Thursday, 4 December 2008

Editors box clever to beat the online bullies

THE front page of the Knutsford Guardian on Wednesday 26th November carried the story of a grandfather who is dying of chronic lung disease, and whose wife had died just four weeks earlier, receiving threatening phone calls because he was a member of the Brititish National Party.

Michael Beardshaw was telephoned at 1.30 in the morning, but the retired civil engineer who joined the BNP four years ago after leaving the Tory Party, said he would not be intimidated. The story under the main banner front page headline, "Dying man on BNP's list", reported that doctors at East Cheshire Hospice had told Mr Beardshaw that he only had weeks left to live.

Now I do know of Michael as he stood as a candidate for us in a local council by-election in Crewe back in 2006 and polled very well indeed, shocking a complacent Labour Party in the town and providing an excellent report for Freedom. It is upsetting to read of his ill-health and even more so because of the courage he is showing now in the face of terrible adversity.

I was sent the front page of the Knutford Guardian otherwise I would have known nothing of the newspaper's coverage reporting Michael's fortitude to the people of that part of Cheshire. Now, as I have said before, I have some pretty good search engines that uncover any article posted on the Internet concerning the British National Party, and Michael's story doesn't appear to be there . . . and I think I know the reason why.

It was a human interest story that was free of any political comment. It reported things as they were. A member of the BNP who was dying of lung disease being hounded by anti-BNP campaigners. It is not the the sort of story our opponents would like to see and that was probably the reason why it wasn't posted on the Internet.

The anti-BNP brigade like to police the Internet and when they find stories that are not critical enough of the British National Party they bombard that newspaper with complaints and threats to ensure that any 'fair' reports concerning the BNP never appear again. I know this because many editors have told me of such campaigns and I have experienced one myself back in 2002.

Then, I ran an online newspaper called Burnley Bravepages which provided news of the BNP's election effort in Burnley the year we made our famous electoral breakthrough in that town. The site was hosted by Bravenet who monitored it very carefully and were very happy with the content, after fielding a number of complaints about it. As polling day approached and the site was becoming more and more popular this prompted a campaign to get it shut down. I spoke to the chief moderator at Bravenet and he said the campaign involved thousands of complaints and a barrage of texts from half-a-dozen individuals threatening all sorts of legal action if the site was not removed. He told me he had never seen anything like it before.

This is how the Burnley Bravepages reported the campaign back in April 2002

"Bookburners at work . . . again!
Burnley Bravepages was off line for five hours last night after our server received 8,000 complaints in the space of 72 hours and a threat of court action. As with the previous attempt to silence Burnley's "Voice of Freedom", this orchestrated effort stemmed from outside of Burnley and was a blatant effort to interfere with the democratic election process in the town.
A stoical Burnley Bravepages editor Martin Wingfield said he wasn't surprised by this latest effort to silence his online newspaper:
"The establishment are petrified of the British National Party getting its message uncensored into voters' homes.
"In the past we have had no instant communication to the public, but now web technology means we can explain situations to our supporters and interested parties as they happen.
"For the first time ever we are able to bypass the censorship of NUJ guidelines and get our viewpoint over without the 'permission' of a journalist or reporter who is opposed to our polices."

and then the following day

Blair's Bookburners Target Bravepages
The New Labour Dictatorship jackbooted into Burnley yesterday and tried to stifle political debate in the town. A lawyer, acting in the interests of Burnley Labour Party, spent the whole of Saturday morning attempting to get the Burnley Bravepages website banned.
The website's server was contacted on four separate occasions by Dr Ronald R Heywood BA(Hons)(Law) LLD PhD who demanded the site be closed down because it contravened the server's code of conduct.
Our server asked for examples where their code had been broken, but Dr Heywood was unable to provide one single example. Instead he claimed:
"The manner in which this group has acted, has caused riots in Northern Towns in England including Burnley."
This assertion has no basis, as the three independent inquiries into the disturbances in Burnley, Oldham and Bradford confirmed.

Unfortunately the campaign was too intense for Bravenet and Burnley Bravepages was taken off line 12 hours later.

The point I'm making here is that some editors are being selective about the BNP stories they post online. They don't want the hassle that they know will follow when a fair story about the British National Party appears, so they keep these just for the printed newspaper.

We certainly shouldn't be worried by this apparent censorship, in fact we should welcome it. Thanks to our brilliant website we can win any propaganda battle online. The audience we need to attract more of to our ranks is from the older generation, those who still aren't computer-savvy, and who rely on their local newspaper for their news.

While our opponents can monitor the Internet relatively easily, they have much more difficulty in policing the real world of the printed newspaper, and that is why there has been much more fair and truthful coverage of the British National Party appearing in local newspapers over the past 12 months, than has appeared online.


watling said...

I find it incredible that someone who is intelligent enough to successfully study and practise law - such as the Dr Ronald R Heywood BA(Hons)(Law) LLD PhD you refer to - can presume to impose censorship in the manner that he did. How amusing that he cannot do anything similar with regard to the BNP's web site.

I read somewhere that the NUJ has a commitment to never write anything that portrays the BNP in a positive light. Can you confirm that this is the case?

bert said...

@watling, you can download a copy of the guidlines of the NUJ here.