Rochdale Observer not 'unduly influenced' by advertising revenue
Save Spodden Valley co-ordinator Jason Addy says he has been reassured that the Rochdale Observer, the town’s only printed newspaper, is NOT subject to undue influence despite receiving an undisclosed amount of advertising revenue for distributing tens of thousands of brochures entitled:
“Spodden Valley Regeneration- Community News”
SSV say that local people who do not have regular access to the internet have expressed concern that there has been no Spodden Valley news reported in the print edition of the Rochdale Observer for a while. The last post on the internet edition of the newspaper was September 21st.
It was believed that 2 news articles were due to be published in last Saturday’s Rochdale Observer but appear to have been ‘pulled’ at the last minute.
The 2 articles were:
Firstly: confirmation of malicious rumours that may have stopped some former asbestos workers from discussing contamination on the site. Some have been told that if the housing development doesn’t go ahead then T&N pensions could be affected.
Secondly: another planned article concerned the SSV campaign’s allegations that misleading comments, mistakes and inaccuracies were published in the developers’ 50,000 glossy “Community News” brochures.
Whilst there was no Spodden Valley news in Saturday’s Rochdale Observer, readers received the developers’ glossy brochure with every copy.
Jason Addy says he has been reassured that the Rochdale Observer has not been unduly influenced:
“The Rochdale Observer says it took account of any potential conflicts of interest before their advertising department accepted the contract to publish the brochures. In fairness, the acceptance of a large amount of advertising revenue need not compromise the content of the newspaper”.
“Unfortunately, it now looks as though the Rochdale Observer may be making the news itself for the investigation by the Advertising Standards Authority will now have to include the newspaper for permitting the publication of advertising that may not be legal, honest or truthful”.
“It is uncertain how long ago this advertising contract was agreed between Countryside Properties’ PR agents and the Rochdale Observer. It is unknown how much advertising revenue Countryside Properties spend with the Guardian Media Group in newspapers such as The Guardian, The Manchester Evening News and Greater Manchester Weekly Newspaper Group publications such as the Rochdale Observer. The figure may be tens of thousands of pounds. That said, it may be unfair to make crude assumptions about the influence this could have regarding any associated news content. Staff members at the Rochdale Observer have given strong assurances that the receipt of substantial amounts of advertising revenue does NOT compromise their objectivity in any way”.
“From the email messages the campaign has received, many people in Rochdale and beyond who do not have access to the internet to read news from Rochdale Online seem to think things have ‘gone quiet’ in the Spodden Valley. That is certainly not the case. A lot has been going on but unfortunately local people won’t have read about them recently in the Rochdale Observer. However, more articles have been promised soon.”
“Over the past 7 weeks, Save Spodden Valley has issued a several press releases that, thankfully, have been reported by Rochdale Online. In fairness, newspapers can’t print everything they get sent them. Control of what its readers may want to know remains the difficult task of the news editors. We have to respect the editor’s decisions”
In addition to 2 articles apparently ‘pulled’ from last Saturday’s newspaper, here are some of the missing stories you haven’t read about in the Rochdale Observer in the past 7 weeks:
- A ‘secret’ Council meeting held to gag the public from asking questions?
Missing paragraphs from official Council answers?:
- A public question to the Council refused because it arrived 60 seconds late- and an official decision from the Borough Solicitor sent within 6 minutes.
All 3 political parties uniting to ask the question:
- An MEP giving very frank opinions about the developers in a long interview on BBC local radio:
- A visit by members of a political party to the Spodden Valley site.
SSV point out that this is not a complaint of any political bias: They insist that the real significance of the unreported story may be that the MEP in question is the Chairman of the European Union Construction Forum and a civil engineer by profession. It appears that no quotes from this prominent person, who has an informed opinion about contaminated land and brownfield development, has been published in the Rochdale Observer:
- The Rochdale Observer printed full statements from the directors of Countryside Properties and MMC Developments.
Save Spodden Valley’s statement was not printed in full but it does appear on Rochdale Online: