Following yesterday's report on Trinity Mirror executive Jonathan Russell more readers have come forward with tales of being targeted by the Media Scotland publishing director.
In what may have been excused as a unique - if still deplorable - action, Russell targeted a Rangers supporter who sent him a personal complaint about the quality of reporting in the Daily Record. Russell used the occasion of a reader filing a personal complaint via their work email to drag said reader's employer into the fray, saying, “I think your company should be made aware that the impression is being given that it holds a certain view about the Daily Record”.
Now further readers have shown similar tales regarding Russell's reaction to their complaints, with at least one providing another example of the Trinity Mirror exec's habit of writing to reader's company's in an effort to see them punished. In one exchange, Russell defends the report of Jane Hamilton following the 2016 Scottish Cup Final.
That heavily flawed article, “Cops: Mob rule outside Hampden blocked us from getting in to help", saw its reporting called into question immediately via photos, videos and statements from individual fans and officers. It was ultimately subject to an IPSO complaint, one upheld last August for, among other things, Daily Record editors neglecting to review that unverified emails cited by Hamilton as sources for her story were actually from police officers present on the day, or even police officers at all.
The Record printed a retraction, not the first involving Hamilton's reporting. Yet despite the glaring concerns in the initial report, Russell saw fit to hold court over a reader voicing their concern regarding the story, copying in an officer of the reader's company in his response. Russell was fast to point out: "Rangers fans (were given) the opportunity to put their side of the story in the Hotline section" of the Record; he was not so fast to accept his reporter who has gotten it spectacularly wrong on many occasion had done so again.
In another email, Russell's wont to assign an individual reader's concerns to the reader's employer comes back to the fore. "As you have sent your email to the Daily Record from your employer's email account I can only assume that you are making representations on their behalf," Russell writes, before noting that he had copied in executives from the reader's company.
These messages illustrate a disturbing trend being carried out on behalf of Trinity Mirror. One must assume that Russell's superiors are signing off on his willingness to disparage their own readers, to the point of wanting to see them sacked from their job (in at least one case, for the benefit of defending a flawed and ultimately untrue news report by a staffer routinely found to be lacking).
Beyond those most basic concerns, Russell is acting in breach of any sort of conduct or ethical code of his profession. Unless Trinity Mirror is willing to accept that it is no longer running what they would term a news operation with Media Scotland, the documented actions of its Publishing Editor must be looked at and the concerns of its readers must be answered to. In no space does a journalist, certainly not an editor high up the executive ladder, look to interject himself into a story. Yet Russell seems ready and willing to do that - and is very happy to become provocateur in order to defend his honour against that of polite, civilised email complaints regarding his publications.
Should Trinity Mirror decide Mr Russell's standard is up to the standard of their publications, Rangers' supporters efforts to #ChangeTheRecord appear to be on point.
Has Jonathan Russell threatened you or one of your employees? Feel free to email us your story at firstname.lastname@example.org.