Today is our birthday – we have made it to four years old!
In that time we have survived letters of injunction, legal threats, and complaints.
The Eye have been accused on social media (wrongly) of being “mysogonistic” (sic) and (wrongly) of pursuing a “vendetta” against one politician.
Our Editor, Phil Parry, has been described by a right-wing blogger as “a lying bastard” (wrong on both counts).
The Editor of WalesOnline Paul Rowland took exception to a satirical article exposing the number of times it has reported on the Coyote Ugly bar in Cardiff which features women dancing for customers.
In an email to us in December, he said: “I am placing it (the satirical article) in the hands of our lawyers”.
We have upset those with power by publishing information some have not wanted to be seen.
But our small team has also broken major stories which have been followed up in the mainstream UK media.
We have exposed the lengthy prison sentences of a crooked property ‘expert’ operating in Wales, revealed major questions about an ‘academic’ who suddenly quit his post at a Welsh university and who shared a name with a convicted fraudster, uncovered details of police investigations into the election expenses of an important politician while the environmental credentials of another have been questioned, and revealed the extensive police inquiry which was underway into alleged abuse of elderly patients in a Welsh hospital.
They were stories which have been largely ignored by the media in Wales.
Apart from articles about bars we showed how controversial WalesOnline promoted a beauty contest on the eve of International Women’s Day, published a feature on the “gorgeous” wives and girlfriends of Welsh rugby stars, offered “live updates” on Pippa Middleton’s wedding, and been accused of ‘clickbait’ journalism by its own readers.
Yet Mr Rowland sees items about lists of foods to be obtained in Wales as a sure-fire way of getting into journalism.
On his website he told one reader who was anxious to break into journalism: “You might not be interested in ’19 mouth watering street food dishes and where to find them in Wales’, and you might believe it’s not something we should be writing (I wouldn’t agree, but that’s fine).
“That doesn’t mean it’s clickbait.
“The content does exactly what it promises in the headline – clickbait doesn’t.”
We have also turned our attention to the higher education sector.
With her at the helm a new campus had been opened on the holiday island of Mauritius which a previous Vice-Chancellor had described as “madness”.
She had presided over a disastrous slide in the institution’s rankings in the UK, yet had received a huge pay rise of over nine per cent to more than £200,0000 a year which was “performance-related”.
Politics too have been the subject of our inquiries.
We showed how the media man in Wales supporting Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, is a convicted armed bank robber who admitted on social media “we all make mistakes”, we disclosed how one Welsh Labour Assembly Member caused fury within her party, and among her own constituents in a poor area of South Wales by posting pictures of her feet on a sun lounger in Italy.
A constituent who voted for Dawn Bowden, the AM for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney told The Eye at the time: “She should have more consideration for the people in Merthyr who are using food banks and are living well below the bread line”.
Several of our requests under the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) have been refused on the grounds we are “vexatious”.
But we have continued to ask awkward questions.
Our satirical writer Edwin Phillips has poked fun at major institutions and important figures with influence over our lives
Yet we have always adhered to our five golden rules which were published on Facebook:
Every story must be –
- Factually accurate.
- Legally safe.
- Not sexist.
- Not racist.
- Not homophobic.
Despite the legal threats and complaints, we are heartened by the support of many ordinary people.
But The Eye are a non-profit organisation and all our investigations cost money.
Our libel lawyer charges over £200 (plus VAT) an hour to check stories before publication.
If you want to see them continue please donate.
Tomorrow – with the General Election three days away, sources inside Welsh Labour tell The Eye they have to avoid using Jeremy Corbyn’s name on the doorstep.
Try our interactive quiz – the first one’s easy!