A chance meeting at the journalists’ local in Bristol led to Daily Press editor Terry Manners throwing down the gauntlet to the Post’s Dennis Payter after he questioned the relevance of Terry’s successful Asian Moon bears campaign.
Dennis believes that charities closer to home should be higher on the agenda – and that readers tended to be ‘suckered’ by pictures of cuddly animals.
Terry – ever the gentleman – offered him the Friday opinion column last week, in which Dennis duly shared his 800 words on the topic.
But it was a double-edged sword… and the readers have shown their displeasure at his views by flooding the letters page.
Dennis said: “I guessed there would be some sort of reaction but I’m a little suspicious as I’ve had not an e-mail, phone call or a letter to me direct, which is surprising as it had my name and where I worked on the standfirst.
“I was also surprised there was not one letter in support as most of the people I’ve spoken to supported my take on the subject.”
He added: “I’m still waiting for news of a fee, which to back up my opinions, I’ll donate local charities.”
Terry said: “I was having a pint with Evening Post editor Mike Lowe when Dennis walked in and gave his views on the Moon bear appeal.
“I was telling Mike how successful it had been but Dennis questioned its relevance to the Westcountry.
“I said that I would give him his own forum; that he could have my comment page.
“It prompted quite a reaction – the postbag two days later was huge and I could not publish every letter.
“The readers were incensed.”
The appeal has been backed to the hilt by Daily Press readers, who are fighting to save the so-called ‘bile bears’ of China, bred and kept in captivity in tiny cages to have metal tubes inserted into their stomachs to extract their bile, which is then sold as a medical product.
It raised £70,000 in the first 15 days and almost £100,000 in the first three weeks. The success has meant a whole farm is set to be closed down in the next few days.
an ear-bashing at the
hands of WDP readers