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Daily hits back at MP and husband’s ‘journalism with crayons’ jibe

A regional daily has hit out after an MP and her husband accused the newspaper of practising “journalism with crayons”.

The Shields Gazette reported that Simon Buck, husband of South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck, had gone public with his support for plans to transfer part of his wife’s constituency into neighbouring Jarrow.

Mrs Lewell-Buck herself has previously stated her opposition to the Boundary Commission’s plan, saying she was “disappointed” by the proposal.

In his response to the Boundary Commission’s consultation Mr Buck, who is employed as a part-time researcher for Mrs Lewell-Buck, described the planned changes as “suitable”.

But both husband and wife have criticised the Gazette’s reporting of Mr Buck’s stance, with him describing it as “journalism with crayons” and her calling the newspaper’s coverage “shoddy” in separate Twitter outbursts.

In response, the paper published a front page editorial defending its coverage.

 

Shields Buck

It read: “We have reported the story from day one and revealed how Mrs Lewell-Buck wants people to back her opposition to the plans.

“That her husband is opposed to his wife has made headline news, not because it is unusual for married couples to disagree, but because he has gone public with his opposition.

“Mr Buck felt so strongly about supporting the plans his wife doesn’t like, he went online to make his case. What makes this even more unusual and, as such, newsworthy, is that Mr Buck is employed by his wife as her parliamentary assistant – a position paid for by the public purse. Both have condemned the Gazette for publishing the story.

“What a pity they weren’t so outspoken when we tried to contact them prior to publication. Then, our request for a comment was met with silence.

“Mrs Lewell-Buck has brushed the story off as being as trivial as a debate over who likes ‘milky coffee’. Mr Buck has described the story as ‘journalism with crayons’. They have the right to their own opinions.

“As far as we are concerned, the couple’s private disagreements are their own business, but when they are made public and over such important political issues we think the public has a right to know. We know what our readers want to be told.”

5 comments

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  • January 10, 2018 at 9:09 am
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    Headline needs a comma after the word Tyneside, not a dash – but congrats to the subs on the correct use of hyphens (other publications please take note).

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  • January 10, 2018 at 1:38 pm
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    @Jobee J, really? Will it help to sell newspapers or gain advertisers?

    If the actual debate over this boundary issue interests the readers of The Shields Gazette then it’s a good local news story and worth a splash. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what either of these two say as the decision will be made by the Boundary Commission, which is politically independent.

    If the story was simply a childish response to some equally childish Tweets, then perhaps it was the wrong call. I certainly expect scrutiny of elected officials but I do sometimes have concerns about how journalists treat other people just because their position is ‘paid for by the public purse’.

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  • January 10, 2018 at 4:36 pm
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    This all seems a bit petty. The story about boundary changes sounds dull – what reader actually cares? – and the ensuing Twitter row doesn’t sound much better. A quick scan of Twitter shows many people, admittedly those retweeted by the MP, feel the paper has acted unfairly. I would have thought this was a decent news patch and there are better stories to cover.

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  • January 10, 2018 at 5:08 pm
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    It is a decent patch and used to put out good solid local news as the UK’s oldest provincial evening paper. Sadly, since the main offices closed and some staff moved into a room in a shared office block, it’s becoming more and more like an edition of the Sunderland Echo.

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  • January 10, 2018 at 5:57 pm
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    If you need that many words to explain a front-page story, you’ve got the wrong story.

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