AddThis SmartLayers

Editor defends weekly amid bias claims over Tesco plans

An editor has defended a weekly newspaper amid claims of bias in its coverage of controversial plans for a new Tesco store.

Harborough Mail editor Neil Pickford leapt to the paper’s defence after it was accused on social media of writing biased reports against plans for a new supermarket.

In his weekly editor’s column, he said that he took “personal offence” at the claims, which were made by an anonymous person on Twitter.

Plans were revealed last month for a new Tesco store in Market Harborough at a former Focus DIY site in Rockingham Road and since then rival Twitter accounts have been set up to support and oppose the proposals.

Neil told HTFP the Mail had not taken an editorial stance about the proposal and he was concerned that the paper was being criticised by someone anonymously.

He said: “Whether or not the newspaper takes an editorial stance is, in some ways, not the issue. What concerned me was that the newspaper was being criticised by an individual or group that does not have the courage of its convictions to publicly identify themselves.

“It has become far too easy for people to hide behind social media pseudonyms and criticise newspapers, and I felt the need to defend my staff and newspaper from unfair and unjust criticism.”

In his column, Neil wrote: “Last week the Harborough Mail was accused on a social media network of writing biased reports regarding the plans to create a new Tesco superstore outside the immediate town centre.

“I take personal offence at this wholly inaccurate comment made by someone hiding behind a pseudonym on the internet.

“This newspaper goes to sometimes extraordinary lengths to ensure that we provide balanced reports on all matters we cover, including the Tesco story.”

He added that he had printed every letter from readers received about the Tesco plans, with eight against and just one in favour, which seemed to reflect the feeling in the town.

Added Neil: “There is nothing wrong with a newspaper taking an editorial stance on an issue, but to accuse it of bias when hiding behind a pseudonym on a social media site is cowardice.

“I am happy to meet and discuss this newspaper’s editorial policy with anyone who wants to do so.

“However, I will not accept criticism from anonymous sources who may well have a personal agenda for wanting a particular scheme to be approved.”

The bias claims were made by the @tescoyes Twitter account, which was set up to back the Tesco plans, but this account has now been suspended.


You can follow all replies to this entry through the comments feed.
  • October 14, 2013 at 9:37 am

    If this bloke has two pets, I guarantee they are not called Pith and Precis. Has the paper taken an editorial stance re the Tesco proposals, as his words are desperately unclear?

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(0)
  • October 14, 2013 at 10:50 am

    This editor sounds a bit thin-skinned. Local newspapers are regularly blasted for being ‘biased’ towards one political party or another whatever the reality. It comes with the territory. And what do a few tweets on Twitter add up to ? Not very much.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(0)
  • October 14, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    Why on earth is this editor jumping up and down over a single piece of criticism on Twitter? And giving the issue vast publicity to boot? The time to defend his corner is when letters pour in by the sackload. He seems to object to anonymous ribbing … well, here’s some more.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(0)