Guardian story on British baker's Nativity calendar gets a rise with political angle

There's no business like dough business: Greggs, a British bakery chain similar to America's Panera or Au Bon Pain, is rebounding after years of losses, according to the Marketing Week video above.

Until this week, perhaps when the chain unveiled its 2017 Advent season calendar illustrated with Christmas-related scenes and die-cut "windows" where special offers and coupons appear. One of the windows offers gift cards ranging in value from £5 to £25, the latter more than covering the £24 cost of the calendar.

So what's the news here?

What caused things to bubble over was the depiction of three Magi kneeling around a manger. But instead of the infant Jesus, veneration was being given to a Greggs sausage roll, of which an estimated two million are sold in Britain each week. And not just any sausage roll, but one with a bite taken out of it.

So what did The Guardian, that left-leaning 197-year-old British daily lead off with?

Politics, of course: "Rightwing group calls for Greggs boycott over sausage roll nativity," is the headline. Here's a taste of the story:

The bakery chain Greggs has apologised for offending Christians with a nativity scene advert that replaces Jesus with a sausage roll. 
The chief executive of the Freedom Association, a rightwing pressure group, claimed the advert was “sick” and that the retailer would “never dare” insult other religions.
The UK Evangelical Alliance strongly criticised the baker, saying it was a gimmick that seemed to be about “manufacturing a scandal to sell baked goods”.
Greggs released the image to promote its £24 advent calendar, which goes on sale next Monday. Its decision to use an image depicting the three wise men gathering round a crib containing a sausage roll sparked criticism from Twitter users and religious groups.

The apology made national news, as a quick Twitter search revealed:

But did you notice something in the admittedly brief BBC tweet? No mention of a "rightwing pressure group" as the central element of the story. It's the apology and not the fringe group's boycott demand that is the news here. One wonders why The Guardian would make such strenuous efforts to switch things around.

Maybe The Guardian has an #Agenda here.

Of course, I don't have a channel into the hearts and minds of the paper's editors, but it is rather odd that a relatively small political group gets its viewpoint across before the U.K.'s Evangelical Alliance, which says it speaks for Britain's "two million evangelical Christians" and has done so "for more than 165 years." A key question: What makes this little media storm a POLITICAL story instead of a RELIGION story?

It would seem to me that the thoughts of the evangelical group would far outweigh those of the Freedom Association. It would be less "sexy" in news terms, but I can't imagine The Guardian -- which no one has ever confused with downmarket papers such as The Sun or the now-defunct News of the World -- is all about clickbait.

Especially telling, in my view, is that the Guardian story quoted an Anglican cleric who also called for a Greggs boycott -- but didn't mention his agitation:

The Rev Mark Edwards, of St Matthew’s church in Dinnington and St Cuthbert’s church in Brunswick, said Greggs had been disrespectful. He told the Newcastle-based Chronicle: “It goes beyond just commercialism, it’s showing a total disregard and disrespect towards one of the greatest stories ever told, and I think people of all faiths will be offended by this.”

By the way, here's how the Newcastle paper quoted the Rev. Edwards:

He said: “I just wonder what the thought process behind this was. My faith is very important to me, and to thousands of other Christians, and clearly we would be very offended.
“I hope every other Christian will speak out, and I don’t think it will be just Christians speaking out.
“Perhaps we should vote with out feet -- perhaps we should say, don’t go to Greggs.”

My point: A newspaper could still be a bit snarky and lead with the boycott call, but why not quote someone a little closer to the subject at hand, and presumably less polarizing? That's what one would call fair, balanced reporting. It's what used to be the standard for, yep, #Journalism.

Instead, The Guardian falls as flat as a deflated soufflé when it comes to upholding a legacy of responsible news reporting.

Please respect our Commenting Policy