Apparently it’s not really done to criticise your former employers, but as a shareholder in Archant, which owns the East London Advertiser (the shares were acquired under an employee scheme), and as someone who helped lead the paper’s campaign against Tower Hamlets council’s East End Life, I think an exception can be made.
During that campaign, the council consistently hurled back at us the argument that the ELA was in no position to take a moral stand on issues as long as it continued to carry adverts for massage parlours. While I always thought this was tortured logic, pretty much all the journalists in the office were deeply uncomfortable that our salaries were being funded in small part by the pimps who would regularly turn up to pay cash for ad space on Tuesday afternoons.
However, at least those ads were buried on the inside pages.
In 2007, the council passed a motion to try and restrict the growth of lap dancing bars in the borough. As reporters, we were happy to back that line.
So on several levels, it was more than disappointing to walk into my local newsagent’s today to see an upturned copy of the the new ELA with a prominent advert for a “fully nude” lap dancing club on its back page.
Even leaving aside the question of ethics, this decision is poor judgment by a newspaper that will be left around the family home. Given that the paper is trying to win new readers among the large religious community in Tower Hamlets, the decision does not seem to make sense commercially either.