Mayor Mocks Local Democracy Reporter In Council Chamber
The Bristol Post has launched a defence of its Local Democracy Reporter after the mayor of Bristol and councillors openly ridiculed the journalist and accused him of political bias during a council meeting.
The paper reported that the mayor repeatedly mocked the LDR Adam Postans’ status as a journalist, commenting “be great to have a journalist here” as the reporter entered the chamber and then, during the meeting, adding: “Might I also say to any journalists who might be listening somewhere out there on the internet that we don’t allow our political bias to be put on full display.”
In an editorial, The Post said: “A turgid 57 minutes later, Mr Rees and cabinet member for waste Steve Pearce again used the meeting to target Adam. They both deliberately over-emphasised the words ‘Reuse and Recycling Centre’ as the meeting discussed the Hartcliffe Way refuse facility. Looking to his boss for approval, Pearce added: ‘I will say that again, a household reuse and recycling centre. Not a tip. And not a dump.’
“All of this was choreographed to ridicule Adam, who had been challenged before the meeting for referring to the facility as a ‘dump’ and a ‘tip’ in a story highlighting the fact that its cost had almost doubled.
“Pearce handed back to Mr Rees, who couldn’t resist one final and very overt dig at Adam. ‘I’m glad you made the point about this being a reuse and recycling (sic). I saw some really poor writing that described it as a tip, a city dump. It’s not a dump and I’m sure you’d agree that that is an appalling way of describing a critical intervention in the way the city relates to, manages and processes its waste.’
“Someone really ought to tell the mayor that the council’s own website tells Bristolians how to find their ‘nearest tip.’”
The Post added: “That the people who run our city would behave in this way towards another human being, in plain sight, is reprehensible. It is an abuse of the public platform which their roles bestow upon them.
“These people would clearly prefer his seat to remain unoccupied. They want to control the narrative of how the council’s business is reported, laced with their own nuances and no mentions of overspends or attribution.
“But we cannot let that happen. That is why, today, we are standing up for Adam. Because standing up for Adam is standing up for decency, fairness and our right as the public to hold the actions of our civic leaders to account.”
A Bristol City Council spokesperson told Press Gazette: “Just like journalists do, it is important that councils and public bodies challenge reporters when we feel the public have been misinformed or confused.
“This year we worked with dozens of journalists and media outlets from around the world and welcome the service and scrutiny their reporting provides.
“But, when a journalist becomes an activist and enters the field of play, they should not complain when they get tackled.”