The truth, the whole truth and . . .


Two stories last week in Rye News attracted some comments, and raised some questions about what is “news”.

One concerned up to seven emergency vehicles (fire and ambulance) being involved for at least two hours in getting one patient to their hospital appointment.

Had there been a real emergency (such as a fire) I wonder what would have happened to the patient? And there is another issue called “risk assessment”. How was this situation allowed to arise in the first place? Our photo showed at least five or six emergency vehicles and, needless to say, that attracted a lot of attention from those living nearby as well as passers-by.

Phil Law’s comment asked whether Rye News‘ editor had left. No, he was there taking notes – and talking to the fire and ambulance staff present. And he has been acting editor since early last year, officially taking over from me in October,  because I had had pneumonia, or its after effects or side effects, for much of  2016, continuing into 2017.

Phil also says our lead story was so full of inaccuracies to be laughable. He did not say what inaccuracies and on Tuesday the Daily Mirror was repeating our headline (and what the Daily Telegraph was saying last week) that the killer had lived in Rye AS A CHILD BEFORE moving to Tunbridge Wells and going to secondary school there.

All the stories about Northiam also related to him living there AS AN ADULT – not as a child.

And I know of at least one person in Rye who recalls going to school in Rye with the killer. So I wonder about Phil’s so-called other inaccuracies?

But last week’s attack on Parliament was what journalists call “a running story”. Information emerges over time, and sometimes is incomplete and sometimes even contradictory – and the devil is in the detail.

I recall covering a train crash in Maidstone in the ’60s and we could not get the figures to add up. The local hospital said it treated fewer people than the ambulance crews said they had collected. The answer of course, as we discovered later,  was that some casualties had been diverted to other hospitals. But the journalists present had assumed they had all gone to the nearest hospital.

And I suspect Phil Law thought the killer had only attended schools in Tunbridge Wells – which was the impression given in Friday’s papers and TV because they had a photo of him at secondary school.

However our story last Thursday night was carefully worded, saying in the third paragraph “where he is believed to have been brought up”. Our MP Amber Rudd (paragraph seven) was also careful to say “we don’t know that yet” in answer to another question, and our final update on Friday said “doubtless all will become clear in time”. But it may not.

In the meantime Rye News will continue to report events that get people talking, will check the facts (as far as it is possible) and publish corrections if something is seriously wrong – and we will continue to ask questions if something does not seem quite right.

Photo: Rye News library

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  1. Dear Charles, (editor in Chief),

    It is good to hear that you are back and I hope fully recovered. I was not aware you were ill but had not seen your monicker around many stories lately. As I said in my comment last week ‘in the past you have written respectful, searching pieces about things that really concern Rye folk.’ Now with you back I hope that will continue.’

    ‘The truth, the whole truth …’ Well, when not even presidents think truth important: what hope we mortals? As a journalist with your experience (which I was not questioning at all; my comments were more about the fact that your contributors are not journalists, so require an experienced editorial hand if the ‘News’ is to have the status of an online journal rather than just an opinions blog) I am sure that you recognise because something is written in the Daily Mirror or Telegraph (or any other paper) it does not make it correct. As you say: ‘doubtless it will become clear in time: it may not.’ I agree. The main issue I had was that the article stated the terrorist ‘came from Rye’ and then went on to say ‘It seems impossible that our peaceful and lovely old town could breed such a person …’ Are these statements true? Well depends what most people would think ‘breed’ and ‘came from’ mean I guess.

    You certainly got people talking about the Badger Gate story – never seen so many comments before on one story, all contributing I hope to a bit of a debate.

    … I like the ‘News’ it is a refreshing addition to the staid old local paper, long may you continue …


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