Our satirical writer Edwin Phillips reads a Press Release to the mainstream media in Wales from the Books Council of Wales (BCW) about officials there funding nationalist website Nation.Cymru, following revelations its controversial ‘Editor’ who lectures in journalism on a course which has no journalist accreditation, has stated that ‘public funding is now essential’.
FROM: Books and Life-long Learning Office of Communicating Knowledge Sub-committee (BOLLOCKS)
TO: All Regional Staff Editorial (ARSE)
TIME: First Chapter
Journalists in the Welsh mainstream media are to be congratulated over the fact they have not reported that our taxpayers money supports a website which critics claim is politically biased.
Thankfully only that irritating organ The Eye has done so.
As you are plainly aware public money is vital in the publishing sector of Wales.
As the Editor of Nation.Cymru (NC) Ifan Morgan Jones has stated so accurately on his website: “Public funding is now essential to stop coronavirus finishing off Wales’ news media”.
You in the Welsh mainstream media will also endorse the unerring claim therein that investigations are conducted by “no one apart from a few BBC units and the larger national British newspapers” while ignoring the unfortunate fact that journalists on The Eye (which is regrettably privately-backed) have carried out numerous numbers of them.
The important feature by Dr Jones, came after he attracted totally unwarranted criticism in the past.
His CV stated truthfully: “I am the BA Journalism Course Leader at the School of Creative Studies and Media at Bangor University, and lecture on the subject of practical journalism”.
Justifiably nowhere in the details is mentioned qualifications by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ), the apparently accepted body for formally accrediting journalists.
We in the BCW note with satisfaction that his website clearly supports Plaid Cymru (PC) which is sadly in opposition to the far larger governing Welsh Labour party in the National Assembly for Wales, and that NC has boosted the Welsh independence movement by saying, for example, that “Support for Welsh independence has risen again”, because it was at 11 per cent whereas last year it was seven per cent.
It is also a BOLLOCKS note that NC did not cover the news that PC it seems failed to declare large amounts of money, but DID publish a piece about the UK Tory party showing it in an extremely bad light and another significant item saying “Conservative AM has accepted more free international rugby tickets than any other UK politician”.
The site is right to say it is a “News service by the people of Wales, for the people of Wales”, and receives an enormous grant of taxpayers’ money from us.
We deplore the fact that some readers of NC have said the site is “biased”.
On the NC Facebook site one critic was quite wrong to say: “It’s a biased online site for some of the people of Wales”, with a further one stating: “If people are going to criticise one group they need to consider the actions of others, otherwise its called hypocrisy… we need to ensure all sides play by the rules”.
We in BOLLOCKS to BCW are pleased to read tne lengthy ‘report’ on so-called ‘controversial’ NC about the Conservative Party which proclaimed: “More than half of donations received by new Conservative MPs in Wales came from secretive fundraising clubs based in the south-east of England”.
Yet the story that NC justifiably omitted to cover, but which sadly received huge media attention in other outlets, was that PC had been fined tens of thousands of pounds after not declaring money from public coffers.
This was the unfortunate BBC report: “Plaid Cymru has been fined £29,000 for failing to report cash it received from taxpayers’ funds worth nearly £500,000. The Electoral Commission said over a two-year period Plaid had omitted 36 separate sums from quarterly reports. Plaid had failed to declare cash from the House of Commons authorities, and some cash from the Electoral Commission.”
It is clearly an oversight that at least one of Dr Jones’ books has been ‘relisted’ on ebay which says: “If your item doesn’t sell the first time you list it”.
Meanwhile we are happy to see that NC itself has been keen to generate interesting headlines in the past.
Dr Jones correctly put on Facebook last December a picture of a postal ballot paper, with his pen pointing at the PC candidate, and has posted a photograph of himself and his partner above the slogan “I’m voting Plaid Cymru”.
In July 2016 he also helped promote a rally for Welsh independence in Caernarfon and said that Wales: “faced being part of a state which (is) being politically neglected”.
Last September an opinion piece was published in which he said rightly: “In an independent Wales, the future of our nation wouldn’t be decided by politicians completely removed from our concerns, like gods playing dice with our fate on the summit of Mount Olympus”.
Dr Jones is understandably anxious to report his connection with the BCW, and adds about his website : “Much of the current money we do have to spend is due to support through the kindness of the Welsh Books Council. But such public money is thin on the ground, and ideally, no news site should be dependent on grants that, in the current financial climate, may not last forever.”
Regrettably Dr Jones says that NC is keen to receive more cash than just public money from our officials, and on his website he has urged readers: “If just everyone who had attended the Yes Cymru march (in support of Welsh independence) over the last year gave us £5 a month we would be raising over half a million pounds a year”.
We are BOLLOCKS happy to report the BCW too has made headlines.
In 2013 it was published in the UK media, that over the five years before, we received £39 million of taxpayers’ money, with another £3.85 million going to Literature Wales (LW).
In the same year a spokesman for the Welsh Government (WG) said funding for the BCW had been cut to a mere £4.1 million.
As you will know in the mainstream media, this is not enough to get by on.
It was further stated that: “This funding is channelled towards supporting the publishing industry in both Welsh and English languages. Detailed monitoring arrangements are in place to ensure that this funding is spent appropriately. Book sales through the Welsh Books Council distribution centre saw an increase in the last financial year which is very encouraging given the current financial climate.”
We do not welcome this ‘detailed monitoring’ as it might imperil our support for NC.
We are however pleased to see that the WG has announced £750,000 of additional funding for us to invest in a new digital system to manage the sale, supply and distribution of books. The BCW will also receive additional capital funding of £145,000 during the current financial year.
Emergency funding worth £150,000 to help the Welsh books sector to weather the coronavirus crisis was also saluted by the BOLLOCKS team.
Helgard Krause, Chief Executive of the BCW said it “warmly welcomed” the extra money.
The Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism (formerly a leading figure in PC), Dafydd Elis-Thomas, said that he was “delighted” to help the BCW to invest in this sector of the Welsh economy. “This (the original additional funding) will be a significant boost to the Books Council of Wales but also the whole publishing industry in Wales,” he said.
You too in the Welsh mainstream media have boosted the BCW and you receive BOLLOCKS applause.
Tomorrow – what today’s lockdown really means in the future for Wales.
Our Editor Phil Parry’s memories of his astonishing 36-year award-winning career in journalism as he was gripped by the incurable disabling condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book which was not supported by the BCW ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order the book now! The picture doubles as a cut-and-paste poster