State of the nation

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Extremely condemnatory comments have been made about the biased reporting of a Welsh nationalist website, after a post was put on Facebook (FB) backing Plaid Cymru, and they highlight other criticism on its site about key workers’ property being damaged, and remarks concerning the burning down of holiday homes.

A comparison was made with 1930s Berlin

Earlier another critic made a shocking comparison with 1930s Berlin after a ‘story’ by Nation.Cymru (NC) (which is partially-funded by the taxpayer unlike The Eye).

The NC post last week proclaimed: “Plaid Cymru tell Labour Government to ‘sort it out’ with partial 20mph U-turn expected next week…”.

It was in the context of Ken Skates, the Welsh Government’s (WG) transport minister, saying “there will be a change” to legislation introduced in September which altered the speed limit on nearly all roads in Wales from 30 mph controversially to 20 mph.

Plaid Cymru are propping up Labour

But one observer, Gerallt Walters of Pembrokeshire, told The Eye: “This is a complete nationalist slant on the coverage. 

“The irony is that Plaid were propping up Labour when the 20 mph limit was introduced via its ‘co-operation’ agreement, and it also comes amid an NHS crisis and stagnating economy”.

This view refers to the deal between Labour and PC three years ago, when it was announced: Today, as the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru come together in (the) Co-operation Agreement, we take (a) step forward in our collective effort to fulfill (a) promise of a new politics – radical in content and co-operative in approach“.

But this is not the first time that social media involving NC has caused controversy.

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 other incendiary 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”.

Burn?

Declaratons of an extreme nature have also been posted on the FB page of NC.

In the past it has been said that the burning of cottages might seem a good target, but there has also been a warning of the heavy criminal sanctions that may be imposed if someone is convicted of deliberately setting fire to a building.

The announcement 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 PC.

Serving all ‘the people of Wales’ – except Tories

For example a lengthy ‘report’ in the past on NC about the Conservative Party has 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”. It has also declared over a picture of current Tory leader in the Welsh Parliament/Senedd Cymru (WP/SC) Andrew RT Davies: “Conservative AM (now MS) has accepted more free international rugby tickets than any other UK parliamentarian”.

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.”

Ifan Morgan Jones has firm views. Here he is with his partner

NC support for PC is also obvious in other ways. It has carried 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 saying 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 in UK newspapers), they do, however, set a benchmark for objectivity in all reporting.

Articles on NC, though, are far from objective and always emphasise the policies of PC or supposed ‘facts’ about independence. One 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 (a firm supporter of the European Union [EU] when many oppose it), ‘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”.

Bangor University is a home to Ifan Morgan Jones

Detractors were, though, 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).

Former leading Plaid Cymru figure Dafydd Elis-Thomas was ‘delighted’

But this does receive backing at a very high level.

The former leader of 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.

Is what happened really ‘delightful’?!

But this ‘delight’ is unlikely to be shared by those who posted the damning remarks on NC’s FB or made the enormous criticism of the way they have covered the 20 mph U-turnhighlighting as they do our revelations that earlier comments were posted about the property of key workers being damaged, and comparing the situation with Nazi Berlin.

 

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!

‘BUY MY BOOK!’

Tomorrow – Phil shows how he has always been lucky enough to work in a relatively free environment for the media, but now evidence is mounting that the opposite is the case in one huge country – China.