Some weeks ago the Herald launched a new online format, which changed how comments appeared. Some of the changes were just clumsy – instead of threads with comments nicely nested one below the other as authors commented on each other’s contributions, each comment is quoted so that by the time a particularly interesting or contentious post has been commented on five or six times it has become tediously long because its repetitive. Where there are large number of posts like this it’s easy to lose the will to live while scrolling through.
More serious though is that there appears to be a harder, unionist line being applied in moderation. Under the previous regime posts would be removed for being abusive (fair enough) or for being directly critical of the journalist in question. The latter is a bit more contentious since how can you comment on David Torrance without being critical of David Torrance?
Or to take another example, the other day they ran a story that Michelle Thomson’s email address had appeared on the Ashley Maddison site. The problem with the story was of course that Ashley Maddison, I am told, does not validate email addresses, so someone else could put your email address on that site, and you would never know. For pointing that out my post was removed (or perhaps it was my suggestion that someone might do the same with Kate Devlin’s email address? We will never know).
Anyhow, this morning a letter by that redoubtable Labour councillor and supporter, Alex Gallagher was published – it appears in a subsequent post to this one. The essence of it appears to be that the SNP knew in June last year that the price of oil was about to fall to the sort of level its at today, but said nothing. Gallagher is calling on the Scottish Government to apologise for this.
There are multiple problems with Gallagher’s argument – which I go into in that post – but, and this is my point for now – this post too has been removed.
Has unionism hacked its way so far into the Herald that any sort of extended critique of the unionist position (in this case presented by Alex Gallagher) will not be allowed?
To date I have been an assiduous contributor to the Herald’s forum over the last two or three years, but no more. My only regret is that my sub has another ten months to run (renewing just before the change of format). The paper’s content is moving rapidly to rivalling the content of the Scotsman in being a cheerleader for the Unionist cause, but to edit the thoughts of readers for being inconsistent (or too inconsistent) with that policy is going much, much too far.
Therefore, in order to maintain my own sense of intellectual independence, I intend to make use of this blog to comment on the Herald without the threat of censorship (funny thing to say after Robinson’s comments about Putin, isn’t it?).
Hope anyone who reads this enjoys it.