THE EDITOR’S CHAIR: Complain, yes, but for good, and not for profits

THE EDITOR’S CHAIR: Complain, yes, but for good, and not for profits

CONCERNS: The proposed new press regulations could lead to spurious complaints

VICTIMS: Clockwise from top left Shaukat Hayat, his wife Abida, daughter Saira Zenub Hayat and eldest son Mohammed Isshaq and his wife Bilques Haya, centre

GOOD MANAGER: Justin Edinburgh vents his fury over a ref decision at the Tamworth game. He deserves praise for what he has done for the County

First published in Columnists South Wales Argus: NEW EDITOR: Kevin Ward by

THE government’s proposals to regulate the press via a royal charter have much to recommend them, not least that they do not involve any form of statutory underpinning.

But some of the fine detail within the plans makes me deeply uneasy, as it should anyone who believes that a healthy regional newspaper industry is vital to local democracy.

The government’s proposals would allow third parties to complain about articles, opening the way to every minor pressure group making time-wasting and irrelevant complaints.

There are also plans to create a low-cost libel arbitration arm to the new regulator, which could mean those publishers who do not use it would be left open to the threat of exemplary damages.

That represents a double whammy for smaller local newspapers that do not benefit from the resources enjoyed by the nationals.

They will not be able to afford not to be part of the arbitration arm (and there is no suggestion as to how much that will cost in itself). Let me make one thing clear. Newspapers like the Argus do not like getting things wrong.

And when we do we want to put them right as soon as possible.

I want readers to be able to complain about inaccuracies and the like, and we encourage them to do so.

But, under these proposals, I can foresee a substantial increase in spurious complaints driven by people seeing pound signs before their eyes.

Complaints will have to be investigated none the less, taking up time and money that many local newspapers can ill-afford.

So there are tweaks to be made to the government’s proposals.

They are not perfect but they are, on the whole, acceptable and a damn sight better than creating new laws to prevent actions by national newspapers that were already illegal.

Thanks for your courtesy

THE deaths of five members of the Hayat family in a taxi crash during a pilgrimage to Mecca is a terrible tragedy.

This awful incident is, of course, a tragedy for the rest of the family.

But it is also a tragedy for Newport and for the Pill community, of which all five members of the family were an integral part.

The Hayat family is hugely respected in Newport, and that respect has grown in the dignified way they have responded to this tragedy.

I want to thank them personally for the time and courtesy they afforded to my reporters at the weekend. It must have been hugely difficult for them to talk to us, but they could not do enough to help us tell their story and publicise their tributes. I want to thank them personally for the time and courtesy they afforded to my reporters at the weekend.

It must have been hugely difficult for them to talk to us but they could not do enough to help us tell their story and publicise their tributes.

Fickle fans write and having written, move on

A TINY minority of Newport County ‘fans’ have given manager Justin Edinburgh some terrible stick on online forums over the last few weeks after a couple of bad results.

(I know I shouldn’t read such comments but they are so entertaining they become addictive.) That’s the same Justin Edinburgh who, in a little over a year, has saved the club from almost certain relegation, got them to Wembley for the first time in their history, and turned them into genuine promotion challengers.

So what happens when County produce a great performance to beat promotion rivals Mansfield this week?

The tiny minority of ‘fans’ say the team won because Edinburgh listened to them and changed the formation of the team as a result.

Because that’s what professional football managers do.

It really is beyond parody.

Comments (7)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

1:15pm Thu 14 Feb 13

Katie Re-Registered says...

"The government’s proposals would allow third parties to complain about articles, opening the way to every minor pressure group making time-wasting and irrelevant complaints."

Unfortunately, Kevin, nothing personal intended, but I think this sentence in your editorial demonstrates that much of the British press still do not understand that this is the very sort of attitude that has alienated so many people and, consequently, given it such a bad reputation.

You emphasize the importance of freedom of speech for journalists and their role as the protectors of such liberty for the public at large. However, when we, the people, have something to say it suddenly becomes it suddenly becomes not worth hearing as it's, apparently, 'time-wasting' and 'irrelevent'. Seems to me you're putting journalists on a pedestal when it comes to the right of freedom of speech and you're implying that the press should have more because the press knows best at what to do with it.

You appoint yourselves as the 'gendarmes' of freedom of expression and liberty - yet who polices the police?

You seem pretty dismissive of those that you label 'minor pressure groups'. Perhaps, you include such excellent and much-needed groups like Trans Media Watch in that equation?

However, take the controversy over Julie Burchill's latest hate-filled transphobic rant in the Guardian, for instance in which she evidently (and actually very mistakenly) felt that using offensive hate-filled terms to describe transgendered people throughout was completely legal and acceptable. When her article attracted thousands of complaints and was eventually taken down by the Guardian there were screams of outrage from Julie's mates in the largely right-wing dominated British press about their inalienable right to offend. Yet, would the journalistic community have also thought it acceptable to provide a platform for an obnoxious holocaust denier like David Irving, for instance, to spew out a racist rant about the many racial and religious groups he hates using throughout a range of racist nicknames to describe them and then champion his 'right to offend with his hate-speak' when it inevitably got taken down? You see, the T words carry just as much gravity and can be as much incitement to hatred as N words and K words:)!

Their needs to be a protection of the individual against the might of the media barons - and like it or not, your local papers are ultimately all controlled from on high by media barons who often own several hundred under their wing. Individuals like, Cait Reilly, who finally won her case against mighty retail chain Poundland for exploiting her and others by using them as virtual unpaid slave labour. Originally when she brought the complaint the media tore her to shreds, labelling her a 'scrounger', 'lazy', 'benefits cheat' and 'political extremist'. And despite the phone-hacking scandal and the controversy unveiled at Leveson, together with that promise by the press that they could be self-regulating as they've learnt their lesson, only last week we find the vilification of a transsexual woman whom, it turns out has now been found completely innocent of a charge of rape, yet whom the Press (in its supposed infinite wisdom') had previously already found guilty and still refer to as a transgender MAN throughout.

This abuse of power is wielded daily by British newspapers and often ruins lives - sometimes even leading to suicide and, yes following press incitement, murder. What the British press seem to want are all the freedoms but none of the responsibilities - ironically, precisely the very attitute that they so often criticize the poorer, marginalised and more vulnerable - supposedly 'feckless' - members of the British public for.
"The government’s proposals would allow third parties to complain about articles, opening the way to every minor pressure group making time-wasting and irrelevant complaints." Unfortunately, Kevin, nothing personal intended, but I think this sentence in your editorial demonstrates that much of the British press still do not understand that this is the very sort of attitude that has alienated so many people and, consequently, given it such a bad reputation. You emphasize the importance of freedom of speech for journalists and their role as the protectors of such liberty for the public at large. However, when we, the people, have something to say it suddenly becomes it suddenly becomes not worth hearing as it's, apparently, 'time-wasting' and 'irrelevent'. Seems to me you're putting journalists on a pedestal when it comes to the right of freedom of speech and you're implying that the press should have more because the press knows best at what to do with it. You appoint yourselves as the 'gendarmes' of freedom of expression and liberty - yet who polices the police? You seem pretty dismissive of those that you label 'minor pressure groups'. Perhaps, you include such excellent and much-needed groups like Trans Media Watch in that equation? However, take the controversy over Julie Burchill's latest hate-filled transphobic rant in the Guardian, for instance in which she evidently (and actually very mistakenly) felt that using offensive hate-filled terms to describe transgendered people throughout was completely legal and acceptable. When her article attracted thousands of complaints and was eventually taken down by the Guardian there were screams of outrage from Julie's mates in the largely right-wing dominated British press about their inalienable right to offend. Yet, would the journalistic community have also thought it acceptable to provide a platform for an obnoxious holocaust denier like David Irving, for instance, to spew out a racist rant about the many racial and religious groups he hates using throughout a range of racist nicknames to describe them and then champion his 'right to offend with his hate-speak' when it inevitably got taken down? You see, the T words carry just as much gravity and can be as much incitement to hatred as N words and K words:)! Their needs to be a protection of the individual against the might of the media barons - and like it or not, your local papers are ultimately all controlled from on high by media barons who often own several hundred under their wing. Individuals like, Cait Reilly, who finally won her case against mighty retail chain Poundland for exploiting her and others by using them as virtual unpaid slave labour. Originally when she brought the complaint the media tore her to shreds, labelling her a 'scrounger', 'lazy', 'benefits cheat' and 'political extremist'. And despite the phone-hacking scandal and the controversy unveiled at Leveson, together with that promise by the press that they could be self-regulating as they've learnt their lesson, only last week we find the vilification of a transsexual woman whom, it turns out has now been found completely innocent of a charge of rape, yet whom the Press (in its supposed infinite wisdom') had previously already found guilty and still refer to as a transgender MAN throughout. This abuse of power is wielded daily by British newspapers and often ruins lives - sometimes even leading to suicide and, yes following press incitement, murder. What the British press seem to want are all the freedoms but none of the responsibilities - ironically, precisely the very attitute that they so often criticize the poorer, marginalised and more vulnerable - supposedly 'feckless' - members of the British public for. Katie Re-Registered
  • Score: 0

2:13pm Thu 14 Feb 13

Katie Re-Registered says...

Btw...aren't lots of journalists also calculating enough to see primarily the 'pound sings' when it comes to motivation for pursuing a story? What about chequebook journalism? The legendary crusading journalist stereotype doesn't always ring true...
Btw...aren't lots of journalists also calculating enough to see primarily the 'pound sings' when it comes to motivation for pursuing a story? What about chequebook journalism? The legendary crusading journalist stereotype doesn't always ring true... Katie Re-Registered
  • Score: 0

3:03pm Thu 14 Feb 13

Kevin Ward - Editor says...

You've totally misrepresented what I have written, Katie.
Try reading beyond the third paragraph of the piece.
You've totally misrepresented what I have written, Katie. Try reading beyond the third paragraph of the piece. Kevin Ward - Editor
  • Score: 0

3:03pm Thu 14 Feb 13

Bobevans says...

The Press have a very poor record when it comes to their behaviour. They also have a very poor record of dealing with complaints


The press are also quite happy to be two faced and have called for better finance regulation etc. yet when it comes to putting in proper regulation for themselves something they have failed to do for decades they are dead against it


The press should be regulated in the same manner as any other organization. In the first instance the compliant should be taken up with the paper. If a satisfactory outcome is not achieved it goes to an independent regulator
The Press have a very poor record when it comes to their behaviour. They also have a very poor record of dealing with complaints The press are also quite happy to be two faced and have called for better finance regulation etc. yet when it comes to putting in proper regulation for themselves something they have failed to do for decades they are dead against it The press should be regulated in the same manner as any other organization. In the first instance the compliant should be taken up with the paper. If a satisfactory outcome is not achieved it goes to an independent regulator Bobevans
  • Score: 0

3:03pm Thu 14 Feb 13

Bobevans says...

The Press have a very poor record when it comes to their behaviour. They also have a very poor record of dealing with complaints


The press are also quite happy to be two faced and have called for better finance regulation etc. yet when it comes to putting in proper regulation for themselves something they have failed to do for decades they are dead against it


The press should be regulated in the same manner as any other organization. In the first instance the compliant should be taken up with the paper. If a satisfactory outcome is not achieved it goes to an independent regulator
The Press have a very poor record when it comes to their behaviour. They also have a very poor record of dealing with complaints The press are also quite happy to be two faced and have called for better finance regulation etc. yet when it comes to putting in proper regulation for themselves something they have failed to do for decades they are dead against it The press should be regulated in the same manner as any other organization. In the first instance the compliant should be taken up with the paper. If a satisfactory outcome is not achieved it goes to an independent regulator Bobevans
  • Score: 0

3:30pm Thu 14 Feb 13

Kevin Ward - Editor says...

Some valid points Bob - but when you refer to 'the press' are you tarring us all with the same brush.
I would agree with your comments totally when it comes to some elements of the national press.
I would disagree totally when it comes to regional and local newspapers.
Some valid points Bob - but when you refer to 'the press' are you tarring us all with the same brush. I would agree with your comments totally when it comes to some elements of the national press. I would disagree totally when it comes to regional and local newspapers. Kevin Ward - Editor
  • Score: 0

6:20pm Thu 14 Feb 13

poiuyt says...

If the Argus is doing it's job properly then there will be nothing to worry about, right?
If the Argus is doing it's job properly then there will be nothing to worry about, right? poiuyt
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree