HOLD the front page ... next month I am giving a talk on journalism as a career for sixth-formers at a Merseyside school.

Stop press ... I now have to add a new feature to the lecture – the unwanted arrival of "fake news".

This ugly term has winged its way across the Atlantic in the global wake-up call that has become Donald J Trump's headline-making presidential victory.

We also hear the phrase "alternative facts" from the White House press spokesman responding to reports that Trump's inauguration attendance figures were bigger than Obama's.

So where will fake news end?

It is a disease in our democracy.

News has to tell the truth – not lies. Full stop. End of story.

John Lennon was so annoyed at reading propaganda during the President Nixon reign that he penned the classic protest song Gimme Some Truth – an attack on politicians that became a mantra for those who were sick of hearing what men and women in power suits wanted them to hear.

On February 2, BBC's Question Time is from Wallasey Town Hall.

It will put decision-makers and opinion-formers on the spot.

We don't want any pants on fire, please.

We also do not want any evasion as displayed by our PM when she consistently avoided answering Andrew Marr's admirable persistence about Trident.

And with only 100 days to go before we elect a super mayor, we want facts not fiction.

Like fellow journalists, I came into the industry to tell the truth.

Like Trump's oath, we have a responsibility to report that truth, too.

It is called the code of conduct.


FOOD for thought.

Mrs Thatcher believed there was no such thing as society.

David Cameron talked until he was blue in the face about his "big society".

I wonder what Wirral Council thinks about it? Especially when you hear they are cutting the grants towards pensioner luncheons at the end of March.

This decision simply doesn't cut the mustard.

They say they will re-direct the £72,000 saving to tackle "pensioner isolation".

This is a Catch 22 scenario.

I once delivered parcels at Christmas to Merseyside pensioners who were house-bound.

It was a humbling experience and one I think of all the time, not only during the festive season.

People living alone told me what they really wanted for Christmas – company. To get out and meet others instead of staring at a TV screen. The joy of holding a conversation with someone else.

When I worked down South I once highlighted a charity centre for pensioners that had its HQ at the top of a steep flight of stairs with no lifts.

It soon moved to a ground-floor.

Sometimes you wonder if the bean-counters really have a clue what repercussions their actions have or, for that matter, care.

These clubs are a godsend. We should invest more in them, not reduce funds.

Wirral Community Action rightly says the clubs provide opportunities "for social contact and activities, to reduce social isolation and staying well and active." 

Hear hear


MARC his words. Wallasey writer Marc Gee still hopes there will one day be a Wirral Film Office.

Mr G is a local writer whose script was turned into a £3m feature film called Al's Lads starring Ricky Tomlinson.

He will share his vast knowledge and experience gained over 20 years during a master class at Bebington Suite on February 3, at 1pm.

Before then – this Sunday – Marc will present Let Me Tell You A Story at the Adelphi Hotel with lunch and a screening of the film with a Q&A by me.


AND finally...what was that again?

When BBC Radio Merseyside surveyed the ethnicity of one of its callers last week they puzzled a man called Bill.

The station wanted to find out about those people who identify with each other based on similarities, such as common ancestral, language, social, cultural or national experiences.

Alas our bemused caller asked: "Why do you want to know about my electricity bill?"

Peter Grant