Extremely critical comments on the Facebook (FB) page of the publicly-funded website Nation.Cymru (NC), highlight revelations on The Eye that remarks have been posted about the property of key workers being damaged, burning down holiday homes, and a comparison with 1930s Berlin.
One said the independence movement had a “problem” while another declared: “The results of (last month’s) election were frustrating”.
But in the past the fault-finding statements about NC have been even more damaging to the website.
One aggrieved writer has proclaimed on its FB page: ‘I am genuinely concerned by the amount of vitriol that comes out in the comments on the Nation.Cymru posts, and it makes me feel that we are uncomfortably close to the political posturing of 1930s Berlin.
‘We have had property damage (mostly to key workers cars) and threats and insults made to people (again, often keyworkers going about their legitimate business) because “they’re not from round here.”’.
The FB page has also played host to highly condemnatory observations that the ‘news’ of NC is not neutral, with one stating: “It’s a biased online site for some of the people of Wales”. A further pronouncement was: “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”.
Announcements of an extreme nature have also been posted on the FB page of NC.
Only today a warning appeared of the heavy criminal sanctions that may be imposed if someone is convicted of deliberately setting fire to a building.
The remark was: “I know it’s tempting but remember, you can get life for arson!!”.
Apart from those concerned with burning down holiday homes, a further comment was: “I remember the sixties” which is a reference to a time when the paramilitary organisation Free Wales Army (FWA) was prevalent.
The impartiality of NC has often been questioned. It states on its masthead that it is “by the people of Wales, for the people of Wales” although that does not appear to include those who support parties other than the Welsh nationalist group Plaid Cymru (PC).
For example a lengthy ‘report’ on NC about the Conservative Party stated: “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 a story that NC omitted to cover, but which received huge media attention in other outlets, was that PC had been fined 10s of thousands of pounds after not declaring money from public coffers.
This was, for instance, The 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.”
NC support for PC is also obvious in other ways.
It carries the logo of the group on its title page, its ‘stories’ consistently push the party’s agenda, while highlighting anything which is embarrassing to other parties, and its former ‘Editor’ and founder Ifan Morgan Jones has posted a picture of himself online declaring that he is voting for PC, as well as another of an election sheet giving all the candidates, showing his pen hovering over the one for PC. Yet it says it provides news for everyone.
However neutrality in news reporting is often officially stressed.
The media regulator Ofcom presents details of the Communications Act 2003 by saying: “Due weight must be given to the coverage of parties and independent candidates during the election period”.
These legal rules apply to broadcasters (and do not govern the partisan ‘reports’ which pass for news in UK newspapers), but they do, however, set a benchmark for objectivity in all reporting.
Reports on NC, though, are far from objective and always emphasise the policies of PC or supposed ‘facts’ about independence.
One article began: “It seems the opponents of independence, now running out of arguments, are getting desperate.”..
The website has also said that “Support for Welsh independence has risen again”, because it was at 11 per cent whereas the previous year it was seven per cent, and in a tweet it has proclaimed: “Welsh indy movement YesCymru sees membership surge as 500 join in five days”. The Wikipedia entry for it bears an image of the flag of the independence movement Yes Cymru (YC).
Intriguingly the one time Editor of NC, Dr Jones, ‘teaches’ journalism at Bangor University (BU), but accepted an advert for his own course.
The advert proclaimed the importance of the “Journalism and Media Studies BA” at “PRIFYSGOL BANGOR UNIVERSITY”. But Dr Jones’ CV states: “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”.
However detractors were deeply unimpressed by this, with one telling The Eye: “This crosses the line”, while a further comment was: “It creates a potential conflict of interest”, and a different critic saying online: “How can they do anything about the university when they are advertising one of the courses their own Editor teaches on?!”.
Yet the funding arrangements for NC have, too, come under fire, because it gets a huge grant from the Books Council of Wales (BCW) which is itself funded by the Welsh Government (WG).
This does, though, receive backing at a very high level.
The Welsh Government (WG) Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism at the time (formerly a leading figure in PC), Dafydd Elis-Thomas MS, said that he was “delighted” to support the BCW to invest in the Welsh economy. “This will be a significant boost to the Books Council of Wales but also the whole publishing industry in Wales,” he said.
But this ‘delight’ is unlikely to be shared by those who posted the extremely critical comments on the FB page of NC, highlighting as they do our revelations that earlier remarks were posted about the property of key workers being damaged, and a comparison with Nazi Berlin.
Tomorrow – how Nation.Cymru is at the centre of an astonishing civil war in the Welsh nationalist community.
The memories of our Editor Phil Parry’s extraordinary decades long award-winning career in journalism (when the truth about organisations was exposed) as he was gripped by the rare disabling neurological condition, Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order the book now!