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Academic steps up attack on leading Welsh daily

The war of words between a Welsh newspaper editor and a senior Cardiff academic over Trinity Mirror’s management of its titles in the principality has continued to escalate.

Yesterday, Western Mail boss Alan Edmunds accused Cardiff university research fellow Dr Andy Williams of peddling “one-eyed, indequately researched hyperbole” about the newspaper.

It followed an article in which he blamed Trinity for a fall in the Mail’s circulation from 94,000 in 1979 to under 30,000 now and claimed many of its stories were recycled press releases.

Now Dr Williams has defended his original article, published on the Open Democracy website, in an open letter to Mr Edmunds circulated to the trade media.

He said that the piece had been based on “solid research” into working conditions at Trinity subsidiary Media Wales, which publishes the Mail.

“I was particularly troubled you thought my point about rehashing press releases was untrue. Sadly, my comment was rooted in fact,” he claimed.

“Much (not all, of course) of the news that gets published these days is re-hashed PR. How do I know this is the case at Cardiff? Because journalists have told me.”

“The reasons for poor quality journalism don’t lie with poor quality journalists, but with corporate strategies which makes such journalism the rational result of its operations.”

Mr Edmunds said yesterday: “The easily repeated barb about the regurgitation of press releases is tiresome and insulting to the first class journalists and managers in the regional media.”

The full text of Dr Williams’ open letter can be read here


Reynard (22/07/2010 08:37:19)
Alan, please dont loose any sleep over Dr Williams, he’s clearly just another example of “if you can do, if you can’t become an FE lecturer” I expect he will soon be coming to you for a job, once his post is axed as a result of cuts.I hold no candle for Trinity but the self serving opinionated poorly researched rubbish he has come out with is a waste of my tax pounds.
Tally Ho

RT (22/07/2010 08:52:08)
I’d agree with Reynard. TM deserves much criticism. However, Dr Williams’ ‘research’ appears to be a rehash of the same moans you get on the htfp messageboard from old hacks moaning it ain’t like the good old days. Of course it isn’t, things have changed dramatically. I have no love for Sly Bailey, but I am not sure the typical grumbling backbench sub has the answer to our industry’s challenges either. And I’m pretty sure Dr Williams doesn’t have it either.

Orange (22/07/2010 10:11:02)
What purpose is served by presenting this issue as a ‘war of words’? Personalising the issue achieves nothing in terms of grappling with or understanding the underlying arguments, but then many journalists are adept at missing the point. Newspaper companies exist in order to make money for their shareholders. They do not serve ‘the community’ – at the expense of the investor. Company annual reports detail the commercial operations of the business with a view to concluding on the suitable dividend for the shareholders. So long as they line investors’ pockets, they survive. Universities are centres of teaching, learning and research. It is their ‘raison d’etre’ to challenge conventional viewpoints and to peer beyond the ‘hyperbole’ and ‘hypocrisy’ of corporate, vested interests. As a former newspaper hack, now a journalism lecturer and more recently an external examiner at Cardiff (I add that I do not know Dr Williams), I would appeal to ‘seasoned hacks’ not to confuse academia with the industry. Edmunds suggests that Dr Williams’ research is ‘flawed’, but he has not produced any evidence (recognisable in research terms) to support that criticism. Please do so.

Onlooker (22/07/2010 14:00:06)
Reynard performs a personalised hatchet job on Dr Williams without producing any solid evidence. Also, a boss is bound to say everything is rosy, isn’t he? As for the truth, can we not start by believing Dr Williams when he says journalists have told him about the working regime at Cardiff?

Observer (22/07/2010 15:04:05)
I wish someone would carry out an independent analysis of the regional newspaper industry and its various elements.
One one side is management with its necessarily rose-tinted vision.
On the other are left leaning academics (many former NUJ members) who believe management can do no right.
Personally, I don’t trust either side.