Sunday, 27 September 2009

Rebuttal to Marc Wadsworth /

Marc Wadsworth, the editor of citizen journalism website launched an unprecedented attack on myself in response to what he describes as my "vendetta" against him.

Background details of the issue can be found in the archives of my blog under the headline, " / Marc Wadsworth / Gelken" - a headline I hoped would achieve a high position in search engine results. Apparently it was successful since it quickly came to the attention of Mr Wadsworth.

Wadsworth responded with the following article on his website:

He begins the article with the astonishing claim, "The comment piece laid bare his remarkable conversion from an open-minded liberal to a bigoted little Englander with views not dissimilar to those expressed by the nazi British National Party."

I am happy to make available to any responsible journalist/investigator the email exchanges with Mr Wadsworth where I explicitly explained that there had been no such conversion - in fact, as you can read from the original article submitted for publication, I used the word "alleged" conversion. In the edited version of the article and the introduction written by Mr Wadsworth any suggestion that this was an "alleged" conversion based entirely on the remarks of just one of my friends and former colleagues was conveniently left out.

I also made it abundantly clear that my articles had nothing to do with racial prejudice or any alleged "white backlash" - and I certainly did not want them linked with the election of BNP members to the European Parliament. All of this conveniently ignored by Mr Wadsworth.

Mr Wadsworth continues, "Previously Gelken had written a number of good articles from the Middle East for The-Latest, though at times our editors had to question his political bias which verged on the anti-Semitic. Also, because he is not a professional journalist, Gelken's copy had to be carefully fact-checked and sub-edited."

Being accused of political bias by somebody like Wadsworth is ironic in the extreme and is hardly worth the effort to respond. The accusation of anti-semitism, however, is a libelous distortion of the facts. Simply because I disagree with many of the policies of the Israeli government does not make me anti-semitic. Just as my opposition to many of the policies of the British government does not make me anti-British or anti-Anglo Saxon. That is just ridiculous.

In regard to the fact checking and sub editing. All of the articles I submitted for publication on had previously been published on other news and information websites. The most comprehensive list of my articles can be found in the Ohmynews Archive. If anyone cares to take the time to make a comparison, you will quickly discover that Mr Wadsworth effectively "cut and pasted" and no fact checking or sub editing was done.

On the few occasions very early in our relationship where an over zealous junior editor at The-Latest did make changes, they were quickly changed back to the original when I pointed out that the edited versions simply did not work or did not reflect the reality of the situation. No "special privileges" as Mr Wadsworth claims, just my own scrupulous attention to detail and responsibility that anything that is published under my name is an accurate and objective reflection of the events I am describing.

Regarding the claim that I am not a professional journalist - well, you can argue semantics. Was I professional in my approach to the work or was I employed as a full time journalist. Since fully 100 percent of my income during the entire time I have had a relationship with (and for a very long time previously) has been from employment as a journalist, editor or broadcaster, then I can justifiably claim I am a professional.

Whether you consider the content or my approach to the job as professional, then that isn't for me to say but for you to judge.

Another Wadsworth claim, "Gelken, who revels in picking fight (sic) with colleagues, fell out with his bosses at the TV station and fled from Tehran to Beijing with his Chinese wife. He then, with the benefit of his wife's translation skills, filed reviews of the Chinese press."

Do I really revel in picking fights with my colleagues? I would dearly love for Mr Wadsworth to come up with just one example. Have I had disagreements over editorial policy, over social, labour and other rights of my junior colleagues? Oh yes, many times. And I plan to continue having disagreements if I feel, for example, the basic essential labour rights of my colleagues are being abused.

Amnesty International apparently approve of my "picking fights" and saw fit to award me with a Certificate of Special Merit.

I didn't "flee" to Beijing. I live here. I own an apartment here, and have done so since long before came onto the scene. And my wife did not in any way - translation or otherwise - contribute to any of the press briefings from China. All pure fiction dreamt up in the fertile mind of Mr Wadsworth.

On the question of fleeing.. if anyone is in the least interested, I have several photos from my leaving party in the office of PressTV. Hardly the sort of activity for someone who is fleeing, don't you think?

In respect of the legal issue, "We knew he didn't have a leg to stand on so we opted for a dignified silence. Gelken soon retreated, pathetically claiming that the vagueness of the law and cost had put him off."

How totally ignoring my emails requesting that the article be removed can be interpreted as a "dignified silence" is beyond my comprehension. Wadsworth and his deputies did not once reply to any of my emails or attempt to engage in discourse to resolve the issue.

However, on this point again I am willing to open my email records to any responsible journalist/investigator. In discussions with the law firm David Price and UK based media organizations it was made very clear that while Wadsworth had committed libel, the laws regarding purely internet based news and information websites are vague and unclear - and are, for example, not handled by the Press Complaints Commission.

The law firm was willing to take the case but the costs were staggering. While they were confident we had a solid case, they were not so confident that Wadsworth would be in a position to pay any costs or damages.

I feel no shame in admitting that I could not afford their fees. Many people find themselves in the same position. Being on a tight budget, especially in these economic times is not something to be ashamed of, and it certainly is not - as Wadsworth suggests, "pathetic."

Would I consider accepting contributions to cover the cost of taking Mr Wadsworth to court? Yes, absolutely.

I even toyed with the amusing idea of contacting the BNP to suggest that since I have allegedly become one of them, they might be interested in protecting one of their own. But after giving it some thought, I came to the conclusion that they'd probably be more inclined to pay Wadsworth's legal expenses.

If, as Wadsworth asserts, there has been a white-backlash, then it has more to do with his brand of journalism and political activism than it has with the policies of the BNP. Wadsworth probably drives more recruits into the ranks of the BNP than any of their own campaigns. It wouldn't surprise me to discover that he was actually on their payroll.

I have sent this link to Mr Wadsworth. I pasted a link to his article - unedited - on my website and FaceBook - I have nothing to be ashamed of.

I wonder if he will do me the same courtesy.

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Saturday, 26 September 2009

The original article as submitted

Reverse culture shock

by Chris Gelken

The first in a series of personal articles tracking my alleged metamorphosis from a liberal with socialist tendencies; to a conservative nationalist with a hint of xenophobia.

It had been 23 years since I had set foot in my homeland. Twenty-three years that had seen me circle the globe a couple of times, cross the Equator more times than I can remember, and visit more than 40 countries and territories. But never once in that time did my nomadic path take me back to Britain. Great Britain. England. My home.

After expressing surprise at the length of time I had been away, the inevitable question people asked was, “Don’t you miss it?”

“Yes, of course.” A pause. “Well, not so much that you’d really notice.”

The truth was, in some ways I had actually forgotten what there was to miss. I was soon going to be reminded, but in a completely unexpected and unpleasant way.

It wasn’t that I didn’t expect to experience some changes. I had frequently been away from Britain before this 23-year absence. There was the Army, followed by various freelance gigs in Europe. A year and a half in New Zealand, followed by brief visits to Mexico, and the United States. But at some point, and for various lengths of time, I’d always find my way home.

Thinking about it now, though, 23 years would seem rather odd to most people.

Britain was comfortable. It wasn’t a daily live by your wits challenge. No language barrier, no culture gap, and plenty of familiar comfort food. Lose your job? Pick up the dole. Get sick? Go to the doctor; no concerns about medical insurance. No money, nowhere to live? Head down to Social Security, they’ll fix you up.

Nothing grand, you understand, all pretty subsistence level and basic for the most part. But in Britain; no one goes hungry or without a roof over their head.

But I digress. That’s part of the story for another day.

The immigration officer at Heathrow’s Terminal Three met me with smile and a cheerful, “Hello, how was your flight?”

There was a perceptible accent there. Perhaps it was from somewhere in England’s midland counties. I couldn’t immediately place it. But it was immeasurably pleasant to be finally asked for my documents in an accent of English that I could identify with. I was finally home.

There was another, and at the time, totally unremarkable aspect to my homecoming. I say “unremarkable” because that is exactly how it was. Of course I noticed, I am conditioned to “notice” things. That’s my job. But the only reaction I remember feeling was a spontaneous comparison to a previous encounter at an immigration counter a few years earlier.

I mention it only because it has - or at least may have in the perception of some readers - a bearing on what happens later. And the person I have allegedly become.

The last time, as I remembered, that I had come face-to-face with an immigration official wearing a traditional Muslim hejab was at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport. And the reception there had been a rather unwelcoming demand, delivered in a tone that was obviously used to giving orders, and of being obeyed. “Passport!” Significantly, there was no “Please.”

My return to Britain wasn’t really a planned affair. A few weeks previously I’d received the devastating news that one of my brothers was seriously ill. It was terminal, and time was short.

My wife and I made the necessary arrangements and flew back to Britain from our home in Beijing. We’d hoped to spend a few weeks with my brother and his family, but as things turned out, we were about half a day too late.

Another story for another day.

Fast-forward two weeks, to the evening before my wife and I headed back to China. Catching up with old friends and former colleagues in London’s West End. That too didn’t turn out quite as I’d expected.

Clutching my lapel and dragging my face close enough to smell the beer and cigarettes on his breath, a friend hissed, “You’ve changed! You’re no bloody socialist or f***** liberal. You know what you are don’t you?”

“No,” I said, surprised at the vehemence in his voice, “but I am sure you are going to tell me.”

He let go of my jacket with enough emphasis to make it feel like a push. “I don’t know you anymore.”

Walking unsteadily back toward the bar he said over his shoulder, “You’re a bloody raging nationalist with a chip on your shoulder. You should be careful.”

In times gone by we had sat long into the night sharing a bottle and resolving all the world’s ills. Sure, we’d often differ, but never significantly enough to resort to hostility or name-calling.

I was different. I won’t deny it. Circumstances had seen to that. But I hadn’t changed in myself, not fundamentally. At that moment I just didn’t have the words to express what I was feeling, what I was going through. I was in shock.

Culture shock. Or more accurately, reverse culture shock.

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Sunday, 20 September 2009

Today on Beyond Beijing

We had a terrific week on Today on Beyond Beijing - with the highlights being a panel discussion on 'Broken America' with Rob Kall and Kevin Zeese, and 'Netizens' with internet gurus Jay and Ronda Hauben.

Wherever you are in the world, you can listen live on

Some great shows coming up this week.. so tune in!

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Saturday, 19 September 2009 has changed..

Our personal website - - has undergone something of a facelift and now reflects more accurately our recent activities and ambitions in an up to date and better laid out fashion than blogger.. and it also has Chinese language translations for some of the pages!

It is still a work in progress since we have mountains of video and huge archives of photographs that need to be sorted and loaded. We are also working on a "friends and links" page - so if you are working in the fields of child care/education for the underprivileged, the environment, sustainability, biodiversity, animal welfare or care for the elderly and would like to be linked, then please drop us a line.

Chris and Shirley

Sphere: Related Content / Marc Wadsworth / Gelken

Odd sort of headline I agree.. but I am playing with Search Engine Optimization.

This post is designed with two main purposes. Firstly, to counter a libelous article that appeared earlier this year in under my byline.

The published story is a corruption of a piece I filed with The Latest.

Secondly, this post should serve as a cautionary note to anyone who files stories to internet based news websites - especially those based in the United Kingdom. You have little or no rights over the final editing of your copy, and if you are writing under a byline your reputation could be at risk at the hands of unscrupulous editors with an agenda.

After email negotiations with the website editor, Marc Wadsworth, I agreed to write a series of articles on reverse culture shock - very personal pieces that recorded my impressions regarding my first visit back to the United Kingdom in some 23-years.

After sending in the first article, I received an email from Marc Wadsworth with his 'edited' version. It was a complete corruption and distortion of my original.

I expressly told him I fundamentally disagreed with the changes he had made - including the very misleading headline, the insertion of unauthorized and heavily edited "quotes"; the use of a photograph of my wife, and the 'confession' that I had become a raging, right-wing nationalist.

Wadsworth responded with the bald statement that my original article did not fit the "theme" of his website, and if I was unhappy with the changes I could take my work elsewhere.

I told him I was extremely unhappy, and would indeed be taking it elsewhere. In addition I made it perfectly clear I wanted nothing more to do with The Latest.

He published anyway. He didn't inform me of his action, and I only found out by accident when I was subsequently questioned about the article.

Wadsworth's unethical and unprofessional conduct is beyond breathtaking.

Repeated emails petitioning him to remove this and my other articles from his website have been ignored.

I sought legal advice. The lawyers told me that while Wadsworth's editing was libelous, the laws regulating the internet in the UK are vague and ambiguous. They cheerfully told me they would be happy to write a letter to Wadsworth expressing my concerns - at a cost of almost GBP 700 - about $1,200 at the exchange rate at the time.

Wadsworth would face no penalty if he ignored the letter. The lawyers also said that to follow up on the case would cost me a trifling $500 per hour of their time, with a minimum of two-hours per 'session' of advice or filing for possible court action.

In many ways, I imagine that Marc Wadsworth would consider this blog post as libelous. Well I am happy to make a deal. Take that scurrilous story off your website, and I will take you off mine.

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