On Friday, 30th July 2010, six days after publishing an alarmist, flawed and shoddy scare story about Lichfield Road in Brownhills being ‘gun-plagued’, subsequently proven utterly wrong by West Midlands Police, the Walsall edition of the Express & Star contained this remarkable piece of journalistic humbug.
Note that it doesn’t appear on line, whereas the original, incorrect and misleading story still does, so obviously, getting the truth out as widely as possible doesn’t appear to have a high importance.
There are a number of amusing factors in this article – which is clearly compiled from the same email I published here on Thursday from Superintendent Keith Fraser, who presumably also sent it to the paper as well as the neighbourhood watch groups. The author leaves out any reference to alarmist reporting or indeed, to the fact that gun crime in the area is actually very low, which clearly doesn’t fit with the editorial agenda which would apparently have its’ readers believe were living in Basra.
The Express & Star also fails to point out that it was their reporter who branded Lichfield Road as being the worst for gun crime, not the figures. This was not some freak event of statistical serendipity played by those japing numerical gods, but the erroneous work of a reporter who utterly failed to understand the data they were using, and instead of checking their patently absurd and unjustifiable claim, ran with it as fact. One wonders if the editor was in the toilet at the time, too. Such a lack of local knowledge is alarming.
Also absent is any kind of apology or attempt to rectify the distress and concern that has been caused to residents of what is an unglamorous but generally peaceful town. Whilst any attempt to put straight such ludicrous and needless scaremongering is welcome, it will long be remembered how the local paper branded Brownhills, and then attempted to rectify the bad impression it caused in such a mealy-mouthed, low-key manner.
I, and I suspect others in the community, expected better from the Express & Star. It’s standing now has been diminished, and it will be hard to take anything it publishes at face value again. I just hope the increase in sales on a dull Saturday was worth it.