Monday, 25 August 2008

Hark the Herald? With a mountain of salt.

I'm not sure that the Herald could have spun some of their stories any more last week. Over the weekend I've been pondering this as I turned pages and was astounded at the ease with which they had turned simple statements of fact into sensational and solatious bits of gossip. Sometimes, at first glance, this may not be obvious, but the overall spin and misrepresentation / suggestion given by subtle or blatant word use, is a strong one in my view. I'm disappointed, as I work from the default position that the Herald is a quality local paper.

In an effort to counter such irresponsible journalism, here are my alternate headlines and bylines:

In 3rd place (see page 1, second story):
Revised East Street planning documents available for 21 days review
The revised planning documents for East Street are now available on the Waverley website, for review and comment over the next 21 days. East Street Action are writing to Mary Orton, the Waverley Borough Council Chief Executive, thanking the planning team for all their hard work in getting these documents available for public viewing.

(Note to Herald: sure, quote from ESA, but why not also ask them what they will write directly to WBC?)

In 2nd place (see page 2, middle of the page):
Waverley Housing Audit Opportunity
There is much hope that the next Audit Commission review of the housing services in Waverley will result in the awarding of more 'stars'. Much work has been done to improve both the services provided, and the access to those services through direct phone number to departments.

(Note to Herald: why use the word 'probing' with such negative connotations, and quote a complaint, but don't offer residents information of the myriad of phone numbers to ring, or the contact details of the residents' panel?)

And, in 1st place, and winner of the gold medal (see page 3, first story):
Lidl's Popularity in Challenging Economic Climate Leads to Unexpected Parking Fine
With the economy challenging everyone's pocket, it's no surprise that one of Farnham's retailers, Lidl, is growing in popularity, due to its low prices, easy layout, and with free parking. Unfortunately, one of its customers lost track of time and found himself out of pocket when charged the fee clearly displayed at the car park.

(Note to Herald: what nonsense. I realise it wouldn't be as exciting a piece, but why so irresponsibly quote a spurious accusation, and then so weakly - "sought to dispel" - report the borough council repudiating it?)

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