By Calvin Palmer
Scanning the Obituaries column of The Daily Telegraph, I learned today of the death of Sir Arthur Bryan, the former chairman of the world-famous pottery firm Wedgwood.
Sir Arthur’s name was often mentioned during my childhood. Like me, he was born and raised in Penkhull and attended the same school as my late mother. She often used to reminisce of times when they used to play together in the school playground.
In its obituary, The Daily Telegraph correctly stated that Arthur Bryan was born on March 4, 1923, at Penkhull, Stoke-on-Trent.
Eager for more information, I checked out the web site of the Stoke-on-Trent newspaper, The Sentinel.
It escapes my reasoning as to why The Sentinel’s web site is called This Is Staffordshire rather than The Sentinel but some high-ranking newspaper executive obviously thought it was a great idea.
In the web site’s tribute to Sir Arthur, The Sentinel’s Louise Psyllides wrote: “Sir Arthur, who was born and brought up in Stoke-on-Trent, joined Barclays Bank at Trentham aged 17 after leaving Longton High School.”
The local paper could not be more specific as to Sir Arthur’s birthplace than to state Stoke-on-Trent?
What is happening to the standards of journalism these days? How did the omission of Penkhull get past the news editor, the sub-editor and editor?
And where is the internal logic of this story? It specifies the Stoke-on-Trent district of Trentham for Sir Arthur’s first job but cannot state the district where he was born and grew up.
This poor standard of journalism makes me recall one of the stone hands, a man called Dennis, when I worked the stone sub shift on The Birmingham Post.
It was the job of the stone sub to catch the errors that occasionally slipped past the chief sub-editor. Sometimes, the errors were real howlers.
As Dennis was cutting the bromide of the corrected version of the story to be attached to the page, I would say in an apologetic tone, “We can’t get the staff.”
In his Brummie accent, Dennis disagreed. “We can but they are crap!”
Fifteen years on, it would appear that the pithy words of Dennis still ring true for The Sentinel and a great many more newspapers the world over. What is worse, those running the newspapers do not seem to care.
As for The Birmingham Post, it ceased to be a daily morning newspaper in November 2009 and became a weekly, or should that be weakly, publication. I guess it was a good thing I left in 2000.