The Bath Chronicle: even better news

Sam Holliday’s column in the Bath Chronicle this week is the shining opposite to the report that originally got me all exercised: it’s thoughtful, impassioned – and best of all, it’s drawn from a hustings meeting he attended and reported on himself. The BNP candidate appeared alongside representatives of the English Democrats Party, Libertas and the Christian Party, but protests outside the venue stopped most of the participants (and the audience) from getting inside.

Holliday’s reflections on how well the debate and protest served democracy are excellent on their own. But the last section is strong stuff:

As for the BNP, well, it just left me deeply depressed. Unlike many of the protesters, I did hear the debate (because I believe you have to hear what people say before judging them) and the moment the party’s spokesperson tried to claim he wasn’t a racist but called black people “Negroes” was the moment I realised this party is wedded to racism – despite the fact that many of them now wear nice suits. Negroes is the language of the American Civil War and not 21st century British politics – and I felt chilled and angry.

BNP? Beyond Normal Politics.

Newspapers can afford to be partisan about the politics of hate, just as Holliday is here. It’s impressive journalism, and it’s put me back in the paper’s circulation figures.

Update: Tristan Cork (the reporter who turned BNP ideology into editorial in the first place) has a column up on the website which I should have noticed before: it seems to begin with self-justification but ends by telling you everything he missed out first time around.

5 thoughts on “The Bath Chronicle: even better news

  1. I was impressed by the clarity of your original post flagging up the implicit racism and violence of language in the BNP article. Then I was impressed by Sam Holliday’s dogged efforts to publically deal with your concerns levelled against the Bath Chronicle in a heated – and public – debate. Holliday was vastly outnumbered in the flurry of comments that attended your first post and I think that the way he responded to people’s views is reflected in his new and improved post on the subject of the BNP. This shows real engagement with his readership – and, importantly here – with dissenters opposing various elements of Bath Chronicle reportage, and it’s a brilliant thing to see.

    I feel like what we witnessed was *actual debate* that – in spite of getting heated in a few places – mainly stayed entirely on topic and allowed some important ideas concerning reportage and the BNP to get aired and thrashed out, in public view. I thought you did a great job of keeping relevant comments in, and random hate-mongering out, and it was encouraging to see argument and discussion managed like this. We have all seen trainwreck Internet debates and this never went that way because of good comment management and thoughtful contributions.

    Writing about something that we’d like to see changed sometimes feels like pissing in the wind. We write in spite of this, but it’s truly encouraging when change does actually occur because of it.

  2. Result! Sam Halliday really did himself and the BC credit by engaging fully in the conversation, so hats off indeed. And also apologies for referring to him as ‘her’ in a previous comment, which was a bit rich in a rant about accuracy. Sorry Sam!

    Excellent dogged reporting on this, Sarah. It makes me feel all nostalgic for a golden age of journalism, even though (a) it died years before any of us were born, and (b) it possibly never existed after all. I may just watch His Girl Friday on DVD and leave it at that. Anyway, great work!

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