Letter: Hofton’s personal attack on children raises father’s anger

CP editor denies accusation that he told father of quads who appeared in paper to ‘get a life’, after publication of Charlotte Hofton’s article.

The CP article:

OnTheWight received a phone call last Friday from the father of Sandown quads who, following them all being accepted to university, appeared on the front page on the Isle of Wight County Press on 16th August 2013.

Steve Chard shared his frustration with OnTheWight about an article written by Charlotte Hofton in this week’s paper, that he felt was insulting and mocking towards his offspring.

A flurry of objection to Ms Hofton’s attempt at humour at the expense of four hard-working young people swiftly made its way onto Twitter.

This morning Mr Chard has sent this letter below to share with readers. We also contacted CP editor, Alan Marriott, to ask for his response to the claims. You can see his comments beneath Mr Chard’s letter. Ed


I’m sending this following our telephone conversation regarding the article by Charlotte Hofton, which, in my opinion, is poking fun at my children.

I was a very proud father of the quads pictured on the front page of the County Press two weeks ago, celebrating their A-level results.

Staged by CP photographer
The picture was staged and taken by Robin Crossley a photographer from the County Press to give the readers a feel good factor and sell a few more papers (very necessary given the falling circulation).

One week later the feeling in the household goes from ecstatic to distress on reading the rant from Charlotte in her column “The view from here”.

Personal attack on my children
In my opinion a personal attack on each person highlighted by the cheap shot, such as “Samantha and Michael, well one cannot understand how they even got to university with such a lack of competitive spirit”.

Does she know them? Does she know anyone who does?

If we go by newspaper pictures to form opinions of their academic achievement then I wonder how Charlotte Hofton is able to read or write.

Told to “get a life” by CP editor
After phoning to complain to the County Press the editor called back and told me that I had no sense of humour and ought to get a life.

I replied that we had been contacted by several people complaining about the article to which he replied that “you’re a liar”.

A sad case of jealousy
I think that even as a parent of the four, plus a son about to start his last year at university, that I know how to motivate people far more than this hack writer who is suffering from a sad case of jealousy.

The County Press should learn that encouragement in the success of our youth on the island is more important than cheap pathetic points scoring.

Yours sincerely,
Steve Chard


County Press editor denies accusations
OnTheWight got in touch with editor of the CP, Alan Marriott outlining the accusation made in Mr Chard’s letter.

Mr Marriott denies telling Mr Chard to ‘get a life’ or that he called him a liar. He told OnTheWight,

“Charlotte’s column was a light-hearted piece poking fun at this newspaper’s use of a tried and trusted school exams picture (and yes I know we should try harder to be original!).

“She did have a little poke at the Chard quads for not being enthusiastic in their leaping but I felt her comment that ‘one cannot understand how they even got to university with such a lack of competitive spirit’ to be so obviously tongue in cheek that nobody could have taken offence. Obviously I was wrong.

“Charlotte’s is a Marmite column (love it or loathe it) but she spreads her opinions with a broad brush, and on more than one occasion I have been on the end of her jibes myself. As for Mr Chard’s claims about our conversation, I did not call him a liar, not did I tell him to ‘get a life’.

“However, our conversation did become a little heated and he may wish to reflect on some of the things he said during it.

“I am not prepared to make public what I considered a private chat.”


Apologies previously
In February last year (2012), Charlotte’s ‘Marmite’ column, this time targeted at an Isle of Wight councillor, Cllr Ian Stephens, was seen as sufficiently offensive that it led to a “Sincere and Unequivocal Apology” from the editor of the paper – quite a turn around.

Rumours of legal action might have encouraged that climb down.
–Ed

The full text of Charlotte Hofton’s article can be found on the Isle of Wight County Press Website

Tuesday, 27th August, 2013 7:15pm

By

ShortURL: http://wig.ht/2b7J

Filed under: Education, Letter to the Editor, Online, Print, Sandown

Print Friendly

.



68 Comments

  1. tryme's comment is rated +4 Vote +1 Vote -1

    27.Aug.2013 7:44pm

    I certainly didn’t think the article cast any aspersions at all on the siblings. I’m really surprised the father genuinely thought Charlotte was making serious accusations about lack of competitive spirit etc. (“Does she know them?..”)

    I thought it was obviously benign humour directed against the photographic cliche we see each year when results come out. In fact, I felt she meant ‘Good for them, not throwing themselves into that, just because they were so obviously told to do it. It shows good sense’.

    Suggesting Charlotte’s jealous sounds rather bitter. I don’t think the father’s done his children a favour here.

    Mind you, teenagers can be understandably sensitive,(though not least about their father’s remarks, perhaps), and if we’d heard from them instead of him I might be more sympathetic.

    Anyway, many congratulations to them! They look great young people.

    Reply
    • Craigy's comment is rated +8 Vote +1 Vote -1

      27.Aug.2013 10:02pm

      If Charlotte Hofton was genuinely only having a pop at the photographic cliche, there would have been no need for her to be so rude about the pupils in the photo. Ridicule the photographer, not those doing as they were instructed.

      Reply
      • tryme's comment is rated -4 Vote +1 Vote -1

        27.Aug.2013 10:34pm

        Not at all rude imo, she was just being comedically sarcastic that the photographic cliche wasn’t being stereotypically carried out. As I said, to me this indicated she thought all the better of the siblings for it.

        Reply
      • Robert Jones's comment is rated -1 Vote +1 Vote -1

        29.Aug.2013 10:22pm

        She wasn’t rude – just how sensitive and wilting are we supposed to think teenagers are?

        Reply
    • Anne's comment is rated +5 Vote +1 Vote -1

      4.Sep.2013 6:11pm

      In your comment you stated “I don’t think the father’s done his children a favour here”, I should think that they are glad that their father is being supportive and caring for his children, not the opposite.

      In the article Charlotte Hofton said “Our Island A-level jumpers, as represented by the Chard quads, have performed very badly indeed.”, doesn’t sound like she’s blaming the photographer at all. And why would the County Press release an article that’s making fun out of their own front page and their own employees? She is clearly aiming the article towards the Chard quads, not the photographer and definitely doesn’t sound she was meaning ‘Good for them’.

      “Next to him is Samantha. Hopeless…very boring, static display”, “one cannot understand how they even got to university with such a lack of competitive spirit”. I see these comments from Hofton very offensive and if this was said about one of your children or someone you knew, I bet this comment would be completely different.

      Reply
  2. Ed Mew's comment is rated +28 Vote +1 Vote -1

    27.Aug.2013 7:56pm

    I would not waste my time reading her article. Some time back she had a go at Island taxi drivers, her article was full of inaccuracies and this led me to write a letter of complaint to the CP. As for this family all I can say is “Well done” and good luck for the future. Such a shame people like Hoften are always putting the island and it’s people down instead of praising them.

    Reply
  3. IslandTog's comment is rated +12 Vote +1 Vote -1

    27.Aug.2013 8:12pm

    Doesn’t surprise me… I have heard of other things Mr Marriott has said this week which are quite insulting!

    IWCP seems to be a failing paper and like Mr Chard says, a falling circulation.

    Reply
  4. Bystander's comment is rated -1 Vote +1 Vote -1

    27.Aug.2013 8:28pm

    “If we go by newspaper pictures to form opinions of their academic achievement then I wonder how Charlotte Hofton is able to read or write.”

    That is a far more personal comment than the mild humorous remark I made on the Simon Hayes thread which was removed because personal comments are not acceptable on OTW.

    Reply
  5. steephilljack's comment is rated +15 Vote +1 Vote -1

    27.Aug.2013 8:34pm

    She always uses cheap humour about people to poke fun. Her reports on the County Council are the same. She needs to get a proper job and do some proper writing, but maybe she has no ideas. She’s an Old F-rt and should be binned IMO.

    Reply
    • tryme's comment not rated yet. Add your vote Vote +1 Vote -1

      29.Aug.2013 9:47pm

      Your last sentence is personally insulting of Charlotte Hofton, shj, (as it would be of anyone), and is also set in dehumanising terms. She may have a thick skin, but it’s not nice to read it. I wonder if the same words would be directed at a male columnist, or if a bit more respect would be shown, despite your disagreeing with the original article.

      Reply
  6. Island Monkey's comment is rated +11 Vote +1 Vote -1

    27.Aug.2013 9:19pm

    There seems to have been a serious sense of humour failure here.

    My understanding of La Hofton’s article, was that she was mocking the tired old leaping in the air picture format, used by all newspapers at GCSE/A level results time. If their father didn’t get that, then he is being a little (chose your own word here) I do not want to cause offence.

    Reply
  7. tryme's comment is rated +2 Vote +1 Vote -1

    27.Aug.2013 9:19pm

    I imagine the ‘personal attack’ in the headline might best be in inverted commas to denote a quote from the father? Afterall, the topic is asking for comments on how the matter is viewed, so indicating it was indeed a personal attack, rather preempts.

    Reply
  8. Mrs Bookworm's comment is rated +10 Vote +1 Vote -1

    27.Aug.2013 9:55pm

    ‘one cannot understand how they got into university with such a lack of competitive spirit’ sense of humour failure I think not – they got into university with applied continuous hard work – perhaps something certain ‘journalists’ cannot relate to? Yes I can see she was trying to have a go at the hackneyed jumping in the air pics but this was poorly written and has come across to the family in question as a personal attack. She should apologise to the Chards at once.

    Reply
  9. woodworker's comment is rated +16 Vote +1 Vote -1

    27.Aug.2013 10:34pm

    isnt it about time Hofton resigned instead of hiding behind offensive ‘humour’?
    She knew this might be taken the wrong way. How could she not? She was clearly not having a pop at the photograph, and if she thought that what she wrote was doing that then she is incompetent. As for the editor – It doesnt matter what he thinks – if a reader finds something offensive, he should apologise and seek to sort it out. If this had been said about my kids, I would be contemplating legal action.

    As for Bystanders moaning about being moderated – this is not the first time, nor I hope the last, that OTW has published what has been said by other people. There is a huge difference between that and saying something personal yourself – which is what you did. Had OTW published Hoftons article themselves, then you have a fair point. They didnt – they wrote an article about the offensive Ms Hofton, her rude and unapologetic editor, and made it clear that this was a letter from a reader.

    Reply
    • tryme's comment is rated -1 Vote +1 Vote -1

      27.Aug.2013 10:52pm

      Care to define what the ‘huge difference’ is, woodworker? If a person can say the same phrase either side of the letter / poster line, and it be ok one side and not the other…

      In both cases the person is “saying something personal” themselves. So I don’t get your drift.

      Reply
      • woodworker's comment is rated +11 Vote +1 Vote -1

        27.Aug.2013 11:02pm

        Bystander wrote a personal comment – apparently. He was moderated for it.

        OTW published a personal comment made by someone else. They did not make the comment themselves, and made it clear that the comment was Mr Chards opinion.

        Personally, I think Mr Chard was quite restrained in what he said. If I was in his position I would be livid with Hofton, and even more livid with her editor, and that would only increase after the editor refused to apologise.

        Reply
        • tryme's comment is rated +1 Vote +1 Vote -1

          28.Aug.2013 6:52am

          I still don’t get your interpretation of the difference, woodworker, because it’s also clear from a poster that a personal comment is their own opinion.(I didn’t see Bystander’s mod/com either, so am talking in principle only).

          In this case I am presuming that OTW did not feel the comments in the letter were comparable with comments they have moderated, or they would have sought changes in the letter.

          I myself think that Mr Marriot has given a ‘non-apology’ because there’s no need for one. (Surely not “the very worst example” you have seen!) I get the impression he may even be speaking diplomatically by not detailing the conversation between himself and the father.

          You seem to gravitate very quickly to an intense desire for retribution, woodworker.

          Reply
          • Bystander's comment is rated +1 Vote +1 Vote -1

            28.Aug.2013 7:24am

            I said someone looked like they were having a bad hair day, the comment in the letter says that the way Charlotte Hofton looks makes him wonder if she is able to read or write.

          • woodworker's comment is rated +1 Vote +1 Vote -1

            28.Aug.2013 4:30pm

            If someone is offended by an article, as Mr Chard clearly was, then an apology is due. What is NOT due is for the editor to allow a heated conversation to develop. The editor should have hung up if Mr Chard was talking agressively, and refused to discuss the matter until he had calmed down. Instead, he apparently accused the man of lying and told him to get a life.

            OTW can publish what they like, which in this case included a personal comment written by someone else. They can also moderate anything they think breaks the terms of commenting on here – which they did. If Bystander wishes to challenge that, perhaps he should contact Simon or Sally directly instead of moaning about it and repeating the moderated comment on an unrelated story. Or maybe write his own letter about it – OTW might even publish it.

          • tryme's comment is rated +1 Vote +1 Vote -1

            28.Aug.2013 8:13pm

            No woodworker, someone who is offended is not automatically due an apology. If you offended me, I’d be mightily surprised to receive an apology from you, regardless of my grounds. (You don’t seem to be the most likely-to-be-contrite person I have ever come across). You are more probably going to explain how I’d got hold of the wrong end of the stick. You might say you were sorry I felt upset, but that’s different.

            I think it’s over-confident of you to speak knowingly of the phone conversation of the CP editor with the father, saying the responsibility for it apparently becoming heated lay with the editor. You are so cut and dried about it, woodworker, as though everything must run like clockwork in your own life! No testing and all too human interactions there, then. I’m not sure the father’s mood would have been any more improved by having the phone put down on him, as you indicate was an option.

            It’s taken as read that Simon and Sally run OTW as they think fit, we all know that. Posters are still free to take issue or to make suggestions, of course.

          • woodworker's comment not rated yet. Add your vote Vote +1 Vote -1

            28.Aug.2013 9:45pm

            Firstly – I didnt say someone who is offended is automatically due an apology. I said if someone is offended then an apology is due – at the very least a “sorry if we have unintentionally offended you”. This is important for a media outlet – of course there is a difference in personal interaction depending on the people involved.

            Secondly, I did not say that the responsibility for it apparently becoming heated lay with the editor. What I said was that he should have dealt with the complaint before it became heated. It is part of his job to deal with complaints and he should know how to avoid a conversation becoming heated, or if that is not possible, realise that ending the conversation until the other person has calmed down is definitely an option. It doesnt matter if the other person is wound up more by this – eventually they will calm down and can be dealt with sensibly.

            Thirdly – Bystander of course has the option to take issue or make suggestions – but he should do so in private, not publically.

            Finally, my life and how it runs is not anything to do with this, and I would appreciate if you refrained on speculating about it. Comment on the story by all means, but do not comment on me.

            Given that, its pointless continuing this.

          • tryme's comment not rated yet. Add your vote Vote +1 Vote -1

            28.Aug.2013 10:21pm

            I think how you seem to see ‘Life’, (and how I do too in my own comments, no doubt)), does come across in how you have responded on this topic, and is fairly remarked upon. But I think it is ramping things up quite a lot to say I have ‘speculated’ on your life – I know nothing about it and haven’t referred to anything in it, and was merely suggesting that Life is not as cut and dried as you make out, and I would be surprised if in reality you (or anyone else) find any differently.

          • woodworker's comment not rated yet. Add your vote Vote +1 Vote -1

            29.Aug.2013 10:15am

            once again, you are speculating about how I see life.

            That is not relevant to this story in any way. Stop it now.

          • tryme's comment not rated yet. Add your vote Vote +1 Vote -1

            29.Aug.2013 6:08pm

            No. I refer you back to my yesterday’s 10.21pm post, woodworker.

          • woodworker's comment not rated yet. Add your vote Vote +1 Vote -1

            29.Aug.2013 7:05pm

            I read it. Your comments about me and my life have nothing to do with the story – and frankly, you are starting to irritate me, which I suspect was your intention in mentioning my life to begin with. Go away.

          • tryme's comment not rated yet. Add your vote Vote +1 Vote -1

            29.Aug.2013 7:13pm

            The post I mentioned gives my response.

          • woodworker's comment not rated yet. Add your vote Vote +1 Vote -1

            29.Aug.2013 8:09pm

            and as I said, I read it…

            I am not questioning what you have said, or misinterpreting it, I am disagreeing with you and telling you not to comment on my life, especially as you know nothing about it.

            Then again, I suspect you are just trying to be irritating. Im bored of it.

  10. woodworker's comment is rated +7 Vote +1 Vote -1

    27.Aug.2013 10:39pm

    incidentally, the editors comment above is probably the very worst example of a ‘non-apology’ I have ever seen. I sincerely hope he and Hofton are forced to apologise publicly and profusely.

    Reply
  11. Island Monkey's comment is rated +5 Vote +1 Vote -1

    28.Aug.2013 7:30am

    A proper storm in a teacup. This satirical article was very obviously about poor jumping in the air – not the academic achievement of the students. Without our generally below par academic record it wouldn’t work. Now do you get it?

    No, oh well. I do hope Hoften is not on Facebook or Twitter, as no doubt she could be subject to hate tweets.

    Reply
    • Mr Einsteins Ghost's comment is rated +10 Vote +1 Vote -1

      28.Aug.2013 8:45am

      Agree..a total over-reaction to the article. It was clearly satirical and by making such a complaint public, the father has only increased any embarrassment or upset for his children by a factor of 10..

      Reply
      • Man in Black's comment is rated +1 Vote +1 Vote -1

        29.Aug.2013 2:43pm

        I think we all get that Charlotte was making fun of the photographic cliche, but as has been pointed out above, there was no need to be so rude about the young people. That part of the article was not in the slightest bit necessary.

        From what I’ve heard it was not just the father who was unhappy, but the whole family and their friends and relatives.

        That’s a lot of people now p****d off with how the County Press is run.

        It’s a shame the editor didn’t try to see the father’s point of view and make an apology.

        Reply
  12. Steve Goodman's comment is rated +6 Vote +1 Vote -1

    28.Aug.2013 7:56am

  13. Cicero's comment is rated +6 Vote +1 Vote -1

    28.Aug.2013 8:17am

    “All these requirements are crucial, most especially if we are not to be trounced by the Daily Telegraph, which leads the way in pics of top-totty jumping.”

    Says it all really- local Tory rag worried about being beaten by a national Tory rag! :-))

    Reply
  14. BRIAN's comment is rated +7 Vote +1 Vote -1

    28.Aug.2013 8:48am

    When anyone volunteers to associate with the press by having their picture or details printed, they lay themselves open to constructive or adverse publicity which may or may not upset them.

    Why people feel the need to publicise their private life is beyond me. Here we have four youngsters who have been successful in their studies. Why not enjoy the success with family and friends and leave it at that? Why put details in a newspaper? Why do they think that the readership (who don’t know them) would be interested in their success?

    When parents allow their children to appear in print, it is mainly vanity on their part. “Look at my little Poppy in the paper” The same vanity applies to cat and dog shows. If you have a pedigree cat or dog, just enjoy it’s company. Why take it to shows in the hope of winning prizes? It’s only vanity. When I see people at dog shows prancing up and down a ring with the dog on a lead, I immediately think – poseur.

    If these youngsters and their father have been aggrieved, then I feel sorry for them, but they only have themselves to blame for instigating the publicity in the first place.

    Reply
    • Steve's comment is rated -3 Vote +1 Vote -1

      28.Aug.2013 10:12pm

      Brian are you not doing what you say nobody should do by having your comments published.
      What a sad reflection of life if people like you are not interested in other people and their success.

      Reply
      • BRIAN's comment is rated +7 Vote +1 Vote -1

        29.Aug.2013 10:22am

        Are you seriously suggesting that the general public should be interested in what total strangers are doing or achieving? I recently bought a new car so I should put a picture of me and the car in the CP for everyone to admire when thousands of people are buying cars every year?

        I see notices put in papers about our dear daughter X who has achieved a 2:1 degree. So what, there are thousands who have passed with first class honours who see no need to tell everyone.

        The four youngsters concerned have done well but there are thousands who have had better results and don’t publicise it.

        Publicising your successes in the press is the height of poseurism. The same goes for those who raise money for charity and have to have their pic holding a large cheque in the press. What’s all that about? Just raise the cash, hand it over and leave it at that.

        I leave the final word to Prince Philip when some halfwit said “It’s my birthday today” to which Philip replied “So what?” Absolutely spot on mate.

        Reply
        • woodworker's comment not rated yet. Add your vote Vote +1 Vote -1

          29.Aug.2013 11:18am

          You seem to think people go out of their way to get themselves in the paper – and perhaps some do.

          On the other hand, if the journalist and photographer ASK people to appear in the paper, whether it be results, charity donations or anything else, I think theres not many people who would refuse – and certainly for any good cause, they may well consider it their duty to help raise the profile of the cause or charity.
          There is nothing fundamentally wrong with appearing in the paper when asked. However, I do agree that asking to appear in the paper is best left to politicians.

          Reply
          • Robert Jones's comment not rated yet. Add your vote Vote +1 Vote -1

            29.Aug.2013 10:11pm

            That’s true enough, on all counts; but you don’t just do what the reporter or photographer asks you to do – fortunately, my generation wasn’t asked to jump around like demented gibbons when we passed our exams and remembering what some of us were like I can imagine what our reaction would have been. But then, we weren’t quite so full of our own supreme importance or obedient to b. stupid photographers….. Not that I’m suggesting the Chard family IS full of its own importance, but when someone talks as they have here about vulnerable teenagers and Hofton acting like an abuser of them … stone me, what drivel!

  15. watchdog's comment is rated +13 Vote +1 Vote -1

    28.Aug.2013 11:08am

    I can’t really comment on this issue, as I didn’t buy the CP this week – I’m really fed up with ploughing through the dross of advertisements and trivia to see whether there are any important Island issues other than the objective of getting as many faces in photos as possible (mostly of children, to encourage their proud parents to buy multiple copies to pass on to friends and relatives).

    I once complained to the editor about not printing a letter about an important planning issue, and he said that that the CP was a paper of record, and didn’t go in for investigative journalism. There was another occasion when I complained about his wife’s column, which had been pushing a “Property of the Week” which had been engaged in unauthorised planning activity and had an enforcement order on it (none of which was mentioned) – he was quite rude to me for bringing that up.

    So my advice would be to forget the CP – you can get all the important stuff from OTW, including a better quality of comments.

    Reply
    • BRIAN's comment not rated yet. Add your vote Vote +1 Vote -1

      28.Aug.2013 6:27pm

      @ watchdog. The CP said it didn’t go in for investigative journalism, but didn’t they ask FOI questions about some matter concerning councillors? Is not that investigative journalism?

      Reply
  16. Mark L Francis's comment is rated +1 Vote +1 Vote -1

    29.Aug.2013 12:05am

    I think the father, Mr. Chard is absolutely right and very measured in his response. I hope nobody tries to pull a stroke like that with my son or I think I would be round the CP office in person. ]
    This is little better – if at all – than cyber-trolling vulnerable teenagers.

    Reply
  17. Dalek's comment is rated +5 Vote +1 Vote -1

    29.Aug.2013 6:12am

    I haven’t bought any newspapers for many years. The CP was just hanging in there for a few years, but I haven’t bought or read it now for at least two years. There seems little need for me to do so, and I feel better for it. Plenty of other, more balanced, news sources.

    Reply
  18. Mr Magoo's comment is rated +6 Vote +1 Vote -1

    29.Aug.2013 1:23pm

    Editor Alan Marriott’s candid admission that the County Press should try harder to be original with its photographs confirms what many thousands of ex-readers think, the paper is tired and hackneyed.
    So what is he doing about it?

    Reply
  19. ashleyh's comment is rated +1 Vote +1 Vote -1

    29.Aug.2013 6:18pm

    Of course the Cnty Press would have apologised for upsetting a member of the IWC. The news here is how on earth any criticism of the IWC managed to slip into the paper in the first place.

    Reply
    • eh?'s comment not rated yet. Add your vote Vote +1 Vote -1

      29.Aug.2013 7:02pm

      They havnt apologised. They havnt upset a member of the IWC. They havnt critisised the IWC either.

      What the hell are you on about? Try reading the letter that Mr Chard wrote.

      Reply
  20. Robert Jones's comment not rated yet. Add your vote Vote +1 Vote -1

    29.Aug.2013 9:59pm

    This is a fuss about nothing. The father simply failed to understand Hofton’s point, and interpreted it as an attack on his children, which it very plainly wasn’t. I say very plainly – obviously, there are things that can’t be plain enough for some, but that’s their failure of comprehension, not her failure as a journalist.

    I haven’t always been spectacularly amused by Charlotte Hofton’s pieces, but not only is she the best thing in the County Press, nowadays she’s just about the ONLY thing in the County Press. My landlord and I have a weekly competition; we lend each other the paper, depending on which of us bought it, and then ask each other what we can remember of the contents; or the front page; or anything, anywhere. And 9 and a half times out of ten, we fail to recall anything, because it’s become such a phenomenally boring read: more so than ever, I fear, under the present editor.

    Take away Charlotte Hofton and you have almost nothing left. She was mocking her own paper and their slavish copying of so many other papers – all of which picture young people jumping up and down with greater or lesser degrees of enthusiasm clutching their GCSE passes – not Mr Chard’s children. Schools have become complicit in this, as part of their increasing habit of self-promotion … and it seems to me that the young themselves should rebel against dimwit reporters and photographers, and refuse to play this silly game. Just as university students might refrain from throwing their mortarboards in the air to order.

    Journalism has become incredibly lazy – but it seems some of us have become so accustomed to its laziness that we don’t wince at these clichéd pictures, don’t notice that every damn story about somebody’s garden has to be captioned “blooming lovely” or something equally crass, and regard anything that injects a little bit of acid into this bland, trivializing slop as some terrible offence against Lord-knows-what – some dim concept of “niceness”, I suppose.

    True, I don’t see Charlotte Hofton romping away with the Pullitzer Prize any time soon, and she can be self-contradictory and miss the point, although rarely quite so successfully and completely as her detractors. Take her out of the CP, however, and you’ll be left with as vacuous a rag as you could wish for, good for Hatches, Matches and Dispatches and nothing else.

    I don’t know what its circulation figures are doing at the moment, but I do know what’ll happen to them if it’s allowed to continue its unfortunate journey towards being a collection of advertisements masquerading as news stories, punctuated by pictures of happy smiling young things that wouldn’t be out of place in the St Cake’s Academy Monthly Newsletter – but have no place in a real newspaper.

    Mr Chard should grow a thicker skin. His children have probably already got one.

    Reply
    • Mr Magoo's comment is rated +2 Vote +1 Vote -1

      30.Aug.2013 8:34am

      Average weekly sales of the County Press in the first half of the year were 30,912, down 1,800 on the comparable period in 2012. Audited figures from ABC (Audit Bureau of Circulations) released a few days ago reveal sales have fallen 5.6% in a year.

      The CP is not alone, every ‘local’ paper has lost readers apart from two papers in Gravesend and Maidenhead.

      At its peak, ten years ago, the County Press was selling well in excess of 42,000 copies a week.

      Some of that decline is due to the economy but the current paper’s content, style and reputation are also responsible and Mr Jones’ pithy comments (above) are painfully accurate.

      Reply
      • Rupert Besley's comment is rated +1 Vote +1 Vote -1

        31.Aug.2013 10:37am

        …and some of that drop in sales might just possibly be down to the constant sniping and barrage of negative publicity the CP gets from commentators OTW, all too often anonymous and frequently ones who claim not to read the paper.

        Personally, I wish OTW and the CP both to succeed. They serve different aims, have different constituencies and complement each other. There is room for both. It would not be in our interests to have them too cosy together, but I could do without them constantly fighting like cats in a bag. When looking to see who starts it each time, the finger points at OTW as the attacking party. The wording of your headline (‘Hofton’s Personal Attack on Children’) strikes me as mischievous, emotive and over the top – or did you really miss the irony of the piece?

        Of course the CP is not beyond criticism. No one is perfect; we all make mistakes. The CP is an easy target. There is enough in the paper each week to exasperate and dismay any of us, self included, at any time. But at least be fair with that criticism. Half the time it is panned for being boring and bland and half the time it gets it in the neck for printing stuff deemed by some to be offensive and objectionable.

        I have not yet had time to read the main bit of the paper this week, but glancing through the Weekender, I note a serious and worthwhile piece by David Newble on a local initiative to salvage redundant hospital equipment for use in Moldova; 2 full extra supplements on the Wolverton Fair (for Age Concern) and the Cycling Festival; plenty of good stuff on the Steam Up, Postfest & Totland Arts/Crafts as well as on the coming Bestival, Literary and Lost At Sea festivals; a great deal (that I would have appreciated as a parent in years past) on youth & extra-curricular activities… and much else besides. Gardening may not be your thing or events in your village or Daft Punk or Ventnor’s production of ‘Footloose’ (‘How wrong could I have been…probably the most enjoyable show I have seen on an Island stage’ – Sue Lupton) – but to write this off as the operation of a ‘vacuous rag’ seems to me a tad mean-spirited.

        Much of the time the CP is slammed for not being something it never claimed to be nor ever could be. Yes, I’d love it to be a crusading, left-wing, investigative paper, but then it would not survive on the Island. To pay its way, the paper needs to carry the ads, notices and communications of main employers like the Council, Health Authority, ferry companies, estate agents, manufacturers etc. That does not make it a puppet in the pockets of such agencies; the CP regularly publishes comment and news reports critical of each. The paper treads a fine line, attempting to give a voice to all and in the end pleasing no one.

        ‘Tory rag’ is the usual cry and one I resent. I am not on the staff, but have contributed to the paper almost every week for 25 years. I steer clear of party alignment, wishing freedom to defend things under threat from any quarter, but my own sympathies and thinking would register far to the left on any scale. In the last decade I have frequently used cartoons to provide forthright criticism of the actions of a Tory council (pointing out things later echoed by comments on this forum) and at all times the CP has given me an entirely free hand. At no point has anyone ever sought to interfere with or influence my contribution on political grounds. (A few times in the past I have been approached by Conservative publications in various places to provide illustrations for them, but have always declined such work.) It would be suicide for the CP to speak for only one section of the population; it aims to give a voice to all.

        All printed media are finding it tough at the present time. Many local papers have lost their independence and/or their journalism. The IWCP is a rare survivor, one that we should cherish and support. Instead of carping, cast an eye over the positives, always overlooked by the critics. Here are just three -

        Firstly, in its routine coverage of local events the paper provides invaluable support to countless good works and activities. Church fetes, horticultural shows, sports teams, school plays, youth activities, festivals, carnivals, charity events, WI, TG, artists’ exhibitions, musical happenings, village doings, you name it… It’s all very well to sneer at little Darren & Daisy getting their pictures in the paper, but all such activities add colour and richness to lives and it is mealy-mouthed to begrudge the CP the important part it plays thus in our community.

        Secondly. the CP goes further than just reporting and recording the big and small events that make up Island life. As regular and significant sponsor, it helps instigate, enable and support a host of good things happening on the Island (Garden Shows, Motor Shows, Blooming Villages, Drama Awards, Holiday News, Drama Events, Tennis tournaments, Sports Awards, recognition for local heroes and their work in the community, Wight Walks etc – I’ve not checked out this list but know there are plenty that could be added), all enjoyed by a great many people.

        Finally, those slamming the CP should be reminded that the paper has over the years led campaigns for the Island of benefit to all. The Hospital MRI Scanner comes straight to mind, and its present lead on green thinking and environmental awareness deserves recognition and support. Not bad for that rare creature in the Media Jungle, an independent company with local credentials that are impeccable. What other local firm or institution does as much for good causes here?

        So, good luck to the CP, I say, with or without its various faults. Like all papers, it’ll need that luck to survive into the future. Destroy the CP and you’ll destroy a whole lot more than you might ever have intended. Without the CP we’d all be a darned sight poorer.

        (My apologies for boring on at such length, but it seemed to me about time someone spoke up for the other side and there seemed no way of putting up a defence without answering the various points levelled against the accused.)

        Reply
        • tryme's comment is rated +1 Vote +1 Vote -1

          31.Aug.2013 11:12am

          Very well said indeed, Mr Besley, and not a word too long. I agree with all you say, and admire your strength of feeling.

          It has mindlessly become uncool to say anything positive here about the County Press, which I agree reflects and supports a great deal that is good on the Island. This includes its strand on Island history, always very interesting and feeding into current Island life.

          And let’s not forget that not everyone is online; and even amongst those who are, some may find OTW rather too much of a vituperative battlefield at times.

          It must be difficult for a paper to be politically even-handed, being accused either of blandness if seeming neutral, or partisan if it is supportive of an administration in power or its opposition. There will always be criticism on that score, but to use that to sneer at what the rest of the paper offers, is merely glib.

          I have frequently noted the political independence of your own cartoons, as well as them being a draw in themselves to buy the paper.

          OTW is not afraid of celebrating local children and events, quite the opposite, so it is indeed silly when people put down the CP on this account.

          I agree, we need both CP and OTW, and many would feel bereft without either one.

          Reply
        • WWTL's comment is rated +2 Vote +1 Vote -1

          31.Aug.2013 12:19pm

          I will leave aside the fundamental premise of your comment is unfounded because you ignore the glaringly obvious … that many comments on here support the editor and CP’s position.

          Rather I’d like to address the other obvious point you did not cover … that, under its current editorship, the articles that you praise as contributing to the Island are generally seen as a device to merely surround the apparently-every increasing ratio of adverts that fill the pages of the CP, leading many people to question why they are asked to pay a consistently increasing cover price for the paper, just to be bombarded with adverts.

          It’s easy to imagine that the owners must be delighted with the current editor for what must be a huge hike in earnings. Sadly, as is common in this modern day malaise of profits over product, what the owners might not be seeing is that this gain is in fact just a gain in the short term, as nearly everyone I speak to about it views the disproportional balance of adverts to actual news as a bad thing.

          Not only is it not what the reader wants, but you have to ask, are the advertisers actually being served? If my occasional experience of ‘reading’ the CP is anything to go by, people no longer read a whole page of the paper, just skim it as they flick through one page after another trying to find something that hasn’t already appeared on the various online news sources during the week before, or frequently weeks previously.

          With the speed that pages are rapidly gone through, due to a lack of relevant content, the poor advertiser doesn’t get a look in, because their ads are merely just seen as a colourful blur.

          Reply
          • Rupert Besley's comment is rated +2 Vote +1 Vote -1

            31.Aug.2013 2:40pm

            My piece was written in response not just to comments on this thread but to sentiments expressed on this forum over months and years. If the negative comments have in fact been outnumbered by positive ones, praising the CP, then sorry, that’s something I’ve missed.

            With regard to the ‘other obvious point [I] did not cover’: I’m not privy to the accounts of the Co Press and have no idea about their income and outgoings, past or present, and therefore am in no position to pass comment on the ratio of news to advertising. No doubt this is a concern that has been aired before, but, apologies again, it’s a new one on me.

            My general point remains, that the CP does much good locally that is all too often overlooked by its critics.

        • Sally Perry's comment is rated +3 Vote +1 Vote -1

          31.Aug.2013 2:31pm

          Of course we understand the irony of Charlotte’s article Rupert, we agree that the photographic cliche of students jumping in the air is hackneyed, but the letter above is not about our opinion, it’s that of the father of the quads.

          You say in your comment above, “I could do without them (OnTheWight and the County Press) constantly fighting like cats in a bag.”

          I am confused, I (as one of the party you are referring to) wasn’t aware that I was involved in any kind of ‘fight’ with the CP. I chat with their reporters on a weekly basis at the numerous council meetings that we attend and have a fairly good relationship with most of them.

          Any ‘fight’ you think there may be is completely in your head.

          You go on to say, “When looking to see who starts it each time, the finger points at OTW as the attacking party. The wording of your headline (‘Hofton’s Personal Attack on Children’)”

          You may feel that headline is ‘attacking’, it’s actually just a reflection of the contents of the letter that follows. The same process that applies to letters in the CP.

          As for the “constant sniping and barrage of negative publicity the CP gets from commentators OTW,” it’s hardly ‘constant’ and not exactly a ‘barrage of negative publicity’.

          Yes, some readers don’t like the methods of the CP, that’s their opinion and they have a right to it. Why shouldn’t they express that using the same platform you are?

          Someone (forgotten who) once said something along the lines of, “people see what they want to see, not necessarily what’s in front of them.”

          Reply
          • Rupert Besley's comment is rated +3 Vote +1 Vote -1

            31.Aug.2013 3:09pm

            Agreed – of course your contributors are entitled to express their opinions (that’s what it’s all about), just as I am entitled to offer a response to those opinions and you are entitled to reject all that I say. That’s fine by me. I’ve said my bit. I could respond to each of your points, but I really have no wish to continue into tedious argument. Pax. It’s a sunny day. Let’s just leave it at that and mull over what each has said. We’re probably all a bit right and all a bit wrong. I usually am. Most people are.

          • tryme's comment is rated +3 Vote +1 Vote -1

            31.Aug.2013 4:54pm

            Feels I shouldn’t be butting in, but as this is in a forum… It’s interesting that RB was referring (as he himself said) to “commentators” when he spoke of ‘OTW’, so he wasn’t laying matters at the door of Simon and Sally.

            ‘Interesting’, because we wouldn’t speak the same way of the CP, I think. When we speak of that we mean the company, not its readers! Shows how posters come to feel part of brand OTW, (rightly or wrongly).

            The other point I’d like to make is that I have grown up thinking that a newspaper will avoid being sued for libel but still use an exciting phrase as a headline, by using inverted commas for part of it. That also is a sign to readers that the paper hasn’t established the comment as the truth, but it is someone’s opinion. The other method is to have the entire headline as if it is spoken by the individual. Thus this topic could have been either:

            CH’s “personal attack” on children raises father’s anger
            or
            CH’s personal attack on my children raises my anger – father.

            In the event, I think it fell between two stools.

            The important thing must be not to seem to lend OTW’s authority to a statement about someone that clearly crosses whatever line there might be – a named person said to be personally attacking children.

        • ohmy's comment is rated +2 Vote +1 Vote -1

          31.Aug.2013 5:49pm

          Mr Besley,perhaps you and a lot of islanders were unaware that in the 60s and 70s any letter criticizing the local council,or councilors sent to the County Press were nearly always passed to county hall for permission to print,that is the main reason not many letters on the subject were ever printed. How do i know,about six of my letters on the subject of the council were never printed,so i decided to look into it. The CP would not answer my requests for information,so i started looking in County Hall and i found three of my letters in an office there from info given by a member of staff. I have never trusted the CP since.

          Reply
          • Rupert Besley's comment is rated +2 Vote +1 Vote -1

            31.Aug.2013 6:05pm

            Fair point, thanks – not one I would ever seek to defend. I would hope that, fifty years on, some things may have changed, just a bit… but I accept that things do change rather slowly here.

          • tryme's comment not rated yet. Add your vote Vote +1 Vote -1

            1.Sep.2013 11:18am

            On the other hand,if the CP had sent the letters to County Hall for a response to be given, the scenario might have been indistinguishable: letters left in a drawer.

            (I always found that very annoying by the way, when this was done for the previous administration. A reader got to criticise the Council in a satisfyingly effective manner on the letters page, only to be followed immediately by an annoying Council response that undermined, usually incorrectly, the points raised. On the other hand, maybe there’s a case for saying readers are entitled to an immediate response from their rulers, rather than waiting a week).

            Also, there must have been thousands of letters not chosen for publication over the years, some of them mine a few years ago! Though they did put in a few of my gems. Rejection is hard to take!

    • BRIAN's comment is rated +2 Vote +1 Vote -1

      30.Aug.2013 9:37am

      @ Robert Jones. A splendid contribution sir.

      Reply
    • sandt's comment not rated yet. Add your vote Vote +1 Vote -1

      30.Aug.2013 11:53am

      RJ because you said it plainly you must be right because only you do not have a failure of comprehension unlike everyone else.I am sure Mr Chard may have a thick skin but after reading his letter again unlike you he is not thick anywhere else.

      Reply
  21. Culture Club's comment is rated +3 Vote +1 Vote -1

    30.Aug.2013 12:02pm

    While I agree that the article was an attempt at an amusing pop at the leaping of the Chard’s, it was written in a way designed to try to humiliate them and was very personal.

    In today’s paper, in response to a couple of letters written about the offending article, (and there were more as my letter at least was not published) the Editor attempts to justify it by saying it was ‘lighthearted and not intended to offend’. Well, clearly it did offend some people and therefore an apology is in order, however, I don’t expect one will be forthcoming as the Editor and Charlotte Hofton, both appear to believe that their position as ‘journalists’ means they can write what they like.

    A once good read, the County Press is now simply a local tabloid that takes a matter of minutes to flick through. I won’t be bothering with it anymore.

    Reply
    • BRIAN's comment is rated +4 Vote +1 Vote -1

      1.Sep.2013 4:18pm

      The latest nonsense with respect to pictures of youngsters is the so-called “graduation ceremony” for nursery kids. Spashed over half a page is a group of 4 year olds from the Little something or other nursery with cardboard mortar boards on their heads. I am amazed that such naff antics could plumb such depths. What next, a nappy graduation ceremony to mark the change to a potty?

      Reply
      • tryme's comment not rated yet. Add your vote Vote +1 Vote -1

        1.Sep.2013 5:30pm

        ;-D Would have to be terribly careful with all that jumping in the air, though Brian, there could be a terrible mess !

        Reply

Add comment

Login to your account.
If you do not have an account, reserve your own name and receive exclusive special offers - just sign up for an On The Wight account

.