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11 August 2005

Ask the questions and you shall find the answers...

In response to the question posed on this very blog just a few hours ago:
"How much more evidence supporting the original MetroNet power surge story of 7 July does anyone need before anyone dares to investigate it further?"

The answer has come - rather more quickly than anticipated and courtesy, once again, of the inspiring Bridget Dunne - in the form of an article on the Press Gazette web site, reproduced here in case it disappears:

TMS sends journalists home on biggest news day of year

Published: Thursday, July 14, 2005
By Alyson Fixter

Journalists at more than 60 weekly newspapers were banned from going out to report on the London bombings last Thursday amid fears for their safety – even though some were as far away as Kent and Buckinghamshire.

Staff at Trinity Mirror Southern titles – including the South London Press, The Wharf, the Croydon Advertiser, the Reading Chronicle and even the Whitstable & Herne Bay Times series – received an order to come back to the office or go straight home on Thursday afternoon.

A member of staff who contacted Press Gazette said the decision "went down like a lead balloon" in newsrooms as even journalists who were on jobs unrelated to the bombing, miles from London, were recalled.

The email, which was sent to all TMS newsdesk staff at 12.22pm by edi- torial director Marc Reeves, said: "Staff safety is the NUMBER ONE priority at this time.

"Please call back into the office anyone out in the field whether on bombrelated stories or not. Alternatively, send them home if they are closer.

"For staff in the office, take a view based on local police advice whether and when to send them home.

"You must account for every member of staff under your care today."

A reporter at one of the weekly papers, who asked not to be named, said: "Even reporters covering village fetes out in the middle of nowhere had to go home.

"With some of the orders we get, it has long been believed that Trinity Mirror head honchos forget that we actually work hard to produce local newspapers, and this one just about summed it up.

"During the biggest story of the year,London TMS reporters and photographers were recalled to their offices and then sent home as their offices were shut."

A spokesman for Trinity Mirror Southern said: "Every TMS title is a weekly, and the deadlines for all but three had passed. Those that hadn't gone to press already had extensive coverage of the morning's events filed.

"Therefore, after consulting with senior editors from across TMS, the managing director and editorial director took the view that there was no immediate need for employees to be out on the streets.

"They decided the responsible course of action was to recall all field staff to their offices or to send them home."

Journalists told to refrain from covering the story, eye-witnesses and survivors prevented by police from giving television and radio interviews just moments before they were due to go on air, and still there are people who don't smell a rat.

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