Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Fulham Chronicle wins contract for Council propaganda

The Fulham Chronicle has been unveiled as the Council's new vehicle for propaganda which we, as taxpayers, will continue to fund. Regular readers will remember that the Council was forced, very much against its will, by the Government to stop publishing propaganda paper "H&F News" which the Secretary of State for Local Government described as "propaganda on the rates" which "weakens democracy".

The Chronicle actually ran a failed campaign against H&F News which included an advertising van turning up outside David Cameron's house in the run up to the last general election. But it was the intervention of the Government after the election that finally signed the death warrant for the paper.

The Chronicle has now agreed to carry the propaganda instead which will be written by the same press officers and presumably will continue to be as one-sided. This will include not only copious extra pages but also inserts as well, all paid for by us.

I know I am not the only one to have noticed a distinct lack of crticism coming from the Chronicle in recent weeks towards the Council, as this article which reports on African gangs targetting Shepherd's Bush while police numbers are cut demonstrates. Not only were they a week behind this blog on even reporting the story at all, but they talked at length about the gangs - but made just a passing reference to cuts to police. Not relevant? or just not convenient to mention? You be the judge.

Speaking as the deal was unveiled Council Leader Stephen Greenhalgh said this:

We have been incredibly proud to have published H&F News but this agreement is a positive step forward for the borough's residents as we have secured an effective way of communicating our news, while delivering real value for money. As a result we will continue to have one of the lowest communication costs of any London borough.

“Additionally, this illustrates our commitment to supporting a vibrant independently produced newspaper in the borough.”
While Simon Edgley, Managing Director of Trinity Mirror Southern, said:
We are not only absolutely delighted to sign this agreement, but also that our titles and websites will play such a significant part in ensuring that residents of Hammersmith & Fulham remain appropriately informed.”
So whatever you read in the Chronicle from hereonin - just bear in mind where the money's coming from. Because as we can see with the Murdoch press - money talks.

1350 UPDATE: Chronicle/H&F News journalist Adam Courtney has been in touch and he is not a happy bunny. Here's what he says about how the article he wrote about rising crime in Shepherd's Bush only merited a passing reference to the fact that the police are having their numbers slashed:

Well, sorry Adam but I live in Shepherd's Bush and I can tell you that people who live here are actually quite concerned at the prospect of rising crime and at the same time police numbers going down - that's the "strongest news angle" to them. As are the police themselves if you actually talk to them. The point is nobody is now going to be sure why the Chronicle has of late chosen a much softer editorial line towards the Council of which this article is only the latest example. But given the huge amounts of money the Council will be spending with the paper I think we can all guess.

Adam goes on to charge that this article itself is "tosh", here's what he has to say:

I would just observe two things in response. First, that the "change" he says won't happen already has done. The paper has adopted a softly softly line towards the Council ever since the scramble for taxpayer funded propaganda started. And secondly this is the same journalist who used his own paper's public Twitter feed to try for jobs elsewhere - so all's well there then.

He has also conceded, in another message to me, that Council press office staff may well be physically transferred into the Chronicle's own building to work directly on propagandising in the paper, as per the business agreement between Council and paper. But that they will be in a different room. So that's OK then.


  1. I never once said council staff are moving to our office. That's just an outright lie.

  2. Thanks "anonymous", or Adam as you're better known - sadly for you I have posted the evidence above. Your comment was "they may well do"

  3. I meant the documents may well say that staff are joining us. They will not be moving to our building. Can you make that clear please.
    And as for us going easy on the council: this is last 10 days. I don't think so

  4. Personally, if a journalist can't even be bothered to log into a webpage to enter their details, I'm not exactly that confident they'll stand by the words they write. And isn't that the point of a journalist?

  5. I didn't have time. Here's to confirm - I'm Adam Courtney

  6. Not a shred of evidence that the Chronicle is/will be going easy on the council. There's only one outlet spreading propaganda and it aint us...
    PS It thought I made it clear last time that my Twitter isn't my employer's feed. Good work.

  7. Perhaps, Adam, you'll show us exactly how independent you are, then...?

    Maybe through the medium of your front page?

    I look forward to it.
    But I won't be holding my breath.

  8. This is a lot of inaccurate tosh. Two people (Underwood and Courtney) who really have no idea at all what's going on or has been agreed. It's all quite silly, really.

  9. @ Adam
    But the fact that the council is now editorially involved with the Fulham Chronicle suggests that the paper will not be vigorous in its criticism of its new paymaster. This is a rather unprecedented arrangement. No?

  10. have you noticed how the six year contract is to be reviewed after two years i.e. the year before the next council elections? nice move by the tories. keeps the chronicle on its best behaviour when it especially matters.