Friday, 9 November 2007


The news in today’s Gazette about ballot fraud is a very serious issue, but it also gives rise to another area of concern, that of the nature of on line political and cultural diaries such as mine, and the perhaps more pertinently, Curly’s Corner Shop (Curly15.WordPress.Com).

Both Curly and I cover national and regional political issues, we also comment on moral problems, and whilst I will give great space to satirical issues, Curly conversely looks at local football concerns. Such is the diverse nature of what we try to say. In some ways we are much akin to newspapers, we even both have our own individual political “slant” or as the broad sheets would call it, “editorial intentions”. However, where we both differ greatly from the likes of the daily’s is that we don’t trawl the streets on a regular basis to get the stories etc. Instead we rely on two main sources. Firstly the presentation of a national or regional story already in the public domain. This may centre on a re interpretation of an existing article, or indeed be in complete agreement with the original sentiment. Bearing in mind this information has already passed journalistic scrutiny, it is a relatively unproblematic source. The second main issue centres on our ability to act as a “clearing house” for information that is specifically put to us either verbally, via private email or indeed on occasions, directly through reader’s comments and posts. Almost to an issue, these relate to regional concerns, particularly politics. However, this information on its first airing has not been vetted and sometimes due to its contentious nature, cannot be actually checked out. This is where the dilemma lies, what to with such information. Three choices exist. One, check it out and if correct, post it. Two, pass it to the press and let them look at it. Three, take a risk and run with it.

Directly applied to these criteria, the BRENDA post is an enigma.

Let’s look at this ways. Firstly, either Curly thought it was true so he ran with it, perhaps with the intention of passing it on to the press once he had aired it. Secondly, he couldn’t substantiate it but decided to leave it posted and watch the fall out. Thirdly, he knew that this was a historical unfounded allegation but thought he would let it sit there and watch the ripples. For a man involved in local politics since the late 1980’s, I find it hard to believe he didn’t comprehend the significance of the statement. Either way, it sat as a comment for 7 days, backed up by other posts asking for an explanation (including mine, which asked for “BRENDA” to be more specific). Every reader knew it was there, and those involved awaited with eager interest a further clarifying post from BRENDA. However, it never materialised, and for me, this is central to what really went on. Curly’s site was used as a vehicle to deliberately try and put this in the public domain, with the additional element of getting the host into trouble as well. Unfortunately, for 7 days it worked, with the Corner Shop acting as the Cuckoo’s nest.

What were the motives? Revenge? Humiliation? Intimidation? Who knows? Curly claims to have friendly relationships with many politicians in this town. If I were him, I would look long and hard at these people, and decide very carefully who he allows to lay eggs in his nest. Whether that means comment moderation, no posting under anonymous names or member only registrations is up to him; it’s his site.

We must also ask ourselves who is at the forefront of the campaign to block the Gypsies green Stadium proposal. Both Geraldine and Karen have taken very public but very dignified stances against any sale of the land. Curly, however, is in favour of the sell off.

Either way there is an important lesson for us all here. We cannot act as surrogates and then cry foul; we either allow comment and be dammed, or we moderate and preserve our integrity as portrayers of balanced and informed opinion, not peddlers of snooker hall and public bar innuendo. The fountain will always spew forth tittle tattle, and we need to have the ability to spot it!

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