Francis Beckett

Here's a cationary tale about what we used to call serious newspapers.

Yesterday the Mail and Telegraph came to me with a story about Merseyside's chief fire officer, Tony McGuirk, calling firefighters "bone idle" and saying you could get roid of lots of them without compomising public safety, and saying they didn't matter.  I'm at the TUC looking after the Fire Birgades Union, and within 15 minutes I was back to them with a statement from the FBU genera;l secretary. McGuirks was paid £200,000 a year, that would buy at least six fireifghters which would be a much better use of the money, fewer firefighters meant slower response times whivch means someone will die needlessly, and so on.

This morning the Mail ran a decent chunk of our statement in its story.  But the Telegraph had 500 words of bile about fireihgters from McGuirk, and couild not find space for a single sentence of reply from the firefighters themselves.

The reporter, Christopher Hope, assures me he filed our quote, and I am certain he is telling the truth.

Why then was it - and I use the word carefully - censored?  It didn;t fit the Tel;egraph's political agenda, but it didn;t fit the Mail's, either, and they ran the quote.  Someone there must have thought it was only fair to let us have our reply.

Of course there's nothing we can do except fulminate on blogs and in tine circulation publications.