Who Is Behind ‘Wales Weekly’?

I first came across the name Wales Weekly on the Syniadau blog, in a post about it and Daily Wales. The latter I knew about because I’d had some involvement, but Wales Weekly was new to me, so I followed the Syniadau link without thinking much more about it. Then, today, I picked up a tweet from Wales Weekly and followed it to the piece it linked with.

What I found was headed Wales tourism target Chinese traveler. I was struck by the title’s appalling syntax and US spelling, my mood lightening only as I recalled Robert E. Lee’s favourite war horse. Then I got to thinking that this was clearly a story about overseas visitors to Wales, yet it was appearing just two days after a report showed that the number of overseas visitors to Wales had actually dropped by 23% in a decade. So was the Wales Weekly piece good news in response to bad news? Naturally, this got me wondering about who’s behind Wales Weekly.

What I found in the ‘About us’ section was, “Wales Weekly is a weekly paper focusing on international news that will influence Wales, and breaking stories in Wales that affect the world”. (“Paper”?) Impressive claims, and while many external events impact on Wales, I can’t honestly think of anything that’s happened in Wales for a hell of a long time, if ever, that had international repercussions . . . apart from the Swansea Laverbread Riots of 1893. And there was a gmail conWales Weeklytact address. The next step was to see what kind of articles are published about “international news” or, more intriguingly, the Welsh news that will “affect the world”.

One quick way of checking what a site contains is the Tag Cloud. For a new site like Wales Weekly this is relatively easy to check, and this is what it told me. ‘Wales’ scored 40 topics, next was ‘Cardiff’ with 19 (and ‘Cardiff University’ with 10), followed by  ‘Sport’ with 8. Swansea did not figure, nor did any city, town or region other than Newport (4). Clearly this is the ‘Wales’ of the Notional Assembly and the ‘Welsh’ media. Next I checked on the articles and who’d written them, thinking maybe I’d recognise a name or two.

The article on Chinese tourists that drew me to the site was written by Xi Zhang. Unknown to me and presumably Chinese. Elsewhere on the site I found articles with the attributions Bing Li, Shuyu Guo, Ying Tian, Lee Ping, Chenxi Li, Olia Hu, Sherry Ye, which, when added to the tag cloud ‘evidence’, suggests that this site is the work of Chinese students(?) based in Cardiff(?). But I also came across contributors names that are not obviously Chinese such as Carla Guerreiro Santos, Sarah Weckerling and Charles Young, so are these also students? Another name was Andres Bandas who can be found under the ‘Culture’ heading with regular ‘Eating With Andres’ articles. Now the only Andres Banda that I can find on Linkedin lives in London – is this him? And are reviews of Cardiff eateries the kind of “breaking stories in Wales that affect the world”. I think not.

In fairness, further rooting unearthed a ‘Blog’ section and a ‘from the editor’ piece by Chenxi Li. But if she is the editor, why isn’t this stated on the homepage, or in the ‘About us’ section? Anyway, the article argued for devolution of major energy projects to the ‘Welsh’ Government, which some would welcome, but not me. If power was handed over to those clowns down Cardiff docks we would all be employed in polishing solar panels wearing wind turbine headgear (plugged into the grid) in a country attracting every eco-crook on earth with the promise of money for old rope funding for imaginative and environmentally friendly sources of energy. But if nothing else, the article shows an interest in Wales . . . even if it does resonate of cut and paste. In addition, she writes that Wales exports 13% of the energy she generates. Surely the figure is much higher, I’ve heard some argue that we produce two or three times what we need?

Young
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I’m not sure what to say about Charles Young. He wonders whether Wales would follow if Scotland voted Yes to independence. Presumably to strengthen his argument that Wales would not he reminds us that Scotland was a big player in the Industrial Revolution . . . but Wales, to judge by the inference, was not! Mr. Young is so well read on the subject of Welsh attitudes to independence that he can even quote that profound and respected political thinker Griff Rhys Jones; and there are other gems encapsulated in the panel (but read the full article for yourself). I suspect that, the name notwithstanding, Mr Young’s first language may not be English.

If, as I believe, Wales Weekly is produced by a group of foreign, mainly Chinese, students in Cardiff, then this should be made clear in a sub-header on all pages, and of course in the ‘About us’ section. Without this being made clear a website containing dubious or incorrect information, produced by people with little knowledge of Wales, and imperfect English could, because of its title, be mistaken somewhere in the world for a semi-official publication, and cause damage to Wales. Being reasonably sure that this is not the intention of those involved I would hope to see the recommended changes made before the next issue appears.

I also hope that this ill-conceived and poorly-executed venture has not received support or funding from any official quarter, governmental or academic. From within Wales or from outside.

22 thoughts on “Who Is Behind ‘Wales Weekly’?

  1. Red Flag

    Carla Guerreiro Santos is possibly a Portuguese radio & TV journalist educated at Cardiff Uni.

    Then going with the Wales/Journo theme:-

    Sherry Ye, Chinese, TV journalist & Masters student at Lancaster doing Marketing, Advertising and Journalism.

    Ying Tian, Chinese, MSc Finance/Economics, Aberystwyth Uni

  2. Tarian

    The reasoning in the piece you highlight is beyond the furthest reaches of stupidity. We are part of an economic and political system that has made us the poorest country in western Europe so we should stick with it! No awareness of the successes of other small nations following independence, or the catastrophic effects of Westminster policies on Welsh communities and the economy for decades (centuries even!). The reality is we can no longer afford to be dependent on Westminster – or rather we can no longer afford to be exploited and economically strangled by these parasites.

    If I want to read uninformed anti-welsh drivel like that I will buy the Wasting Mule and tune into BBC Wales.

  3. Llew

    The figure for Welsh electricity surplus (that is exported to England) is 13% because it’s been declining. I went through all the stats before. It used to be higher.

    On the subject of Wales Weekly, can I offer an alternative view and say I welcome it. Foreign students have a role to play and it is positive to see them engage with Wales in their own way, whatever the articles say.

    I would contest the independence article but the guy’s opinion corresponds with the majority of Welsh opinion. We have a big nation-building task to do.

    1. Jac

      I not criticising their ‘engagement’ (if that’s what it is). I’m a) querying why it isn’t made clear who produces this blog and b) worrying that as those producing it lack in-depth knowledge of Wales they run the very real risk of misinforming readers outside of Wales, those at whom Wales Weekly is presumably aimed. There is also a touch of arrogance it setting oneself up as expert on a country other than one’s own and about which one knows very little. It’s a form of colonialism.

      Oh, yes, I still question that 13%. Where does that figure come from?

      1. Llew

        Welsh Energy Statistics, somewhere online. I looked through them before and you can see how much is generated and consumed.

          1. Llew

            I don’t think so Britnot? Stats here from DECC (reproduced by Welsh Govt) http://wales.gov.uk/docs/statistics/2013/130227-energy-generation-consumption-2011-en.pdf

            Shows we exported 13% in 2011. Exported alot more back in 2008, but been going down since then.

            Will probably go back up if more stations come online but I don’t see that we’ve ever produced twice what we use, not in modern times anyway.

            Presuming the stats are true, our consumption has also been going down.

  4. Llantrisant

    Your concerns are valid Jac, but I was pleased when I discovered the site on the syniadau blog. Any addition to our tiny crap media is welcome in my opinion.

  5. im afraid youre wrong to oppose the devolution of major energy projects to wales jac. while i appreciate your concerns about how such powers might be used – or misused – by the current welsh government it needs to be borne in mind that a different party – or parties – might be governing wales after the next welsh general election in 2016, a new welsh government which might take a different approach to the siting of wind turbines in wales. so the principle of devolving energy to wales remains a sound one even if youre worried how it might be exercised in practice. As lets face it the people of wales – or at least their representatives in the senedd – should get to decide if wales is going to be plastered in giant wind turbines or not, rather than whitehall based ministers and civil servants – as is currently the case.

    your findings on ‘weekly wales’ has thrown up some interesting information, tho personally im pleased to see that this group of people are taking an interest in wales and on times taking progressive positions, as evidenced by the support expressed for devolution of energy for wales. But any chance you could train your investigative skills on those self styled scrutineers of welsh democracy at the ‘wales eye’?

    apparently – and somewhat curiously – launched to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the ‘profumo scandal’, wales eye bizarrely claims descent from the satirical magazine and occasional scourge of the british establishment private eye. now unless the mumbles born satirist and eye editor ian hislop is a member of its editorial team its difficult to see what the connection there is between the wales eye and lord gnome’s esteemed journal. but whoever its authors are its clear that the wales eye is no friend of either plaid cymru or the welsh language, and seems lukewarm at best on welsh devolution. Definitely time for an eye on the ‘eye’ I think

  6. Red ²

    If the blog is funded by a government body or agency it would have to display details.
    If it’s getting funding from private sources, I feel confident that the Koch brothers, Barclay brothers, Murdoch, Desmond, Tea Party and others of similar right-of-sensible views have nothing to do with Wales Weekly.

  7. Thinking Out Loud

    Your spot on the ask the questions about Wales Weekly, with any luck it might fade away without much doing to much damage you never know, but it makes me wonder are there any welsh students studying at Cardiff Journalism school these days.

    Mind you Devolution and the Welsh Assembly is a tough sell to those interested in welsh politics, so is it really the students fault for not having an interest in reporting Wales when they don’t learn welsh history or politics in school and are only taught about the Assembly in general terms of it being founded in 1999, having 60 AM etc.

    The Wales Eye website is run by Phil Parry formerly of BBC Wales fame, he’s another Oliver Hydes type who dislikes spending on the Welsh language, but sees no irony in his latest musings on Wales Eye pointing out the damage to Wales and heavy criticism the Welsh Government is getting from educationists, welsh businesses groups and the French Government over budget cuts to foreign language teaching in Wales.

    1. Jac

      I know about Parry, and where he stands. As regards cutting the teaching of foreign languages, I’m surprised no one has yet blamed it on the Welsh language.

    2. Red ²

      Please advise what damage ‘Wales Weekly’ is doing.
      In my opinion, the website is okay and makes a pleasant change from all the sniping miserablists on the Welsh blogosphere.

      “… it makes me wonder are there any welsh students studying at Cardiff Journalism school these days.”
      That a ‘I’m not a racist but …’ type of comment.

      btw: It’s “too much” not “to much”.

      1. Jac

        Let me explain this simply. Dostoevsky didn’t set his masterpieces in Brazil; Delia Smith doesn’t write about snooker. Geddit? There is a golden rule in writing, fiction and non-fiction, that rule is know your subject. These Chinese kids are writing about Wales and they don’t know Wales. Which creates the risk of them misinforming people who think they do know Wales. That matters to me because I care about Wales; my guess would be that you’re Labour, which means you don’t.

        1. Red ²

          So, British and Welsh people shouldn’t write about the USA, France, Germany, China, Japan etc.?
          If you think that there are errors in ‘Wales Weekly’ posts, Jac, there are comment boxes on the website.
          Or,
          you can post objective criticism here rather than ‘oh they’re foreign therefore know nothing about Wales’ comments.

          1. Jac

            Of course they should comment, if they’re foreign correspondents, residents in theses countries, or have some academic knowledge. Otherwise you might as well go and ask some bloke down the pub, which is about the level of Wales Weekly – misleading impressions masquerading as well-informed opinion and all based on superficial knowledge.

            1. Red ²

              What is misleading? Compare the articles in Wales Weekly with the crap written about Wales in the Daily Mail.
              You have criticised an innocuous post about encouraging tourism from China by saying that overseas visitor numbers have decreased – What sort of objective response is that?

    1. Jac

      Like I said, a bunch of journalism students in Cardiff who know sod all about Wales. The current lot is leaving but another crew – knowing even less about Wales – will take over. Let them produce ‘Wales Weekly’, but let them make it absolutely who is behind it and what it is. That’s all I ask.

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