The Herald Sacks Angela Haggerty As Journalistic Freedom Hangs By A Thread

Angela Haggerty 1 SAToday, as the bulk of Scotland’s journalists keep a low profile and say nothing in support of Graham Spiers, a second columnist at the Herald has been carpeted after pressure from Sevco.

This time it’s Angela Haggerty, and this time the paper didn’t stop with embarrassing her.

In fact, they sacked her.

To call this a crisis for the profession is an understatement. Its entire reason for being is hanging by a thread. No-one working within its ranks is safe today if they collectively allow this to happen, without comment, without criticism, standing idly by as they currently do.

One organisation – and it’s a skint West of Scotland football club; we’re not talking about a multi-billion pound transnational corporate behemoth with unlimited funds and a legal department that would make Coca Cola’s CEO piss his pants – has decided it will not tolerate any negative press, at all, and it is now set on threatening any media outlet which doesn’t play ball.

And most of Scotland’s press has fallen shamefully silent.

I have never had less respect for them than I do today. I have never felt this much contempt for those who work within its ranks.

They are cowards almost to a man.

The rare exceptions are hung out to dry and made twist in the wind for the amusement of a mob.

There’s no excuse for it.

If their business is really all about money – and commercial considerations appear to be high on the list of factors in what The Herald has done – then they’re essentially putting a price tag on their integrity.

And in this case, that appears to be around £40,000.

So an entire generation of real journalists, of writers of conviction, decades of breaking big stories and a proud history of bringing truth to power, it’s all been flogged off and betrayed, for less than the half the price of a one bedroom flat in the drug addict part of town.

What price a free press in Scotland, eah?

In England, Peter Oborne resigned last year from The Telegraph, after he said their entire coverage of the banking industry and the politics surrounding it had been slanted by the advertising fees paid by organisations like HSBC, who were under investigation for multiple counts of fraud, money laundering and other offences … none of which his paper wanted to write about.

This is where we are now in Scotland, it seems, only a smaller scale.

A much smaller one.

An embarrassingly small one.

There’s no such thing as a free press; now you, too, can buy it for the price of a family car.

For some at these papers, the stench must be overwhelming.

Oborne wasn’t a man working alone, as Graham Spiers isn’t. Yet Angela was the first mainstream journalist working in the media here in Scotland to stand up for him, and based on what’s just happened to her certain people will be calculating that she’s going to be the last.

She better not be.

Everyone who can hold a pen should be behind her.

You know, when the Charlie Hebdo attacks murdered so many of that publication’s journalists in Paris, it brought forth a wave of support for journalist freedom that filled me with enormous pride.

I now realise how phony that all was, because it’s easy to express support for the dead when you’re not personally in the gun-sights. It’s easy to take a stand, or to look like you’re taking a stand, when you’re not being put under pressure. What we saw wasn’t courage; it was calculation. An entire industry lathered itself up in self congratulation for its “courage”, and all the while it buried child abuse allegations, government scandals, allowed criminals to escape justice and corrupt corporations to escape scrutiny … out of fear.

Fear of less than a bullet.

Fear of losing a few quid.

Here in Scotland journalists fold the hand because they get some abuse on Twitter. Editors refuse to let plainly true stories run because the Blue KKK might organise a dozen or so unemployed yobs to protest outside on a Monday morning. And God knows how much gets buried because advertisers issue veiled threats about pulling their copy.

Can you imagine these people ever doing anything so serious as to warrant the attention of real fanatics, and not just the Saturday afternoon variety?

No, me neither.

A collection of cowards, that’s what we have instead of a press.

The only people with guts in all this are the Bampots, of whom Angela is a shining example.

She’ll continue to write the truth, no matter what it costs her, because she gets it. She understands. She takes the job seriously and she knows that, in the end, she herself is a cog in a big wheel and her voice is important, and maintaining it through this kind of shit is what will keep the nature of what she does going long after those who sold it out are dead and gone.

Those of us in the blogosphere don’t do it for huge rewards.

I work for limited advertising and donations, and entirely without regrets.

The bills get paid (most of the time) but I’m not driving a sports car.

I have a media degree and could have pursued a career in the press, but I never wanted it.

On a day like today I’m glad of that.

Because I couldn’t do as Graham Spiers may have to.

I couldn’t go into the offices of an organisation that just shafted me.

I couldn’t call myself a journalist and have my livelihood dependent on the whims of the advertising department.

And that’s not a criticism of Graham. I’ve read his work, and I know he has balls. I also understand where he is right now. The guy probably has a mortgage to pay and a wife and kids to support; he’s not in a position where he can spit the dummy out of the pram and walk away.

Which is exactly the point.

No newspaper worthy of the name should ever put one of its writers in such a diabolical, heart-wrenching position.

It makes me sick. It makes me physically sick.

Graham knows now what his lifetime of work has been worth, and what it means to the bean counters. That has to hurt like a bastard and to say I feel enormous sympathy with him, and with Angela, and with every other writer out there who’s facing similar pressure … well words don’t do justice to how absolutely scunnered I am for them all.

Here on the blogosphere, we operate entirely without those concerns.

But we also work entirely without a safety net.

The media is fond of telling their readers that there are no restrictions on what we are allowed to write – as if the libel laws and contempt of court laws don’t exist on the internet. In truth, our every article is a walk along the tightrope. Our every utterance has to be weighed against the possible consequences, and I’m not just talking about legal ones.

We know what’s out there.

We know those people exist.

Some of us deal with their abuse on a day to day basis.

But we’re big boys and girls, and we can take it.

We have to, because on days like today it looks as if no-one else will.

But I could be wrong.

Maybe every journalist in Scotland is furious about this. Maybe they’re organising industrial action in support of their colleagues even now. Maybe they get that to walk away from Graham and Angela is to paint a target on their backs. Maybe they get what an enormous moment this is. Maybe.

And then again, maybe some of them just don’t care.

Hell, the money is good, it’s steady, and you get to see your name in print.

What’s not to like?

Like career politicians, with not one iota of political conviction, maybe that’s what really matters to them.

And if that’s the case, hey, fair play to they.

But they ought to stop pretending to be journalists.

This is the third article in a row I’ve written on this site, on this subject, and that is depressing and infuriating in equal measure.

Yet it’s important to keep on doing it.

It’s important to keep on speaking the truth, even when it does come at a cost.

Even when it does have consequences.

Because the cost and the consequences of silence are even greater still.

(I’m a full time writer and the support of my readers is what keeps me goingr. If you like what I do, and are able, and want to support the work the site does, you can make a donation at the link. If every reader was able to donate a small sum every year that would keep the site going strong well into the future. Many thanks in advance.)


James Forrest

James Forrest is a writer and blogger from Glasgow, and the author of two books, Fragments and Believers, which are available on Amazon.

23 thoughts on “The Herald Sacks Angela Haggerty As Journalistic Freedom Hangs By A Thread

  • 29 January, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    Gave up buying any of these papers in Scotland years ago and any genuine Celtic supporter should do the same.
    I refuse to listen to radio snyde any more with BFDJ and snivellin telling you what\’s right and wrong if you dare to say different they cut you off and berate you.
    Again any genuine Celtic supporter that\’s listens or even worse calls in to talk to them should hang his/her head in shame.

    And I\’m off the bevvy.

  • 29 January, 2016 at 3:06 pm

    Apparently the inhabitants of ibrox claim that they sing a \”sanitized\” version of the billy boys with E.B.T.\’s replacing their favorite ethnic and religious target. They can now further \”sanitize\” their beloved song by inserting \”bully boys\” instead of billy boys.
    The mask has clearly came off, no more whimpering about a minority of trouble makers. Bare faced and brazen, they now believe that they have the power to not only wine and dine the Scottish mainstream media, but now are directing it in how it operates. Germany in the mid to late thirties comes to mind when comparing their abuse of individual freedom. What steps should we, as individuals take to counter this evil menace ?, first off, boycott the company that threatened to withdrawn advertising from the Herald. Next, encourage all true football fans to boycott their clubs games against this blight on football, petition your club to stand up to the bully boy tactics, reminding their clubs that Scottish football can and has survived without this entity in the top flight. The actions of this entity cannot be allowed to go unchecked, otherwise Scotland is headed back into the dark ages.

  • 29 January, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    Scotland is now an official state run country, it’s msm and its so called independent news channel the BBC are all being controlled by the state/establishment, to be prevented from reporting the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth just because it may not toe the blue party line is appalling, the sms are complicit in every scandal that happens regardless of how serious it may be if they withhold reporting the truth because of either fear or intimidation.Some journalists will put their lives on the line in every war zone around the world to report the truth yet in Scotland the pathetic excuse for journalists won’t even attempt to expose the smallest misdemeanour relating to a certain part/ team embedded within Scottish society..HH

  • 29 January, 2016 at 3:19 pm

    Courage,veracity and integrity,three things monumentally lacking in the SMSM,and which you hold in abundance James,alongside a lamentably few others who refuse to bow down to the truly sinister machinations of the klan. Profoundly depressing situation in 21st century Scotland. Now that we have proof that editorial independence can be be bought so cheaply,it’s imperative that voices like your own continue to expose the gross cowardice of what passes itself off as a “free press” in this bigoted wee country. Keep your chin up James,and continue to fight the good fight. Truth will out in the end.

  • 29 January, 2016 at 3:25 pm

    The two individuals concerned have one thing in common, they both critized people who may be shadowy who are involved with a football team from a certain part of Glasgow! What’s that all about? I ask you, a football team,s bosses get critiqued and job losses are the result…….mighty corporations go into meltdown! Doe,s religion play a part in this? are the masonic order involved?……… Something is not right in the state of……. Scotland.

  • 29 January, 2016 at 3:29 pm

    It\’s about time all true football supporters stopped buying the red tops in Scotland .Itaxalso about time we ceased to encourage using all radio phone ins,we get Lenny true information online now from various sources.The sacking f Angela Haggerty and the treatment of Graham Spears is. Disgrace.Red tops need us we don\’t need them stop buying them now they will soon get the message.This is not a one team country.

  • 29 January, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    I’ve not bought a newspaper for years, this is disgusting. This lassie has had abuse for years from the Peepul now this. Unreal

  • 29 January, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    I smell something is rotten to the core – and its not just the cowards in the ”newspapers” – there is something very very strange going on in Scotland today. Sinister and corrupt dealings going on under cloak of darkness and behind closed doors. I can have a good guess but I think it goes even deeper than we think. Time to start digging and exposing. . .

  • 29 January, 2016 at 4:55 pm

    These so called newspapers say they are all about the truth BUT when they get the truth……its a big NONO,!

    They only want to hear what THEY want to hear OR are told what not to print from……well you know answer?
    Would never have these papers near my house.


  • 29 January, 2016 at 5:12 pm

    GS called a Sevco Director a bigot because he said the Billy Boys was a great song. Was this a fair statement by GS? In my opinion no. I think it is a hateful generalisation. Most Sevco fans sing the Billy boys yet most of them do not hate Catholics. Should GS have been forced to apologise? Calling someone a bigot is a serious accusation. There is no legal definition of sectarianism in Scotland. That said, it is GS opinion and it should have been left at that.

    Likewise, if a Celtic fan says they like Irish rebel songs, GS also accuses them of being bigots. Again, this is utter garbage. Yes some Celtic fans are bigots but most are not, even if they do sing rebel songs.

    Its just a bit of banter except to those overly sensitive slaves to new order political correctness gone mad. Thanks to GS and co, we are heading towards an increasingly Orwellian like approach to policing football fans. And in a country where hooliganism is non existent, yet anti theist religious intolerance is all the rage, it really stinks of pretentious snobbery and hypocrisy.

  • 29 January, 2016 at 5:19 pm

    At the present time Celtic as a club should now be looking to end all advertising within the herald and the evening times as they favour sevco over everything else.
    The club should also be looking at ending the parks of hamilton bus, when the contract runs out get someone else in no point in putting money into sevco as 1 of sevco’s director’s own’s it.

    and I’m still off the bevvy.

  • 29 January, 2016 at 5:36 pm

    All you Celtic fans out ther who voted snp,who voted yes in the referendum how do you feel now.On sky sports today the Scottish sports minister touring ibrox, fawning over the klan talking about ther values,and the great work they do for the community.I felt physically sick watching it.
    This is just the start don\’t say you weren\’t warned.

  • 29 January, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    Great article but Forrest and Haggarty need reinforcements and last time it took C4 newsman Alex Thomson to blow the gaff on what Rangers were doing. He was threatened with \”a good old Presbytarian slap\” if he continued his investigation. It would be interesting to read his comments if he was asked for his opinion.

  • 29 January, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    It is a rubicon moment because for once (or twice even with the GS apology saga) it is all out in the open.
    I wonder if the BBC will follow it up and name and shame the paper,its individuals and the company with the Rangers Director?

    I also look forward to the demise of what once was a great Scottish newspaper.

  • 29 January, 2016 at 8:05 pm

    Spiers leaves.

    Graham Spiers, an award-winning sports writer, departed after threats of legal action over one of his Herald columns.

  • 29 January, 2016 at 9:14 pm

    The freedom of the press ,a cornerstone of democracy?.
    There are no democracies only plutocracies.

  • 30 January, 2016 at 6:43 am

    This is a complete disgrace where profit comes before integrity but such is the world we live in, not that I am suggesting we accept that for one moment.

    The DR, Herald, ET etc have lost any integrity they had left and as you rightly say this is over a tin pot club who are in actual danger of going to the wall, like its predecessor did. Except it isn\’t! It is about the bullying underclass who are allowed to thrive amongst the backdrop of bigot apologists.

    I have a dream (my apologies Dr MLK) that people like you, Angela, Phil Mac, Auldheid and JJ could set something to rival the bile which is put on the streets. Something online with a small subscription fee, plus with the hits you all get combined I would posit advertising would come in. You and many like you are the ones thousands look to for the truth. SMSM has become nothing more than a daily dose of fiction, The Dandy will be turning in its grave.

    The Internet Bampot Sentinel, giving mainstream journalism IBS since inception! I actually like the sound of that!!

  • 30 January, 2016 at 9:19 am

    Paul. What has rebel songs got to do with bigotry? They are not bigoted in any way shape or form. Your post sounds like it has been written by the smsm.

  • 30 January, 2016 at 5:07 pm

    He never called said director a bigot!!

  • 30 January, 2016 at 6:21 pm

    If Graham Spiers had any balls…or integrity, he would resign in support of Angela Haggerty.

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