We have received a rather haughty response from Philip Murray, editor of the Skegness Standard, who, unsurprisingly, doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong. According to Mr Murray: “We don’t support any political group, and never have, and we have carried adverts from groups all over the political spectrum at one point or another in the past.”
This is inadequate. Would Mr Murray give advertising space to an explicitly Nazi Party? Would that be ordinary business as well? Would he be surprised if there were angry protests against him and his paper if he did so? I imagine he would treat such an approach as either ethically repugnant or bad for business, depending on how cynical he was. Giving the BNP an advert is not really much different, however legitimate they would like us to believe they are, given the leadership’s strong links to Nazism, anti-Semitism and racial violence.
Mr Murray continues:
You also ask why we didn’t look to get comment from anti-fascists; it’s simply because we would always look to get reaction from local politicians first because we’re a local newspaper.
This avoids the thrust of the question which was why the Skegness Standard gave an uncritical report of the BNP’s protest. Were there really no “local politicians” who opposed the BNP’s march? It seems unlikely. The only person quoted in the Standard’s front page feature on the BNP march was the regional organiser, Robert Ashton. If this isn’t bias it is extremely poor journalism and either way Mr Murray is culpable.
Clearly Mr Murray is not going to take responsibility for his paper’s lapses so it might be worth going to the next level. Thanks to Worthing’s Porkbolter for this suggestion:
People might also want to ask the CEO of the publishing group that owns the Skegness Standard why it’s supporting fascism. The firm is Johnston Press and the head honcho is Ashley Highfield – email firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet him at @ashleyhi