Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Sex ads here... Or not...

Well, the dramas roll on in regional newspapers.

It really is like something from The West Wing, or more accurately The Thick Of It, at times.

Case in point: sex ads in local newspapers.

The age-old debate over the morality of publishing adverts for 'massage parlour's and the likes raised its ugly head again this week with a huge story from the Croydon Guardian.

It was a good piece, a reporter had secured an exclusive from the police that they were intending to prosecute editors who publish ads which are found to be involved in human trafficking, and included a raft of condemnation at rival newspaper groups who still publish such ads (the Croydon Guardian is published by Newsquest, which has banned such ads).

My opinion on such ads is, of course, a little old-fashioned, in that I have always had the 'don't ask, don't tell' mantra thrown at me when raising concerns over the issue.

The ads shouldn't be accepted, that's obvious. But then, how do you prove exactly what they are advertising? Is a ban on 'massage parlour' ads then putting genuine establishments in trouble?

Why should that particular line of business be the focus?

A mechanic could be dodgy, but do we send ad reps out to check their credentials (wrong choice of phrase?) before allowing them to advertise? No, of course we don't.

So I can see an argument, that's for sure.

However, Newsquest's stand was always to be applauded, except in situations like this, when the decision was used to beat its rivals with a decidedly shitty stick. Surely not the point of the ban?

UPDATE: The Thick Of It plot thickens, as a piece by Press Gazette - as is the way with these things - seems to claim the Croydon Guardian piece is not accurate.

It reads: "Press Gazette was told by the Met that it wanted to work with the newspaper industry but it has yet to receive a response from the service on the specific issue of whether it would seek to charge editors for carrying ads."

It's funny how, whenever someone has the balls to stand up on this issue, the industry quickly defends itself.

Perhaps, like me, those pointing at the Croydon Guardian have had years of 'don't ask, don't tell' thrown at them too.

I for one, however, salute the Croydon Guardian's intentions, if not the technique, and am unimpressed by others in this industry basically standing their ground over what we all know in our souls is a load of bollocks, no matter how often we're told to believe it.

UPDATE 2: Alas, another development, this time, quite frankly, of the pathetic nature.

This blog happily takes the piss out of silly mistakes made by newspapers, bloggers, websites, that kind of thing.

However, following the Croydon Guardian's story yesterday, an apparent local blogger had a go at them for posting a picture of sex ads which showed the phone numbers.

Now, I'm all for letting them know about the mistake, but for something as serious as this, and when a paper has actually stuck its head above the parapet, to do what Inside Croydon have done is basically just fuckin' low.

Read their blog here and be ready to cringe at some sad bastard taking a paper's good work to the cleaners in a bid to somehow show that he's a better journalist than the staff at the Croydon Guardian.

Maybe he or she is, but show it by coming up with a better exclusive, don't just take a cheap shot from your laptop.

The blogosphere eh?

However, don't forget, you can call me a wanker anytime you like on Twitter (@haplesshack) and by email at

Let's hope this is the final update on this story... But I doubt it!

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