Fainting in Coyles An occasional letter from the
Heart of Euroville
Friday, February 06, 2004
What is good for the goose
As some of you know, I co-edit a magazine called The Sprout. The nature of the magazine is acerbic and at times rude. However one of The Sprout’s perennial targets is a newspaper called the European Voice. This newspaper, which claims to be "An independant view of the EU" is owned by the Economist group and almost half of its sales figures come from dumping its copy, free to 8,000 EU officials. After 5 years in Brussels I have yet to meet anybody who buys it. Information in this town is free to the user. This deal that the Vice has with the Institutions acts as a form of subsidy. They can, accurately inform advertisers that there product is read by everybody who counts in the Commission, they know this because the Commission kindly distributes the paper into everybody’s pigeon holes for free. This of course allows the Vice to get better, and more expensive, advertising. The one page of the paper that is read is the gossip column on the back page called Entre Nous. And now we get to the point of my spleen and this little rant.
This weeks edition has a small piece about yours truly, fine no harm in that, if I dish it out it is only right and proper that I should also be able to take it. But the point is that they also included my wife and my three-month-old daughter in the joke. This is where I start to have a problem. From what I understand, the publisher of the Vice, a certain Denis Landsbert-Noon was so delighted with his piece of gossip that he wanted to have a picture of my wife pasted up. Not only that but it is the lead item on the website.
Now the story is admittedly quite funny, and I will not deny any of it – anybody could google and find the reference, and in the past quite a few have, but as a question of journalistic ethics from the Economist group is it right? And is it sensible practice for them to take the piss out a satirists wife and child? I only ask the question.