A controversial ‘news’ website which is backed by public funds and claims it serves all the people of Wales whose ‘Editor’ wants Welsh independence and has Plaid Cymru (PC) supporters, has again published a ‘story’ which once more undermines another political group, but it has not been covered elsewhere, The Eye can reveal.
Critics of Nation.Cymru (NC) believe it confirms its “bias”, and that it is a PC site.
The ‘report’ declares that “Former Tory group leader (in the Welsh Assembly) Andrew RT Davies received 15 tickets with hospitality included to eight Wales rugby matches during this Assembly term, the register of interests shows”.
It says: “The research by Nation.Cymru comes after Paul Davies, leader of the Conservative group in the Assembly, said his party would ‘end the Assembly gravy train’ if they won power at next year’s elections”.
We have also shown how NC has in the past failed to cover the news that PC did not declare large amounts of money, yet seized on a story which again showed the Tories in an extremely unfavourable light.
The lengthy ‘report’ then on the website about the Conservative Party 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”.
The news about PC that it failed to cover, concerned electoral funding.
This was The BBC report: “Plaid Cymru has been fined £29,000 for failing to report cash it received from taxpayers’ funds worth nearly £500,000.”.
Yet NC asserts that it serves all “the people of Wales” and its money comes from public coffers through the Books Council of Wales (BCW). The ‘Editor’, Ifan Morgan Jones, says 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”.
Despite this, on the NC Facebook site, one critic has said in the past: “It’s a biased online site for some of the people of Wales”.
But Dr Jones as well as NC itself have been no stranger to interesting headlines, and critics say the website (which is based in Aberystwyth) has a partisan political agenda despite being funded by taxpayers’ money.
His 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 nowhere in the details is mentioned qualifications by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ), the accepted body for formally accrediting journalists.
At least one of his books has been ‘relisted’ on ebay which says: “If your item doesn’t sell the first time you list it”.
Dr Jones has said on Twitter our previous disclosures of strong links to PC were “just nonsense”, and told a critic: “I set it up myself off my own bat.”.
But Dr Jones should know as a lecturer in ‘journalism’ at Bangor University’s Department of Creative Studies and Media, even if it is on a course not accredited by the NCTJ, that everything published is supported by a raft of unseen evidence.
In his ‘journalist’ lectures Dr Jones presumably tells his students about the laws of libel, that everything published is governed by them, and that reporters have a large amount of evidence to back up each sentence. On The Eye we have many years of experience in journalist law – our Editor Phil Parry has more than 36 – and are very aware of what can and cannot be said (see story soon).
Dr Jones himself published 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 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: “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 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.”
Meanwhile the Books Council of Wales (BCW) declares: “The Books Council of Wales is a national body, funded by the Welsh Government, which provides a focus for the publishing industry in Wales.”
Dr Jones has worked as deputy editor for the Welsh magazine Golwg, and as an editor of the news website Golwg 360.
It is evident that he sees NC as a great success, and wrote on the site in January: “… the success Nation.Cymru has enjoyed… was beyond my wildest dreams…”. Even so Dr Jones says that NC is keen to receive more cash from private individuals and not simply from public bodies. 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”.
Recent opinion polls have not been good news for him, as the results have had to be ‘spun’. A St David’s Day poll earlier this month was ‘reported’ in NC with the headline saying that “Support for Welsh independence has risen again”, because it was at 11 per cent whereas last year it was just seven per cent.
The BCW too has made headlines. In 2013 it was reported in the UK media, that over the five years before, the BCW had received £39m of taxpayers’ money, with another £3.85m 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 £4.1m and added: “This funding is channelled towards supporting the publishing industry in both Welsh and English languages.
And: “Detailed monitoring arrangements are in place to ensure that this funding is spent appropriately.
Meanwhile the WG has just announced £750,000 of additional funding for the BCW 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.
The Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism (formerly a leading figure in PC), Dafydd Elis-Thomas, said that he was “delighted” to support the BCW to invest in this sector of 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 it seems the whole ‘publishing industry in Wales’ did not cover a ‘story’ undermining a political group other than PC.
Only publicly-funded NC did…
Our Editor Phil Parry’s memories of his extraordinary 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 new book ‘A GOOD STORY’ which has not been supported by the BCW! Order the book now!