Cheers mate!

Skuds has dedicated a recent post to me, all about a subject which has already appeared on RMF a couple of times – the odd relationship between the media and the sex industry.

Not only is the Crawley News still advertising adult services (albeit with a ‘disclaimer’, which I like to think was a result of this humble blog’s attention) near the back pages while reporting the case of a woman trafficked into the country and forced to have sex in a local brothel, but there was an outcry when the South Wales Echo did the same thing late last year.

As a result of a meeting with the government in November, it would seem that the Newspaper Society will be revisiting their guidelines on acceptable advertising. It would be good to know what those guidelines are, but they are available to NS members only. I can’t even find how much it would cost to get the ‘PERA’ membership required to look at the ‘Ad Points’ section of the website, so I suspect it’s not something I’ll be buying. If a friendly journo / advertising editor happens by and can let me know what these guideline are?

Only I’m pretty sure that they already suggest that adverts for massage or escort services clearly suggest that ‘extras’ are also on offer, or if the publication could reasonable expect that to be the case. I’m not sure if the ads in the back of the News cross the line, but they are pretty close.

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Life Expectancy – the elephant in the room

The Crawley News has obtained comparitive figures for Life Expectancy across the town. There is (and this is not a surprise to me as I’ve seen similar figures in the past) a significant difference between the highest and the lowest wards:

Maidenbower 83.5
Southgate 77.1

The low figure for Southgate can be partially explained by the disproportionate number of residential care homes. So they don’t compare my neck of the woods with Maidy, but they take the next lowest, Bewbush (77.6).

Now, they make the usual statistical error of mixing up the people with the place – by suggesting that if you move, it will improve your prospects. Of course, the figures are an average based on the people currently living there. If you personally have a low life expectancy, moving to Maidenbower or Pound Hill is not likely to increase your time in this mortal coil (although it might slightly reduce their average…). Fair enough, it’s a standard misconception and it’s easily done. Oh, and these are the expectancy at birth based on data from 1998 to 2002, so it’s not even relevant to people born outside Crawley, or before 1998!!

Of course, it’s not like we can actually get accurate figures for life expectancy for areas which had virtually nobody living in them less than 60 years ago (most of Crawley), but we can do for the people who live there now.

However, when comparing Bewbush and Maidenbower, and casting around for possible reasons, they are a bit blinkered. A Maidenbower resident jokes that it is ‘easier to be stabbed in Bewbush’, which is particularly crass (I don’t know anyone who has been stabbed in Bewbush, but I did once work with a guy who got stabbed in Horsham – and it was easy for him as he was the wrong colour). A Bewbush resident also mentions crime and violence. Another Maidenbowerite who uses the word ‘one’ for ‘I’ puts it down to diet and a healthy lifestyle.

Of course, these are possible contributory factors (although it’s not like people in nice areas don’t get murdered, such as in Poles Lane.

The one factor that is completely missed is the also one that tends to also influence crime, diet, lifestyle etc.

Wealth, or the lack of it.

Poverty levels in Bewbush are much higher than in Maidenbower. The correlation between income and life expectancy is very close. Similarly, Broadfield has higher levels of deprivation (although it also has some more comfortable parts), and Pound Hill is also relatively wealthy.

However, there are pockets of deprivation in Pound Hill, and even in Maidenbower. The average life expectancy for those people will likely be lower than for their near neighbours.

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Logo confusion

The Crawley News had a nice little report about the possibility of changing the Borough Council’s logo. A local historian has suggested the shield from the original Crest given to Crawley New Town back in 1957.

In the article, the News claims:

But the sheild, decorated acorns and crows, was abandoned in 1974 and has not been used since

This was on page 21.

On Page 22 is a picture of the Mayor, Sally Blake, presenting a mouse mat to a young child who had some good ideas on litter. The mouse mat is emblazoned with Crawley’s full coat of arms…

In case the News hadn’t noticed, the full coat of arms is also present in very large form hanging on the back wall of the Council Chamber. All mayoral letters are headed with it.

Oops, these local papers certainly know their subject, don’t they?

[edit – Seems that they do. They wrote to let me know that the original version of this article had the Mayor’s name as ‘Sally Green’. Cheers!]

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Political Lies

In the last edition of the Crawley News, a letter appeared from a Walter Shuttleworth which alleges that John Mortimer ‘vehemently supported’ the transfer of housing.

At best, Mr Shuttleworth is seriously misinformed, because John Mortimer has always taken the exact opposite stance, along with five other Labour councillors. At worst, Mr Shuttleworth is a liar. I expect that it is the former that is the case, although how anyone who has taken an interest in the housing issue over the past few years could have arrived at the conclusion that Cllr Mortimer did anything other than oppose transfer is beyond me.

I’m even more perplexed that Richard Symonds, normally a man who has an idea of what is going on, has repeated the allegations…

Crawley News Update

After last month’s RMF exposé on the double-standards of the Crawley News, it seems that the paper has taken some action.

Firstly, after Skuds linked to the article here, he received an email which seemed to suggest that it was the News’ duty to publish the story because otherwise they’d be accused of burying it to placate advertisers. Personally, I’d think it a better idea to refuse the advertising to avoid accusations of hypocrisy, but hey?

Now, after becoming an avid reader of the back pages of the News’ classifieds, section, I’ve noticed this disclaimer appearing above the ‘Adult’ ads this week:

Notice to Readers
East Surrey and Sussex Newspapers advise readers that the content of the advertisements in this section relate to products and services of an adult nature. We accept these for publication in accordance with guidelines issued by the Newspaper Society and the Advertising Standards Authority, together with our own policies and procedures. If you have any concerns or comments about the nature of the material in this section, or complaints about specific advertisements, please contact Jo Mockford

Well. That’s us told! The adverts have also changed slightly, perhaps because they’ve been rejected or simply that the payment for them has ceased. Certainly the one for ‘The Honeypot’ has gone. The one looking for ‘Glamorous ladies’ has also gone.

But the kicker is this: Scattered throughout the classifieds are little boxes which advertise the – News classifieds itself, either in general terms or for specific services. Most are for recruitment. And the little box in the ‘Adult’ section is no different. ‘Do you have difficulty finding staff? Call our dedicated Recruitment Team’.

Now why would they put that in the section dedicated to Adult Chat lines, Escort Agencies or ‘Massage’ services?

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Crawley News for sale?

Trinity Mirror today announced that it would be selling off a number of its titles (story here). They are keeping hold of their major national papers (the Mirror, Sunday Mirror and People) as well as the regionals in Scotland, Wales and northern England.

However, they will divest of the Racing Post along with all sports titles, and local/regional papers in the Midlands, London and the South East.

The Crawley News is part of ‘Trinity Mirror Southern’, and so I assume that it is up for grabs. Whether a buyer would take on the whole stable (the Birmingham Post, Croydon Advertiser and Surrey Mirror are also going), or it would be broken up piecemeal isn’t clear. Of course, the main alternative chain of regional newspapers owns the Crawley Observer, and so if they bought out the News, they could create a monopoly. Alternatively, a new owner may take the News in a radically different direction.

We wait and see.

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Crawley News sensation!

Today the Crawley News had a splash on the front page (actually page 3 as it had yet another of those outer-page advert thingys):

“ANGER OVER ESCORT AD

Teenage girls could be lured into £1000-per-night escorting work from an advert placed in a shop window”

Pretty shocking stuff, huh? The advert reads “Wanted – female 18+ to earn good money. £30+ per hour. Open minded, fun work immediate start”.

In a masterpiece of investigative reporting, a female reporter called the number and got more details. A few residents, and a councillor are reported as (surprise surprise) thinking this advert is ‘shocking’, ‘outrageous’, ‘wrong for this sort of area’ and so on.

Well, I’m certainly glad that the Crawley News brought this to our attention. After all, it’s not as if Crawley is already fairly well known as having a number of adult services being offered – apparently the airport draws in a lot of ‘trade’.

However, I wonder if the Crawley News reporters ever read their own paper. For example, this week on page 55 we have the ‘Adult’ section of the classifieds has:

  • 6 ads for Adult Chat lines
  • 1 ad for ‘The Honeypot’ for Adult Massage
  • 1 large ad for ‘No strings dating contacts’ with 8 ladies briefly described
  • 2 ads for Escort services

But best of all under the heading “Staff Required”:

“GLAMOROUS LADIES REQUIRED for prestigious escort agency. Please leave name and number for interview”

Below which is a blue box to try and encourage people to place ads in the Crawley News.

Now, did the reporters really have to expose the dodgy nature of an ad in the Tilgate newsagents, when pretty much the same thing is being delivered to every household in the town? I would call the number myself, so as to launch my own ‘exclusive’, but my impersonation of a female is not very good. Perhaps the Crawley Observer will look into this possible scandal? (of course, I don’t buy the Obs, so I have no idea if the same sort of ads appear in their classifieds, or in the Herald, which I think is part of the same stable).

Local newspapers – as ethical as ever, eh?

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