Amid NUJ complaints, Echo still promotes BNP

echo again

echo again 2

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has complained to Newsquest about their decision to accept money from the far-right British National Party in exchange for adverts on their newspaper websites.

An article for the Guardian (printed Tuesday 19 May 2009 17.14 BST) noted that “In recent days, a number of Newsquest websites, including the Bromsgrove Advertiser, the Redditch Advertiser and Stourbridge News, have carried banner and video adverts from the far-right political party. The ads have since been removed from the newspaper sites.”

Lucky them, the advert on the Basildon Echo website (above) remains. It seems Martin McNeill missed his opportunity to remove it.

Newsquest and the BNP adverts

Since writing about the adverts which have appeared on the Basildon Echo website it has been documented about by blogging superhero Sunny Hundal here. It seems that quite a number of newspapers owned by Newsquest (the company that owns the Echo) have had similar adverts printed.

Jon Slattery has copied up a reply by Newsquest editorial director, Martin McNeill, to a complaint about The Echo in Essex carrying online BNP ads:
“Thanks for your email regarding BNP advertising. We are accepting paid-for advertising from any political parties or candidates standing in the current elections. I appreciate how strongly many people feel about the BNP, but it would be undemocratic and against the principle of free speech to refuse to accept any party’s advertising provided it falls within our guidelines.

“The Echo has consistently opposed the BNP in our Comment column and will continue to do so. As editor, I have twice been taken to court, unsuccessfully, by a BNP activist who did not like my editorial stance. I also regularly receive BNP hate mail. Despite this, I feel I must defend the right of all parties to take out paid-for advertising in support of their election candidates.

Best wishes, Martin McNeill Editorial Director Newsquest Essex.”

For some this is a question of freedom of speech, but it seems more logistical than this. Just look at this from Lancaster Unity;

“Newspapers should serve the whole community, not the extreme racist and right wing minority BNP. These adverts will cause offense to the diverse majority in any community. Who can trust their local newspaper to impartially bring them news, when they are so closely identified with an extremist political party?”

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