Truth is not stranger than fiction

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© UK in Spain
Ambassador Simon Manley.

THE front page of the April 29 edition of RTN bizarrely states; ‘The Chosen One RTN your English Newspaper has been hand-picked by the British Consulate to become their official media partner.’

It seemed so unlikely that an arm of the British government should actually have done this, that on April 29, on behalf of Euro Weekly News I wrote formally to the British Ambassador in Madrid, asking for his observations and received the following reply at around 10pm on Saturday April 30.

CLASSIFICATION: OFFICIAL

“John,

Thanks for your email of Friday afternoon. It was very good to see you at Voter Registration event in Malaga. My thanks to you for making it down there and my apologies for having to dash off back to Madrid so quickly.

In your email your raised your concerns about the reporting of the launch of our “local ambassadors” pilot project in Alicante in Round Town News. I understand that one of your colleagues has raised similar concerns with my head of comms, Simon Montague.

I think there may be a misunderstanding. I can assure you that the Embassy has in no sense decided to start working exclusively with any one expat newspaper in Spain. Nor would it of course make any sense for us to do so.

The reality is that we have one pilot project in one region (Alicante) where we felt we would achieve more media impact with the target audience through giving one paper access to the project launch. Offering a story to a few or even one particular channel is a technique that is widely used by organisations of all kinds – public and private – when they believe it may achieve greater impact than by issuing it to more outlets and then finding that few or none give it much or indeed any prominence. As ever one doesn’t, of course, have any editorial control over how a channel selected in this way might present the story. That’s the nature of a free press, as I hope you will appreciate.

We would be very happy to provide all the information about this specific pilot project to EWN or indeed any other channel that wishes to follow up the launch, and my Communications Team would be happy to brief your newsdesk on the project next week.

The very large majority of our stories are, we believe, of relevance to British nationals right across Spain and we offer them to all English language channels at the same time. However, even then, we may be able to invite only a select few to a particular event, as was the case with the event in Malaga which you attended.

Your newspaper, with its several editions and wide readership across Spain, is one of the most important and valued channels for us to reach the British expat audience, and, needless to say, it will continue to be so. I look forward to working with you.

I am copying this email to our Consuls for Central and Southern Spain, to our vice consuls Alicante and Malaga, and to Simon Montague.

Best regards

Simon Manley

British Ambassador to Spain and Andorra

Truth will out and having received this communication from the Ambassador it is clear that the statement on the front page of RTN is neither accurate nor fact.

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