Jun 29 2015

Harrow Times Challenged on Insider Information; Issues Robust Denial

harrow_times_logoOur story last week about the prediction boldly made by the Harrow Times over the College Road planning application  appears to have ruffled some feathers. Cast you mind back, and you’ll recall we wondered how the Times could have produced a headline saying that the plans would “be approved” hours before the meeting even took place. Was it, we wondered, sloppy journalism, or was there some kind of leak from the administration?

Neither, declared the Times. “The council publishes meeting agendas and reports a week or so in advance,” wrote Vickiie Oliphant, the reporter behind that odd headline. “In this case, the planning applications document showed that the council was being recommended to approve the plans for the College Road site. That, therefore, was how we were able to publish this fact ahead of the meeting.”

Fact? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a “fact” is “A thing that is known or proved to be true.”

One of the commentators on the Times’ own story picked up on ours, and noted out loud that iharrow had questioned this. Oddly enough, that comment was soon deleted – and according to Ms Oliphant, “My editors are the only ones to remove comments and our practice is that this is only done is a reader ‘reports’ the comment in question.” This must be what they mean by freedom of the press.

In fact (heh!), this was worth digging into a little further. Despite a veritable stream of tweets coming from Ms Oliphant, none of them reported on Cllr Susan Hall’s direct objection to the scheme. Bias? No, “My laptop and phone died so was unable to continue tweeting,” says Ms Oliphant. Honestly, you’d think the council would take better care of their friendly reporter – even iharrow (despite being persona non grata as far as FOI are concerned) managed to find a seat within inches of a power socket.

Of course, the Times doesn’t have a stellar record for quality reporting. Who can forget the time that they didn’t know who Cllr Hall was,  or the time they announced that Northwick Park Hospital faced closure? Or even the time they tried to run a story about how much the council spent on trees in the borough, lurching between 83p and over £11 throughout the course of a day.


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1 comment

  1. Elijah Traven

    Vicky Oliphant is not the brightest light in the street. She seems at times to be the only journalist on the paper. She’s a general dogsbody. You need to talk to her organ grinders. She’s only the monkey.

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