Western Mail: Terminal Decline?

We all like to have a go at the Wasting Mule; we ridicule its falling circulation, its Cardiff-centricity, its anti-Welsh position on most issues, but in addition to these and other conscious faults the problems may also be due to the simple and fundamental fact that it’s a poorly produced newspaper. This thought was brought home to me with a few pieces in today’s issue.

I’ll gloss over the fact that Huw Lewis, the Welsh Management’s ‘Housing Minister’, was given the front page and two inside pages for blatant party political propaganda. Or that columnist Caroline Hitt tried to get serious with a whole page of politics . . . well, not really, more, sort of, about politicians. (Though nothing Welsh, of course). Instead I’ll focus on two items that bear out what a bloody awful paper the Mule has become.

  • First piece of evidence for the prosecution is the story on page 14, where one Graham Henry, billed as the ‘Senedd Correspondent’, wondered whether the decline in water-retaining upland peat bogs might not have contributed to the recent flooding. Amazingly, this half-page piece managed to deal with the decline in upland peat bogs – even mentioning the villages north of Aberystwyth so badly affected by flooding last year – without touching on wind turbines, each of which needs a concrete base the size of a football pitch, plus access roads to each turbine, often at the expense of peat bog. Which makes pretending to deal with upland peat bog loss and the resultant flooding, yet without mentioning wind turbines, a bit like discussing the Titanic without mentioning the iceberg!
  • Turning to the sports pages, our old friend Paul Abbandonato came up trumps again. This time in a curious, rambling piece about Real Madrid fans making Swans’ boss Michael Laudrup their third favourite to replace manager Jose Mourinho, when ‘The Special One’ leaves the Bernabeu in the summer. After commending the Dane on the job he’s doing at the Liberty Stadium Abbo went in with studs showing and, “Every week you sense the Swans are going to blow up . . .”. Er, no, I don’t. Nor do thousands of other Swans fans; a host being boosted weekly by neutrals who think the Swans are a fairly good side. As a Cardiff fan, possibly jealous of the Swans’ success, you may be hoping the Swans ‘blow up’, but that’s entirely different. Can’t the Mule find a Swans’ fan, or a neutral, to write about the club, rather than this man who obviously finds it difficult to be positive or fair about the biggest rival to the club he supports? (Unfortunately the “blow up” part of the article does not appear in the online version.)

After all that, the obvious question – and I hear it rise from a thousand devices! – ‘Why buy the bloody rag, then?’ Good question. I regularly ask it of myself. But as I have explained before, if I want my daily fix of Welsh football and rugby, with a dose of Welsh news – however prejudiced and badly written – then there is no alternative. I suspect that most Mule readers are like me: patriotically Welsh, interested in sport, therefore a captive audience. Which might make the Mule unique, in being a ‘paper that knowingly takes a different political line to the one shared by most of its readers.

Which in turn should be a recipe for a publication’s demise. But the Wasting Mule gets away with antagonising its diminishing readership because of the generous payments received from serving as the Welsh Mangement’s in-house publication, not just for ‘news’ but also for public notices and advertisements. Though with the Mule’s falling circulation and ageing readership, how much longer can Carwyn’s gang justify this generosity?

10 thoughts on “Western Mail: Terminal Decline?

  1. Luke

    Wow, what reactionary nonsense. After personally smearing a journalist you then claim a woman born and schooled in Wales has “no knowledge of our country”. She’s Welsh ffs! Right-wing nationalism is utterly dire.

    1. Jac

      To what ‘smear’ do you refer? And where do I say, as you quote, “no knowledge of our country”.

      1. Very good read Gee Fawr, I particularly liked the following…

        “It is just like leaves withering on the tree – there is no purpose in expending energy on restoring the leaves if the tree is being poisoned through its roots – in the end, it will all die, and the leaves will disappear anyway. ”

        I shall share it as best I can

        1. Diolch yn fawr “Cymraeg nid Prydeinig”!
          I’m glad you enjoyed it. The BIG hurdle is getting the whole national curriculum changed root & branch in Wales. If we could do that we would reboot our nation within one generation. We are being strangled by ignorance.

  2. whoshe

    Reactionary nonsense eh? Anyone remember the old Peter Simple column in the Telegraph? A whole universe of reactionary nonsense right there.

    Mind you I also remember that Simple was virtually the only columnist in London who had the slightest sympathy for Cymdeithas yr Iaith in their struggle for the most basic rights for Welsh speakers. The right-on, left-wing types couldn’t give a toss. Just as they don’t give a toss for free speech nowadays.

    I’m obviously missing something about Ms Taj though.

    1. Jac

      In the original version of today’s post, and in my haste to make a valid point about Englandandwales bodies transferring English staff into Wales, I made the erroneous suggestion that Ms Taj, a newly-appointed union bigwig, belonged to this group. She is in fact Welsh by birth and upbringing. This explains the apology.

      Backroom staff at this blog are now clearing their desks (amid a welter of tears) and I am grovelliing to my proprietors. This may even necessitate a trip to the C.I.

      The complainant who pointed out my error also suggested that I had “smeared” a journalist, presumably Martin Shipton. Perhaps ‘Luke’ – a Plaidista, I believe – may think an apology is also due to Shipton. Keep thinking, son; and dreaming . . . cos that’s as far as you’re gonna get on this one.

      Seeing as the complainant may be a member of Plaid Gwynt, I do hope it wasn’t the unfavourable mention of wind turbines in the same post that provoked him into attacking old Jac.

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