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Last Updated: Monday, 23 January 2006, 17:58 GMT
Newspaper sacks critical minister
Alun Pugh AM
Alun Pugh was sacked for calling the paper's serious coverage 'a joke'
The Western Mail has sacked Welsh Culture Minister Alun Pugh as a columnist after he called the paper's coverage of issues "a bit of a joke".

Mr Pugh made the accusation as AMs on the assembly's culture committee questioned senior managers at the newspaper group about planned job cuts.

Western Mail editor Alan Edmunds said he had no choice but to axe the column after Mr Pugh's public "cheap shot".

Mr Pugh said the paper appeared "very thin-skinned" in the face of criticism.

The minister wrote a weekly piece called The Official for the Western Mail. It was an unpaid role.

But his career as a columnist was spiked following the culture committee hearing last Thursday.

He said there: "I have to say that the new Western Mail is seen as [having] lots of cut-and-paste lifestyle articles.

"The serious coverage actually is seen, not just by lots of politicians privately, by a lot of opinion formers as a bit of joke."

Edmunds challenged the assertion, claiming: "The serious coverage in the Western Mail is now more challenging...it's written in a less turgid manner, it has headlines that are more engaging."

Alan Edmunds
When someone who writes a column in your paper takes such a cheap shot at it in a public forum, it leaves an editor with little choice but to say thank you and goodnight
Editor Alan Edmunds

He has said he was left with no choice but to sack Mr Pugh from his pages after the minister "managed to insult and alienate every journalist" on the title with his remark.

In an interview with The Guardian newspaper, Edmunds also questioned whether Mr Pugh had been prompted to make his remarks because of the coverage the newspaper had given to recent political attacks on him.

He said: "When someone who writes a column in your paper takes such a cheap shot at it in a public forum, it leaves an editor with little choice but to say thank you and goodnight.

"In one sentence the minister managed to insult and alienate every journalist on the national newspaper of Wales, as well as its readers.

"But I doubt if he cares very much about that, or about losing a weekly platform to address all those with an interest in Welsh art, entertainment and culture".

'Serious post'

Edmunds said Mr Pugh been given a rough ride in the paper over his decision to advertise the post of chairman of the Arts Council of Wales.

"His job is clearly to make decisions and to take the flak from those who disagree with them.

"The remark was also his only contribution to a meeting of the assembly's culture committee supposed to be taking a serious look at the role of Trinity Mirror in Wales.

"Other AMs attempted to take a more reasoned approach."

In response, Mr Pugh said: "The Western Mail is happy to dish out criticism, but they appear to be very thin-skinned and censorious if anyone expresses unfavourable comparisons between the Trinity Mirror daily newspapers in north and south Wales."

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31 Jul 03 |  Business

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