Sharp image


From the Walsall Express & Star, Monday 20th May 2013.

After a week of extolling readers to understand the value of local press and quality journalism, yesterday the Express & Star’s Walsall edition proved the value of good local journalism, as exhibited by dedicated, conscientious reporters.

The front page of the edition delivered in Walsall carried a small teaser insert, top right, describing the plan from the Labour group on Walsall to attempt to gain control of the authority at full council on 22nd May.

Although Labour taking control isn’t likely, it’s an important local story and deserves coverage. This is a classic example of a story that may slip below the radar but for an active local press, and I believe that a duty exists to bring this stuff to the public, and explain it to people who may not be politically fully engaged. In this respect, the Express & Star was doing its job.

Sadly, they blew it. The image featured in the article (and also in an online version, subsequently deleted) of the smiling, besuited man is not the leader of Walsall Labour. He’s actually another Tim Oliver, a Business Services Manager from AB Sustain, a food and agriculture supply chain analysis and management company.

This particular Tim Oliver – who’s apparently based in the West Country – clearly came to the attention of the writer via Google image search. If one types ‘Tim Oliver’ into the search engine, one of the images that pops up is this one from a press release from Harper Adams University:

Untitled 4

Spot the difference – from the Harper Adams University website. Click to visit it.

Our highly valued and conscientious local paper doesn’t, apparently, know what the Labour group leader of the town it serves looks like, or possess a picture of him. When required, a beleaguered hack does a Google image search, grabs the first likely looking image, and crops it down to suit. This then, presumably, passes editorial control. Oddly, this isn’t the first time this has happened.

The original online article was deleted, and recompiled after extensive ribbing on Twitter, this time with the correct man featured. But it does leave an odd taste in the mouth. The reporters on the paper clearly don’t recognise our politicians – whilst I’ve ruminated on the refractive properties of the Labour Group previously, this is pretty piss poor, and makes you wonder what else is routinely fudged by hurried hacks with little local knowledge.

It seems that when it comes to internet images, there’s also an interesting approach to property rights and permission being exhibited here. Janine Heath, Video Journalist at Harper Adams, tweeted the following in response:

This puts the good old Express and Star on the same footing with magpie Facebook groups who don’t know their local patch, either. Nobody from the paper publicly acknowledged the error.

Remind me again about the integrity of local newspaper journalism?

This entry was posted in Bad Science, Events, Express & Star, Fun stuff to see and do, Interesting photos, It makes me mad!, Just plain daft, Local Blogs, Local media, Local politics, News, Shared media, Social Media, Spotted whilst browsing the web, Walsall community, Walsall Council and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Sharp image

  1. Pedro says:

    A Front Page apology needed!

  2. Peter says:

    Evening All…….. Lazy, uninterested, lacking knowledge and skills, couldn’t care less attitude, lack of pride, sadly this example signals a problem from top to bottom. If the guys and girls on the ground display such apathy to doing things right then it probably goes throughout. What is wrong with just doing things properly? I can hear the excuses now….. too little time, editorial pressure bla bla bla, sorry but there are no excuses for shoddiness.
    Mind how you go


  3. gordon nuttall says:

    Bob, your comments about the E & S reporting are quite correct and even an understatement. On May 8th or 9th, the distinguished E & S printed a story on the two new local burial sites. First, Springhill, where another and now permanent Stop Notice has been instituted due to the developers doing what they shouldn’t have and it was grossly under-reported. Second, regarding developments on the ‘ New Walsall Burial Site ‘ as it is now called on the Burntwood by-pass by the BNRR roundabout. The developer claims that they have had 3 – 4 burials every week since the site opened in November 2012. This is the third time that this exaggerated claim has been made and the third time that it has been reported by the E & S. This is complete mis-information to the point of downright lies but in spite of being told that this claim is untrue, on none of the occasions have the E & S bothered to check that the facts that they have been given have validity. The only fact in this last E & S report that was true was that the burial site had opened in November, 2012. As of the date of this last report, absolutely no burials had been carried out at all and a simple drive past and look would have confirmed this fact. E & S reporting is of a very low level. This commercial venture of the burial site by a private developer would seem to be falling very flat but it is being talked up and helped by bad reporting on the part of the E & S. A statement by a friend to me was that a newspaper of proper intellect would never have made such basic mistakes in flawed and bad reporting. Another case, just like yours, of rubbish and lazy research.

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