Come Home…Part 2

Come Home…Part 2

…I didn’t have a lot of anything in the spring of 2017. Well, with the exception of love from a soulmate who not only believed in me, but who stood by me through the damage and panic attacks and self-loathing which was the legacy of the old life’s grisly end.

And the reason my love believed in me? Beneath all the rubble, a light was still shining through the cracked fragments. That promise I made to myself was about to be broken by that cursedly curious mind of mine, abetted by the same defect which meant the whistleblowing was possible in the first place.

And so I turned my attentions to disinformation, elections, the far-right, and Russia.

Starting from nothing, I battered my way into journalism. Gathered a following and crowdfunding at Byline, and eventually managed to scoop the story which changed everything: Russia had engaged the West in hybrid warfare and won, destabilising its long-term adversaries with electoral interference planned over years. Deploying the most ruthless of all psychological weapons to drive wedges into every seam of our society, creating chaos. The installation of malware for the soul. A virus for the human mind.

When Alternative War was first released as a public interest project in 2017, barely anybody believed it. The trolling was intense, tasked, and incredibly damaging. I was dismissed and disbelieved at every step, leaving me burnt-out and demoralised.

And worse still, because I had started to come around to the idea of people being better than I dared believe, some other journalists laid into me to. From their privileged positions of stable jobs with nothing to lose.

This is only a shadow of the privilege which affects billions every day, and it was soul destroying.

Though the security services eventually caught up, and the media sneering was replaced with growing acceptance, I had seen enough. And the echoes from my time before the truth came out in the parliamentary inquiry were too much. Old scars had been re-opened – because in this world you can’t really do right until it also suits somebody else’s agenda. Or circulation figures.

We truly deserve better in this world, but we don’t have better yet. And who knows if we ever will. Battered and bruised, exhausted, I resigned myself to near defeat.

But that soft voice was still there. That love of mine. Whispering to me carry on the journey home. Smiling at me gently as she told me to take as many people along as possible.

And so I opened more doors. And now I’m opening them to you.

Because we do deserve better. And they only way we can get there is together…

Come Home continues tomorrow.

 

 

Come Home…Part 1

Come Home…Part 1

I once made a promise to myself. Lying in a ball on a rug, hoodie pulled up over my face, panicked breathing refusing to ease.

It was a fortnight after I left the police on the tenth anniversary of my starting in the service, and I was broken. Blowing the whistle to Parliament on the national failure to record crime properly and the manipulation of resource statistics had taken years but, by May 2014, it was done and I’d forced things to change for the better for victims of crime. The price was a heavy one: the loss of the career I loved, the loss of financial security, the unemployability which comes with doing the right thing.

The promise was a simple one, a child’s almost. I’m never doing that again, it’s just too much.

Just under two years later, I was lying in a bedsit in the dark, listening to the night-sounds of the sink estate and the alcoholic Scotsman screaming to the dark in the room above, stopping to urinate on the floor in elongated blasts. I had been bankrupt for a fortnight, after a road closure of several months killed off the pub I’d managed to renovate and restore.

Life really can be peculiar, because it’s there I found peace in myself for the first time in many years and started to write Forever Completely, a catharsis in fiction. An escape. Oddly, this running away had the effect of opening the door on a journey. A road home to a place where I belonged. A place I could build for my family. The Welsh word for this is Cynefin.

And so it was, in the most miserable of circumstances, Cynefin Road was born. A small, independent publisher working to make book magic on a wing and a prayer.

But this wasn’t intended to be some vanity project, nor a money making escapade. Just a place for beautifully written stories which gives authors a fair deal – a 40% royalty – though advances are still well beyond reach. And it’s slowly building into something wonderful.

My soulmate works full-time while we face the precarious nature of my work as a publisher and crowfunded journalist, but that’s part of the path to building something truly special and, though it causes its stresses, we are committed to the long term dream.

Cynefin Road now has a growing collection of titles, from a wonderful authors, from children’s stories, to sci-fi, to non-fiction – it’s a privilege to have writers like Stephanie Shields, Lu Thomson, Thomas Heasman-Hunt, Soledad Osraige coming home, with others on their way. And then there’s our fabulous house illustrator, Kathleen Day. Best of all, we are receiving new submissions all the time.

But what is home without people to share it with?

And that is why I want you to come home too.

But, I suppose, I should probably explain why things need to change from how they are now, especially as the things I’ve been writing about as a journalist take new turns and the tide seems to have turned. And I have to do that before I explain exactly where we are headed.

It all started because the promise I made to myself on the floor, laying there with palpitations, wasn’t one I kept. And after the door was opened an unexpected trip began…

Come Home continues tomorrow.

 

The Plan…

The Plan…

As I said on the Twitters:

Okay, here’s the plan, neatly contained in a thread, which I will also put on my blog to make things easier for those off Twitter too…

A few months back I hit on the big data story and began writing for You can catch up here: https://www.commonspace.scot/authors/jj-patrick

This has led me into so interesting territory, which led me to a crowdfunded fight with the Alt-right: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/damages-action-against-prison-planet

In the wake of the Stockholm attack, I travelled to Malmö to investigate crime and immigration in Sweden. To uncover the truth…The first article in the series is now published by with many more to come. Read it here: https://www.byline.com/column/67/article/1583

Working as a journalist with Byline, I am signed up to comply with the new Impress regulations on journalistic conduct. The platform is also designed to fund its investigative journalists directly from public donations, to preserve impartiality. I’m currently working on a hard hitting exclusive on hidden crime in Mexico, which you can find out about here: https://www.byline.com/project/69

The Mexico story is a world exclusive based on unprecedented access to state level Mexican data, now hugely relevant given US rhetoric.

The series itself forms part of my column which you can read up on here:

As a result of my rock-kicking so far, starting with and moving on to Malmö, I’ve uncovered something pretty grim. Behind all the right wing parties, the hacking, the psychometrics, and the fake news stands an enemy. Supported by a tangled web. And I want to chase them down. Hunt them out. I used to be a good cop, and it’s still in my blood. But I can’t do this alone. Nor can I do this from behind a computer screen. That will only take me so far. Not far enough. Boots on the ground is the only way.

Using the platform I want to fund this fight in the and start fighting back with the truth. The only way I can do this full time is with the financial support of you. Doesn’t matter if it’s £1 or £1000. This is too important.

The leads I’ve picked up as a result of mean I need to head to France, before the elections and kick the rock over on Le Pen…There is something very wrong there, and even the latest polls are saying so. And it’s almost too late. Without you, it’s all footnotes.

From France it’s going to be Germany, then who knows? I’ve leads to follow everywhere and this puzzle is one worth unpicking. All I know is that Byline provides an opportunity for all of us to get to the bottom of this. To get out in harm’s way and do some good.

I know it’s a lot to ask, especially given the state of Brexit Britain, but, if you can, please head over to my Byline pages and pledge.

Alternatively, I have also added a direct way to support my independent journalism with a Paypal button which you can get to by scrolling down here.

Thanks for listening and best wishes to all of you, James.

Responsible Media Campaign

Responsible Media Campaign

Introductory Note:

Nobody wants a fettered press, no clamps on the mouths of journalists who provide us with factually accurate news and opinion. The regulation of the press as regards content is an abhorrent concept and rightly should never be applied in a democracy, even in the face of so called fake news which often spirals from little more than a back bedroom social media rant.

However, the caveat to the freedom of the press – with the media ruling many aspects of our lives, and trusted to inform us on important issues – is that it is honest and ethical.

A longstanding principle for journalists and editors has been that corrections and retractions are given equal prominence to the original article, in order to redress any adverse effects or imbalances caused.

With the larger publications now driven by profit, editorial responsibility is often over-ridden by business and revenue strategy.

This situation is untenable and irresponsible, with adverse effects clear for all to see.

Proposal:

It is now clear that intervention must come, led by the will of the people, to influence parliament to intervene and resolve this issue for the benefit of all, through legislation.

A short act must be introduced, to regulate this specific aspect of media behaviour, while unambiguously ensuring journalism remains free and unfettered.

An act, entitled the News Publications (Corrections and Retractions) Act is proposed, which would make the following provisions and the following provisions alone (formal draft wording is being prepared for later use):

Section 1:

a) News publications (defined as print newspapers and magazines, and electronic or digital versions thereof);

b) published or accessible in any format in the United Kingdom;

c) must, publish a retraction or correction of, or relating to an article, at the time they are made aware it is required;

d) and, when publishing a correction or retraction of, or relating to an article, assign the same headline size and type, page number, and printing space (or column inches), with identical prominence to the original article.

d) (A front page article must be corrected in identical lay out on the front page, or front page of a website, for example).

Section 2:

a) It is a criminal offence to fail to comply with section 1, with a mandatory fine for the publication or business owner of the publication responsible of not less than £25,000 but not more than £1000,000; the level of fine being attributed in bands on the scale set out below.

b) The offence is indictable and triable at Crown Court only.

c) The publication or business owner thereof, including any corporation or board, is the liable party in all cases. For the avoidance of doubt this includes ‘senior management’ as defined by the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.

d) Individual journalists are not liable parties in such proceedings but may be personally liable in any civil recovery proceedings arising from the case.

e) The band of fine on a guilty finding under this offence is set out as follows:

  • Local News Publications: £25-100,000
  • Regional News Publications: £100,000-500,000
  • National and International News Publications: £500,000-1000,000

f) The level of fine within the band will be attributed by the court based upon the comparative size, location and prominence of the correction or retraction to the original article, the circulation of the article, and the level of harm caused by the content – determined by any evidence of adverse affects to any person, group, corporation or any other body. In the case where no correction or retraction is made, the maximum fine within the band shall be applied.

Section 3:

a) Any party subject to proceedings as a liable publisher under this act must be readily identifiable to an average person as a ‘newspaper’, ‘magazine’, or ‘online news outlet aligned to or forming part of the operations of a newspaper or magazine’.

b) News publications shall not be subject to further regulation or constraint, notwithstanding rules, regulations and acts already in force at the time of enactment.

Section 4:

a) ‘At the time they are made aware it is required’, at Section 1(c) means upon the receipt of a formal letter, electronic communication, or telephone call.

b) A communication at Section 4(a) will be deemed received if the party making the publication aware holds a record of the outward communication, for example an email, or a recorded delivery receipt.

Section 5:

a) Any person may raise a complaint of an offence contrary to this act, including on behalf of another person.

b) For the purposes of crime recording, one notifiable offence shall be recorded for each instance relating to an article and its retraction, rather than one offence per person raising the complaint of the offence. For example, one failure to retract an article generates 10 complaints, one crime shall be recorded with ten complainants.

c) All offences shall be subject to mandatory referral by the police to the media regulator, OfCom.

Supporting This Campaign:

This campaign requires no financial support.

You can either sign an online petition here, which the government will respond to if it reaches ten thousand signatures. The petition wording is as follows:

Enact law regulating retractions and corrections (only) in news publications.

It is a long standing editorial principle that a correction or retraction should take the same size and prominence as the original article. With publications of newspapers and their online arms now increasingly profit driven and political, this practice of editorial responsibility has fallen away.

A number of inflammatory headlines over recent months have caused significant disturbance and furore, while the subsequent corrections and retractions have been buried in small bylines. Such articles very often inflame community tensions during a period of heightened civil unease and may well be a contributing factor in hate crimes across the UK. A proposed bill has been drafted to mandate for responsible publication practices, while making sure not to fetter the freedom of the press.

Or contact your MP (you can find your MP here) using the following as a cut and paste text:

Dear [name],

RE: Please support our campaign to enact law regulating retractions and corrections (only) in news publications.

The regulation of the press as regards content is an abhorrent concept and rightly should never be applied in a democracy, even in the face of so called fake news.

However, the caveat to the freedom of the press – with the media ruling many aspects of our lives, and trusted to inform us on important issues – is that it is honest and ethical.

A longstanding principle for journalists and editors has been that corrections and retractions are given equal prominence to the original article, in order to redress any adverse effects or imbalances caused. With the larger publications now driven by profit, editorial responsibility is often over-ridden by business and revenue strategy.

This situation is untenable and irresponsible, with adverse effects clear for all to see.

It is now clear that intervention must come, led by the will of the people, to influence parliament to intervene and resolve this issue for the benefit of all, through legislation.

A short act must be introduced, to regulate this specific aspect of media behaviour, while unambiguously ensuring journalism remains free and unfettered.

An act, entitled the News Publications (Corrections and Retractions) Act is proposed, which would make the following provisions and the following provisions alone (formal draft wording is being prepared for later use):

Section 1:

a) News publications (defined as print newspapers and magazines, and electronic or digital versions thereof);

b) published or accessible in any format in the United Kingdom;

c) must, publish a retraction or correction of, or relating to an article, at the time they are made aware it is required;

d) and, when publishing a correction or retraction of, or relating to an article, assign the same headline size and type, page number, and printing space (or column inches), with identical prominence to the original article.

d) (A front page article must be corrected in identical lay out on the front page, or front page of a website, for example).

Section 2:

a) It is a criminal offence to fail to comply with section 1, with a mandatory fine for the publication or business owner of the publication responsible of not less than £25,000 but not more than £1000,000; the level of fine being attributed in bands on the scale set out below.

b) The offence is indictable and triable at Crown Court only.

c) The publication or business owner thereof, including any corporation or board, is the liable party in all cases. For the avoidance of doubt this includes ‘senior management’ as defined by the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.

d) Individual journalists are not liable parties in such proceedings but may be personally liable in any civil recovery proceedings arising from the case.

e) The band of fine on a guilty finding under this offence is set out as follows:

  • Local News Publications: £25-100,000
  • Regional News Publications: £100,000-500,000
  • National and International News Publications: £500,000-1000,000

f) The level of fine within the band will be attributed by the court based upon the comparative size, location and prominence of the correction or retraction to the original article, the circulation of the article, and the level of harm caused by the content – determined by any evidence of adverse affects to any person, group, corporation or any other body. In the case where no correction or retraction is made, the maximum fine within the band shall be applied.

Section 3:

a) Any party subject to proceedings as a liable publisher under this act must be readily identifiable to an average person as a ‘newspaper’, ‘magazine’, or ‘online news outlet aligned to or forming part of the operations of a newspaper or magazine’.

b) News publications shall not be subject to further regulation or constraint, notwithstanding rules, regulations and acts already in force at the time of enactment.

Section 4:

a) ‘At the time they are made aware it is required’, at Section 1(c) means upon the receipt of a formal letter, electronic communication, or telephone call.

b) A communication at Section 4(a) will be deemed received if the party making the publication aware holds a record of the outward communication, for example an email, or a recorded delivery receipt.

Section 5:

a) Any person may raise a complaint of an offence contrary to this act, including on behalf of another person.

b) For the purposes of crime recording, one notifiable offence shall be recorded for each instance relating to an article and its retraction, rather than one offence per person raising the complaint of the offence. For example, one failure to retract an article generates 10 complaints, one crime shall be recorded with ten complainants.

c) All offences shall be subject to mandatory referral by the police to the media regulator, OfCom.

A petition has been lodged bearing the title ‘Enact law regulating retractions and corrections (only) in news publications’.

Your support in helping ensure ethics in media publications, while preserving the freedom of the press, is greatly appreciated.

Yours faithfully,

[Your Name]

Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope you can see fit to support this campaign.

James.