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October 21, 2022
WORRYINGLY WOKE: October’s Gair Rhydd
FLAG FLYING: Quench magazine for October

“IT WAS a cold winter night when the boys played a game of naked touch rugby with a raw chicken for a ball, whilst members hurled eggs at the naked players”.

So went the report in Cardiff University’s Gair Rhydd student rag in March with a headline asking, “Are university ‘initiation rituals’ harmful?” (if they involve chickens they usually are, in my thankfully very limited experience).

Ben Moles, a former Brunel University student, had spoken to Vice Magazine to detail the horror of his early experiences as part of the rugby society and this prompted Bethan Wild to pen a typically earnest piece examining her apparently genuine fears about embarrassing “tests” which she reckons are getting more vulgar and dangerous.

In May 2019, Gloucestershire University’s rugby team initiation ceremony reportedly included the drinking of alcohol from a pig’s head, she informed us (no need for pork scratchings at the bar, then!).

More than 200 student footballers at Cardiff University were suspended from their teams based on formal complaints of initiation advice on targeting low self-esteem women for sex in 2020.

Student journalism is very important because it gives us an insight into the future and of the political mindsets of those aiming to inform and educate us.

If Gair Rhydd – which celebrates 50 years not out this year – is anything to go by, Woodward and Bernstein’s great-great grandchildren are likely to be mostly female, timid and terrified virtue signaling snowflakes who would never uncover corruption and crookedness in high places like Watergate because they would be too busy taking offence at the concept of an anonymous source called Deep Throat (using those two words itself a filthy offence worthy of an NUS diversity, equality and multi-culturalism sub-committee’s emergency attention) along with other slight slurs and minor, nonsensical issues around gender, race, equality and diversity.

Page three of October’s edition features the memories of senior staff going back to Geoffrey Gadd, founding editor-in-chief of the first issue, which is registered as a newspaper with the Post Office, on October 3, 1972, though the sub-editors were unable to correct the spelling of “remenice” in the standfirst to the feature (howling errors throughout Gair Rhydd is really its main selling point and what I always notice).

This latest 24-page edition comes with a 64-page feature-led magazine called Quench which this month is promoting Welsh independence from Westminster with a cover featuring a Welsh flag flying over Cardiff Castle with deputy editor Molly using her degree in linguistics to explain what the word means.

So, our supposedly independent, intrepid, determined and fiercely ambitious aspiring hacks appear to have been loaded with Welsh nationalist extremist Yes Cymru sympathies and the weaponisation of the language is more evident than ever with much more conspicuous and prominent placing of articles and headlines written entirely in Welsh despite the fact that the total number of people who speak the language in Cardiff on a regular basis is desperately slight (walk down Queen Street and listen for how many times you hear it being spoken).

Current editor-in-chief Beth Williams in the editorial on page two poses the question of whether print newspapers will become extinct, pointing out that “since 1972, it has been a form of self-expression and the builder of friendships and confidence”.

So, how has student journalism at Cardiff University changed in those fifty years?

Without access to the first edition in 1972, I am unable to compare and contrast so much of what I write in this review of Gair Rhydd’s October 2022 issue is anecdotal and without proper access to archives but here goes……

Gair Rhydd, “Free Word” in English, is a tabloid newspaper with an ethical policy and a complaints procedure which reads: “At Gair Rhydd we take seriously our responsibility to maintain the highest possible standards. We may occasionally make mistakes, however if you believe we have fallen below the standards we seek to uphold please e-mail”.

Mandy Bradshaw, first female sabbatical editor between 1984 and 1985, remembers editing the 200th issue “selling £8,000 in ads to cover a budget shortfall”.

Firms have severely cut their spending on advertisements in mainstream print media, prompting savage cuts in editorial budgets even on big circulation tabloids like The Sun so Gair Rhydd has to rely on subsidies and other central funding as, crucially, does ALL Welsh journalism of any kind.

This, inevitably, means there is an unhealthy financial dependence on Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru-led Welsh government to fund journalism in Wales (because who else can or would?).

The non-aggression pact between Labour and Plaid in Wales has established then consolidated a Yes Cymru independence from Westminster mainly youth led radical feminist, critical race theory, transgender rights movement as being per se representative and typical of all Welsh people when the vast majority are socially and intellectually conservative Christians.

This movement grows more aggressive and totalitarian in its banning, no-platforming and disciplining of anyone with a contrary worldview on university campuses.

“English journalism” is seen as racist and colonialist while “Welsh journalism” is seen as a brave, morally virtuous fightback against it.

Nadila Hussein in an article on page 17 attempts to address the democratic deficit media crisis in Wales in a piece headlined “The development of Welsh journalism post-devolution” but starts from the cack-handed perspective that a wafer-thin referendum vote for devolution in 1997 automatically gave Wales better media coverage when this, very obviously, is untrue and it remains very difficult for native-born Welsh people like me to see any advantages from this costly and getting costlier Cardiff Bay circus of any kind at all.

“It’s clear that the Welsh general public is better informed than before,” Hussein writes patronisingly and inaccurately, but “Outside of elections and extraordinary situations, coverage of policy is weak, and the items being produced aren’t being consumed by most of the public”.

No, because real news is not being produced any more (you know….. probing, investigatory work on just about anything. I can think of two I’d be working on now: 1, the increasing number of undergraduates having to sell sex and 2, the increasing number of students living in rundown hovels and hostels at the mercy of tyrannical landlords) but instead we are being served politically biased NUS ethics committee approved ideological sermons only on approved subjects from the usual suspects.

These include stories on the BAME curriculum introduced in Welsh schools, free Welsh lessons paid for by Welsh government and Welsh efforts to “combat climate change” with an editorial policy which automatically disses anything generated from Westminster while unconditionally approving and promoting anything which emanates from Cardiff Bay.

One example of this comes on page five where features editor Grace Robson looks at local activism groups “making a difference in Cardiff and beyond”. She chooses to promote Cardiff People’s Assembly, BLM Cardiff and Vale Assembly, Sisters Uncut Cardiff, Trans Aid Cymru, Cardiff STAR (student action for refugees) and Cardiff Copwatch.

These young student aspirants cannot possibly be acting independently and their ability to reason rationally and use genuine critical thinking to explore and investigate properly seems, to me, to have disappeared altogether in a gender, race, diversity and equality cul-de-sac of echo chamber virtue signalling.

Gair Rhydd in 1972 would have been a far more daring and boisterous, mischievous title with a wider, more informed circle of contributors and readers in a far more tolerant, liberal and truly meritocratic society. For instance, no letters of opinions of readers are printed so it’s all curated and controlled in a sinister way.

Student journalism has been hijacked by woke warriors and the staff at Gair Rhydd are now looking forward to another fifty years very much in hope rather than expectation because they no longer tell truths but wield weapons.

You can join this organisation, as I did today:

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