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.
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.