People before Profit warns: Have you heard about these “Gript” villains?

As a general rule around here, we try to avoid writing about ourselves: Media organisations should report and comment on the news – they should not be the news themselves. That said, on this occasion, one of the country’s political parties has attempted to make us the news, and as Editor of Gript Media I’m obligated to respond, if for no other reason than to defend the integrity of those who work for me.

Here’s the full ad, about Gript Media’s alleged villainy, released by People before Profit on Saturday:

The timing of the release is no coincidence, as the ad itself admits: Over the weekend we were thrilled to co-sponsor, with Free Speech Ireland, a packed event at the RDS which was focused on the importance of preserving and defending free speech in Ireland in the face of the Government’s proposed Hate Speech Bill. That event was streamed online, and a full recording of it is available below: My invitation to People before Profit is simple – if you can find, in those four and a half hours, a single example of “far right” or “extreme catholic” rhetoric, do let me know.

It’s notable in fact that about the only place you could find extreme rhetoric this weekend was at the event proudly attended and promoted by People before Profit itself: The so-called “counter demonstration” to the “Let Women Speak” protest organised in Dublin. The counter-protest appears to have been something of a shout-fest, but the flags and banners flown at it were enough to draw the attention of some of Ireland’s European friends and allies in Europe:

It’s quite something, then, to be accused of extremism by people marching under the banner of Vladimir Lenin.

If you are a regular reader, then you will know that the litany of accusations in the video are entirely nonsensical: Gript Media is a press council regulated publication which is bound to abide by the Press Council code of conduct. Article 8 of that code of conduct specifically bars – as is right and proper – any member publication from publishing “material intended or likely to cause grave offence or stir up hatred against an individual or group on the basis of their race, religion, nationality, colour, ethnic origin, membership of the travelling community, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, illness or age.”

No complaint against Gript Media has ever been upheld in relation to that portion of the Code. And no complaint against Gript Media has ever been submitted by People before Profit – as would be their right – in relation to that portion of the code of conduct.

The more mundane objections to us raised by People before Profit appear to relate to the religion of one of our directors, who is accused of being a catholic. In that, she is of course not alone, but PbP can take some comfort, we’d hope, from the fact that the editor of this publication, the fellow who calls the shots, is a heathen agnostic who’s a little bit iffy on religion in general. Nevertheless, the notion that Catholicism is somehow at odds with presenting you a true and accurate account of the facts of a particular story, or an opinion piece, can only be described as rank sectarianism of the kind which one Mr. Lenin might have endorsed, in his time.

The bottom line is this: The trust of our readers is earned, not assumed. If “Gript Media videos are popping up more and more in your feed”, then that is not because of advertising by us, except in rare cases. It is instead a function of our having earned the trust of those people who are sharing those videos in your feed.

Are we “right wing” and “ideological”? Not entirely, as a cursory read of our opinion writers would tell anyone with a brain. But it’s important, I believe, to be honest with our readers about where we’re coming from, which is why reporters around here are not encouraged to hide their own views or perspectives. All journalists, whatever publication they work for, are human beings with opinions. If they are writing about politics and public affairs, then chances are they took that job because they are interested in, and have opinions about, the topics they cover.

It is more honest, I believe, to be upfront about those opinions and to give your readers the chance to agree or respectfully disagree, as they choose.

What is important is that you can trust the facts that you read on our pages. We’ve been doing this for four years now – if we were not uncovering and reporting facts that politicians did not want us to uncover and report, then there would be no need for People before Profit, or anyone else, to attack us.

We’ll wear this one as a badge of honour. If you’re taking flak, you are, as they say, above the target.

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