Saturday, 27 November 2010

Shoddy Journalism on Party Pieces in The Times

I was going to blog on corporate governance and may still get back to that today, but first I need to rant about cheap and shoddy journalism.

Cashing in on the royal family and Will & Kate wedding fever The Times, once a paper of record, chose to publish a nasty article insinuating criticism of the bride's parents probity. What was the ostensible casus belli? Well they wonder how the Middleton's (her parents) earn a very comfortable living from what appears to be a small, party goods mail order business. None of anyone's damn business I would have thought, but there you are. What did they find fault with? Well...breathless shock...they object to the company renting out its mailing list of customers. Now this is perfectly legal and most transactional websites do it. Indeed Google will do it whilst making it very hard to opt out. If you search for partyware on Google you are liable to find you receive targeted ads about...partyware. So then Dominic Kennedy, The Times 'investigations editor' (or sifter of sleaze, muck and non-stories, as the role might be renamed) moves on to complain that it is recommended best practice to allow customers to 'opt in' to receive ads, rather than 'opt out'. Be that as it may, I don't know of many websites that do that. Who is going to tick a box to say they actively want to receive advertisements and promotional emails? Not many saddo's around with nothing better to do than read ads.

But then, hang on a minute, in the very middle of the article they tell us that Party Pieces was achieving around 1,000 sales a week just 13 years after the business was founded. Well, I think there's your answer, staring you in the face. Having had a really good idea, the Middleton's built a really successful business - probably through hard work and intelligence. That sort of sales level probably gave them very substantial profits - and good luck to them. But the journalist is not finished. How did they buy a property in London and a paddock in the country? Well, that's nobody's business but theirs either but here is a thought; maybe they don't live extravagantly but put money aside from a business making healthy profits. It probably speaks well of the sort of people they are but that matters little to the snide insinuators at The Times who desperately seek a story where there really isn't one.

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