The South Wales Argus has called on its readers to write to their MPs to complain about a threat ‘to stifle their freedom of expression’. The SUN and other tabloids are carrying the same poppycock story. None of my constituents have taken the bait. That says a lot for the wisdom of the voters of Newport West.
A few weeks ago I wrote to the Argus seeking information on a serious threat to local jobs. Usually the paper is hot on such threats and free with their blame games against all concerned. . This time, omerta. Not a whimper of complaint. No answer to the letter or a word of explanation or regret. The jobs threatened are up to 60 sub-editors–at the Argus hub in Newport.
The Argus is not free to answer or exercise any independence because they take their orders from their parent Gannet company. Or as one might say their ‘freedom of expression is being stifled’ by themselves. It’s the same story at the Brighton Argus-another Gannet company. Their editor was recently sacked and their circulation has plummeted to 12,000. Our Argus has suffered a similar fate. Respected journalist and former editor Roy Greenslade writes about the Brighton Argus,
‘It is further confirmation of Newsquest’s parsimonious approach to newspaper publishing in general and the Argus in particular. It is a profit-seeking company that does not care about journalistic quality.
As long as the paper comes out every day, it has little interest in the content. Its managers - whether in Britain or in the United States, where its parent company, Gannett, is based - view editorial as an expensive necessity to ensure there is something between the all-important adverts’.
Is the South Wales Argus worth saving? Certainly not for its adverts or for its vanity 'adverts–only’ spin-offs. Gwent needs its own paper. Even in its present reduced state, the spaces between the adverts fulfill a vital function as the forum for local opinion. It would be missed, Newport and Gwent would lose out in many ways if it disappeared.
But the threat to its existence and freedom of expression do not come from politicians. The campaign against what they call a genuinely independent watchdog is hogwash. IPSO was chaired by the worst offender- the Editor of the Daily Mail. It's the abusers of press freedom seeking to mark their own homework again.
I will reply in detail to the Argus's claims if any of my constituents are taken in by them.
So far, none have been.