News Shopper letters sponsor runs out of ink

Fancy blagging yourself a free pen? You won’t get one for penning a rant to the News Shopper any more…

So that looks like the end of that, then. Two weeks ago, the News Shopper rewarded a woman with a “star letter” pen for branding gays “perverted”. Now, Websters Pen Shop isn’t supplying any more pens. Maybe it was running out of green ink.

As Tom Royal reports, because of the News Shopper’s early deadlines – the letters page goes to press nine days before publication – it took a fortnight for the “debate” it apparently wanted to make it into print. Of course, while the paper was happy to capitalise on the original letter’s notoriety by putting it on its website, it hasn’t done to the same for the correspondence which condemns it for chosing a bigoted rant as a “star letter”, so here’s the letters page from the Greenwich and Lewisham editions so you can take a look yourself. (Thanks to the 853 reader who took the time to scan it in, by the way.)

Mind you, while the paper printed criticism, there’s no word from the paper or editor Richard Firth on why it decided to give a prize to this hate-mongering crap. Never apologise, never explain, seems to be the motto of a paper which has done its best over the past fortnight to alienate a chunk of its readers. Its Twitter feed, which the paper used to confront its critics instead of engaging with them, has been silent since the Metro Centre charity complained last Friday.

Has the Shopper learned anything? Doesn’t look like it. As for the “debate” it wanted to spark by publishing Mrs Fitzsimons’ bile online, here’s the quality of it at the moment. Perhaps the News Shopper thinks “debate” and “defamation” are the same thing…

Still, we could always look to the Shopper for coverage of the vital Greenwich Market inquiry… except that despite sending a hack, it still hasn’t reported on it. (The Docklands managed it.) But they have managed to plug plans for a free school in Shooters Hill, just like they plugged plans for one in Deptford six weeks ago. There’s a big wide world out there – if only this strange paper would get out and report properly on it for once, instead of trying to whip up scandal and rows.


  1. I’m not sure what to do in reaction to Peter Tatchell being called “head of gays”: laugh hysterically, or slump in slack-jawed horror.

    Was there a vote?

  2. It’s interesting that there wasn’t one letter published in support of the rant. I’m sure that News Shopper would have printed one if they’d received one “in the interests of balance”. It’s also amusing that their ‘star letter’ this time (even if it didn’t win a pen) was one condemmning the letter. In fact all the four letters on the page were all against it, plus one of the three in the ‘Online Opinion’ box.

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