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The end of the News Shopper “Star Letter” debacle

It’s now two weeks since the News Shopper published a nasty homophobic rant and awarded the sender with a prize – a nice new pen from a local store.

Last week there was no mention of the whole sorry mess in the paper – strange, given that the paper claimed it was published to “fuel debate” (Twitter messages, so read upwards):

The paper claimed that it hadn’t been able to publish any responses in that issue as the print deadline was a full nine days before distrubution. I asked it (twice) to confirm this, as a nine-day print deadline on a weekly sounds, well, ludicrous, but got no reply. In fact, the paper’s Twitter Account has been dormant for a few days now.

And so to this issue. The letters page carries four messages criticising the paper for running the letter, including one that specifically criticises its being awarded a prize. There’s also a short paragraph in the “online opinion” column that may or may not be supporting the original anti-gay letter – it doesn’t make any sense as printed, so it’s hard to tell.

There’s still no apology for having rewarded an alarmingly offensive missive with a prize, although a box on the page notes that “Our star letter is chosen solely by the editor”.

It’s also notable that Webster’s Pen Shop, previous sponsor of the Star Letter prize, appears to have withdrawn from this arrangement. Handy, as I needed to order some (red, not green) ink refills, and I’m now quite happy to send them my money.

And that, I’d imagine, will be about the end of the matter – I’d think that having fulfilled the requirement to publish a “debate”, the News Shopper will have nothing more to say on the whole episode.

Will I be flicking through next week’s issue to find out? Well, no. It’ll go straight in the recycling bin.

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