Hammersmith and Fulham Council paper fails to print ad praising community schools

Tracy Hannigan's picture
Our local parent group worked with in good faith with the  H&F News, a local council freesheet which is about to be closed down,  to place an advertisement in the 05 April 2011 edition.

Meant to print on the day of primary admissions announcements, the advertisement was intended to thank the parents and children who chose local Hammersmith and Fulham primary schools. It was timed to coincide with primary school announcements so that those choosing our local schools could be thanked -- and so those not realising what our schools offer could be informed. We acknowledged the support that H&F has historically given its local schools. We highlighted the successes of local primary schools, sang the praises of these schools, and asked for everyone to stand up and prioritise celebrating them. This was about local parents talking to other local parents in support of our local schools.

Despite getting the copy to the paper early, having the paper select the artwork, and approving the final draft in time, H&F News did not print our advertisement. And they never replied to our question regarding why.

There are a few remaining possibilities.

1. Did someone not want to celebrate local schools? Unlikely.

2. Did someone think that the view that local schools should be prioritised over free schools wasn't suited for the paper? Possibly.

3. Did someone not like the local community group sponsoring the ad? Possibly. Perhaps coincidentally, a relatively good amount of the website traffic came through Borough servers the day the decision must have been made.

Council leader Cllr Greenhalgh himself waved farewell on page four, saying of the paper's limitations, 'it was never able to hold us to account'. As far as we can tell, and we're open to being corrected, there are no restrictions on fair handedness in newspapers - perhaps it simply chose not to be instead.
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Ben Taylor's picture
Mon, 11/04/2011 - 16:20

Tracy I think this advert is too "political" for a council freesheet. There is a code for these isn't there? They are supposed to be informational rather than campaigning -although granted this is not a clear cut distinction.

I am not saying that you can't express this opinion, I just think this media wasn't the right place. I wouldn't expect a pro free schools movement to be able to place a campaigning ad either.

Tracy Hannigan's picture
Tue, 12/04/2011 - 08:09

Not clear cut indeed. This paper was pulled up in the Commons as a spectacular example of a veritable taxpayer funded propaganda machine that doesn't follow the rules.

Den Charman's picture
Fri, 15/04/2011 - 22:07

Ben, the Conservative led Council in H&F used our council tax money to produce a constant stream of propaganda which they called news. PACS tried to put in an advert praising local schools, telling parents how to get involved in supporting their schools and revealing the evidence that H&F parents are very satisfied with their children's schools whether or not it was originally their first choice. This is a very important point. Does H&F News belong to the people of the Borough who pay for it or the bunch of Councillors who control it? (Controlling something is not the same as owning it). The whole ad contained 10 words which mildly suggested the Council could support schools even better. Frankly Ben I think your response is rather mealy mouthed. Some of the Free School supporters have used their positions in the media to ferociously attack those who disagree with them so why shouldn't local residents be able to pay to put in a mild comment into a paper they have already paid for?.

Allan Beavis's picture
Sat, 16/04/2011 - 15:18

H & F Council ought to have run the ad, if only to pay lip service to fairness and impartiality in reflecting the views of it's residents. Not printing it leaves them open to accusations that they are in cahoots with aggressive and media savvy free school founders in the area. It's a covert form of censorship. Shocking and disgraceful.

janee's picture
Thu, 23/06/2011 - 10:15

Wandsworth Council's magazine "Brightside" also verges on the edge of being a political campaigning publication, paid for by tax payers and delivered to nearly every home. I have asked for a right of reply to correct facts and been ignored. Interestingly, it is not distributed in the run up to an election!

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