Friday, 21 January 2011

What On Earth Was I Thinking?..

The thinkerMAYBE IT WAS THE NEW YEAR that lay behind my conciliatory mood, last week, when I handed-off a hot piece on Canvey Island’s Town Council to the local Echo. And maybe it was the thought that, at the beginning of a year, even the most hardened villains often choose to turn-over a new leaf.

I first started criticising the Echo when it failed to publish details of Bob Spink’s fraudulent office expenses – to which I directed their attention. But I had hoped that sufficient time had elapsed for that ‘newspaper’ to have recovered its moral integrity.

No such luck.

The transcript of my conversation with the Town Council’s Events and Publicity Officer, citing an alleged decision by the previous Town Clerk to redirect Veteran Charities’ funds to the Council’s own coffers – whilst publicly claiming that the funds would be given to those good causes – never reached the page. Neither did I receive a return email asking me what other hard evidence I had of Town Hall irregularities – or if I had further information on the story I had provided them with.

They never asked – and I never told them.

This tug-boat has now been and gone.

Evidently the local Echo is incapable of putting together an investigative piece. Instead it contents itself with rehashing political press releases without ever holding their authors to account.

The Echo lives up to its title – aptly describing the faint, disembodied voice of its journalists as they fall into the dark grave of incompetent mediocrity.

What hope is there for Democracy, when its guardians abandon their posts?..

Fortunately, my disgust at the Echo and myself (for having believed that leopards can actually change their spots) is tempered by the realisation that the Canvey Beat’s readership has improved markedly over this time last year. Its redesign has been well received and the Blog’s visit length has never been greater. The new STOP PRESS column now encourages guests to read the Blog’s latest posts and then remain on the last page viewed, logged onto the new feature to receive real-time updates of the national and local news as it happens.

Last week-end was the busiest on record.

This week was unfortunate in the fact that, due to other commitments, I could not attend a local residents’ meeting aimed at preventing Essex County Fire & Rescue from replacing Canvey Island’s full-time fire-fighters with retained-only staff. I left its coverage to the Methane Mud & Memories Blog, whose authors attended the meeting.

Like those attending, I had also expected the Echo to produce a report on the event; but, perhaps unsurprisingly, they did not. Instead they devoted valuable column inches to reporting the Canvey Island Independent Party’s political petition, designed to take-over genuine resident opposition as the local issue that they so badly need for the elections to be held this May.

The Canvey ‘Independents’ have also been busy, since Friday, trying to influence the Canvey Beat’s straw poll regarding the local Town Council elections. With the reader result heavily against them in favour of the local Tories, at least one CIIP activist has been trying to exploit a bug in the Firefox browser that permits its users to cast a further vote on Blogger polls each day.

The lengths that the CIIP will go to manufacture artificial support for their party, quite frankly, is amazing…

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