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Journal reporter finally gets answers after 22 weeks of questions

Grantham Journal reporter Marie Baker doesn’t give up easily.

Faced with a complete brick wall of silence from a factory at the centre of a massive blaze, she kept on asking questions.

And after weeks of trying, she finally got the answers.

Recycling firm environcom saw its Grantham factory go up in smoke in September in a sensational fire.

Eighty firefighters were needed to bring the blaze under control, nearby streets were cordoned off and evacuated and the fire burned for a week, bringing major disruption to the town.

Environcom issued a short, bland statement and then said … nothing.

As pressure mounted from people living nearby, Marie kept on asking the firm to comment on its fire safety record and what its future plans were.

A week went by: no comment. So she asked again.

Another week went by and still Glasgow-based environcom chief executive Joe Quigley, or any of his staff, refused to say anything at all.

Marie perservered. And as the weeks went by the Journal turned the weekly question and non-answer into a feature. The paper:

  • printed a picture of Mr Quigley alongside a brick wall, a head-in-the-sand ostrich and various other jokey references.
  • published his office and mobile phone numbers and invited readers to try to get their own answers.
  • sent him letters, faxes, texts, e-mails and called him every week.
  • sent him a video of people living near his factory demanding answers.
  • sent him a Christmas card and a present – a 2008 diary with the words ‘ring the Grantham Journal’ written on every page.
  • Amazingly, after week 21, environcom e-mailed a full list of answers to Marie’s questions.

    The firm’s sudden U-turn meant it was suddenly happy to tell us about its fire policy, the affect on staff and the future for the site and the firm.

    Journal managing editor Tim Robinson said: “Marie’s persistence is a great example of how keeping going at a story can pay off in the end – and get the answers readers want.

    “There was nothing sinister about the fire, so we’re at a loss as to why they didn’t just answer the questions in the first place.”


    JonS (29/02/2008 09:20:41)
    Sometimes, you have to accept that people don’t want to speak. Sounds like Marie was virtually harassing the poor chap.