Yesterday the Hull Daily Mail and its website received fierce criticism from commenters following a series of articles on Paul Smith, the founder of community news site for the Beverley area, HU17, and designer of pornographic websites.
Several readers suggested that the Mail was being overly critical of Smith’s profession, which as the articles stated is not illegal, because of his involvement with a rival community site.
Today the Mail has published another story on Smith – this time with a more balanced approach. Headlined ‘Beverley Minster virger backs web publisher’, the piece notes the support for Smith voiced in the Mail’s article comments. It also adds a comment from Beverley and Holderness MP Graham Stuart, who was a client of Smith’s web design business and mentioned in the previous articles:
Mr Stuart said: “I think it’s absolutely disgraceful and appalling to run a story like that mentioning me in the second paragraph without getting in touch with me. It is a sleazy unpleasant story that attacks a bloke running a Beverley website.”
But the new piece has done little to appease readers – asks one commenter on today’s piece:
Once again HDM are continuing in their persecution of this poor guy and alienating their readers,are they trying for the most complained about article of the year?
The articles also continue to feature adverts for the Mail’s own local website for Beverley – whether this is automatically generated by the mention of Beverley in the pieces aside, it doesn’t seem to be helping the paper’s case.
In a post on community site HU17.net today, Smith said he has lost business as a result of the articles and has suggested he could close the Beverley website as a result. He also challenges several claims made by the Mail’s investigation into his business, in particular denying that he had agreed to make a website for ‘client’ created by the Mail.