Dave Hennigan's position as the Lib Dems new spin doctor?

And Malcolm Journeaux's in on the act too. As part of his Paul-Rowen-paid-for-press-releases operation?

This smells bad, very bad.

Get Real said...

you give certain people too much credit as political operators.

The newspaper is designed to make money.

The "positive" hook is just something to give the "brand" something that can be marketed as distinct to the main advertisers.

Roger Ellis and the Lib Dems have fallen for it hook, line and sinker.

Its a bit like the Rotary Club - people join it because they think they are doing something positive for the community. It gets them through the door of Richard Street. The hardcore Freemasonry - furry handcuffs, wifeswapping and ritual sacrifices to Baal come later, if ever. Most go just for the chicken dinner and business contacts.

Richard and Brent have gone through their Rotary Rolladex, as can be seen with the small amount "civillian" advertisers the good-news paper has signed up. But they are there as flak to avoid the glaring fact that the R&HI has been bankrolled by Rochdale Council.

Anonymous said...

Rumours of the demise of 'Local Matters' have been exaggerated - a next edition should be coming to a doormat near you soon.

If you tolerate this... said...

Jeez- double bubble propaganda. R&HI and LM?

The fat cats at Rochdale Council knows how to screw their workers and taxpayers.

Pay and grade shaftings to pay for £2,000,000 of drivel £65,000,000 of new concrete for more council offices and over £120,000 a year for Roger Ellis's wages

Chris Paul said...

Surely "on the up and up" is their way of saying that they're down with the freemasonry and brown envelop butties of Rochdale. Wink.

Next edition page 1 lead:

Rochdale Town Hall is on the square

Grand Master Flash said...

and £200,000,000 Rochdale Metrolink extention cash is On The Level crossing by Drake Street