Our Council have responded to me regarding this campaign by the Fulham Chronicle, which calls the Council freesheet H&F News “propaganda” and calls for it to be scrapped.
A Council spokesman said: "H&F News is a very popular newspaper with residents and advertisers because it supports their community. Our residents want to know what their council is doing. They expect us to promote community groups, theatres, businesses and schools. H&F News was launched to fill a communications void because, for more than ten years, Trinity Mirror had no interest in our borough and produced newspapers that very few residents wanted to read. While we welcome The Chronicle going free, it is still very much early days and their readership and circulation has yet to be proven. H&F is a vibrant borough that deserves a strong, vibrant media."
They also pointed out that H&F News is published under very tight legal restrictions, which prevents any local authority from publishing anything that is deemed to support any one political party. He argued that overall H&F Council continues to bring down the cost of communicating to residents and spends less on communicating than the vast majority of other London councils.
I think regular readers will gather what I think of most of that statement but in the interests of balance I thought it important to present the other side of the argument. Their point on circulation figures might be the Chronicle’s Achilles heel in all of this, given the issues they seem to be experiencing with delivering the paper. Although I did in fact get a copy last week!
Just as I rail against, say, H&F News for being one-sided I wanted to make sure I didn’t fall into that trap myself. So here you are!
Wonder what the Chronicle makes of what the Council have to say?
1400 UPDATE: The Chronicle have been quick to respond to the Council's comments. Speaking to this blog a Trinity Mirror spokesman said: “This council is quite clearly deluded. They are not media and what they publish is not journalism. They can not hold themselves to account, only independent reporting can do that.
“It is time for them to stop sidestepping the real issue. h&f news is not a newspaper and they should stop pretending to be so. Hammersmith and Fulham Council's propaganda sheet goes far beyond their statutory duty and threatens the survival of local newspapers, local democracy and freedom of speech."
So we have the Council accusing the Chronicle of being previously uninterested in the Borough and with questionable circulation figures, while the Chronicle responds that the Council is 'deluded' and denying freedom of speech. Expect this one to rumble on..