If you scroll down a bit on this blog you’ll find my earlier post about my local weekly rag, the Cambrian News, Media Lies and Propaganda. It dealt with assorted correspondence on the issue of council tax on holiday homes. In particular, the contributions of two English writers, both of whom raised the spectre of an arson campaign, with one suggesting that any increase in council tax would be “racist”.
I also recounted the curious tale of a letter published in the Cambrian News some years ago, a phoney letter comparing youngsters at the National Eisteddfod to the Hitler Youth! I made the point that this letter might have been published in the knowledge that it was phoney, or it could even have been written in the office of the CN.
Finally, I appended a copy of my latest letter to the CN. Without mentioning the ‘Hitler Youth’ episode, I drew attention to the fact that one of the English letters bore the inadequate address ‘Shropshire’, while the other writer was allowed to give the address of a caravan site where he has a mobile home. Which prompted me to ask in my letter: “Does he really live there? If not, why didn’t the Cambrian News publish his real address?”
I concluded my letter with, “Nor must the atmosphere for these debates must be polluted by desperate claims of racism, and slanderous allegations of arson. One way of helping ensure this would be for the Cambrian News to insist that no letter will be published unless it arrives accompanied by the home address and home telephone number of the writer.”
My letter, as published in today’s issue, along with other letters on the same subject, can be found on the right (click to enlarge). I believe the writer Ceri Jones belongs to a local farming family in Cwm Maethlon (alternatively known as ‘Happy Valley’), which runs up into the hills behind Aberdyfi. Andrew Currie is a Green – English, obviously – who lives just up the road from me and has a lot to say for himself. Far too much.
Now if you compare the letter I submitted for publication with what actually appeared in today’s issue, you will note that the CN chose to make a number of changes. Specifically, the reference to accepting a letter with the caravan site address, and also the final paragraph in which I suggested that before publishing any letter the editor should assure herself of its authenticity by insisting on the writer’s full home address and telephone number.
So why were these references to establishing the authenticity of letters submitted for publication edited out? The answer came with a letter published just below those shown above; it came from a Mrs Bowron of Aberdovey (sic), who complained that a letter published the previous week, bearing her name and address, was not in fact written by her!
What a predicament for the Cambrian News! After the fuss I made with the blog and the phone call they had little alternative but to publish my letter; but after their cock-up with ‘Mrs Bowron’s’ letter they were left with no alternative but to publish the letter from the real Mrs Bowron . . . and their apology! Which in turn meant the editor had little option but to redact from my letter criticisms of the CN being, er, careless(?), in establishing the genuineness of letters submitted.
Talk of serendipity! You couldn’t make it up. Priceless!
UPDATE 28.11.13: As might be expected, I was moved to reply to Andrew Currie’s letter (see above). My reply was not published in today’s edition. In fact, there were no letters at all on the subject in today’s Cambrian News, so I assume the editor has decided to end the debate. Even so, here is my response to Andrew Currie. Click to enlarge.