I Was ‘Off The Record,’ Sarah. You Were Not.

EditorialFOR ME, this Spink business has been one big disappointment after another…

At first, I was disappointed by the Echo’s failure to follow-up the lead I gave them, regarding Spink’s CA claim, when his expenses were first published. I was disappointed to find that, if the matter were ever to come to press, it was going to have to fall to the Canvey Beat to publish.

I was disappointed to find that an apparently well-regarded MP should show such little respect for taxpayers’ monies and that he should refuse to answer pertinent questions regarding their disbursement, made on the public’s behalf. And I was disappointed again to find I was immediately accused, by that same MP, of being biased. (That is a claim that has never been made of me in all my journalistic career).

But my disappointments were to continue. I was to be disappointed by the Echo’s reticence to reply to a simple confirmation request that I sent them regarding Spink’s alleged harassment by, what a hostile source had told me, was a mentally deranged individual. In response, all I got was a short reply from Sarah Calkin, one of the Echo reporters, saying: ‘Can you give me a call to discuss this? The situation has a rather complicated history.’

Well, no matter how complicated a history might be, in my experience, no reporter would have any problem putting the full case in an email reply. And email is the way I like to do things: that way I can document each thread’s timeline — and there can never be any dispute over who said what, and when.

I do not like it when people evade simple questions — it normally means they have something to hide. I decided to treat Sarah and the Echo as hostile and pursue the background on my own.

I published the Spink Claimed £1,053.98 For ‘General Media Advice’ piece on Saturday, as soon as I had it confirmed. A couple of hours later, Cllr Sharp got back to me, regarding two questions I had put to him, and I updated the article to show his reply.

Sarah Calkin contacted me yesterday morning, asking me to give her a call, which I did. But that was to be my biggest disappointment of all. During the course of our conversation, Sarah Calkin said: ‘We have a legal problem when it comes to printing anything about Spink.’

She had confirmed what Cllr Sharp had told me. ‘You should also know,’ he had said in his email, ‘That the Echo have been threatened that they will only avoid being sued like the Mail was, for as long as they continue not to print anything that is too anti-Spink. Hence he gets away with a huge amount.’

The biggest disappointment here is the Echo. To allow itself to be muzzled, by anyone, is a disgrace. To allow itself to be muzzled by an MP (and, the evidence suggests, at their readers’ tax expense) is truly dreadful.

Local business advertisers need to ask themselves if they really want to be associated with a newspaper that cares so little for the truth and its readers, whom it was founded to serve. And its reporters need to ask themselves why they chose journalism as a profession.

A journalist’s first obligation is to the truth. A journalist’s first loyalty is to the readers that he or she serves.

Journalists DO NOT SERVE their editorial departments. Reporters: if your editor will not publish — then get it published elsewhere. The public relies upon YOU.

Do not let them down. Do not let yourself down, and, above all, uphold those twelve journalistic principles that our forebears have fought so hard to establish and retain.

This has never been a Canvey Story. It is about a Castle Point MP — and it should have been vigorously pursued by the county newspaper, which covers the Castle Point territory.

That county paper is the Echo, and that ‘newspaper’ is a disgrace…

… (01/07/2009) – Reply To Martin McNeill

… (RainCoatOptimism, 13/05/2009) – The Bob Spink way

… (09/07/2009) – On Witch-Hunts, Freemasons, Claims – And Alleging

2 Responses

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  2. […] inuendos about a hard working councillor who, unlike many, has been prepared to speak-out on the relationship that apparently exists between the Echo and that […]

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