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30 September 2021

Carter: Remaining Silent On Fuel Crisis Would Do Readers A Disservice

Criticism of the media for reporting on the fuel crisis is misplaced and remaining silent on the issue would do readers a disservice, Iliffe Media editorial director of Ian Carter has said.

In a piece published on Behind Local News, Mr Carter warned that those criticising journalists for reporting the facts should be careful what they wished for.

He said: “For all those complaining about media ‘scaremongering’, ask yourself one simple question — would you really prefer to live in a society where inconvenient truths are hidden from you?

“Where the media deliberately censors information because it doesn’t feel the public can be trusted with it? Maybe you would; I wouldn’t.

“Where would that end? Don’t report incidents of serious crime in case it deters people from leaving the house?

“It’s also obvious that the moment the first garage ran low on fuel it would spread across social media networks at breakneck pace — and then it wouldn’t be long before the mainstream media were getting it in the neck for not warning people.”

Mr Carter is one of a number of editors who have spoken out against calls for the media not to report on the fuel crisis. HoldtheFrontPage reported Rebecca Beardmore, of The Gazette tweeted: “The vitriol directed at reporters/the media 'responsible' for the fuel shortages is so strange.

“I’m yet to find a single report directly telling people to panic buy, so no, it’s not our fault.”

“It really amuses me now, someone just called me the ‘biggest idiot in Blackpool’ and I’m actually going to wear that label with pride, that’s quite a feat.”

Somerset County Gazette editor Paul Jones said he had found comments about the media being to blame for panic buying “shocking and frightening, in equal measure”.

“We have had many comments that we ‘shouldn’t report it’. Report what? That there’s a shortage of HGV drivers? Or what politicians say? Or what’s happening?,” he said.

“Because if you follow that through – where’s the line? Who decides that we shouldn’t report something? What events, that *are happening* would people like us to ignore?

“Be careful what you wish for folks, because one day, there may be something you want reported and you’ll slate ‘the media’ for not doing so.”

In his piece, Mr Carter said that the first article on fuel shortages wasn’t published by news media outlets but on the official website of BP on September 24.

“It’s also obvious that the moment the first garage ran low on fuel it would spread across social media networks at breakneck pace — and then it wouldn’t be long before the mainstream media were getting it in the neck for not warning people,” Mr Carter said.

“One further question I would ask our detractors is precisely WHY you think the media would want to stoke up stories of fuel shortages.

“Believe it or not, we’re real people too with real cars to fill up with real petrol. Would we swap the marginal bump to our online traffic for being able to get to work, take our kids to school and go to the shops? You bet.

“Bashing the MSM is something everyone in the industry has got used to and by and large we take it on the chin.

“In this instance, I think remaining silent would be a disservice to readers — there are people with questions to answer about why we are where we are, and by choosing to scapegoat the media, the spotlight is in the wrong place.

“The fuel crisis is a complex, concerning scenario involving Covid, Brexit, the logistics of transporting hazardous materials and salary levels. Traducing it to simply ‘media scaremongering’ is plain wrong.”