Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Media Quotes of the Year

Some of the best media quotes of 2008 (mainly taken from stories covered on this site which only started in the Autumn - so it's really the best quotes from the end of the year, but they are all good):

"We have to face up to the prospect that for the first time since the Enlightenment major cities in the UK and in Western democracies will be left without any kind of verifiable news. That hasn't happened for 200 to 300 years. I think it will have very profound implications." - Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger on the possibility of regional newspapers closing.

"No, No, No! the last thing any newspaper should do is accept subsidy from the state. The particular strength of the UK newspaper industry is its independence." - Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, on a suggestion by Alan Rusbridger that local papers might need state subsidies.

"The UK press is nowadays one of the most injuncted, litigated and censored in the West. British ISPs quite understandably don't want to risk their profits for a principle. The most straight forward way for Guido to frustrate lawyers is to make sure no element of the infrastructure of the site is within the domain of a British judge." - Guido Fawkes on why he is moving from Google Blogger.

"Like anything, drink might kill us, but it needn't. And if I snuff it in my sixties or seventies for the price of years of fun, that has got to be preferable to living into a mentally acute great old age with Harriet Harman." - George Pitcher, defending drinking in a Daily Telegrapgh article after facing criticism for allowing wine to be quaffed in St. Bride's.

"So if you want a car or a job, go to the Internet. But don't expect that Web site to hire somebody to sit through town-council meetings and explain to you why your taxes will be going up. Soon, newspapers won't be able to do it either. Over the past few weeks, I've watched a parade of top-notch reporters leave the Star-Ledger for the last time. . .If anyone out there in the blogosphere can tell me what the new model is, I will pronounce him the first genius I've ever encountered on the Internet." - Paul Mulshine, columnist for The Star-Ledger newspaper Newark, USA.

"We are becoming global leaders in providing content but none of us have worked out how to make enough money out of it...Every UK national newspaper website only exists because of its old media parent." - Martin Clarke, publisher of the Mail Online.

"The central problem isn't the internet (a dampener on profits and spreader of uncertainty, at worst; not the end of everything). The problem is newspaper ownership flawed by misplaced ambition and short-sighted management." - Peter Preston in The Observer.

"The newsroom is a real-time peer review mechanism where people are in a very tough and abrasive relationship with each other that bloggers in their pyjamas cannot replicate." - Newsnight's Paul Mason.

"Would any newspaper be brave enough to completely shut down in a physical format and move everything online, adopting a more Web 2.0 way of doing news? Would it work? And how on earth would they monetize it?.... But, even if it is a desperate last throw of the dice, what does a paper have to lose if it tries it? Not that I’d want to see papers disappear from their communities, but if it’s a choice between online-only news and no news at all…" - blogger Gary Andrews.

"There's nobody who can be satisfied with the quality of local news in most parts of the United Kingdom," - BBC Trust chairman Sir Michael Lyons, speaking at a Broadcasting Press Guild lunch.

"Blogs are further corrupting the distinction between news and views which is supposed to be sacrosanct at the BBC. They pander to the egos of reporters who are no longer content to report what is going on, but want their opinions to be part of the debate," - Stephen Glover in the Daily Mail.

"He (Stephen Glover) claims is it 'impossible to write a half-readable blog without peppering it with opinions'. That's just not true. We look to our expert editors such as Nick and Robert to tell us what has happened, to explain why it is or isn't important, what it means, and even what might be the effect. As to what their personal opinions about the news are, well, that's just not the business we're in," - Giles Wilson, editor of BBC news blogs.

"The Telegraph Media Group is in the process of disembowelling the Daily Telegraph. There is no other way to describe what is happening as the depressing daily roll-call of departures is announced." - MediaGuardian's Roy Greenslade.

"Greenslade - who neglects to mention that he parted company with the Telegraph in 2006 in less-than-happy circumstances after just three months as media commentator - is cannon fodder in a wider Guardian mission to show that the Telegraph is only able to challenge its online success by being a rapacious organisation." - Justin Williams, assistant editor at the Telegraph.

"If The Daily Telegraph continues down the path of trying to be like the Daily Mail it will be slaughtered." - The Independent's Stephen Glover.

"Perhaps it is the worst downturn since the second world war, but it can hardly be as bad as the war itself, and the local press came through that just as it has survived every downturn since," Sir Ray Tindle, in a letter to The Guardian.

"It's hardly the time to be full of the joys of the season given employers are using the Christmas break to make redundancies, cut pay, close offices and reorganise in the hope that people won't want to take any action over the holiday period. These employers are all heart. I wonder how some of them sleep at night." - NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear.

"The closure of a local paper would leave a gaping hole in the social fabric of the U.K." - Tim Bowdler, chief executive Johnston Press on BBC Radio 4's PM programme.

“I don’t know how you are still in the job.” - ex-Sunday Sun editor and head of journalism at Sunderland University Chris Rushton tackles Trinity Mirror chief executive Sly Bailey over the fall in the company's value.

"Look at the history of our newspapers and you will find that many of them were founded by local men and funded by local businesses - printers, campaigners, shopkeepers and solicitors. These men did not seek to make a vast fortune from their great adventure...Why can't the big groups sell off their failing titles to people who would actually love and nurture them?" - Grey Cardigan.

"Once again he is the epitome of the society decorator: a grey cashmere cardigan offsetting his artfully fluffed up corona of white hair, with tight trousers and winklepickers to add a touch of naughtiness." - Cassandra Jardine describes in the Daily Telegraph how Nicky Haslam has got over his "sartorial mid-life crisis" thanks to a Grey Cardigan.

"New definition of optimism. A newspaper journalist ironing 5 shirts on a Sunday night!!!" - posted comment on HoldtheFrontPage under yet another job cuts story.

"If this was happening in another employer in Scotland, if an approach was being taken to make an entire workforce redundant, what would we imagine that the editorial stance of the Herald newspaper would've been?.....I think that the owners of the Herald group should think carefully about the credibility of the newspaper given the stance they have adopted," - Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond.

"Today newspapers, even wealthy ones like the Mail, think long and hard before contesting actions even if they know they are in the right for fear of the ruinous financial implications. For the local press such actions are now, almost certainly, out of the question. Instead they stump up some cash to settle as quickly as possible to avoid court actions which if they were to lose could, in some cases, close them. Some justice." - Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre on the dangers of "no win, no fee" arrangements in libel cases.

"She feels so psychologically scarred by the episode that she now questions whether she will be able to work as a journalist again." -Press Gazette on journalist Sally Murrer after a judge threw out charges against her.

"Sally Murrer was bugged, locked up, strip-searched and eventually charged with aiding and abetting misconduct in a public office. A judge threw the case out. Why was this not worth big headlines? Because Murrer worked for the Milton Keynes Citizen and, as far as the nationals are concerned, there's nothing so unimportant as a local paper." - MediaGuardian columnist Peter Wilby.

"This solid brick wall of high calibre journalists I had never met, who just surrounded me and looked after me....who picked me up when I was down. I knew there was a camaraderie in journalism but did not how much." - Sally Murrer on the support she received from other journalists.

"When the Abu Ghraib atrocities against Iraqi prisoners filled our media, people rightly noted that the torment consisted not in physical pain, but in humiliation. The humiliation was increased by photographing the acts. The torturers thought that what they did was funny. They were arrested, dismissed from the US armed services and imprisoned. Jonathan Ross was doing essentially the same thing. He thought it was funny to use his power to torment someone mentally, and to let other people witness the torment." - Charles Moore, the former Daily Telegraph editor on why he won't pay his licence fee if the BBC keeps on Jonathan Ross.

"The British press out there in Portugal, and I'm not singling out any particular publication, were - I'm afraid to say this and I don't like to say this because I'm a former journalist myself - they were lazy," - Clarence Mitchell, spokesman for the McCanns.

"I am 48 years old and still doing proper reporting." - BBC business editor Robert Peston.

“If Mr. Peston read the shipping forecast, he would have seasoned mariners jumping ship.” - Stephen Glover.

"The quality and calibre of celebrities caught outside unbookable restaurants has gone way down. Now its more likely to be a bloke in EastEnders, a drunk runner-up from Big Brother, and Piers Morgan," - AA Gill in The Sunday Times, the feud continues.

Jeremy White's Best of 2008

Esquire chief sub Jeremy White picks his best media of 2008.

Best old/trad media of the year: Radio 4 - in particular Peter Day's In Business... quite simply the best programme on the business world and global economy you will find. Clear, engaging and authoritative - and possibly the best podcast the BBC puts out too. If you don't subscribe, you're missing out. An example - on the internet economy versus traditional financial models: "Millions of markets of thousands, rather than thousands of markets of millions." I have yet to hear a better, or more concise, definition.

Best new media of the year: BBC iPlayer - as good as they said it would be... now let's have it on freeview please.

Best story of the year: Obama and the Shannon Matthews kidnap by her mother Karen. The Heather Mills court debacle was great too. I loved the QE2 running aground on it's way to retirement in Dubai and some prize idiot saying the ship obviously "knew" where and why it was going...

Prediction for 2009: The real extent of house-price crash will be revealed and the rise of radio-frequency identification (RFID). New immigration restrictions that will make Australia look like a cuddly uncle.

Rest of the Best of, so far: Paul Linford, Adrian Monck , Grey Cardigan , Jean Morgan, Steve Busfield, Neil Fowler, Ian Reeves, Dominic Ponsford, Michael Crozier, Judith Townend and Laura Oliver, Patrick Smith, Ruth Addicott, Sue Curtis, Miles Barter.

Monday, 29 December 2008

New Year to start with industrial action at Newsquest North East over job cuts and pay

Journalists employed by Newsquest North East are to start the New Year by taking industrial action on three consecutive days in protest at job cuts and a pay freeze, the NUJ said today.
The NUJ chapel at the Darlington-based company, which publishes the Northern Echo, the Darlington and Stockton Times, the Durham Times and the Advertiser series of free papers, voted 90 percent for industrial action in a secret ballot, the union said.
The journalists plan to hold mandatory union meetings at noon on Monday 5 January, Tuesday 6 January, and Wednesday 7 January. Around 100 editorial staff are employed by Newsquest North East.
On 5 January journalists at the Newsquest centre in York will receive the results of their ballots for industrial action over similar issues.

'British libel laws can bite you no matter where you live' warns Alan Rusbridger

In an article in the New York Review of Books, the editor of The Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, has called for a reform of the British libel laws.
He writes: "News organizations in the Western world, struggling with declining audiences and revenue, are shedding journalists, closing down foreign operations, and cutting costs. But they are also increasingly inhibited by efforts—of government officials and of private corporations—to prevent them from protecting sources or from carrying out difficult investigations.
"Many minds are rightly focused on the regulatory, economic, technological, and legal issues that news organizations committed to serious journalism should be addressing. A starting point would be to reform one of the potential obstacles to their doing so—the British laws of libel. Do not be lulled into a false security by the word "British": in the Internet age the British laws can bite you, no matter where you live."
The Guardian editor discusses the impact of the libel action brought against the paper by Tesco.

Miles Barter's Best of 2008

Miles Barter, NUJ campaigns officer, picks his best media of 2008.

Best old/trad media of the year: The Salford Star - proper local investigations and features. And BBC Radio Five Live maintains it's high standards. Richard Bacon has been a revelation on the late show - while the return of Danny Baker to 606 means it's Christmas every Tuesday.

Best new media of the year: The Stirrer(.co.uk) - proper local news and features.

Best story of the year: Marx and Engels were right about capitalism - and Manchester has become the Kenya of cycling.

Prediction for 2009: Capitalism stays in crisis as big brands go bust. And premier league soccer is in crisis as the prawn sandwich brigade pull out and the fans can't afford the crazy prices.

Rest of the Best of, so far: Paul Linford, Adrian Monck , Grey Cardigan , Jean Morgan, Steve Busfield, Neil Fowler, Ian Reeves, Dominic Ponsford, Michael Crozier, Judith Townend and Laura Oliver, Patrick Smith, Ruth Addicott, Sue Curtis.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Me and My Blog

This is an article I wrote about my blog and blogging published in the January issue of Press Gazette which is not available online.

Having witnessed the collapse of Press Gazette from the inside at the end of 2006 and being an avid reader of Roy ‘the end is nigh!’ Greenslade made me aware that the future of print was not exactly rosy.
As a freelance I had made money out of magazines printed on dead trees (including this one) but I still felt a bit like a drayman being overtaken by people in those new fangled automobiles.
So to keep abreast of these changing times I enrolled on a two-day “introduction to new media” course this summer run by the NUJ at its London HQ.
Although I started in journalism in the days of typewriters and copy paper I am not a complete dinosaur and was able to put up stories on the Press Gazette website. But if anything went wrong you could ask the IT guys to put it right with their expert knowledge (“Have you saved it?” or “Have you tried re-starting your machine?” was their usual response) or you could ask PG’s then resident new tech guru Martin Stabe.
The good thing about the course was it de-mystified a lot of the jargon that IT hides behind and gave a gentle introduction to HTML web code. Talking to people on the course I first heard about blogger.com which is one of a number of blog hosts which will host your blog for free.
Setting up a blog via a blog host is literally as easy as one-two-three. First you create an account, then name your blog and finally chose a template. Then you are off into the blogosphere. You can enhance your site with pictures, video and links to other relevant or admired sites.
It really is easy to start. But it is perhaps more difficult to explain why you should do it. I remember proudly showing my blog to my daughter whose reaction was “Dad, that’s so sad, why don’t you get a proper job?”
On the other hand I found a lot of encouragement from other journalists, particularly young ones to whom blogging is second nature. Many journalism students are encouraged to have their own blogs.
As for content, I just write about what I am interested in, which is journalism and the media, rather than about myself. Having a subject to focus on and discuss gives your blog a broader range than writing a diary about your life, and saves you from the danger of becoming the Mr. Pooter of the internet.
The buzz out of a blog is finding out there are some people out there reading it. When I started I got comments from Adrian Monck, head of City University’s journalism department, and “king of the bloggers” Guido Fawkes, which made me feel as good as my first by-lines. Even though Mr. Fawkes was correcting something I had written, at least he had seen it.
I get the same fun putting up an “exclusive” story on my blog as I did when I was at Press Gazette although I think I am using the word in both its meanings – it has not been published elsewhere and is going to a very small audience.
The good thing about blogging is that it gives you a voice and is like owning your own newspaper or magazine except that you are not losing money and you don’t have to sit in publishing meetings. The bad is that you have created this thing that needs to be fed and kept alive with new content but won’t earn you a bean.

The NUJ is running introduction to blogging courses from £45. For a list of courses go to nujtraining.org.uk

Saturday, 27 December 2008

'Don't expect web sites to hire somebody to sit through town council meetings'

A Wall Street Journal opinion piece by Paul Mulshine, a columnist for the Newark Star-Ledger, poignantly headlined "All I Wanted for Christmas Was a Newspaper", has real resonance for regional journalists in the UK.
Mulshine says he has seen a number of top reporters leaving his newspaper but does not think their work will be replicated by web sites.
He argues that there is a real flaw in the thinking of those who herald the era of citizen journalism. "They assume newspapers are going out of business because we aren't doing what we in fact do amazingly well, which is to quickly analyze and report on complex public issues. The real reason they're under pressure is much more mundane. The Internet can carry ads more cheaply, particularly help-wanted and automotive ads.
"So if you want a car or a job, go to the Internet. But don't expect that Web site to hire somebody to sit through town-council meetings and explain to you why your taxes will be going up. Soon, newspapers won't be able to do it either.
"Over the past few weeks, I've watched a parade of top-notch reporters leave the Star-Ledger for the last time. . .If anyone out there in the blogosphere can tell me what the new model is, I will pronounce him the first genius I've ever encountered on the Internet."
I picked up Mulshine's piece via Adrian Monk's blog.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Spiked editor is Image of the Year

This graphic cover from a 1945 Dell crime novel showing an editor on a spike seems to sum up the plight of many journalists in 2008 and no doubt in 2009.
Whodunnit? Was it the internet, the decline in readers, structural changes, the managing director or one of the big publishing groups?

Guido Fawkes off from Google Blogger in move to beat British judges and privacy laws

Political blogger Guido Fawkes is leaving Google's Blogger platform, partly in a move to beat the British legal system and counter privacy laws.
Guido posted today that he wanted to increase the interactivity opportunities for his "co-conspirators" and that: "This necessitates a shift to a less vulnerable more "distributed" platform, which for legal and practical reasons has to be on infrastructure not owned by enterprises that crumble at the first hint of a writ.
"Google have until now been very resilient but at the end of the day they are not going to risk their corporate neck for Guido or his co-conspirators. Google UK likes to please governments that presents a risk to Guido that he can no longer take.
"As privacy laws become ever more draconian and the government and the EU start thinking about how to suppress blogs, it seems to Guido wise to pre-emptively protect himself from legal threats to freedom of speech.
"The UK press is nowadays one of the most injuncted, litigated and censored in the West. British ISPs quite understandably don't want to risk their profits for a principle. The most straight forward way for Guido to frustrate lawyers is to make sure no element of the infrastructure of the site is within the domain of a British judge."
Guido has reported that he was recently, along with other parts of the British media, served with an injunction over emails allegedly stolen from a politician.

MP claims job cutting Trinity will make £25 million Liverpool Echo profit this year

Labour MP for Liverpool Walton Peter Kilfoyle has put down an Early Day Motion calling on Trinity Mirror to "halt the haemorrhaging of local jobs" at its newspapers in Liverpool.
The motion reads: "That this House is extremely concerned by the attritional reduction in jobs being made in Liverpool by Trinity Mirror; notes its current monopoly of the print media on Merseyside; understands that its flagship on Merseyside, the Liverpool Echo, is due to make a £25 million profit this year; further notes the company's reliance on local advertisers and local readers; and calls upon the company to join immediately with local hon. Members and their employees' trades union representatives to halt this haemorrhaging of local jobs."
Meanwhile, NUJ journalists at the North West Evening Mail in Barrow, part of the CN Group,
are holding a ballot on January 2 for industrial action over four job cuts which they fear will lead to increased hours for remaining staff.

Cities could be without own news for first time since the Enlightenment, warns Rusbridger

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger warned today that the crisis engulfing the regional newspaper industry could lead to titles closing and leave cities without their own indigenous news for the first time since the Enlightenment.
Rusbridger, interviewed about the newspaper crisis on this morning's BBC Radio 4's Today programme said he believed the local press was facing the biggest challenge and warned: "We have to face up to the prospect that for the first time since the Enlightenment major cities in the UK and in Western democracies will be left without any kind of verifiable news. That hasn't happend for 200 to 300 years. I think it will have very profound implications."
He also claimed that newspapers with paternalistic owners, like the Barclay brothers, Murdoch or O'Reilly or controlled by a trust, like The Guardian, would be in a better position to weather the storm than those in conventional share ownership which are more exposed to the pressure of the financial markets.

Sue Curtis' Best of 2008

News organiser for BBC Coventry and Warwickshire, Sue Curtis, names her favourite media of 2008.

Best old/traditional media: The Observer gets my vote. It's different from the rest, it follows its own agenda and often leads with a story which is then picked up by others. For me, it's the newspaper equivalent of Channel Four News, not afraid to go with a story which it believes to be important regardless of what other media are doing. It also delivers what you want from a lazy Sunday morning read.. good analysis, entertaining writers and the magazine sections such as the monthly Food mag are often stunning visually.

Best new media: Earlsdon Echo in Coventry. (And lots of other small community publications and websites which have sprung up this year.) It campaigns, it entertains and it helps community spirit.

Best story of the year: 'Jack - A Soldier's story'. BBC documentary by Ben Anderson. This was story-telling journalism at its very best. It was the story of 24 year old Jack, a British soldier fighting in Helmand Province and then returning home.

Prediction for 2009: More carnage within the local newspaper industry but the rise of more community websites and newspapers to fill the gap.

After Xmas: Ex-weekly newspaper editor and broadcaster Miles Barter, now NUJ campaigns officer, picks his Best of 2008.

Rest of the Best of, so far: Paul Linford, Adrian Monck , Grey Cardigan , Jean Morgan, Steve Busfield, Neil Fowler, Ian Reeves, Dominic Ponsford, Michael Crozier, Judith Townend and Laura Oliver, Patrick Smith, Ruth Addicott.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Dear claims employers using Xmas break to push through cuts to beat industrial action

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear claims employers are forcing through job and pay cuts and office closures during the Christmas break to beat any industrial action.
Writing on his blog Dear says: "It's hardly the time to be full of the joys of the season given employers are using the Christmas break to make redundancies, cut pay, close offices and reorganise in the hope that people won't want to take any action over the holiday period. These employers are all heart. I wonder how some of them sleep at night."
Dear said the union has been "forewarned" of more job cuts today.
Update: HoldtheFront Page reports today that eight jobs are at risk at Johnston Press' southern division and MediaGuardian that up to 10 jobs could be axed on the Metro free newspaper.

BBC Newsnight's Paul Mason on the future of journalism as the recession begins to bite

BBC Newsnight economics editor Paul Mason makes some interesting observations about the impact of the recession on journalism in an interview in the latest issue of The Journalist.

On the recession, Mason says:"The recession is going to shake out the weakest economic actors. We've seen it with local papers, we've seen it with commercial TV. When it's shaken out and it finishes it won't come back the same. Professional journalists have a place in it but we're going to have a different place in it."

On the newsroom vs. bloggers: "The newsroom is a real-time peer review mechanism where people are in a very tough and abrasive relationship with each other that bloggers in their pyjamas cannot replicate."

On journalists' jobs: "There are going to be less journalists. It's not the recession that is doing that. It is the deskilling and the rise of new technology. What you have to do is define what
the skilled class of professional journalist actually does in that world. What makes us worth employing? I am very robust about it. I think we are going into an information age and we are the ones that provide that information. We are not going to disappear."

The interview is a good read in The Journalist which looks miles better after a re-design that, thankfully, hasn't aped the trade press where all the titles seem to be shrinking in size. You can see a video interview with Paul Mason by Journalist editor Tim Gopsill here.

Jon Gaunt starts legal action against talkSport after peace overtures fall on deaf ears

Sacked shock-jock Jon Gaunt is taking legal action against talkSPORT over his firing for calling a councillor "a Nazi" after peace talks with the station failed.
Gaunt, who is also a Sun columnist, says on his website last night: "I have tried to offer an olive branch to Scott Taunton (talkSPORT managing director) but he has declined my overtures. He claims he will not reinstate me despite the tens of thousands of e-mails that you have sent in and that he and his press boy, Farmer, have struggled to reply to.
"Therefore he has left me with no choice but to take legal action and that has now started." Gaunt also claims that according to Ofcom's own website there were only 16 complaints about the broadcast that led to his sacking.
Surprisingly, given Gaunt's staunchly right-wing views he has been given the backing of civil rights campaign group Liberty and its director Shami Chakrabarti, who he once dubbed the “most dangerous woman in Britain" in a Sun column.
Liberty says Gaunt's firing is a freedom of speech issue and called for his reinstatement. In a letter to talkSPORT management, Chakrabarti wrote: "I urge you to reinstate Mr Gaunt’s programme without delay and have offered him support in the unlikely and unfortunate event that recourse to the Human Rights Act proves necessary.”

Ruth Addicott's Best of 2008

Ruth Addicott, the former editor of the Woman section of The Argus, Brighton, who has just gone freelance, picks her Best of 2008.

Best old/trad media of the year: Grey Cardigan in Press Gazette because he's the only columnist not PR driven (even if he does repeat his jokes every few weeks), the Sunday Telegraph and Ian Hyland in the News of the World

Best new media of the year: Opus doing 'Life is Live' on You Tube - light relief from the 'crunch'.

Best story of the year: Obama, but my personal fave was Prescott being bullimic (followed up by footage of him tapping his foot and dancing on that doc).

Prediction for 2009: Prescott and his wife Pauline sky-diving out of a plane over the Australian outback in 'I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here', with Cherie queuing up behind. That will be front page, then p2 will have some mad man trying to see off Obama.

Tomorrow: Sue Curtis, news organiser at BBC Coventry and Warwickshire.

Rest of the Best of, so far:Paul Linford, Adrian Monck , Grey Cardigan , Jean Morgan, Steve Busfield, Neil Fowler, Ian Reeves, Dominic Ponsford, Michael Crozier, Judith Townend and Laura Oliver, Patrick Smith.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Press hall to close in York as Newsquest switches printing to Bradford and Trinity

Newsquest announced today that the print hall at The Press in York is to close with the loss of 22 jobs, according to the NUJ. From next month production of the daily Press and weekly sister paper, the Gazette and Herald, will be switched to Newsquest's Telegraph & Argus while another Newsquest title, the Northern Echo, which is also printed at York, will be shifted to a Trinity Mirror printing operation in Teesside, the union says.
NUJ Father of Chapel Tony Kelly said: "It is scandalous that our print-room colleagues are being treated so disgracefully. Talk about Merry Christmas. And it is also outrageous that such a long-standing tradition of a thriving newspaper being printed in York, one of England's greatest cities, will soon be at an end.
"The management have cited 'challenging trading conditions' and 'steps to improve the efficiency' of the business, but we understand Newsquest York will turn in a profit of £1million this year following on from the 2007 profit of £4.3million."
According to the NUJ, The Press and its forerunners, the Yorkshire Evening Press and the York Herald have been printed in York since 1790.

BBC News web FoI request reveals £205,000 cost of Sally Murrer police leak investigation

A Freedom of Information request by the BBC News website has revealed that the cost of the investigation into leaked police information which led to the prosecution of journalist Sally Murrer was £205,000.
Milton Keynes Citizen journalist Murrer was cleared at Kingston Crown Court last month of aiding a former police officer to leak information. The judge said her right to protect sources had been infringed.

Something Greenslade and Glover can agree on: The Daily Telegraph is tragic

MediaGuardian commentator Roy Greenslade earlier this month lambasted the Barclay brothers, accusing them of "disembowelling" the Telegraph following the sacking of many of the newspaper's best known journalists. Today it's Stephen Glover's turn.
In his Independent media column, Glover describes what is happening at The Daily Telegraph as "a national tragedy". He makes the startling claim: "If The Daily Telegraph continues down the path of trying to be like the Daily Mail it will be slaughtered."
Greenslade and Glover don't always see eye to eye. Back in September Glover was so angry about a piece Greenslade wrote in the Evening Standard on the revamped Independent that he thundered: "We pundits are sometimes cruel or unfair. I have certainly written things I later regretted. But I wonder whether I have ever sunk as low as my esteemed colleague Professor Roy Campbell-Greenslade did in his media column in the London Evening Standard last week."

Patrick Smith's Best of 2008

Patrick Smith of paidContent picks his best of 2008.

Best old/trad media of the year: An obvious choice perhaps: The Economist. It's a rare print success and required reading, in print, for thousands around the world plus it's been really influential on all kinds of news media. I'm also a huge fan of Fighting Talk on Five Live on Saturday mornings, a very silly knock-about sports gameshow made by real journalists without any of the usual BBC stiff-upper-lip approach to radio. Richard Edwards at the Yorkshire Evening Post deserves a mention for making good use of his local knowledge in the Karen Matthews case with some great reporting.

Best new media: paidContent! But aside from that the BBC's iPlayer has been a real success story and is changing the way we watch telly. The technology now looks like it'll be made available to commercial media too.

Best story of the year: I know a lot of Brits were turned off by it, but it was definitely Obama for me. I'm going for optimism over The Crunch, which is hardly over as a story, but Robert Peston must be the journo of the year for his long list of scoops, Northern Rock's bail-out being just one of them.

Prediction for 2009: I hate to be downbeat, but for newspapers, it's going to be a hard year: more redundancies, more closures, more consolidation. On the upside, there is a lot of opportunity for journalists to think like entrepreneurs and start their own businesses.

Tomorrow: Ruth Addicott, ex-editor of the Woman section on The Argus, Brighton, gives a seagull's eye view of the best of the media from the south coast.

Rest of the Best of, so far: Paul Linford, Adrian Monck , Grey Cardigan , Jean Morgan, Steve Busfield, Neil Fowler, Ian Reeves, Dominic Ponsford, Michael Crozier, Judith Townend and Laura Oliver.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Booze in the pews: Pitcher defends drinking in journalists' church after charity carol service

George Pitcher, who conducted the journalists' carol service at St. Bride's in Fleet Street last week, defends drinking wine in the church in a column in today's Telegraph.
He tells how a woman objected to the congregation drinking wine in St. Bride's after the carol service, held in aid of the Journalists' Charity. "I explained that this was a celebration, that Jesus himself was described as a "glutton and wine-bibber" (Matt: 11:19) and the miracle of the wedding at Canaa set something of a precedent. "But this is a church!" she exclaimed as if that answered everything."
He goes on to defend drinking in general: "Like anything, drink might kill us, but it needn't. And if I snuff it in my sixties or seventies for the price of years of fun, that has got to be preferable to living into a mentally acute great old age with Harriet Harman.
"Hallelujah for booze."
Cheers, George.

How does The Guardian do it?

Interesting post on his Media Money blog by Press Gazette's money man Peter Kirwan on why The Guardian appears to be the exception to the rule. It is investing by moving to new canal-side offices in King's Cross (see pic.) while elsewhere there is carnage in the newspaper industry with job losses and cut backs.
The Guardian's move to Kings Place has not been without some stress. The Camden Gazette reports that the building has come under sniper fire from a nearby council estate.

Judith Townend and Laura Oliver's Best of the media 2008 and a punch-up prediction

Journalism.co.uk reporters Judith Townend and Laura Oliver pick their Best of 2008.

Best old/trad media of the year:
(LO) The National - showing us that Dubai is still a place for new life in the print industry. Guardian (an obvious choice and perhaps not just old/trad media any more) - in particular for its expansion into America, coverage of the US election, investment in online.
(JT) Private Eye - only Lord Gnome could condescendingly shun the online and get away with it (well, for the time being at least) Water-tight libel defences and the best leaks in medialand help too.

Best new media of the year:
(LO) Big fan of Daylife as used by the Washington Post to display its Olympics and US Election coverage - http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/sports/olympics/longterm/2008/beijing/photos/
NYTimes APIs - the web's all about openness and the NYTimes' releases of data prove its commitment to this.
Ushahidi.com - Kenyan site used to report on post-election violence in the country, connecting bloggers and citizens with well-needed news and information.
(Sorry that's three - and I love videojug.com too. Very clever)
(JT) Ooo. How to choose? Most recently, Publish2.com for truly innovative and clean aggregation of links and content, designed with journalists' needs in mind. Let's hope more journalists get on board with it to make it really work.

Best story of the year:
(LO) Mumbai was a development of cit-j reporting from the coverage of the California wildfires last year, but is a symbol of a year when online media and news reporting stole the show (for good and bad) - whether it was news breaking on Twitter, recycled stories on United Airlines causing a fall in share prices, the power of Peston's blog or Obama's use of online campaign tools.
(JT) Can we pick two? Bizarre: Steve Jobs / CNN's citizen journalism antics. Serious: If we're assessing online impact, then Mumbai. While it wasn't extraordinary in terms of citizen media (contrary to mainstream reports, user generated content was relatively low compared to other global events) it provided one of the best and most chilling examples for using Twitter to follow events live, and read almost instantaneous 140 character updates from people actually on the ground, giving the MSM a run for its money.

Prediction for 2009:
(LO) RBI's constituent titles get broken up and sold piecemeal; a UK national newspaper goes bankrupt (or maybe a Russian millionaire Abramovich style will sweep in and buy it up); Twitter gets bought (all sweeping and more than one prediction again, sorry!).
(JT) Roy Greenslade and Justin Williams end up in a real-life punch-up at a glitzy media event after the Prof accidentally spills champagne over Williams' blackberry (it's all live Twittered and captured on iPhone video of course) .

Monday: Patrick Smith, UK correspondent of paidContent. It's Patrick's job to ferret out stories about how people make money out of the internet. Something we all want to know. Don't miss it!

Rest of the Best of, so far: Paul Linford, Adrian Monck , Grey Cardigan , Jean Morgan, Steve Busfield, Neil Fowler, Ian Reeves, Dominic Ponsford, Michael Crozier.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Hark The Herald pay freeze

Allmediascotland reports today that staff at The Herald group in Scotland have been told their pay review is to be frozen from January to April. It is a move similar to that announced by The Scotsman group.
Meanwhile in Ireland, the NUJ says that staff at Independent Newspapers (Ireland) have been offered a "shares for pay cut" deal.
In Wales, HoldtheFrontPage reported yesterday that four reporters at two West Wales weeklies have agreed to sacrifice pay to prevent a fellow journalist being made redundant. Newsquest wanted one redundancy from the seven-strong reporting team which produces the Milford Mercury and Western Telegraph. But the threatened job loss appears to have been averted after four reporters agreed to an equal cut in hours on the condition they all remained in their posts.

Conor Cruise O'Brien on the tabloid press

Conor Cruise O'Brien, the former editor-in-chief of The Observer, dipomat and politician, who has died in Dublin aged 91, described the worst features of British popular journalism as "cockiness, ignorance, carelessness, prurience, innuendo, and lip-service to the highest moral standards".

Michael Crozier's Best of 2008

Newspaper designer and consultant Michael Crozier has worked on The Daily Telegraph, The Times and The Independent among others. He designed The Independent (three times) and a host of other papers around the world. He's currently launching a new English language daily in India. Here are his Best of 2008.

Best old/trad media of the year: The Times as it has unrivalled news coverage as well as the ability to be idiosyncratic, such as devoting page two to editorials.

Best new media of the year: http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/ - a must for all investigative journalists and anyone who cares about the accountability of public authorities and the Freedom of Information Act.

Best story of the year: Barack Obama – the world lives in hope of a fundamental change in the world's most powerful nation.

Prediction for 2009: More journalists being sacked and made to re-apply for a job.

Tomorrow: It's two for the price of one as journalism.co.uk reporters Judith Townend and Laura Oliver choose their Best of 2008. One predicts a punch-up between two media figures. It's a knock-out. Don't miss it.

Rest of the Best of, so far: Paul Linford, Adrian Monck , Grey Cardigan , Jean Morgan, Steve Busfield, Neil Fowler, Ian Reeves, Dominic Ponsford.

Map of misery shows journalists' job cuts and newspaper office closures continue to grow

The NUJ has produced a Google map showing the alarming scale of journalists' job losses and newspaper office closures across the UK and Ireland. The list of job losses and posts left vacant is continuing to grow.
Redundancies at The Argus, in Brighton, saw Ruth Addicott who edited the Woman section at the Newsquest-owned paper leave yesterday after four-and-a-half years on the title. She joined the paper from Press Gazette, where she was magazines editor. Her departure follows a review of editorial departments which has seen a number of experienced staff leave. She intends to go freelance.
Roy Greenslade on his MediaGuardian blog slams Newsquest today and says it had "provided a master class in how not to carry out the painful task of cost-cutting." He also claims the company "is involved in a orgy of short-term panic measures that are bound to reduce the quality and quantity of its print and online content."
The NUJ has estimated that at least 500 regional jobs have been axed or left vacant since June. The union is supporting a campaign to save the office of a local paper from closure. Archant has announced plans to close its offices in Exmouth and Sidmouth, relocating journalists on the Exmouth Journal and Sidmouth Herald to Exeter.
Members of the local community in Exmouth are campaigning for the decision to be reversed. NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said: “Quality local papers play a crucial role in our communities and are enormously valued by their readers – that’s clear from the way people have rallied behind the campaign to keep the Exmouth Journal in Exmouth. I would urge Archant to reconsider its plans, which can only damage the relationship between the paper and its readers.”
HoldtheFrontPage reported yesterday that six jobs are set to go and the editors of two weeklies forced to compete for the same job at Newsquest's Wiltshire operation. The publisher has announced it is merging the newsrooms of the Wiltshire Times and the Wiltshire Gazette and Herald. Wiltshire Times editor Neville Smith was handed a redundancy notice on Monday - less than six months after he took up the post. He must now compete for his job against his counterpart from the Gazette and Herald, with ten posts across the two titles being reduced to four in the proposed new structure, HTFP said.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Newspaper Society gives 'qualified welcome' to opening of family courts to media scrutiny

The Newspaper Society has given a “qualified welcome” to Justice Secretary Jack Straw's announcement that family courts will be opened to the media in April.
Sue Oake, NS senior legal advisor, said: “We are delighted that Jack Straw has reinstated the government’s original proposal to allow the media access to all tiers of family courts, recognising the vital role of the media in safeguarding transparency and upholding the open justice principle, as the NS has consistently argued for.
“We will want to scrutinise carefully the proposals for reporting restrictions – clearly these will need to be proportionate and targeted: to impose a blanket “default” requirement of anonymity for all parties will result in a restrictions more draconian, in many cases, than those pertaining already. We are particularly concerned by the proposal to reverse Clayton V Clayton. “
“On disclosure of information, we are disappointed that the statement does not make any move towards allowing direct or indirect disclosure to the media by parties to the proceedings. Again, with appropriate safeguards, this could have been an effective means to aid openness so we are pleased to note Mr Straw’s assurance during the Parliamentary debate that he is still “actively considering” this issue.”

For Fawkes sake: moderating politico blogs

Guido Fawkes reveals today that he is going to take action to try to moderate comments on his blog. Guido Fawkes, like many political blogs, attracts foul mouthed abuse and allegations aimed at politicians which if published in a newspaper would lead straight to the libel courts.
Guido says he will not be bringing in pre-moderation or registration but says: "Things will be changing in the New Year, you will still be able to say what you like (within somewhat arbitrary inconsistent limits) without pre-moderation or registering. However there will be incentives for those who produce better quality commentary based on a new element of co-conspirator community rating.
"Good comments will be more prominently displayed, disliked comments will be less prominent. The biggest innovation is that it will be possible for readers to set their own tolerance thresholds. Poorly rated comments will be invisible to those who set their preferences accordingly.
"If you only want to see comments judged by co-conspirators to be witty, amusing or illuminating, set your threshold to "Recommended". Don't want to read foul language? Set your threshold to "U". Want to see all and any comments no matter how foul? Set your threshold to "XXX".
"If your commentary is consistently recommended your comments will automatically be more prominent in the future and may even get highlighted on the frontpage. Will it work? That is up to you."
Guido adds: "Iain Dale has had enough of window-lickers in his comments and introduced registration, he told Guido he realised he had to when he himself was no longer interested in reading the blog comments."
He also notes that pre-moderation of comments on national newspaper websites can cost a six-figure sum a year.

Gaunt goes live with case against talkSPORT

Fired talkSPORT shock-jock Jon Gaunt is promising to give his side of his sacking, for calling a councillor a "Nazi", when he makes a live appearance at The Alban Arena at St Albans on Friday 30th January.
Gaunt, who also has a weekly column in The Sun , tells supporters on his website: "This is the first time you will be able to hear my side of the story and lots of tales of my life in radio, TV and newspapers...This show will contain some strong language and even stronger opinions and is therefore not suitable for children under the age of 16, those of a nervous disposition or the management of talkSQUAWK." The big question is will Matthew Norman be there?
Gaunt also says:"There is some massive news on the horizon but unfortunately I am still not able to tell you about it yet, but watch this space."

Online community sites: could they be the future for local journalism?

In the US, Editor & Publisher reports that the Knight Foundation is making a $390,000 grant to four online community news sites allowing for more staff and the expansion of coverage.
The four sites are the MinnPost, Voice of San Diego, Chi-town Daily News, and the St. Louis Beacon."As the news industry cuts costs by reducing staff -- including local reporters -- citizens are receiving less of the news they need to lead informed lives and hold their governments accountable," Gary Kebbel, the Knight Foundation's journalism program director, said in a statement to the E&P, which very much mirrors what's happening here in the U.K.
Kebbel added: "These young online-only sites help fill the void and offer the information needed to make decisions." The investment is part of the foundation's efforts to find new models for delivering news and information. So far, the Knight Foundation has made $100 million in grants.
If only there was such philanthropy around in the UK to invest in local journalism. Rowntree Trust, perhaps?

Dominic Ponsford's Best of 2008

Dominic Ponsford, editor of Press Gazette, picks his Best of 2008 .

Best old/trad media of the year: Mail on Sunday is my favourite newspaper of the year. Roger Alton is my old media editor of the year.

Best new media of the year: twitter, which after initially being sceptical of I have to admit is quite useful and drives a reasonable amount of traffic to our site. Though I've no doubt many would say twitter is SO 2007.

Story of the year: Max Mosley's Nazi sex orgy (that obviously didn't have any Nazi connotations at all M'Learned friends) it had everything - dominatrices, whips - everything except Nazis.

Prediction for 2009: News organisations will start working out how to make money from online.

Tomorrow: It's the man who designed The Independent and is launching a new paper in India. Don't miss Michael Crozier's Best of 2008.

Rest of the Best of.. so far: Paul Linford, Adrian Monck , Grey Cardigan , Jean Morgan, Steve Busfield, Neil Fowler, Ian Reeves.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

NUJ backs campaign to keep AFP independent

The NUJ is joining with a French journalists' union (SNJ-CGT) in what it claims is a crucial battle to preserve the editorial independence of Agence France-Presse, France's national news agency.
According to the NUJ, journalists at the news agency are concerned that it is coming under pressures to change its founding statutes, which have underpinned its independence for over half a century. Under a French law passed in 1957 AFP enjoys a unique status, intended to ensure its structural independence both from the state and from any other "ideological, political or economic grouping".
NUJ deputy general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “AFP is one of the world's oldest international news agencies, employing some 1,250 journalists and photographers in more than 100 bureaux around the world. We’re calling on NUJ members to support the campaign to show solidarity towards journalists who are fearful for their editorial independence.”
The NUJ is asking members to support the campaign by signing an online petition.

"Does Jack Straw know what constitutes the modern media?" asks Joshua Rozenberg

The Daily Telegraph's legal commentator Joshua Rozenberg raises some very interesting points about the privileged access journalists would be given under plans to open up the family courts to "accredited" media. (see posting below)
He writes: "It is fundamental to the Government’s proposals that the media should be given privileged access to the courts. As a journalist, I naturally welcome this.
"And it must be right to draw a distinction between the press and the public at large. Opening the family courts to everyone would put children and families at risk of being identified and stigmatised. It would not be possible to stop identifying information from being made public.
"But Mr Straw does not seem to have given enough thought to what constitutes the modern media.
"If I decide to write about legal affairs on my own website, am I a freelance journalist who should be allowed access to the courts or a blogger who should not? And who is to decide?
"Mr Straw’s officials pointed out that press seats at criminal trials are allocated by court officials. But those denied such seats can usually attend as members of the public. That option would not be available here.
"Journalism is not a profession, in the sense of an occupation with controlled entry such as law or architecture. Anyone can call himself or herself a journalist. It is therefore essential that the final decision on who may attend the family courts as a journalist is one for the courts themselves, not officials.
"Subject to that concern, Mr Straw’s announcement is to be welcomed. His aim is clearly to increase public confidence in the courts...But his proposals are based on the assumption that there are enough journalists to cover the courts effectively. In these straightened times, this may be a rash assumption to make. Unless, of course, you include the growing band of freelances."
As an ex-Crown Court reporter, I think Joshua Rozenberg is right to stress that the final decision on which journalists be allowed to attend family courts should be up to the courts rather than officials. In my experience court officials tend to see journalists as unwelcome outsiders and often put barriers in their way.

Opening family courts is victory for press to report divorce, care and custody cases

The announcement by Justice Secretary Jack Straw that family court hearings are for the first time to be opened to the media, should be warmly welcomed by the press. Family court proceedings covering such matters as divorce, custody and care proceedings have been shrouded in secrecy for too long.
What the Ministry of Justice describes as "accredited media" will be able to attend all levels of family courts, removing the inconsistency of access between the higher and lower courts. Although, the court will be able to restrict attendance if the welfare of the child requires it, or for the safety and protection of parties or witnesses.
Introducing the new scheme Jack Straw said: "It is critical that family courts make the right decisions and the public have confidence they are doing so. A key part of building trust in the system is that people understand how it works.
"At the same time, we must protect the privacy of children and families involved in family court cases so they are not identified or stigmatised by their community or friends."
A pilot project will start in Spring 2009 to place anonymised judgements online from some family cases so that the public can see how decisions were reached.
The opening up of the family courts should create opportunities for specialist court reporters and freelance court news agencies and, perhaps, create employment for some of the reporters losing their jobs as newspapers cut costs. Some social workers believe that opening up the family courts to the press will give the media an insight into the problems they are up against and counter the negative publicity they have received in the wake of the "Baby P" case.
Jack Straw will win even more plaudits from the press if, as anticipated, he takes action to cap fees charged by lawyers in 'no win, no fee' arrangements in libel cases.

Scottish Press Awards facing boycott over Donald Martin in NUJ job cuts protest

Allmediascotland reports today that next year’s Scottish Press Awards is facing a boycott as a protest against Donald Martin, the chair of its organisers.
It says: "At a mass meeting of staff at The Scotsman group - who had gathered yesterday to hear of on-going talks between the National Union of Journalists and management - a motion from the floor against the awards received an unanimous vote in favour. The chair of the organising body, the Scottish Daily Newspaper Society, is Donald Martin, whose first day as editor-in-chief at The Herald group, earlier this month, saw all the journalists at the group’s three titles - The Herald, Sunday Herald and Evening Times - being told they were being made redundant ahead of being invited to re-apply for 30 or so fewer posts."
The motion read: “In protest at the proposed changes in this company and in solidarity with our fellow NUJ members at Newsquest [The Herald group], and noting that the newly-appointed chair of the SDNS which organises the Scottish Press Awards is Donald Martin, this meeting calls on all NUJ members here present and across Scotland to boycott the 2009 Scottish Press Awards. "

Ian Reeves' Best of 2008

Ian Reeves, director of learning and teaching at the Centre for Journalism, University of Kent, and ex-editor of Press Gazette, picks his best of 2008.

Best old/trad media: The PM Programme. Purely for Eddie Mair's mastery of news broadcasting. Irreverent yet just the right side of naffness. Exhibit A: his 'cold call' to the LibDems after they'd been done by OfCom for using automated phone calls to canvas suppport Knows when an interview should be allowed to run at length. Exhibit B: Interview with a former Land Girl. And just as CBS news anchor Dan Rather inspired collections of Ratherisms, Mair provides some equally collectible homely phrases of his own. Exhibit C: Mair to BBC executive after Brand/Ross debacle: "Is Mark Thompson's job safe? Or is he hanging his coat on a shoogily hook?"

Best new media: iPM. Showing that old media can embrace the new in winning ways. Saturday's edition of the R4 news show - tagline Share What You Know - genuinely uses listener input from the blog site to create the running order of the programme. Web 2.0 in action. Plus there's some very good use of mapping technology online.
Honorable Mention: You Suck At Photoshop. Hilariously bitter 'tutorials' for the imaging software programme. The bonus is you pick up the odd useful technique in the process.

Story of the year: Collapse of greed-is-good capitalism. To be continued.

Prediction for 2009: The number of decent hard-working journalists forced to go into PR because their jobs disappear will reach tipping point. They will realise that collectively they are smart enough and now numerous enough to subvert the entire PR system from the inside out without their new paymasters realising. What starts as a trickle of 'leaks' suddenly becomes a tsunami as details of corporate and political skullduggery flood into the public domain, keeping the public informed as never before and forcing bosses to become more accountable, honest, caring and responsible forces for good.
I'd best go and have a lie down now.

Tomorrow: It's Ian's successor at Press Gazette, Dominic Ponsford. Dominic not only names his newspaper of the year but shows he knows the plural of dominatrix. Don't miss it or you'll deserve a whipping.

Best of the rest so far: Paul Linford, Adrian Monck , Grey Cardigan , Jean Morgan, Steve Busfield, Neil Fowler.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Vote in favour of industrial action at Northern Echo publisher Newsquest North East

NUJ members at Newsquest North East, publisher of the daily Northern Echo, the Darlington and Stockton Times, the Durham Times and the Advertiser series of free papers, have voted 92 per cent in favour of industrial action against job cuts and a pay freeze, with 80 per cent backing strike action, the union said today.
Adam Murray, Father of the Newsquest North East NUJ chapel, said: “The big vote for action shows the strength of feeling against the cuts to our newspapers. We have been negotiating with management and are now discussing a handful of outstanding job cuts. I am hopeful there will be no compulsory redundancies. NUJ members are still upset about the pay freeze after years of hard work and high profits.”

Worse conditions for re-employed Herald staff

A longer working day and reductions in holidays and sick pay entitlement is the likely future awaiting staff at The Herald, Sunday Herald and Evening Times in Glasgow, should they be re-employed after 250 staff were made redundant and asked to reapply for their jobs, allmediascotland reports today.
It is believed that up to 40 posts will be cut on the three Newsquest-owned titles. According to allmediascotland so-called ‘group news reporters’ - working across The Herald, Sunday Herald and Evening Times - will be required to be available any day of the week, “as necessary for the business”. They will be paid between £25,000 and £35,000 a year.
The NUJ is continuing to explore a legal challenge against the mass redundancy move, which has been criticised by Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond. See Can Politicians Save Journalists Jobs?

Regional press fears loss of planning ads

As if the local press didn't have enough to worry about, there is concern that statutory laws requiring local government to advertise planning applications in regional newspapers could be relaxed.
Consultations are taking place at the moment. It comes at a time when regional newspaper publishers are voicing concern about the shift of public notices and other local authority advertising from local newspapers to council-owned websites, newspapers and other publications.
The Newspaper Society has been briefing politicians with the results of a poll that claims 79 per cent of adults rate local media as the best source for public notice advertising. Internet came second at 58 per cent.
Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, was quoted in MediaGuardian on Monday urging: "In the current climate particularly the government should keep advertising and insist that local government continues to use local papers for planning applications and other public notices because there is a public interest in maintaining viable local and national media."
December 18 update: Housing Minister Margaret Beckett has responded to Newspaper Society concerns over a recommendation from the Killian Pretty Review to remove the mandatory requirement for local authorities to publish planning statutory notices in newspapers, saying the government is as yet undecided but promising to consult with interested parties if it decides to take the proposal forward.

Journalists' Charity wants new media members

The Journalists' Charity, founded by among others Charles Dickens, needs to recruit new members working in new media, its chairman Chris Boffey said last night.
Boffey, news editor of The Observer, was giving the address at the journalists' carol concert at St. Bride's, Fleet Street. He said: "What we most need is new members from new media." Boffey wished everyone a New Year of "full employment". Those who help run the charity, which has a care home in Dorking for retired and elderly journalists, say they are having an increasing number of journalists in their 40s and early 50s coming to them for help because of the high level of redundancies across the industry.
The concert was in aid of the Journalists' Charity and supported by Luther Pendragon. To find out more visit the Journalists' Charity website.

Regional subbing jobs may be outsourced to PA

HoldtheFrontPage reports today that two major daily newspapers in Yorkshire may have their subbing operation outsourced to the Press Association.
It says that the editors of both the Yorkshire Post and the Yorkshire Evening Post attended a presentation at parent company Johnston Press's Edinburgh HQ last week. Union reps at the two Leeds-based titles say that when they asked management what the meeting was about, they were told that it was to discuss the possible outsourcing of subbing work.
Johnston Press has refused to comment to HTFP, despite being one of its four owners, but it reports that "it is understood that outsourcing is one of a number of options being considered."
Peter Lazenby, joint father of the Yorkshire Evening Post/Yorkshire Post NUJ chapel, is quoted as saying: "We knew the editors were up in Edinburgh so we got a meeting with management.
"We were told they were having presentations from three firms, one of which was the Press Association, about possible outsourcing of subbing work.
"It was made clear to us that there are options and one of those is the outsourcing of subbing work at the Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post."
If subbing was outsourced to PA by Johnston it could start a trend across the regional press, leading to a loss of sub editing jobs. Some national newspapers are also thought to have talked to PA about the agency taking over some of their subbing operations.

Neil Fowler's Best of 2008

Neil Fowler, who has edited Which?, the Western Mail, The Journal, Newcastle, Derby Evening Telegraph and Lincolnshire Echo, and been publisher-CEO of the Toronto Sun, names his Best of 2008.

Best old/trad media of the year: The Economist - still growing, still brilliantly written and edited - and with a high cover price. It shows there's still hope for the old inkies amongst us.

Best new media of the year: Most successful - has to be Google, still, frighteningly - but not sure that makes it the best. The best? How about jointly the Sun and Mail sites? They've worked out how to get visitors galore - and nothing's going to stop them converting those eyeballs in to increasing cash flow.

Best story of the year: Worst, really - the credit crunch - and its deepening effects.

Prediction for 2009: For the media: Regional newspaper groups will force the Government's hand over ownership rules with a high-profile deal that will cost many jobs if it doesn't go through. And for the public: Savers will rebel and become much more vociferous against low interest rates.

Tomorrow: A bumper 'Best of 2008' from Ian Reeves, director of learning and teaching at the new Centre of Journalism at the University of Kent. He can teach us a thing or two. Don't be late for lessons.

Rest of the Best of 2008 so far: Paul Linford, Adrian Monck , Grey Cardigan , Jean Morgan, Steve Busfield.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Nick Davies to launch NUJ jobs summit

Nick Davies, author of Flat Earth News, has been lined up to open the NUJ's "Jobs Summit" on January 24 which will look at ways of defending journalism and protecting journalists during the current jobs' crisis in the industry.
NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear says on his blog today: "The meeting is building up to be quite an event as ever more dire predictions about the future of parts of the industry reach us." He quotes the prediction by Claire Enders, as reported in Press Gazette, that a third of regional newspapers, two national newspapers and half of the jobs in the regional media could be gone by 2013. "With Trinity Mirror having already axed 44 titles and Newsquest announcing a further 11 title closures, her predictions are looking less and less 'out there'," Dear says.
Davies in Flat Earth News used the word "churnalism" to describe over-stretched reporters churning out easy stories, often from PR handouts, rather than digging for news.

Greenslade 'cannon fodder' in Guardian war on Telegraph Media Group for online supremacy

Roy Greenslade has been accused of being "cannon fodder" in a war conducted by The Guardian against the Telegraph in a fierce battle over which newspaper can claim the greatest success for their online services.
Last week Greenslade launched an onslaught on the Telegraph Media Group owners the Barclay brothers and management accusing them of having "disembowelled" the paper by sacking its best writers.
Today Telegraph Media Group assistant editor Justin Williams has hit back on his personal blog CounterValue: "Greenslade - who neglects to mention that he parted company with the Telegraph in 2006 in less-than-happy circumstances after just three months as media commentator - is cannon fodder in a wider Guardian mission to show that the Telegraph is only able to challenge its online success by being a rapacious organisation. Believe what is presented as fact on guardian.co.uk/media and you’ll quickly be of the opinion that we’ve become a broadsheet Daily Express with a pair of swivel-eyed reactionaries holding the purse strings instead of a pornographer.
"It’s designed to undermine morale and to make recruitment difficult - after all, who’d want to join a once-great organisation run by such lunatics? It is designed, dare I say it, to make the Telegraph products unattractive to journalists, readers and advertisers.
"The truth is more prosaic, of course, and far less dramatic. The Telegraph, like everybody else (except, perhaps, the Guardian with its charitable status under the Supreme Scott Soviet), is grappling with the worst downturn in advertising revenues of the last 60 years. Newsprint costs are about to go through the roof. Any outfit being run as a business has to examine its expenditure in such an environment. And the owners? Far from wanting “their papers to be mouthpieces for their own reactionary opinions” they have never sought to control a single editorial line at the Telegraph."
Williams says of cut backs: "The Telegraph has trimmed its costs - it is outsourcing sub editing of some of its supplements to Australia; it has cut its contributions budgets; and, yes, it has let some of its writers go. Some have gone because their work was no longer what it once was, one or two have gone in circumstances unrelated to the redundancies and a couple have gone because they’ve had better offers from elsewhere - plus ca change."
"This is not a disembowelled organisation. It is a publisher adapting to the onset of a severe recession at the same time as a structural shift in reading habits. What sets the Telegraph apart is that it is a standalone business - it does not have Sky TV or Northcliffe newspapers or the Scott Trust to ensure its longevity no matter how deep the slump. It has to make a profit to survive.
"I have given up expecting the Greenslades, Prestons, Wilbys or any of other self-appointed guardians of journalism to understand that."

State aid for regional press gets thumbs down

The idea of a state bail out for regional newspapers, first proposed by Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, gets the thumbs down by commentators in MediaGuardian today.
Most emphatic is Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, who states: "No, No, No! the last thing any newspaper should do is accept subsidy from the state. The particular strength of the UK newspaper industry is its independence."
NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear accuses regional newspaper proprietors of "excessive profiteering" over the past 15 years and adds: "The major newspaper groups shouldn't need state aid - run as they are, they certainly don't deserve it."
Bill Hagerty, editor of the British Journalism Review, is also critical of the way the regional press has been managed and asks: "Would such short-sighted and greedy managements have the skill, will and courage to resist the pressures on editorial independence that could accompany state aid? The most stringent criteria need to be in place before they are given even a penny."
Brian MacArthur, assistant editor (books) at the Telegraph, and a former editor of Northcliffe's Western Morning News in Plymouth, says: "We have fought long and hard to keep the state out of newspapers. But, having said that, I am deeply worried in particular about the survival of the regional press, the papers linked into their communities, from Cumbria to Cornwall."

Steve Busfield's Best of 2008

Steve Busfield, Guardian News and Media's head of media and technology, picks his Best of 2008.

Best old/trad media of the year: It has been a funny old year for old media, with so many cutbacks and redundancies. Would it be wrong of me to say The Guardian? We are moving to a new building (which is fabulous) and integrating (which as everyone knows is incredibly complicated, but I am optimistic that it will work well). Ask me again in 2009.

Best new media of the year: Surely that must be the emergence of an old media giant into shiny new media: http://jonslattery.blogspot.com/

Best story of the year: Hard to choose because in their different ways the Olympics in China, Zimbabwe, Shannon Matthews, the US elections and the global financial meltdown were all great copy. If I have to pick one then it will have to be the credit crunch, which still has a long way to go.

Prediction for 2009: The credit crunch will get worse. I'm fearing full-blown 1930s depression.

Tomorrow: Neil Fowler, former editor of Which? and a string of newspapers, picks his best media buys of 2008 and makes a dramatic prediction for the regional press next year. Don't miss it!

Rest of the Best of 2008 so far: Paul Linford, Adrian Monck , Grey Cardigan , Jean Morgan

Sunday, 14 December 2008

'Internet not the main problem for press, it's short-sighted management' says Peter Preston

Interesting quote from ex-Guardian editor Peter Preston in his Observer column today about the newspaper crisis. "The central problem isn't the internet (a dampener on profits and spreader of uncertainty, at worst; not the end of everything). The problem is newspaper ownership flawed by misplaced ambition and short-sighted management."

Sunday best

Two terrific pieces in The Sunday Times today. One from former Financial Times editor Andrew Gowers, giving an insider's view of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, where he was a member of the bank's communications team.
The other was written over 40 years ago by Nick Tomalin in 1966 and is carried in the 'From The Archive' slot. 'American general goes zapping Charlie Cong', is a terrifying extract from an interview with a trigger happy US general in Vietnam. Tomalin was killed seven years later covering the Yom Kippur war.

Sounds familiar...

It's not just the newspaper industry that is in meltdown. Saturday's Daily Telegraph Review notes: "The biggest talking point in the music business was not the music but the business (or the lack thereof). CD sales fell. Legal downloads failed to fill the gap. People listen to more music than ever, but nobody can work out how to make money from it." Sounds like news.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Jean Morgan's Best of 2008

Jean Morgan, ex-chief reporter of Press Gazette and trustee of the Journalists' Charity, names her Best of 2008.

Best old/trad media: Mail on Sunday - "consistent scoop-getter EVERY Sunday".

Best new media: pass

Story of the year: Credit crunch, Robert Peston's scoops.

Prediction for 2009: More consolidation in the UK press will equal less consumer choice.

On Monday: Steve Busfield, head of media and technology at Guardian News and Media, picks his Best of 2008. You won't be able to read this in MediaGuardian. Don't miss it!

Read: The rest of "Best of 2008" so far: Paul Linford, Adrian Monck , Grey Cardigan

Friday, 12 December 2008

Cumbria jobs toll will hit 40 and 11 posts under threat at Johnston Press in Northern Ireland

HoldtheFrontPage reports today that Cumbria-based CN Group, publisher of the North West Evening Mail and News & Star, has increased the number of proposed job cuts from 30 to 40.
It is expected that 27 of these will go at CN's Carlisle HQ and a further 13 at its subsidiary Furness Newspapers Limited, based in Barrow. CN chief executive Robin Burgess told HTFP: "On the basis of the situation continuing to be dire, we had to propose further cuts."
HTFP also reports today that Johnston Press has confirmed that 11 editorial jobs are at risk as a result of plans to centralise subbing operations across its Northern Irish titles at Craigavon and cut 11 posts. Titles affected by the change are said to include The News Letter, Derry Journal, Donegal Democrat and a number of other weekly papers.
A posted comment on HTFP under the CN Group job cuts story demonstrates the black humour journalists are famous for. It says simply: "New definition of optimism. A newspaper journalist ironing 5 shirts on a Sunday night!!!"

Three reasons why the web won't kill off print

Former Daily Express editor and newspaper consultant Richard Addis has given three reasons why the web won't replace print in his latest ShakeupMedia blog.

1. The idea that a new technology abolishes a previous role is much too simplistic. In the history of culture it has never happened that something has simply killed something else. Something has profoundly changed something else. The Pharaoh told Hermes that his new invention, writing, would kill off memory. In fact writing gave people more to remember. Frollo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame says that the alphabet will kill images, the printing press will kill the cathedral (ceci tuera cela), but both the cathedral and the image have flourished mightily since Gutenberg. The photograph was meant to kill painting but Daguerre made Impressionism possible. After the invention of Daguerre, painters no longer felt obliged to serve as mere craftsmen charged with reproducing reality. Nor did photography only encourage abstract painting. There is a whole tradition in modern painting that could not exist without the photographic model (e.g. Hopper).

2. Precisely because the DNA of the web is profoundly different from the DNA of print or film or radio it will not replace those things. If it were the same (cassette tape/CD for instance) one might predict a swap. But it is becoming clear that it is not the same at all. Indeed as the web develops it is getting more distinctly and uniquely itself.

3. There is so much more to do with print. (Movable type has only been around since 1439!) Take newspapers. They have not fundamentally changed for over fifty years. They have gently evolved in every way, especially design and printing but have never been subject to a truly radical reinvention. Thanks to the web this will now happen and newspapers will be better. Just one example: no need any longer for long pages of share prices and TV listings, or of classified ads and news roundups. Newspapers can concentrate on the great yawning appetite of our age - the quest for meaning.