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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1 comment:

Chris Gelken said...

And of course, after several days Mr Wadsworth did not return the courtesy of either re-printing my rebuttal or pasting a link.

And he cannot claim ignorance of this post - within a few hours of publishing he had added a rather misleading and distorted "stop press" to his article in reference to fund raising and the BNP.