Like Anne, I was very concerned about how the BNP family profile came to appear without a byline in the Bath Chronicle. As Anne said, the most obvious interpretation of the story being uncredited “is down to it coming from a press officer or agency of some kind.” Sam Holliday, the editor of the Chronicle, replied “This was not a PR written piece – believe it or not we don’t do that.” That seems to be true. However, the Chronicle does share content with its sister paper, the Western Daily Press. And that’s where this story originally appeared, written by Tristan Cork (edit 11 June 2009 to remove email as there is now no reason to contact Cork in light of further actions by the Chron) complete with the same photo and that horrible phrase “only lets white ethnic indigenous British people join as full members.” (I rang Laura Tremelling at the Chronicle to confirm this.)
The copy has been partly rewritten – Cork’s original is even more extraordinarily uncritical, which caused great delight to the candidate on his blog, where he also noted that “Since then the story has been noticed by a press agency so expect to see it in a national paper next week.” This is churnalism in action, and it’s beautifully illustrative of the way that the repetition of stories without any additional reporting is destructive of political debate – and of how cheerfully political candidates will exploit that to avoid scrutiny.
Just a note: I’m not linking to the BNP candidate’s blog or naming him here, because I’m not personally up for hosting a debate with the BNP here on Paperhouse. I hope the comments will reflect that.