Tag: journalism

It’s a warehouse!

If it looks like a warehouse….You might think that those responsible for one of the country’s foremost libraries would take some pride in their use of the English language. Alas not. Why use just one word when three could be given some exercise? Oxford University’s Bodleian Library, in their news report and other pages, choose to describe their proposed warehouse in South Marston as a ‘book storage facility’.

As you read this, either at your living facility, or at an employment facility, using electronic communication facilities, just be glad that the record of the nation’s written language is in such safe digital manipulation facilities hands.

From Oasis to Igloo

Now a landmark sports facility to replace the Oasis Centre would be a great move, but I can’t help but feel a little sceptical about the proposal to build a giant indoor ski-slope there. Perhaps it’s in part because the reporter seems to have swallowed the promoter’s publicity material.

The slope would be kept at room temperature but would pass through refrigerated fake mountains to keep the snow from melting.

Fake mountains? This is a building similar in size to the DMJ Tower, not to Ben Nevis. The technology (electro-magnets in place of a ski-lift) also seems rather fanciful.

As the council have said, the proposal is at an early stage and, in the current economic climate, is likely to be a long time coming, if at all. But if done well, it could be a great asset for the town.

Non-story of the week

I’ve been waiting for some reliable reporting of this week’s full council meeting at which the budget and council tax for Swindon Borough Council for the coming year were set. With only incomplete reporting available — the only aspect of the discussion reported was on proposals to cut the library service — there’s little information to go on. There are hints that a few minor changes to some proposals were made. After all the fuss over some of the proposals, it’s surprising that the outcome has received so little attention.

So what has been getting the attention of the Adver’s reporters? Today it has been the Richard Jefferies Museum where the concern is… well, nothing really. The headline:

Richard Jefferies’ home may be sold by council

The view of the councillor:

We’ve got no intentions of selling that site. That’s a worst case scenario. That’s a very long way down the line and that’s not going to happen. Clearly this is very much a cultural activity that we’d like to protect.

And the view of the secretary of the society that runs the museum:

We know that Swindon Borough Council do not want to lose it – this story is a bit premature.

Now whilst I don’t believe all that politicians say, when the group at risk also say there’s not a problem yet, that seems fairly clear evidence that there’s no story here, just a journalist’s wild imagination.

It’s all in the timing

How clever of the Adver, on the day rain washed much of the remaining snow away, to publish a story exalting residents to clear the pavements in front of their homes. Reporting has never been so timely….


Oops!The BBC seem to have misread the adjudication from the Office of the Schools Adjudicator for school in Oakhurst. The Beeb’s interpretation suggests that the Al-Habib Islamic Education and Culture Centre’s proposal was successful.

The Muslim voluntary-aided school in the Oakhurst area of the town would give priority to Muslim families for half the places. Adjudicators said they were impressed by the Al-Habib educational centre’s plans for the school which would see Muslims integrated with other faiths.

Well, yes, the adjudicators did say they were impressed by the Al-Habib Centre proposals, but, as the Adver has correctly reported, they still opted for Swindon Borough Council’s community school proposal.

There is a clear and urgent need to open a new primary school to meet the needs of the new community of Oakhurst in North Swindon. The overwhelming majority of those living in the area support the proposal made by the Council for a Community Primary School. Whilst the proposal made by the Al-Habib Centre has a number of positive features, it is less strong than the proposal made by the Council in the key areas of school standards, impact on travel and community cohesion and the support shown by parents and others. We therefore conclude that the new school should be a Community School established and operated by Swindon Borough Council.

It’s nice to see our national public broadcaster checking their facts so carefully.

Update, Sunday 8 February I see the Beeb corrected themselves at 10:12 this morning.

Uproar or whisper?

As already noted by Swindon Centric, the Adver has yet again managed a new low in its reporting. You’d think that if you’re going to attack other journalists for over-the-top reporting, you’d take a balanced approach with a calm headline. No, that’s not the way things seem to work at the Adver. Their first attempt was relatively staid.

BBC report labels Swindon as ‘town going nowhere fast’

Not happy with that, an hour later exactly the same story was re-published on their website, now headlined in full hysteria mode.

BBC jibe at town causes uproar

Uproar? Really? They quote three local politicians, all of whom seem quite calm. If Mr Wallin thinks that an MP saying ‘I thought overall the piece reflected quite well what is going on in Swindon.’ indicates uproar, he’s clearly led a rather sheltered life.

And it’s not as though Mr Easton’s BBC report was the only one to speak of Swindon in that way this weekend. His ‘A town going nowhere fast’ mirrored Ms Buckley’s ‘Swindon risks getting caught on the road to nowherein the Times the day before.

As in much of Britain, there are many things going nowhere fast in Swindon at the moment… and journalism in the Adver is definitely amongst them.

Now you see the police… now you don’t

Now you see them… now you don’t!The headline on the Adver’s website claims the police were giving safety advice to shoppers… the story says the police weren’t there at all.

The ability to proof-read is a very undervalued skill….

(To see the text in the screenshot clearly, click on the image.)

It’s pants!

I don’t wish to denigrate the efforts of the Swindon Real Nappy Network. (I’ll quite happily denigrate the Adver’s ability to get a web address right though: swindonrealnappynetwork.org.uk, as published in the Adver, won’t get you very far.) I’m old enough to have been in nappies before disposable nappies were commonplace, and my parents were sufficiently thrifty that once my sibling and I were beyond the nappy-wearing phase they cut them up and re-used them as face flannels. So I have nothing against their objectives. I’m just rather puzzled by the logic — if you can call it that — behind their support for the proposals from Swindon Borough Council and Wiltshire Wildlife Trust for a publicly funded nappy laundry service.

Disposable nappies are filled with a chemical gel that draws the moisture in to it. But it also draws all the good moisture away. At a time when parents are so keen on organic food for their children it seems madness to be putting chemicals so close to a very sensitive area.

Good moisture? Do they think there’s good water and evil water? And if they’re so concerned about the use of chemicals, does that mean that this laundry service will not use any chemicals? No detergents, no disinfectants, just nappies returned after a thorough rinse in pure water? I suspect not.

How to kick a manufacturer when they’re down

Car manufacturers parking-up vast numbers of new vehicles is nothing new. In previous economic downturns, many disused airfields have been filled with unsold cars. So, natually, the Adver’s reporting of Honda’s planning application to store cars at Wroughton Airfield, is a piece of calm writing about current economic problems over-the-top sensationalism.

HONDA is planning to dump nearly 7,000 cars in an area of outstanding natural beauty.

The cars will be guarded round the clock and wrapped in plastic: doesn’t seem much like dumping to me. Yes the airfield is within the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), but it hardly fits that description itself. Filling the runways with 6,600 cars will only be noticeable to those flying overhead. (The runways aren’t visible from Barbury Castle, though the hangars are.) Fifteen car transporter round-trips each day will be more apparent (about one every 24 minutes), but it’s not as though they’ll be travelling along quiet country lanes.

And in one of those bizarre outcomes that only planning regulations can produce, the portacabin where a security guard will sit is to be painted white or grey ‘to reduce visibility within the AONB’. Clearly, on a runway filled with cars — also to be covered in grey plastic — and surrounded by old hangars, the colour of one small portacabin is vital to keep the place pretty.

Empty housing contradictions

Having seen all the fuss in the local paper about the number of empty houses in Swindon, I had a look at the enforcement action a charity was suggesting that the council should use to get the houses occupied. The first thing I noticed was that the charity, the Empty Homes Agency, seems rather closely linked to government. I also see that despite claiming in the pages of the Adver that compulsory purchase orders and Empty Dwelling Management Orders should be used by the council in Swindon to reduce the number of empty houses, its own CEO on his blog admits they’d have little impact. In fact, it’s one of several stories on the blog suggesting that the powers it promotes aren’t much use… not least because councils seem to be amongst the worst offenders when it comes to leaving houses empty.