Monday, 19 December 2011

Lies, Bias and the Regional Press

It's not often that I'm pushed to anger by a regional newspaper, especially one that I rarely read. But I'll make an exception in the case of the Northampton Chronicle. In fact, based on their moderation of one particular article, I am actively advising that people think very carefully before wasting their money on this particular blot on the journalist's escutcheon.

I keep track of Kleeneze's news appearances; it's an old habit made easier by the advent of Google Alerts. So, when I discovered a nice little story about Peter and Jillian Griffiths and their fund-raising efforts, I was delighted.

That is, until I read the vitriolic and incoherent comment posted by an individual calling themselves "CitizenNorthampton". Amongst other bile, he accused them of profiteering, greed, dishonesty and scamming their customers. He also claimed that Kleeneze is seen as a scam by others.

Intrigued, I went through the weird signup process and posted a response. I'd love to cut and paste that response here, but I can't. The reason I can't is that it was removed by a moderator. A moderator who is happy to have the Northampton Chronicle's website peppered with potentially libellous comments from a disgruntled obsessive.

My deleted comment pointed out that Kleeneze distributors are self-employed and that Kleeneze is a legitimate business. I pointed out that, after overheads, petrol, carrier bags, replacement catalogues and postage are taken away from the retail profit figures that he quoted, an extra 10% cash donation to charity is a very nice gesture and not something deserving of vilification. I questioned the original post's figures. I also congratulated Peter and Gillian for their efforts. No reason to delete that, you would think. I wasn't promoting Kleeneze per se, I didn't link to a business website; I merely tried to redress the balance. Unfortunately, that wasn't good enough for the moderator, or the anonymous CitizenNorthampton.

Because CitizenNorthampton responded to me, not once, but twice. I had suggested he might be bitter about Kleeneze (a reasonable point given the nastiness of his original post) and that he might be an ex-distributor. He claims to be an ex-customer of "one of the unnamed people in the picture" and denies having been a distributor. He claims to have a new distributor who "explain[ed] ... in great detail how this business works".

Let's stop there for a minute. How many of us distributors have explained "in great detail" how the Kleeneze bonus structure works to a customer? How many customers have asked us to explain? Am I the only one who doesn't believe this guy's explanation and justification for his vitriolic comments?

Because they are vitriolic; yet again he claims Kleeneze is a scam, that Peter and Jillian are profiteering and he threatens them with reporting them to the charities commission. His final comment, posted at 15:39 on Saturday (at a time when my original comment was still there) still claims that Kleeneze is a scam.

And the moderator, and presumably the Northampton Chronicle management, are happy to let their bias show and let those lies stand. I think Peter and Jillian have enough grounds for a letter before action, asking for those comments to be removed.

I certainly won't be advertising in that paper and I wouldn't advise my team to do so either.