Friday, September 13, 2013

Brighton Argus: Contacting Advertisers

Michael Beard editor of the Brighton Argus, presumable not shoplifting

I have just been out shopping and was talking to 'an occassional' parishioner who has a few problems and one of my regular crack addicts came past, we chatted very briefly, he was obviously in a hurry, she was rather disgusted by him and said, 'I thought you hated people like that, he is disguting ....' I told her off of course and asked how she had formed that opinion of me, she had been reading the Brighton Argos.

I am so angry, they have really trashed my reputation, it hurts, and I am angry and it hurts my parishioners.

If you read the Argus' unscrupulous journalist Bill Gardner's twitter account he revels in his animus against me not I think because it is me nor because I am clergyman, 'a vicar', no, it is because I am a 'Catholic priest', it seems quite apparent this is an anti-Catholic thing, from his point of view at least. His stories, however, have been approved by his editor. Gardner informed me my blog was often discussed in the Argus Office.
Here is one extract from his Twitter account, I have copied it all of course, sorry it is difficult to read.:

Are "lying" poor people sent by God to test us? This Catholic priest thinks so. By me: …
We are still waiting to hear from Mr Beard, the editor of the Brighton Argus, we suggested a face saving apology to go into the paper, no accusation or uncalled for breastbeating. The dreadful thing about Christians we actually believe even our enemies have a right to dignity, as messy as they are.. Yes, we want a small donation in reparation too our poor fund and Brighton Voices in Exile who use my house, they are struggling for money at the moment.

I don't know if this anti-Catholic thing is just associated with the Argus or if other publications owned by Newsquest delight in telling lies or misquoting and trashing the reputation of Catholic clergy, maybe some good readers might care to trawl their website. Possibly American readers could check our Gannett Company who own Newsquest. If you know any of the directors a quiet word would very welcome.

I have had a few sleepless nights, as you can imagine, one of my parishioner suggested that we should get a group of people together to ring around or write to the Argus' advertisers to tell them what their favourite local paper gets up to. I'll put out some feelers, there are certainly some good Catholics who own companies who advertise in the Argus.

As I am reasonably well know in the town it would be a very sensible to get a few people to ring around and find out the extent to which my reputation has been damaged by the work of Mr Gardner and Mr Beard, we might well need that type of information, the obvious people to ask are those who advertise in the rag. The next question is will be about their continuing to advertise and therefore support their defamatory newspaper.

I wonder if the actually know that the biggest faller amongst regional newspapers 'was the Newsquest-owned Brighton Argus, which fell 19.6 per cent year on year to 19,199 followed by the Norwich Evening News, which fell 19.3 per cent to 13,322', with it lack of ethical standards and low circulation, would any serious advertisers use the Argus.

I might publish a list of their more prominent advertisers, a few calls from Idaho or Nebraska or Budleigh Salterton Might be a useful lever. After the Leveson Enquiry even provincial newspapers have got to start cleaning up their act, they could start by employing staff who follow at least a minimal ethical Code.


Cathy said...

Father, I am so sorry that you have had to put up with such reactions. I can imagine how hurtful it is and it just shows that these journalists have no conscience that they can make up stories about people that are totally untrue with no regard for their feelings.

What has happened to you has greatly upset and annoyed me. I'm glad you are standing up to these bullies at the Argus. If you don't stand up to bullies like this now they will continue to do the same to you and other priests. You were clearly picked on because you are Catholic priest and they hate Catholic priests. They are so bigoted.

God bless Father Ray, and you have my full support and prayers.

Alan said...

Hmm, I'm interested to see that it's a part of the Gannett group that thinks you're inadequately identified with the proletariat, Father.

I'm a trade unionist and I first became aware of the existence of this company in the context of a dispute at the Detroit Daily News back in the nineties. If I remember correctly, the issue was an attempt to force a cut in terms and conditions and consequent sackings. A rag in this group is an unlikely tribune of the people.

Mother Effingby said...

It is called the 'narrative', Father Ray. In America, and I suspect it is the same in Britain, the so-called underdogs, the poor, the minorities, the scrappy 'entrepreneur' aka scammer, is always virtuous. The white Catholic priest is always the oppressor, never mind the history which contradicts that nonsense...look to the French Revolution for an example of how well it turned out for the victorious, virtuous poor.
My suggestion is to hold on to your head and realize that there is probably much worse to come. May God comfort you.
I am a new convert to the faith, by the way. I don't know if there are a lot of proddies like myself converting to the Catholic Church, but there is something appealing about men and women who stand up to the abuse and take it with dignity. I hope I'll pass the test that my faith will require of me. Keep blogging. Do it for loving spite! Sometimes, telling the truth seems spiteful, but in the end it is still the truth, even when the enemies of Christ think otherwise.

Highland Cathedral said...

My goodness there’s that Gannet company again. I had not heard of them until today and now I’ve come across them twice. I’ve just been doing a lot of reading about a story published in the (Scottish) Daily Record.
Funnily enough, an ex-employee of Gannet, writing for a newspaper of the Churches of Christ, thinks that a ‘lack of research and lazy journalism’ would never have happened at one of their papers!
As to the Argus, speaking through my hat as I don’t live anywhere near Brighton and have never read this paper, I would venture the following:
Mr Gardner is either anti-Catholic or lazy. Either he deliberately distorted what you said or he couldn’t be bothered to read it carefully. (Or maybe he lacks the ability to understand it.)
His editor is anti-Catholic or lazy or thinks that an anti-Catholic story would appeal to a large number of his readers. (Or maybe all three.)
The editor now wants to cover up for the lazy or biased journalism of one of his reporters. He wants to do this because he has a misguided sense of loyalty or he is quite content that a Catholic priest’s reputation is unjustifiably sullied or he couldn’t care less but thinks the story might have appealed to the prejudices of many of his readers. Also, he does not want to be embarrassed by having to admit that a story which originated in his paper and was then taken up by national papers was a complete and utter distortion of the truth.
As for Mr Gardner, he is also too full of pride to admit his lack of journalistic integrity and so feels that he has to continue promoting the story as if it were true.
But remember today’s Gospel reading at Mass.

mark said...

Fr Ray,
I think you should forget the Argus, and forget their journalist. Forget them and forgive them. Put them out of your mind. I think it may upset you to dwell on their rudeness to you, and to wait for their apology. Why not write another short post, telling your readers (and the Argus too, if they are looking) that the matter is now closed. That YOU have closed it, by forgiving those who have caused offence to you.
Although it seems that some of your parishioners may need to 'catch up' (particularly those without access to computers), I think you will find that you have already come out of this matter far, far better than the Argus has. Your blog has reached thousands more people, and most people who have expressed an opinion seem to have recognized that you are greatly more caring towards 'the poor' (as well as far more knowledgeable about them) than your local newspaper is.
If those of us who live away from Brighton wished to send you a donation towards your 'poor fund', how should we make out our cheques?
PS - Your bishop has given you his support, on the Catholic Herald website, which has helped things, I think?
Lose no more sleep over this matter.
God bless.

The Bones said...

One blog post of yours the Argus will be presumably ignoring.

Thought they'll probably still discuss it in the office

Fr Ray Blake said...

Mark, because God is Just, and we must be Just. Injustice comes about because 'good men do nothing'.

Whether it is bad priests or bishops or journalist it comes about because no one says anything, no-one protests and says, "Enough!"

Oona said...

A week after I wrote to Bill Gardner I am still waiting for a reply. A little discourteous I think, fr Ray. I will give him a further 7 days and then I will have no choice but to write to the press complaints commission about his spiteful, inaccurate, defamatory "journalism".

He's just a bigot who cannot bear to see Catholics thriving. Ten a penny. Keep praying for him.

Unknown said...

JPII went face to face and spoke to the man who shot him and forgave him. Maybe think on this Fr Ray, than starting your own personal vendetta. Speak to the man, he has offered to, surely all sinners deserve a second chance. And is it your job to dish out 'justice'? Are you the one who judges? It is fair enough you feel hurt, and insulted and that you feel like your reputation has been tarnished, yet it is not for you to wish ill on others because of this. 'But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.' I thought we had come along way from an 'eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth'? I'm not saying what was said about you was right or that you have no right to feel injustice and wronged, but maybe you need to go read Job, or maybe 'as we forgive those who have trespassed against us' or 'let he without sin cast the first stone.'

Fr Ray Blake said...

JPII went to see the man after his trial, conviction and expression of repentance.

It is certainly not a vendetta, this was an unprincipled attack not on me personally but on a Catholic priest.
I want to bring the Argus to the table to talk, they have not responded to several invitations to do so.

But frankly I do not see that the Argus does much which is good in our city, on the contrary.

Can you identify anything they do that is positive?

Anonymous said...

What a load of nonsense you have written! The late Fr. Thwaitess once told me that St. Ignatius Loyola said he would even take the Pope to court to defend his good name - Fr. was urging me at the time to institute court action !

I would urge Fr, Ray to put the matter in the hands of Solicitors if he has not done so already. There are good ones to be found in the National Catholic Directory!

Gratias said...

Der Father Blake,
I am very glad you are in the ring again. Thank you. It will seem odd to you but any publicity is good for you, even if it is a pack of lies. You will now have many more readers that you will reach on this year of Faith. Forget about Gardner and the Brighton Argos. Laissez les tomber. No one will remember them in few short days. Hope you service to the poor is one day celebrated by others, but for thousands us readers you are a Catholic hero. May God reward you abundantly.
In Christ,
Gratias from Los Angeles

PM said...

If I were one of your parishioners, I would be organising a boycott of the Argus and its advertisers.

The Holy Office said...

Father, be at peace!

Blessed are you, when men revile you, and persecute you, and speak all manner of evil against you falsely, because of me. 12 Be glad and light-hearted, for a rich reward awaits you in heaven; so it was they persecuted the prophets who went before you.

Thank you for your witness.

johnf said...

Fr Blake

I agree with PM. Urge people to boycott the Argus and Advertisers.

If a few of your parishioners wrote to the Editor and Advertisers, they would soon sit up.


Tim said...

Father, the encounter you describe is useful evidence that the Argus smear has been injurious to your reputation and ministry. Keep a diary of all such incidents - witnessed where possible. I think it's time to lawyer up. Don't wait for the outcome of your current negotiations with the Argus - they may just be stringing you along until the two month deadline for complaints to the PCC has passed. Start drafting that complaint and assembling the evidence now - or ask someone competent to do so on your behalf (customised for each of the offending newspapers). Gardner's tweets suggest to me that this case is aggravated by hostility to a religious minority and I wonder if you should have a word with Neil Addison at the Thomas More Legal Centre:
Meanwhile, prayers on your behalf to your namesake St Raymond Nonnatus (patron of the wrongly accused) and Our Lady Mirror of Justice.

Roses and Jessamine said...

Consumers can choose to boycott the companies advertising in The Argus, which would hurt their revenues. Unfortunately in order to know who they are, one has to go on the Argus's website or buy the print version of the rag in the first place, and that benefits them, so it's a bit of a Pyrrhic exercise.

I agree with you, Father, strong action must be taken.

I dislike giving The Argus & Billy-goat Gardner any more website hits, but I think you, and all of us in your flock supporting you, ought to see this:

I am sorry for any distress reading that may have caused. It distressed me.

That article was published the day before the "Lying and Messy" piece. So two attacking pieces on the same person within 24 hours? If that is not a systematic attempt at character assassination, what is?

I have changed my mind. At first I thought Gardner's 5/9/13 piece was just an ill thought out, lazily researched, hurriedly written piece to try and make his publishing deadline for that day.

Now I think it's more sinister than that. It's not only an anti-Catholic, anti-Christian, anti-Christ campaign; it IS personal. He's chosen you specifically to pick on, not any other clergyman in Brighton, and not The Church as a whole. He's clearly been following your blog for a while. I suspect he will continue to do so.

In a way, it's actually a compliment. He might see you as more of a threat to his agenda than other clergymen because of the strength of your holiness, honesty, and outspokenness on the deviant values he upholds.

His support for "quaint queer world" and free advertising for that bondage/fetish show speaks volumes.

Now is the time more than ever to crush that little viper. He has to be stopped in his tracks. There is a time to turn the other cheek, but there are also times when we are called upon to take up the proverbial sword in God's name, and in the name of truth and justice.

If you don't take action, I fear he and The Argus will assume they've got away with it, and might up the ante. That must not be allowed.

Is there a Catholic Law Society in Brighton?

Praying for you, Father.

Roses and Jessamine said...

The Thomas More Legal Centre: "specialist free legal advice and assistance in cases involving issues of Religious Freedom or Religious Discrimination in England and Wales."

Write to:

Neil Addison
Thomas More Legal Centre
Room 428 - 4th Floor
Corn Exchange
Fenwick Street
Liverpool L2 7QS

Or e-mail through that website.

jacinta said...

Father, I am very sorry that you are having to endure all this unjust,biased journalism. It seems it is fair game if you are a catholic priest! Can you imagine them doing this to other religions. They are a bunch of cowards. Stand up to the bullies Father, we need you in this demonic society we live in.
Sometimes I think it is best to hit where they hurt - in their pocket!
Anyone organisation who supports ant-Christian values, I do not buy from.
Remembering you in our prayers,

FR. HECTOR R.G. PEREZ, S.T.D. said...

Dear Fr. Blake,

Hold on tight ! This too shall pass.

By the way, not only should you keep on blogging -aka, modern evangelization - but it would be most helpful if we could share it on our Face Book pages , etc.

May Our lady, St. Francis De Sales and Bd. John Henry Newman intercede for you and protect you!

Fr. Héctor R.G. Pérez, STD
St. Stephen, Pensacola, FL USA

Supertradmum said...

Father, an extra stripe on your sleeve when you meet Peter at the gate--count it all joy when people persecute you and say all types of slanderous things against you, so they treated the prophets and your God and mine, Jesus Christ. You must be doing something REALLY wonderful for Satan to take so much time and attention to try and pull you down.

Keep up the good fight and know that you are gaining lots of merit for heaven-especially if it hurts.

God bless you. And, sorry is my two paraphrases from the Holy Scripture sound like a neo-protestant/St. Louis Jesuit song....

Cathy said...

Father, I have been looking at some things on the Argus website and I can hardly believe their hypocrisy.

I was bullied some years ago and it did me a lot of harm and I hate the sort of bullying you have experienced. I looked up what the Argus has published about bullying and noticed that it had an article opposing bullying on the 10th of August. Strange how this was the same date that you had written the post which the Argus later twisted.

I looked at the link for Bill Gardner's twitter account that you gave and it is clear he is just a bully. He has a "twitter" for the 4th of September that says: "Another one bound to cause a stir - Catholic priest slams bondage-themed wedding fair." I looked at the link he gave and saw that the article was about you.

It's interesting that he described it as "bound to cause" a stir. He obviously wanted to stir things up, and obviously wanted to stir things up about you because you're a Catholic priest. However, what he quotes you as saying in the piece doesn't indicate 'outrage' (as the headline in the argus claimed) or that you had 'slammed' anything his twitter had claimed - so Bill Gardner was obviously just trying to stir things up.

I also don't understand why THE NEXT DAY (5th of September) there was the article in the Argus distorting what you said about poor people - when it wasn't at all newsworthy, and was a hatchet job referring to something you had written ONE MONTH before. (Does this count for 'news' in Brighton?)

It is obvious that Bill Gardner and the Argus were again trying to "cause a stir" and you were set up like Aunt Sally. This is bullying and it's disgusting.

On the website is an article by Bill Gardner opposing homophobic bullying (which I agree with - all bullying is wrong). There is also an article from a few days ago saying he was on telly opposing the bullying of internet trolls.

And yet the two-faced hypocrite thinks it is okay to goad and bully and misrepresent you because you are a Catholic priest.

Hypocrites like him are the lowest of the low.

Sorry for the rant Father, but this sort of bullying, and the hypocrisy of the journalist and newspaper, really annoys me.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Thanks for pointing this out. The phone call from the unscrupulous Bill Gardner was the first I heard about it.
I think far from 'slamming' I laughed because of the silliness and perversion of it all, the idea of a wedding celebrating sexual perversion is so odd to me. I then gave him the answer he expected.

Yes it bullying.

Unknown said...

Father, I am deeply saddened by the damage that has been done to your reputation and I think that you are quite right to demand a public apology. It is distressing to see the stress and anxiety that you are suffering as a result of this vicous attack and it makes me even angrier with the Argus. I like the idea of contacting advertisers and I'll talk to other parishioners to see what we could do. Moira

Mary O'Regan said...

Great to see you blogging, Fr Ray!

Fr Ray Blake said...

thanks for your support Mary

Matthew Roth said...

Gannett owns the Louisville Courier-Journal, which has always been anti-Catholic, but it's pretty horrifying that a Catholic political cartoonist publishes cartoons that mock the Church and her Sacred Doctrine.
Thank you Father for your vocation. My friends here at Franciscan University are trying to reach out to the Brighton-like poverty in Steubenville, and really appreciated your comments.

John Nolan said...

I saw Bill Gardner on the ITV 'Tonight' programme, described as a 'senior reporter' and talking about on-line bullying. The anchor for this programme, Julie Etchingham, is a practising Catholic.

I suspect Gardner is being head-hunted by the BBC as we speak, and his rise from the desk of a provincial rag to 'Newsnight' is only a matter of time.

Genty said...

Jane, Justice demands that the truth be known.
I don't know which of part of that causes a difficulty, but have you any idea what would happen were Fr. Blake to crumble under the bombardment? Those of us who have been round the block a few times know exactly how bullies work. The attacks would increase in intensity until Fr. Blake was psychologically beaten down.
In misapprehending Fr. Blake's purpose it is frankly preposterous to suggest he is pursuing a vendetta. Since when did the sinned against become the sinner? Fr. Blake is not merely defending himself. He is upholding the integrity of the Catholic Church, as he should.
Living Catholics were once known as the Church Militant for a good reason - to square up to those over many centuries who have sought the demise of the Catholic Church through falsehoods, defamation and violence.
It's what the holy martyrs understood when they gave their lives for the sake of justice and truth.
Each such attack, though it may seem insignificant in the wider world, is yet another attempt to trash Our Lord Himself.
How much easier it would be for Fr. Blake to find solace in the shadows. Who would willingly put himself up for a good kicking? Fr. Blake's courage for Christ surely demands support, not casual dismissal by a few pick and mix quotes.

Lepanto said...

I am so glad that you are fighting back, Father. If you had 'caved in' many of us would have been hurt. This young man might have won a temporary professional advantage (until his venality is exposed) but his current employers will hopefully be very worried, as they should be. My guess is that several aspiring journo's working for failing rags are currently scouring Catholic blogs in order to destroy a few more priests and make their names.

Roses and Jessamine said...

Father, we are with you and we love you.

Rabies Theologorum said...


I think carl Jung would have used the word Anima for a male journalist... so called....some people do not know they have a soul.

I am sorry for your trouble... only one answer in this case... stand up to bullies.

An Ave Maria for you when I put my head on the pillow.

God Bless,


Melinda said...

Dear Fr. Blake,

Thank you for continuing to post. Your blog has been an encouragement to me for several years--these last months in particular--as a voice of reason, faith, and continuity.

I comment on blogs maybe once a year so this is it for 2013, but your blog is worth it.

Aitch said...

Fr you were in my thoughts at Mass today. I could see how your original post could be manipulated against you but that said, I too encountered the same lying and deception by a few "poor people", on a much, much smaller scale but it does happen.

God bless all your hard work and please "keep on blogging".

David said...

I have read the original blog and the Argus article and it is very clear the journalist was making a deliberate attempt to smear your name. The journalist and the Editor of the Argus really need be taken to account on this. Making a substantial donation to the good work done by you and your parish on behalf of the homeless seems the very least they can do.

Please do continue to blog

amaqula said...

Father....I think you should keep blogging as usual. It is obvious you are causing a stir with your blog....and that your blog is getting publicity. That is not always such a bad thing.

Continue your writing, Father....and let this wash over, if you can. Soon it will be forgotten...people have such short memories. But your blog will be better known.

Amfortas said...

I enjoy your posts and offer my heartfelt support....but I wish you'd spellcheck and proofread before publishing.

Unknown said...'cancer'-of-sin-29013.html

epsilon said...

Dear Father Blake

You are absolutely right to seek justice! We all know that you practise charity with honesty. It seems to be the honesty that people can't handle these days!

Looking at Jane Ireland's blog - she's young and has a lot to learn - I'm sure she means well, hopefully she will understand what it means to be publicly, uncompromisingly Catholic eventually - not for the lily-livered!

Unknown said...

I'm sorry but I live my catholic faith as publicly and honestly as I can, however I see here not attack specifically on the catholic faith. Yes, I have already acknowledged that what was written and said about fr blake was not right and was obviously hurtful. I know what it is to have your words taken out of context and twisted and it is hurtful and infuriating. I also know what it feels like to be personally attacked and I know what bullying is more than most people so I don't appreciate the 'once you've been round the block'. Once you got to a point of such a low as I did you fully understand bullying and it takes a lot to drag a person back up. Bt for me, the easy route was for them to suffer as much as I had, to feel the hurt I did, to be punished, to be humiliated, to lose everything because of what they had done to me. Yet that is NOT the teaching of the Catholic Church as I know it. Yes, this was an attack on fr ray personally and not the Catholic Church, that does not mean I am condoning it. However, as much as you fight for justice it may not always come in the form we wish or want it to. Many more people have been condemned far worse than fr blake. I am insulted you portray him as a martyr, I'm sorry father, as much as I appreciate you and what you do, I look at those nuns in Syria, I look at those publicly practicing their faith and, not only may they be puclicly humiliated for it, they may also be horrendously slaughtered and murdered. Yes fight for personal justice, go through the right means, but to start going beyond that on a sort of crusade and ripping another man of is reputation and livelihood to me seems wrong. He has surely ripped himself of his own reputation among the eyes of many. I might be young but you are wrong to dismiss me, because I am the Catholic Church alive and breathing today, and I love the Catholic Church.

mark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fr Ray Blake said...

I am told to feed the poor, I am told to forgive my enemies. I have been remembering the Argus staff at the altar. I feel sorry for them, I think there is a terrible injustice that they are paid peanuts if their stories appear in a 13,000 circulation newspaper, they only make a living wage if their story is taken up by a National, hence even senior journalists working for Newsquest have to earn money through doing extra jobs, in Brighton such as becoming chorus boys in the local theatre.

It is unjust and makes such journalists unjust.

fraz1971 said...

These attacks against Catholics are everywhere these days. It is organised and constant. Every facet of Catholicism is being attacked.

It is a very old battle as you well know father.

You must continue with your head high father. You are doing Gods work.

Here is why they hate and fear the Catholic Church. You use technology (Blogging). I do think that the church has to start tackling everyday issues from a Catholic perspective. If the Inquisition still had power, the world would be a better place.

God bless you Father Blake.

mark said...

Fr Ray,
Then you have forgiven him?
Perhaps this journalist has already suffered enough? Today he is reduced to reporting on the plight of 'bunny rabbits' at Ford open prison! As you imply, it can be a hard life being a journalist on a minor newspaper.
If you extend the olive branch, it will not be because he deserves it, but because you choose to show mercy. And perhaps it may provoke a generous response?

Fr Ray Blake said...

Jane Ireland,
If you read Gardners twitter feed it is obvious that it is not a personal attack on me, but a delight in a 'stitch up' of a Catholic priest -

fraz1971 said...

I saw a good little film a few months ago. Needless to say, it did not receive any fanfare from the MSM. It was called For The Greater Glory. It was about the murder of priests and the persecution of Catholics by the Freemasonic revolutionaries in Mexico.

There comes a time when turning the other cheek is not an option. I know that things aren't that bad just yet, but who knows where all this will lead.

This attack on a Catholic priest is not just some disengenious "reporter" who is so talentless and lazy that he is reduced to trawling the internet in search of news. The man may not know it, but it is a wider agenda at play and he has fallen into the hands of evil. Just looking at the comments on that rag fills me with pity for those commenting. They strike me as the most uneducated who are told what to think and have their world view prepackaged for them by the MSM. The may be zombies, but they are dangerous and we can see groupthink coming into play here.

Stand your ground father and profess the truth from the rooftops.

This stuff isn't new.

Paul T. said...

"...If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:" ....
Kipling suggests that enduring such trials will lead to earthly rewards, but if endured 'in odium fidei', I think they will be enjoyed in eternity.
Keep it up, Fr Ray.
Paul Tully

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