Manchester Climate Fortnightly (MCFly) has made a formal complaint about the online behaviour of a Hulme Councilor, Mary Murphy. The complaint centres on the email distribution of a MCFly article that had been altered to imply the independent newsletter’s support for the Labour candidate in an upcoming by-election. The complaint, made to the Democratic and Statutory Services department at Manchester Town Hall, will be put to a sub-committee of the Standards committee in approximately four weeks.
Manchester Climate Fortnightly editor Marc Hudson said “I was deeply disappointed to see the distorted article. If I quoted a bit of a Council press release and then inserted things they never said, there would be hell to pay. I hope the complaint is investigated thoroughly and appropriate action taken.”
Manchester Climate Fortnightly learned that on Thursday night an email message was sent from the email account “marymurphy” to the Hulme Residents Online Group. Hulme is having a by-election on November 4 following the resignation of a Labour Councillor, Emily Lomax, who had given a positive breathalyser test at the scene of a car accident.
The email started by quoting a tweet sent by MCFly to Executive Member for the Environment Nigel Murphy. It then continued with what purported to be the text of a story that appeared in MCFly 58, entitled “It’s my Green Party and and you can cry if you want to.” That article is only 9 sentences long, but has been altered in 5 specific instances. All the changes – which include factual inaccuracies and spelling mistakes – diminish the standing of the Green Party candidate and praise the Liberal Democrat and Labour candidates. The overall impression to any reader would be that Manchester Climate Fortnightly supports the Labour candidate
Another user of the Hulme Residents Online Group, familiar with the original MCFly story, posted the correct article and pointed out that it had been altered. The user of the marymurphy account did not state that they had been misled, or retract the doctored version that they had posted.
The doctored article sent from the “marymurphy” account and a detailed comparison of the two pieces can be seen here. All this documentation has been given to the relevant authorities.
For the record: Manchester Climate Fortnightly has never endorsed any candidate in a local or general election or by-election (mostly because it would be an embarrassing over-estimation of its influence!). The editor(s) of MCFly are not now nor every have been members of any political party.
The newsletter, which receives no way funding from any political party or local authority, tries to live by the journalistic maxim “without fear or favour.”
We didn’t start this – the whole “journalists obviously getting a kick from being the news instead of reporting it” dynamic is not what this is about.