A senior media executive and Editor of the soon-to-be launched The National for Wales (TNW), has proclaimed the “driving force” for it is a ‘comedian’ who made sick ‘jokes’ about a murdering gunman, used bad language to abuse publicly prominent politicians, was placed under police investigation and has been reprimanded by a social media company, The Eye can reveal.
Gavin Thompson, of the Newsquest Media Group (NMG), has just released a ‘manifesto’ for the contentious project in which he said Huw Marshall “worked hard to convince us it was viable” and that “The journey began with a crowdfunded campaign by independent organisation New Media Wales”.
Yet the crowdfunding campaign was highly controversial – our investigations have shown that last year Mr Marshall had a total of 179 patrons pledging £1,221 per month, although he said he needed a lot more – 500 to launch.
Other unusual characters have also backed TNW.
The headline-grabbing Welsh Parliament/Senedd Cymru (WP/SC) member for Blaenau Gwent, Alun Davies, MS, declared on Twitter about TNW: “Well. I wish you best of luck with this initiative. Anything to strengthen our news environment should receive a warm welcome”.
A ‘warm welcome’ was given, as well, to the ‘pilot’ for the venture which was wished “Best of luck” by Welsh Government (WG) minister Lee Waters,
But TNW is to be launched with just TWO ‘digital reporters’, and critics question whether a ‘national’ service can be provided by such a small number, and Mr Marshall (the ‘driving force’ for TNW) has made the news himself for all the wrong reasons.
Mr Marshall was severely reprimanded by the social media giant Twitter because one of his accounts “violated the Twitter Rules”, and it found that another, “Welsh Bollocks”, had also broken their regulations.
In 2013, it was disclosed that he had made extremely offensive remarks to senior politicians, on Twitter, and complaints after further comments led to the reprimands.
One insult seven years ago, was directed at the Labour MS and minister Ken Skates with another hurled at the former Liberal Democrat AM Peter Black.
After Mr Skates tweeted in celebration of a one-vote council by-election victory over Plaid Cymru (PC) in Ruabon, Mr Marshall referred to him in his own tweet as a “gloating t**t”, and he described Mr Black as a “humourless t..t” as well as a “dull, tedious t..t”.
The humour too of this ‘comedian’ who is behind TNW, has been questionable. Two people had died and a police officer lost the sight in both eyes when rampaging gunman Raoul Moat shot them, yet despite this on July 8, 2010 – with him trying to escape from armed police – Mr Marshall published a message on his Facebook (FB) site, reading: “Hi I’m a sexy 19 year old blond (sic) from the North East of England looking for some fun.
“My Mr Right should be a big strong ginger man with a fiery temper and a jealous nature, who also enjoys camping and writing long letters”.
Another post read: “Moat reward… if he isn’t caught by next Wednesday, the rewards (sic) being doubled. It’s going to be a Raul (sic) over”.
Controversy, too, has also been caused by the fact that Mr Thompson’s company, NMG, is the UK arm of the giant American corporation Gannett Incorporated, a mass media firm headquartered in McLean, Virginia, in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, and is the largest US newspaper publisher. This has made many potential supporters uneasy, and its behaviour has been highlighted by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ).
Last November it was reported that the NUJ was celebrating union recognition of local democracy reporters, and this came hard on the heels of other alarming headlines. In July it was published that the NMG furlough scheme was a “waiting room for redundancy” with at least 38 journalism jobs at risk, and in March of the previous year the NUJ criticised plans to cut staff in Brighton, South London and North Wales, which was to lead to an overall headcount reduction of six. The worrying nature of this ‘partnership’ has also been highlighted by David Nicholson on Twitter, who is the NUJ’s National Executive Council (NEC) member for Wales.
As NMG, Gannett owns a host of Welsh titles including The South Wales Argus in Newport, but it has often made troubling news. In May 2019 under the headline “NUJ speaks up for Newsquest journalists at Gannett AGM” details were released that “…the union remains seriously concerned by Gannett’s stewardship of Newsquest, its relentless job cutting programme, a looming hostile takeover bid and the dire conditions facing journalists who work for the UK company”.
Plainly the connection with Gannett Co., Inc, is also making those people uncomforable who might otherwise have supported the venture. One said on Twitter “for me it’s important to be owned and run in Wales”. Another declared: “He’s (the ‘driving force’ for the ‘project’, Mr Marshall) been saying for a while that there is a “Partner” on board……I assumed that it was a local, welsh business……but it does indeed look like it is News quest! !”.
The link-up with NMG/Gannett has, too, come in for furious criticism on social media more recently. A critic said on Twitter: “Why are we having to use a London based company?”. A different detractor declared: “Gotta be honest, a London-headquarterd media outlet is not at all what I thought I was supporting, purported editorial freedom or nay. I have some reasonably major reservations”.
Meanwhile, it is a fundamental tenet of news journalism, as well, to be entirely neutral, and this could be crucial for TNW. Yet this may be difficult with Mr Marshall (who has been described as a “chancer” on Twitter) on board, as he has stood for a political party in the past. In 1992 he was Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru’s (PC’s) Parliamentary candidate in Cardiff Central, coming fourth with just 748 votes, however his plans to stand for election as a councillor were scuppered when it emerged that he had posted the so-called ‘jokes’ about rampaging gunman Moat, and published abusive remarks to senior politicians on social media.
His NMW, or the ‘pilot’, have also made headlines, with the ‘stories’ being described in Private Eye as “cut and pasted from other news organisations”, and they have been highlighted, too, by The Eye. He has published an article about a doctor learning Welsh, which bore a striking resemblance to an item on the website of a centre which teaches the language to adults, called Nant Gwrtheyrn.
Mr Marshall headlined ‘his’ story: “Aldey Hey Choldren’s Hospital doctor on learning Welsh” when it is in fact AldeR Hey and, of course, CHILDREN’S (correct spelling is also critical for journalists). The item began: “Dr Jonathan Hurst is a doctor at Liverpool Women’s Hospital and Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. He’s been learning Welsh for the last two years. etc.
The Nant Gwrtheyrn article opened with: “Dr Jonathan Hurst is a doctor at Liverpool Women’s Hospital and Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. He’s been learning Welsh for the last two years.” etc. Yet this is not the first time Mr Marshall has made news when so-called ‘stories’ have appeared in other publications.
This was an article in The Leader based in North Wales (another NMG paper): “NORTH Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones is standing down.” etc. This was his article which followed it: “NORTH Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones is standing down.” etc. In fact the two pieces are exactly the same throughout, yet underneath Mr Marshall’s, he says: Posted in Welsh News.
Sometimes the changes are minor, such as when Wrexham becomes Wrecsam. This, once more, was The Leader: “WREXHAM Maelor Hospital is under “immense pressure” amid rising coronavirus cases, a doctor has warned. Dr Steve Stanaway, medical director at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, says his teams are dealing with “huge numbers” of cases – which have grown by 86 per cent since Christmas. Speaking to ITV Wales News, Dr Stanaway said the hospital is currently dealing with 108 cases, 11 of which are patients in critical care …” etc.
This was Mr Marshall’s: “Wrecsam Maelor Hospital is under “immense pressure” amid rising coronavirus cases, a doctor has warned. Dr Steve Stanaway, medical director at Wrecsam Maelor Hospital, says his teams are dealing with “huge numbers” of cases – which have grown by 86 per cent since Christmas. Speaking to ITV Wales News, Dr Stanaway said the hospital is currently dealing with 108 cases, 11 of which are patients in critical care…” etc.
Yet his so-called ‘stories’ from The Leader or the Nant Gwrtheyrn website are not the only examples. This was the piece in The Powys County Times from the Press Association (PA):“A former Welsh Conservative Party leader has been criticised for equating protesters at the US Capitol to those who supported a second referendum on Brexit.”. etc. This was the item in TNW: “A former leader of the Welsh Conservative Party has been criticised for equating protesters at the US Capitol to those who supported a second referendum on Brexit.”. etc.
Evidently our Editor, Phil Parry, has become something of a thorn in Mr Marshall’s side, because he says he has a number of different Twitter accounts, but claims he reserves one for ‘stories’ which may bother him, saying “@marshallmedia is where I post Everton related stuff and things that upsets Phil Parry”.
Others, though, support the ‘project’ – and they appear to hold important positions.
Even after the highly-critical article on Mr Marshall had appeared in Private Eye, his remark about “an independent Wales” was ‘Retweeted’ by the deputy leader of PC, member of the Senedd Cymru/Welsh Parliament (SC/WP) Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, and several of his colleagues have also backed him.
Mr Marshall’s dealings with the police in a more mundane capacity than his ‘comedy’ about Moat, have also been alarming. He has contacted the police but said on Twitter that there was little they could do as “it is a waste of their precious time”, and “I really pity those who try to undermine my work and reputation”.
But it seems the police HAVE had time to investigate Mr Marshall for alleged harassment. On Twitter he told South Wales Police (SWP) that he intended to make a complaint, however officers responded by informing him that they have a “responsibility to investigate any reports”.
Perhaps it has been his apparent ‘entrepreneurship’ which appealed to NMG, although critics doubt that any of his ideas will come to fruition. Mr Marshall claims to be looking into launching a number of companies to ‘benefit’ the public.
He has said on Twitter: “Currently working on the development of a couple of new companies. My first considerations are what is the problem we are trying to solve, what are the benefits to the public and society? I haven’t given any thought to an exit valuation and salary… Maybe I’m doing it wrong”.
But financing his many ventures appears problematic, and he has also stated on the social media site: “Just had feedback on an unsuccessful funding bid. I use the word feedback in the loosest possible term…..”
Mr Marshall has, too, used the internet to declare his ‘plans’ for an ‘unbiased’ ‘news’ service for Wales, to which huge amounts of money have been pledged by members of the public, which could also have proved attractive to MM officials.
His ‘proposals’ for the ‘independent organisation’ mentioned by Mr Thompson, New Media Wales (NMG), have featured on HoldtheFrontPage.Co.UK – a website for UK journalists.
It reported: “In a blog post about his plans, Huw wrote: ‘We are developing a fully functioning news and media business to serve the whole of Wales, one that delivers the level of service you would expect from a national platform’”.
Yet Mr Marshall is clearly not short on confidence (and that too may have been among the reasons the NMG were so convinced by him) because he presumably believes he will reach his recently-proclaimed target for patrons.
In another tweet he vowed that he could save a large amount of money for Wales’ biggest broadcaster BBC Cymru Wales (BBC CW), but others have stated that he is a ‘bully’.
Mr Marshall, though, appears undaunted by the criticism and has declared on social media: “…I could go in to the BBC tomorrow and save millions without impacting the content they produce…”
One potential donor has declared that he wants the operation to be “unbiased” and not “nationalist” – possibly ignorant of the ‘co-ordinator’s’ background.
He said on Twitter: “I really hope it will be unbiased and not rammed with the anti-government nationalist diatribe from another Welsh news outlet…” and Mr Marshall answered: “Our main aim isn’t to tell people what to think…”.
Evidently Mr Marshall is also sensitive to criticism, and has posted on Twitter that there will be legal involvement after our disclosures.
He has said on Twitter “…the time will shortly come when lawyers get involved”.
But NMG (and TNW in future) will know about ‘lawyers getting involved’, it just seems a shame if they were made aware of their importance by the ‘driving force’ for a project they are backing who made sick ‘jokes’ about a murdering gunman, used bad language to abuse publicly prominent politicians, was placed under police investigation and been reprimanded by a social media company…
Tomorrow – our Editor Phil Parry looks at the huge problems facing senior executives at the BBC, after the man in charge in Wales presided over record-breaking low audience figures in radio, his flagship TV news programme committed an awful error when it showed Brighton Pavilion mistaking it for a mosque, and with one of his most senior managers conducting an alarming affair with one of his presenters even though officials had commissioned a programme she fronted.
The memories of his astonishing decades long award-winning career in journalism (before the advent of NMW or TNW) as he was gripped by the rare disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order the book now!