Saturday, 29 August 2009

Photographers plan Guardian protest

Photographers will be protesting outside the Guardian and Observer offices in London on Tuesday (1 September) and be handing in a petition signed by 850 photo-journalists.
The protest is in response to Guardian News & Media’s announcement that they will no longer pay for re-use of pictures commissioned from that date.
In a letter to contributors dated 28 July, managing editor Chris Elliott stated that the company’s standard terms for commissioned photography shall include “a non-exclusive, perpetual licence to re-use commissioned photography in its products and services without further payment.”
John Toner, NUJ freelance organiser, said: “At a time when press photographers are suffering severe hardship as a result of the economic downturn, it comes as a further blow to be informed that GNM demands unlimited re-use of photographs free of charge. Re-use is not free use.”
The announcement follows on from GNM’s talks with their contract photographers, who are already resisting moves to end payment for re-use.
The Guardian NUJ Chapel has agreed to represent the contractees in a collective grievance - the agreed procedure for raising concerns about employment practices. The demonstration will take place at 9.30am on Tuesday 1 September at Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Mail letter about Maoam's lusty lime 'genuine'

Brand Republic reports today that Haribo has claimed that a Yorkshire man's complaint about Maoam's "carnal" sweet wrappers is genuine.
Simon Simpkins, from Pontefract in West Yorkshire, wrote to the Daily Mail to outline his disgust about the packaging, claiming the lemon and lime looked like they were "locked in a carnal encounter".
Brand Republic noted yesterday that Haribo is also based in Pontefract, is currently running a sampling campaign for a new Haribo product ChewToo, and questioned whether the complaint might have been a publicity stunt.
However, a company spokesman has now told Brand Republic that it had received the complaint via email from Simpkins as claimed in his Daily Mail letter, and it handled it in the same way as it would any other. There has been much speculation on the blogosphere that the letter is a spoof and there have been claims on Twitter that Simpkins does not appear on the electoral roll for Pontefract.

IFJ protest over US vetting of journalists covering Afghanistan conflict by PR firm

The International Federation of Journalists has condemned military vetting of journalists covering the Afghanistan conflict to see if they are sympathetic to the American cause.
It says journalists seeking to travel under the protection of US armed forces to report on military operations in Afghanistan may be screened by a Washington public relations firm commissioned by the Pentagon to determine whether media coverage portrays the US military in a positive light.
"This profiling of journalists further compromises the independence of media," said Aidan White, IFJ general secretary. "It strips away any pretence that the army is interested in helping journalists to work freely. It suggests they are more interested in propaganda than honest reporting."
The IFJ affiliate organisations in the US have added their voices to the protest.

Johnston Press reports profits down 56 per cent

Profits at Johnston Press fell by 56.1 per cent to £27.5 million in the first six months of 2009, its interim report reveals today.
Johnston chief executive officer John Fry commented:"The timing of the economic upturn remains uncertain but advertising revenues are demonstrating greater stability and we expect the cyclical improvement when it comes to more than compensate any ongoing structural change. We will maintain our focus on costs and look to secure additional operating efficiencies during the second half of the year."
The company said that in the first half of 2009, trading has been significantly impacted by the recession in the UK and Republic of Ireland. "Notwithstanding this, the business has returned an operating margin of 17.5% in the period, realised cost savings of 15.0% and reduced net debt by £52.8 million to £424.0 million."
It added: "Negotiations with our lenders have been completed and have resulted in a new facility being agreed. This facility provides a stable financial platform, allowing the Group to actively manage through the current cycle.
On advertising, the company said: "As the UK (and Republic of Ireland) tipped into recession during the second quarter of 2008, we saw an immediate change in our advertising trends. Advertising became progressively more difficult throughout the year with advertising declines hitting their worst point in January 2009. Since then, we have seen a stabilising trend in the advertising environment with the first quarter down 34.0% and a slight improvement in the second quarter, down 31.4%. As we have now passed the point at which declines started to accelerate in 2008, we expect a reduction in year-on-year declines during the rest of this year."

Committee on Standards in Public Life removes Heather Brooke's evidence from website

Campaigning journalist Heather Brooke, whose Freedom of Information court fight led to MPs' expenses being made public, tells on her blog how the Committee on Standards in Public Life has taken her written evidence off its website, claiming it could be defamatory.
She says: "I gave oral evidence and also submitted an opening statement. I posted this statement on my blog (read it here) and the Committee posted it on their website along with transcripts from the public hearings. The committee’s website states: “The Committee publishes all evidence”.
But she adds :"As of yesterday, my submission went missing and I received the following email:
Dear Ms Brooke,
Our lawyers have advised us not publish your submission due to the following reason:
“it contains statements about named individuals which are potentially defamatory.”
We are currently seeking their clarification and requesting suitable redaction.
Once we have this, I will forward them to you for your authority, in writing, to the redaction. We will then be able to publish your submission."
Heather comments: "What sort of public inquiry is it where those giving evidence can’t speak freely and have to worry about being clobbered by the world’s worst libel law? I don’t think the take-down of my statement is necessarily the fault of the Committee and to be fair, lawyers are always risk averse. What is a disgrace is that it should even be a risk to publish evidence given to a committee set up to investigate parliament."

Quotes of the Week

Barry Fitzpatrick, NUJ head of publishing, reacts on to 70 redundancies at Express Newspapers: "It's inconceivable that they can continue to produce competitive newspapers with the level of staff that will remain if these cuts go through."

London-based journalist Heidi Kingstone on Huffington Post takes a critical look at the British media: "In a country of about 60 million people with endless newspapers, websites and magazines, you end up reading the same 50 people in all of them, dispiriting, monotonous and boring."

Tim Rutten in a Los Angeles Times opinion piece backs Rupert Murdoch's plan for a consortium of newspapers to start charging for online news: "Putting aside the irony of the man who probably has done more to undermine serious English-language news coverage than anybody else in our lifetimes now proposing to save it, Murdoch is right, and newspaper proprietors should elect his proposal or one of the others also being discussed -- and soon."

Birmingham Post editor Marc Reeves blogs on why his paper should go weekly: "Cards on the table? I believe the weekly model is the best option for the Post. There's a lot of emotion connected to the supposed status of being a daily paper and many of my contacts in the city regularly state baldly to me that 'Birmingham simply must have a daily business paper'. But at what cost? Increasingly, our diet of daily and immediate news is fed by online services and broadcast media, and newspapers have a much reduced role in bringing news we didn't hear first somewhere else."

Brand Republic on the lusty lime sweet wrapper that prompted an angry dad to write to the Daily Mail: "It is a great silly season story about a parent's "heated exchange" with a store manager over the inappropriate pictures of a lemon and lime "being locked in a carnal encounter. However, it looks increasingly like a publicity stunt by Haribo, which is based in Pontefract, the address provided by the writer of the letter to the Daily Mail and which sparked a Sun story picked up by several websites, including us we admit."

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Express Newspapers to axe 70 journalists reports that Northern & Shell, publisher of Express Newspapers and OK! magazine, has announced plans to make 70 journalists at its newspaper titles redundant.
It says the proposed cuts will involve staff at the Daily Express, Sunday Express, Daily Star and Sunday Star and the group will make 10 further redundancies from elsewhere in the company. According to the NUJ, the company is seeking voluntary redundancies from staff and has entered a consultation period.
"It's inconceivable that they can continue to produce competitive newspapers with the level of staff that will remain if these cuts go through," Barry Fitzpatrick, NUJ head of publishing, told

Lusty Lime latest

JonSwaine on Twitter "Re Maoam: There's no Simon Simpkins on electoral roll in Pontefract & no birth of an Ofelia Simpkins registered."
The letter from "Simon Simpkins, of Pontefract, West Yorkshire," to the Daily Mail, complaining that Maoam sweet wrapper showed carnal encounter between lemon and lime, mentioned his daughter "Ofelia".
Marketing website Brand Republic has suggested that letter is a PR stunt.

Undercover BBC researcher won't be prosecuted

The Procurator Fiscal in Scotland has decided not to proceed against undercover BBC researcher Arifa Farooq for applying for jobs using her sister’s name, as part of an expose of the abuse of older people in a Panorama documentary.
The NUJ took up her case. Pete Murray, NUJ Vice-President and deputy Father of the BBC Scotland chapel, said: “It is an enormous relief for Arifa and her friends and family that the procurator has decided not to take this case forward.
“Arifa deserved praise for what she did not persecution. The Panorama programme was a classic example of investigative journalism at its best. It is important that journalists are able to go undercover when a story they are investigating is serious enough to warrant it.”
Faooq was arrested and questioned on 5 August in relation to allegations of making a false disclosure in the course of her investigation. The programme, Britain's Homecare Scandal: A Panorama Special, centred on an in-depth investigation of domiciliary care, provided in Harrow, York and South Lanarkshire.

Regional ABCs: Read them and weep

Press Gazette's analysis of the sales figures of daily regional newspapers in the first half of the year, released by the Audit Bureau of Circulations today, makes very grim reading.
It shows many of the big city daily newspapers are losing sales at a rate of more than 10 per cent year on year.
In Birmingham, the Mail dropped 14.6 per cent to 56,495.
In Bristol, the Western Daily Press dropped 10.8 per cent to 35,156 and the Bristol Evening Post was down 10.9 per cent to 43,997.
In Liverpool, the Daily Post was down 18.4 per cent to 11,648 and the Liverpool Echo was down 10.1 per cent to 92,093.
In Newcastle, the Evening Chronicle dropped 11.1 per cent year-on-year to 63,872.
In Leeds, the Yorkshire Evening Post was down 13.6 per cent to 46,013.
Press Gazette notes: "Not a single regional daily newspaper managed to increase sales year on year in the first half of this year. And only a handful of titles managed to keep their sales decline down to under five per cent."

Is the lusty lime a publicity stunt?

Marketing website Brand Republic is questioning the veracity of the carnal lemon and lime letter about a Maoam sweet wrapping sent to the Daily Mail and followed up by the Sun today (see posting below).
Brand Republic says: "As confectionery brand Maoam conducts a sampling campaign for a new line, what could be better publicity than an outraged letter to the Daily Mail about its "smutty" packaging?
"It is a great silly season story about a parent's "heated exchange" with a store manager over the inappropriate pictures of a lemon and lime "being locked in a carnal encounter".
"However, it looks increasingly like a publicity stunt by Haribo, which is based in Pontefract, the address provided by the writer of the letter to the Daily Mail and which sparked a Sun story picked up by several websites, including us we admit, this morning."
Looks like Fleet Street's finest may have been had.

Lusty lime makes the Sun

Simon Simpkins, who wrote to the Daily Mail complaining that a sweet wrapper depicted a carnal encounter between a lusty lime and a lemon, is in the Sun today.
Under the headline 'Get A Room You Chew', the paper tells of "Dad's outrage at sweet wrapper porn."
Simkins is quoted in the Sun saying: "The lemon and lime are locked in what appears to be a carnal encounter. The lime, who I assume to be the gentleman in this coupling, has a particularly lurid expression on his face.
"I demanded to see the shop manager and, during a heated exchange, my wife became quite distressed and had to sit down in the car park."
Funnily enough they are exactly the same quotes as in his letter to the Mail.
Is someone having a laugh?

Up to 30 job cuts predicted at Metro

Associated Newspapers’ national free Metro is planning to make up to 30 redundancies on its regional arts and entertainment sections, according to paidContent:UK.
It says the company is cut its Metro Life sections - the regionalised arts, entertainment and food pages produced by journalists at Metro’s offices in Manchester, Glasgow, Newcastle, Birmingham and Bristol.
PaidContent:UK reports: "We understand that all regional staff have been called to compulsory meetings in London, Manchester and Glasgow on Thursday afternoon to discuss their fate and formally begin a consultation process." A spokeswoman for parent company DMGT declined to comment to paidContent:UK.
The cuts at Metro follow the decision by News International to close its free thelondonpaper.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Resonance on plight of Maziar Bahari in Iran

London based radio station Resonance 104.4FM, is tonight broadcasting a programme at 8-9pm highlighting the plight of journalist and film maker Maziar Bahari who has been held in a Tehran prison since June 21.
Bahari is one of around 40 journalists in prison in Iran since the contested presidential elections. He is a correspondent for Newsweek magazine and has worked on several films for the BBC's Panorama.
Joining Neil Denny and Fari Bradley to discuss Maziar's current plight, and his life and career as a journalist, are the film-maker Simon Ardizzone, who collaborated as editor on a number of Maziar's films, writer Malu Halasa,co-editor with Maziar of the book Transit Tehran, and Padraig Reidy, news editor of Index on Censorship.

Dominic Mohan confirmed as new Sun editor

MediaGuardian on Twitter reports that News International has confirmed Dominic Mohan as the new editor of the Sun, succeeding Rebekah Wade.

Newspapers must 'collude for survival'

Tim Rutten in a Los Angeles Times opinion piece has argued that Congress should grant the newspaper industry exemption from antitrust and price-fixing laws so that publishers and proprietors can, as he puts it, "collude for survival".
Rutten's piece notes Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. recently approached the owners of the LA Times, the New York Times, the Washington Post and Hearst Corp. about joining a consortium that would charge for online news content.
He says Murdoch "understands that what's required for serious -- which is to say expensive-to-produce -- journalism to survive is that all the quality English-language papers and news sites agree to charge for Web access and then mercilessly sue anyone who makes more than fair use of their work without paying a fee."
Rutten adds: "Putting aside the irony of the man who probably has done more to undermine serious English-language news coverage than anybody else in our lifetimes now proposing to save it, Murdoch is right, and newspaper proprietors should elect his proposal or one of the others also being discussed -- and soon."
He concludes: "Newspaper proprietors with as serious an interest in their readers' interest as their own bottom lines ought to follow Murdoch's unlikely lead into a consortium of pay-to-view news websites or adopt one of the other proposed models as quickly as practical. Congress should enact the legislation required to allow them to act and price collectively, which has to be done if any of these schemes are to work. Unless our lawmakers empower the newspaper industry to act on its readers' behalf, it's only a matter of time until there are too few serious sources of quality -- or "premium" -- journalism to guarantee the reality of the free press on which all the 1st Amendment's indispensable liberties depend."
Via the Newspaper Project

British media: 'Full of boring crap written by the same 50 people'

London-based journalist Heidi Kingstone on Huffington Post takes a critical look at the British media.
"In a country of about 60 million people with endless newspapers, websites and magazines, you end up reading the same 50 people in all of them, dispiriting, monotonous and boring. The class system has changed but here it is still very much who you know, where you went to school or university and if you have famous parents or ancestors (practically going back to the Magna Carta), making for a dull scene.
"Take Sophie Dahl with her big bug eyes staring out of her emaciated vapid face in her piece in Elle Decoration (even there you expect better journalism.) Her grandfather was author Roald Dahl. In one article on food, which is what the talentless resort to in Britain today -- the current version of home ec -- she opines: "My beloved is a musician. Homemade bread, a strong cup of tea and Miles Davis on the stereo makes him a happy fellow of a morning." My beloved? Of a morning? Who writes crap like this? Too many people it seems."
Via Adrian Monck

'Post editor should fight for paper or resign'

Birmingham Post editor Marc Reeves' arguments on his blog about why the paper should go weekly (see post below) has led to a call for him to quit.
Dinkey has commented on the blog: "It is disappointing that the editor has chosen to side against his Midlands readers (and staff) in this way and align himself to the London parent group's thinking which has clearly no interests but its own in mind.
"The honourable thing here would be to support your readers and marshall support to maintain a daily title and reinvent the Post for the internet era. The other honourable option would be to resign and let someone else fight the corner for Birmingham and the Midlands. But please don't just roll over and accept this and dress-up two bad options in eloquent tosh and pretend its consultation."
However, the post praises Reeves for having "done a great job editing the Post with the limited resources you've got, and continued to produce a terrific newspaper."
Other posts have welcomed the idea of a weekly Post.
Reeves has said he will reply to the comments later today.

Brum Post editor: 'Why we must go weekly'

Birmingham Post editor Marc Reeves has posted on his blog the reasons why the Birmingham Post should go weekly.
Reeves, who has edited the Post for the past three years, notes the Midlands region of Trinity Mirror will lose £6 million next year unless some radical action is taken now and "the Post as a key title must play its part in plugging that profit gap."
He says: "The facts: our biggest expenses are staff and manufacturing costs. Any change that doesn't reduce either or both of these areas simply won't plug the profit gap, so our approach is to look at reducing the overall number of pages printed per week. With each page lost, you reduce the absolute cost of the ink and paper - and also the work that goes into producing the content, and hence the labour cost. We've therefore looked at reducing the size of the paper on an average day, or reducing the number of days per week on which we publish. The somewhat zanier ideas that we rejected early on included total closure, a merger with the Birmingham Mail, or even going bi-weekly.
"We're now left with two options, each of which result in broadly the same improvement of the profit position of the Post, but are at opposite ends of the spectrum.In the first option, the daily pagination of the Post would be reduced to just 40 or 48 pages per day, including Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, when we currently regularly exceed 60 pages. Because of the need for savings, many of those pages will need to rely more on contributed content and national stories from agencies than is currently the case, and the local flavour will therefore be diluted.
"The second option is to move to a weekly model - probably publishing on Thursdays - with a much bigger edition of around 96 pages at its core, plus commercial supplements and sections such as Post Property and Living magazine.
"The first option retains more editorial jobs than the weekly model, but will result in my view in a much weakened brand because the paper will represent less value for money for the reader, day-by-day.
"The weekly model will provide a much more comprehensive package of information, entertainment and advertising, and I believe will do more to preserve the brand values of the Post, and therefore offer a more sustainable future for the title. We think we will be able to retain most of the essential elements that exist in the current model and incorporate them in a weekly Post.
"For the weekly model, we are even forecasting a modest circulation increase, based on the recent experiences of daily papers that have gone weekly.
"Cards on the table? I believe the weekly model is the best option for the Post. There's a lot of emotion connected to the supposed status of being a daily paper and many of my contacts in the city regularly state baldly to me that 'Birmingham simply must have a daily business paper'. But at what cost? Increasingly, our diet of daily and immediate news is fed by online services and broadcast media, and newspapers have a much reduced role in bringing news we didn't hear first somewhere else. Papers are increasingly more about providing analysis, comment and insight.I believe that should be the role of the Post in print - to explain and examine the big decisions and issues in the region, while keeping readers up to date with the immediate through our website and other online services.
"A substantial, value-for-money weekly package is surely the best home for this, where the very best elements of the Post's coverage can be found all in one place.
"That's my view anyway. There will be many others that take a very different position, I'm sure, and I genuinely want to hear as many views on this as possible."

Police helpline for climate camp and carnival

Police in London have launched a helpline for journalists with UK press cards covering the Climate Camp and Notting Hill Carnival.
There will be a dedicated phone line for holders of the UK Press Card – as issued by the NUJ and other organisations - who are experiencing problems on the ground.
Journalists should ring 07917 556824 to speak to a press officer who will assist them in resolving the situation. This number will be staffed 24 hours-a-day from Wednesday 26 August. This facility is for immediate assistance not formal complaints.
The move follows tension between journalists and police at previous climate camps. John Toner, NUJ Freelance Organiser, said: “We welcome this positive move to resolve the difficulties we have had in the past.”
Media wanting updated information or to request an interview about the policing operations for either the climate camp – dubbed Operation Bentham by Met Police - or the Notting Hill Carnival should contact the 24 Hour Press Bureau at New Scotland Yard on 020 7230 2171.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Shocked Daily Mail reader sees lemon and lime in carnal encounter on sweet wrapper

Hilarious post from Private Eye's Adam Macqueen on his blog about a letter in today's Daily Mail from reader claiming sweet wrapper shows a lemon and lime in carnal encounter. Or is it a wind up? Does Simon Simpkins of Pontefract, West Yorkshire, really exist?

NUJ blasts Trinity Mirror bosses over plans to cut up to 85 jobs in Midlands shake-up

The NUJ has condemned Trinity Mirror for proposing more job cuts in the Midlands after the company confirmed today that it was considering taking the Birmingham Post weekly and producing the Birmingham Mail overnight - moves the NUJ predicted would happen last June.
Today, the NUJ says Trinity Mirror staff in Birmingham and Coventry were told that a consultation period had begun and up to 85 jobs could be lost across the company.
Jeremy Dear, NUJ general secretary, said: “Trinity Mirror Midlands managers refused to confirm these proposals even when we put them in the public domain. In the last month they have closed down weekly papers – which we also predicted – even though there was at least one potential buyer for the titles. And they have launched scurrilous attacks on NUJ members trying to defend jobs and newspapers – calling them ‘highly irresponsible’.
“Trinity Mirror managers have been shown to be irresponsible with regard to the truth and their attitude to their newspapers and the communities they serve. The union will fight to defend the jobs of journalists and the future of the Post. If there are other publishers interested in the title Trinity Mirror should be prepared to sell.”
Dear also condemned the plan to turn the Mail into a morning paper. He said: “This is all about saving money by sacking van drivers and distribution staff without any thought for the good of the newspaper. Without the ability to cover breaking news the Mail will lose a key selling point.
“When Michael Jackson died overnight the paper sold thousands of extra copies thanks to locally produced content. That sort of reaction to a breaking story is under threat from these proposals.
“If carried through today’s proposals constitute a major attack on journalists and journalism in the UK’s second biggest city. The NUJ will support our members in Birmingham in whatever action they decide to take to stand up for journalism.”

Trinty confirms Brum Post may go weekly

Press Gazette reports today that, as predicted by the NUJ back in June, Trinity Mirror confirms it is considering switching the daily Birmingham Post to a weekly and turning the Birmingham Mail into a morning paper printed overnight.
The company said further job losses across its Midlands operation were "inevitable" as it reviewed all options for reducing the cost base of the business.
Trinity added that it had launched a consultation with staff, advertisers and union representatives to review its operation in the Midlands to ensure its "future stability and viability".
Trinity said consultations were currently at an early stage, no decisions had yet been made and the business cases for any possible changes had yet to be developed.

RWB deplores Israeli pressure in diplomatic row over Swedish tabloid body organs story

Reporters Without Borders said today it deplores the Israeli government’s attempts to pressure the Swedish government into condemning a 17 August article in the Swedish daily Aftonbladet that accused the Israeli army of allowing body organs to be harvested from Palestinians killed by its soldiers.
“Regardless of the article’s content and although we understand the public outcry if has triggered in Israel, the Israeli authorities must refrain from asking their Swedish counterparts to intervene,” RWB said. “Aftonbladet alone is responsible for the articles it publishes. The Swedish government is not responsible.”
RWB suggests that if the Israeli government thinks Israel has been defamed, it can take the matter to the courts.
The offending article, accusing the Israeli authorities of turning a blind eye to trafficking in organs taken from dead Palestinians, was by reporter Donald Boström. In a 20 August statement, Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak called the article “false and outrageous” and “anti-semitic.”
Sweden’s ambassador to Israel, Elisabet Borsiin Bonnier, issued a statement the same day saying that she understood the reaction of the government, media and public opinion in Israel, adding that both Swedes and Israelis found the article “shocking and appalling.”
But in Stockholm, the Swedish foreign ministry did not follow suit. Foreign minister Carl Bildt disowned the ambassador’s remarks and stressed his government’s commitment to freedom of expression. Bildt said: “As a member of the Swedish government, acting on the Swedish constitution, I have to respect freedom of the speech, irrespective of the personal views that I might have.”
On 23 August, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “We’re not asking the Swedish government for an apology, we’re asking for their condemnation.”
RWB says that as a reprisal, Daniel Seaman, the head of Israel’s Government Press Office, has refused to issue press credentials to two other Aftonbladet journalists. Boström reports that he has received two letters with death threats since the article came out.

Businessman 'no interest' in buying Scotsman

A supposed member of a three-man consortium reported to be interested in buying the Scotsman newspaper has - via his spokesperson - said he is not interested, allmediascotland reports today.
It says: "In a brief statement, a spokesperson for Martin Gilbert, chief executive of Aberdeen Asset Management, yesterday said: “Martin has no interest in acquiring The Scotsman.”
Gilbert was named as one of three Scottish businessmen said by the Sunday Times to be interested in buying the Scotsman from Johnston Press.

'Bring journalist's killers to justice'

Press freedom groups are urging that the killers who yesterday shot dead Janullah Hashimzada, a freelance reporter and Pajhwok Afghan News correspondent, in Pakistan's lawless tribal region of Khyber, be brought to justice.
“We offer our condolences to Janullah Hashimzada’s family and friends,” Reporters Without Borders said. “His murder highlights the sharp decline in the security situation in Pakistan, especially in the western Tribal Areas, where journalists are less and less free to move about.”
RWB added: “We urge the authorities to investigate this targeted killing properly with the aim of identifying its perpetrators and instigators and bringing them to justice. The impunity prevailing in the region must be combated.”
Robert Mahoney, deputy director of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, said:"Pakistani security forces must thoroughly investigate Janullah Hashimzada's murder. The government must combat the risks local and international journalists face in this volatile region by prosecuting those who carry out targeted attacks against them."
Pakistan ranks 10th in the world among countries in which journalists are murdered with impunity, according to CPJ's Impunity Index.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Johnston statement on Scotsman speculation

Johnston Press issued a brief statement today on speculation that a group of Scottish businessmen are making a bid for the Scotsman.
It said: "Johnston Press notes the press speculation regarding the potential disposal of the Scotsman. Whilst Company policy is not to comment on such speculation, Johnston Press can confirm that the board does not have any disposal process underway in this regard."
Speculation was sparked by a Sunday Times Business section story yesterday naming three businessmen said to be interested in buying the Scotsman.

New post for Shane Richmond at Telegraph

Shane Richmond, the Telegraph's community editor, has been made head of technology (editorial) for the Telegraph Media Group. He will be in charge of TMG's technology coverage online and in print.
Via Twitter

Reporter killed in Khyber shooting

Janullah Hashimzada, freelance reporter and Pajhwok Afghan News correspondent in Peshawar, has been shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Pakistan's lawless tribal region of Khyber, bordering Afghanistan.
Another passenger travelling with the reporter in a van was wounded in the attack that took place in Soor Kamar area of Jamrud sub-district.
Hashimzada was going from the Torkham border town to Peshawar. The assailants in a car intercepted the van and shot him dead, a friend of the journalist told Pajhwok Afghan News. Although no one has so far claimed responsibility for the murder, Hashimzada's friend Aimal Khattak claimed unknown men had threatened the journalist with death some three weeks ago. Hashimzada, a freelance reporter with Pajhwok for four years, also worked for the Shamshad TV channel. He had worked for the Associated Press (AP), Al-Arabia TV channel, Wahdat and Sahar newspapers.
Via Pajhwok Afghan News

Scotsman bid talks at 'early stage'

BBC News reports today that the Scottish businessmen considering a bid to buy The Scotsman newspaper from Johnston Press have said discussions are at an early stage.
It says: "a source close to the initiative said talks have only been informal, and that speculation about the outcome was premature. But it was confirmed that the group is interested in buying if the title and its Scotland on Sunday stablemate come on the market."
The Sunday Times revealed yesterday that the men considering a bid for the newspapers are Martin Gilbert, chief executive of Aberdeen Asset Management and chairman of First Group; Ben Thomson, chairman of the Noble Group finance house and of the Reform Scotland think tank; and Mark Shaw, chief executive of Hazeldene Group property developers.
A Johnston Press spokesman said: "Having terminated discussions on the Irish disposal process some months ago, there are no further disposal plans underway."

Guardian advertises for club manager

The Guardian today is advertising for a general manager to run the paper's proposed "Guardian Club" which aims to create new revenue streams and build on the loyalty of the paper's print and online readership.
The advertisement says: "This is an important new initiative. The club will make our most committed readers/users feel they are genuinely part of our organisation and reward their loyalty. The General Manager has the unique opportunity to set the direction, create the club and then deliver on that ambition."
A Guardian spokeswoman said: "It makes sense for the business and for our readers to both harness and reward that loyalty. Our recently launched subscription scheme is one way of doing so and another idea under consideration is a Guardian offering based around the concept of a 'friends' scheme or members' club.
"This proposal is still very much in the early stages of development. We are currently researching the idea and have advertised for a general manager of the scheme on a one-year contract basis."

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Bid to buy Scotsman from Johnston Press

The Sunday Times Business section reports today that a consortium of Scottish businessmen is trying to buy The Scotsman from Johnston Press.
It says the bid involves Martin Gilbert, the chief executive of Aberdeen Asset Management, Edinburgh financier Ben Thomson and property developer Mark Shaw.
Secret talks are said to have taken place in recent weeks but the two sides are believed to be a long way apart on price. Industry sources, the Sunday Times says, claim Johnston is holding out for about £40m for The Scotsman, which it bought from the Barclay brothers for £160m in 2005.
It is also claimed the group is in parallel discussions with Newsquest, publisher of rival Glasgow-based Herald, about a joint venture to pool resources. Previous attempts to merge the titles were blocked by politicians.
There have been previous rumours that debt-laden Johnston Press was willing to sell flagship titles The Scotsman and the Yorkshire Post, but they have always been denied by the company.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Statement by families of two journalists kidnapped in Somalia one year ago

The families of two journalists, Canadian Amanda Lindhout and Australian Nigel Brennan, have released a statement on the eve of the first anniversary tomorrow, August 23, of their kidnapping in Mogadishu, Somalia.
It says: "Together, the two families continue to work tirelessly to secure Nigel's and Amanda's safe release. With little outside support, the families, who have been united as one throughout this horrendous ordeal, continue to do everything and anything to gain the earliest possible release for their loved ones Amanda and Nigel. Our thoughts and all our love are with Amanda and Nigel, today, just as they have been for the past 365 days, and just as they will be until they are safely home with us. In issuing this brief joint statement the families hope that the media will respect their wishes to be left alone during this particularly emotional time."
Lindhout and Brennan were taken hostage by an armed group as they were returning to Mogadishu from Afgoye refugee camp, 20 km west of the Somali capital, on 23 August 2008.
“We are very worried about these two hostages, given the length of their ordeal and the extreme dangers prevailing in Somalia,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We reiterate our support for their families and we hope they will be released without delay.”
Via Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders

Friday, 21 August 2009

Murdoch's News Corp seeking consortium of publishers who will charge for online content

Executives from Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. have been meeting in recent weeks with publishers about forming a consortium that would charge for news distributed online and on portable devices, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.
It says: "Chief Digital Officer Jonathan Miller has positioned News Corp. as a logical leader in the effort to start collecting fees from online readers because of its success with the Wall Street Journal Online, which boasts more than 1 million paying subscribers.
"He is believed to have met with major news publishers including New York Times Co., Washington Post Co., Hearst Corp. and Tribune Co., publisher of the Los Angeles Times."
Via GregMitch on Twitter.

CPJ: Afghan security forces obstructed media

Security forces obstructed, assaulted, and detained Afghan and foreign journalists in Kabul covering yesterday's presidential elections, the Committe to Protect Journalists claims.
The Afghanistan government had called for a news blackout on violent incidents during polling day saying such coverage would deter people from voting.
CPJ reports: "Police briefly detained at least three foreign journalists and several local journalists during the course of the day, according to news reports. Multiple accounts mentioned police beating journalists, threatening them with guns, and snatching equipment, but no serious injuries have been reported. Almost all the reported incidents occurred at the scene of attacks by militant groups."

'Murdochs must collaborate with rivals'

David Prosser in a comment piece in the Independent today on News International's decision to axe thelondonpaper notes that at one time media analysts thought a merger with Associated's London Lite was on the cards to create one profitable free newspaper for the capital.
He suggests the way forward for the Murdochs and plans to charge for NI's news content on newspaper sites would be to collaborate with rivals.
Prosser writes: "The London Paper may have been an expendable vanity project, but closure isn't an option for News International's online operations.
"With that in mind, the way forward may lie in taking exactly the approach that News International has rejected with The London Paper: collaboration. Many media analysts believed that the Murdochs were considering merging their title with London Lite – and that a single afternoon freesheet in the capital might have a shot at profitability.
"If News International is to deliver on online profitability, it will have to reconsider its reluctance to work with its rivals.
"For one thing, if everyone else stays free, its titles stand less chance of making a go of paid-for. For another, the best model for the UK press may be to appoint an agent or distributor to sell across all its constituent titles using a system of micropayments. The days of the newspaper wars through which Murdoch senior built the empire might then be over."

Bolt makes Guardian front page...without wings

Earlier this week Guardian reader Nick Wall from Merseyside wrote to the paper asking why it had pictured British heptathalon gold medal winner Jessica Ennis on the front page rather than the Jamaican world record breaking 100m sprinter Usain Bolt.
Wall wrote: "He's run half a second faster than the legendary Jesse Owens. He's taken an unbelievable 0.11 of a second off his own 100m world record. So what does Usain Bolt have to do to get his picture on the front page (17 August) instead of the latest plucky British medal winner? Grow wings and fly?"
Well Bolt's on the front page of the Guardian today as a teaser for a piece in the sports pages and all without growing wings.

Quotes of the Week

James Murdoch on the decision to close thelondonpaper: "The team at thelondonpaper has made great strides in a short space of time with innovative design and a fresh approach but the performance of the business in a difficult free evening newspaper sector has fallen short of expectations. We have taken a tough decision that reflects our priorities as a business."

Rick Blum, coordinator of the Sunshine in Government Initiative which is calling on press officers in the US to end 'off the record' briefings: "In today's age of Twitter and blogs, an 'off the record' speech will be publicised, just not by reporters. It just doesn't make sense anymore and the practice should stop."

The Pajhwok Afghan News agency rejecting a call by the Afghan Government for a news blackout on any violence during tomorrow's presidential election: "To conceal information from the people violates our very reason for existing."

BBC manager on spy and former BBC producer Guy Burgess, according to an archived memo made public this week: "His office hours are very flexible - he is rarely here before 10.45am since he reads his papers and Hansards at home and spends most of the rest of the day out of the office making contacts."

Bryan Appleyard in his Sunday Times Magazine profile of Apple chief Steve Jobs: " Apple hates personality stuff and press intrusion. “We want to discourage profiles,” an Apple PR tells me stiffly, apparently unaware she is waving a sackful of red rags at a herd of bulls. Another PR rings the editor of this magazine to try to halt publication of this piece."

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Murdoch's pay down to $18m dollars

Rupert Murdoch, the chief executive and controlling shareholder of News Corp., saw his compensation drop 40 percent in fiscal 2009 as weak earnings reduced his incentive pay, according to an Associated Press review of regulatory filings.
AP reports Murdoch, 78, was awarded a compensation package valued at $18 million, down from $30 million a year ago, according to the review of News Corp.'s proxy filed Thursday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
His base salary of $8.1 million was unchanged, but his performance-based incentive pay fell 69 percent to $5.4 million from $17.5 million a year ago.

War over: NI to close free London paper

News International said today that it will close its giveaway thelondonpaper ending the costly three-year free newspaper war with Associated's London Lite.
"The strategy at News International over the past 18 months has been to streamline our operations and focus investment on our core titles," said James Murdoch, the chairman and chief executive, News Corporation Europe and Asia.
"The team at thelondonpaper has made great strides in a short space of time with innovative design and a fresh approach but the performance of the business in a difficult free evening newspaper sector has fallen short of expectations. We have taken a tough decision that reflects our priorities as a business."
Thelondonpaper, which had a distribution of more than 500,000 copies a day, recorded a pre-tax loss of £12.9m in the year to 29 June 2008 on a turnover of £14.1m.
The paper will continue publishing for a month while its 60 staff, 40 of whom are journalists, are consulted.
Via MediaGuardian and Press Gazette

The Standard: Keeping Londoners cheerful

Wasn't the new Russian-owned London Evening Standard going to make people feel good about living in the capital?
Now it seems we're all going to die. Help!

That's Entertainment!

The September 18th issue of US magazine Entertainment Weekly will contain a video ad attached to one of its pages for CBS and Pepsi.
The video chip will be 2.7mm thick, with a battery charge lasting 65 to 70 minutes, which can be recharged with a mini USB cable via a plug-in on the back of the unit. Technology for the video ad was manufactured by a Los Angeles-based company called Americhip.

NS keeps up pressure over council newspapers

The Newspaper Society is keeping up the pressure over competition to the local press from council newspapers in a letter sent this week to the Minister for Local Government Rosie Winterton.
It highlights the Society's concerns about council publications competing with local media for readers and advertising revenue as well as worries about the Government withdrawing its advertising from local media and current proposals to remove the requirement for statutory notices to be published in local newspapers.
“We note your recent comments about the important role local councils can play in helping their local businesses to grow and prosper and their region to grow economically,” Lynne Anderson, communications director of the NS, wrote.“Unfortunately, an increasing number of local councils across the UK are actively competing with local newspapers for readers and advertising revenues, causing real damage to these local businesses at a time when they are meant to be helping them to come through the recession.
“As well as being recognised as important local businesses and employers, local newspapers are of course vital to the functioning of any healthy local democracy, scrutinising the effective operation of local authorities, examining how council taxpayers’ money is spent, and holding elected representatives to account.”
Her letter to Winterton quotes a passage from Digital Britain which acknowledges that if council newspapers operate in a way that makes local media unviable they would be “against the public interest” and invites the Audit Commission to undertake an inquiry into the practice.
The NS has requested a meeting with Winterton over the summer to discuss the issues raised in the letter.

PG backs save Observer campaign

Press Gazette has launched a campaign to save the Observer, whose future is being reviewed by owner Guardian Media Group, from closure.
PG says today: "Recommendations on the Observer’s future are expected to be presented to the Scott Trust – which owns GMG – next month.
"Until that decision is made Press Gazette will be arguing the case that the Observer must be saved.
"We believe the Observer is one of Britain’s great and iconic news brands and that the Scott Trust, dedicated as is it is to supporting journalism, should find a way to make it work.
"It would be a needless blow to an already beleaguered British news industry to take out of the market a newspaper which has kept its circulation solidly above 400,000 in recent years, has a readership of 1.4m (according to NRS) and which has 219 years of journalistic endeavour behind it.
"Yes, the Observer has been loss-making in recent years and the Scott Trust has the specific purpose of protecting the journalism of the Guardian in perpetuity.
"But we believe the Scott Trust also has a wider duty to protect journalistic plurality in this country by doing what it can to safeguard the future of a great Sunday newspaper.
"If it cannot afford to keep the Observer going it should perhaps offer it for sale to someone who believes they can."

BBC defies call for Afghan news blackout

The BBC is ignoring the call by the Afghanistan Government for the media to impose a blackout on news of any violent incidents during today's presidential elections.
It reported this morning that the Taliban had attacked a number of polling stations and that militants had been shot in Kabul.
The International Federation of Journalists yesterday described the call for a news blackout as "illogical and objectionable." The Pajhwok Afghan News agency said it would defy the call which was condemned by the Afghan Independent Journalists' Association.
Siamak Herawi, a spokesman for President Karzai, said the blackout would prevent the media from having a "negative impact" and stop people voting because of fears of violence.

US media urges end to 'off the record' briefings

A joint letter from a group representing US news and journalism organisations, including the New York Times, has been sent to 600 press officers urging them to stop the practice of "off the record" briefings, according to an exclusive report in Editor & Publisher.
The Sunshine in Government Initiative, which is coordinating the protest, said the letter is an effort to stop the anonymous briefings that often limit how reporters can attribute information.
"Many Congressional staff members and mid-level administration officials, regardless of party affiliations, have been increasingly wary of speaking on the record in recent years and, as a result, begin their public speeches by telling the audience that their remarks are all 'off the record'," the campaigners say.
Rick Blum, coordinator of the Sunshine in Government Initiative, said: "In today's age of Twitter and blogs, an 'off-the-record' speech will be publicised, just not by reporters. It just doesn't make sense anymore and the practice should stop."
In an interview with the Guardian in June, Foreign Secretary David Miliband called on the media to abandon unattributable briefings, saying all politicians' spokesmen should be named, or not quoted by media outlets.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Afghanistan media blackout on election violence 'illogical and objectionable' says IFJ

The International Federation of Journalists has deplored the move by the Government of Afghanistan to call for a media blackout of any violence during tomorrow's presidential elections.
“The IFJ finds this decree illogical and objectionable,” IFJ general secretary Aidan White said. “It is difficult to see how suppressing news about violent incidents can contain the insurgent threat to disrupt the elections. Nor is any useful purpose served by denying the electorate the basic information that they need to make an informed decision about whether and when to cast their votes.”
The IFJ has called on the Government of Afghanistan to rescind this decree of censorship without delay.
“The media community in Afghanistan has prepared itself for this election with a great sense of responsibility,” White said. “We believe that the judgment on what is appropriate to report is best left to the editorial discretion and ethical judgment of the journalists of Afghanistan.”

Take the BBC's media studies test

Media studies is often mocked as a "Mickey Mouse" subject but how easy is it? The BBC website is running its own media studies test of seven questions. Are you a director general in waiting? a copy sub? a runner? or a complete Dumbo? Take the test to find out.

Afghan news agency rejects media blackout call

Pajhwok Afghan News agency has rejected a call by the Afghan Government for all domestic and foreign media to impose a news blackout on any violence during tomorrow's presidential election. It says "to conceal information from the people violates our very reason for existing" and claims the call for a media blackout by the Afghan National Security Council is an order rather than a request.
The agency says in a statement: "Pajhwok Afghan News rejects the order of the National Security Council, released by the Foreign Affairs Ministry, which forbids coverage or prediction of violence during tomorrow's election.
"Such orders have no basis in the Afghan Constitution or the principles of democracy.
"For five years, Pajhwok's mission has been to serve the people of Afghanistan by providing factual, free and fair information. We are obligated to our fellow citizens to report the truth, so that they can participate actively in our democracy.
"We will continue to do so.
"Our policy is to report with care for accuracy, and not to inflame any tensions or fears by sensational reporting. We will follow these professional standards tomorrow and in the future.
"We hope that the election will be safe and transparent for all of Afghanistan. But to conceal information from the people violates our very reason for existing.
"Although the official English translation says that Afghan and foreign media "are requested to refrain from broadcasting any incidence of violence" we can see that in the Dari, the words have a different meaning.
"The Dari version makes clear that it is seriously forbidden to report and publish photographs on violence, and to predict that there will be attacks.
"Pajhwok editors understand that their role is not to predict. However, we feel a professional obligation to inform our audience about specific threats that are documented and credible.
"It is up to the people to decide how to act on this information."
The agency is on Twitter.

Afghanistan media blackout call condemned

A call by the Afghan government for all domestic and international media agencies to refrain from broadcasting any incident of violence during the election on Thursday has been condemned.
Rahimullah Samander, head of the Afghan Independent Journalists' Association, told Reuters: "We condemn such moves to deprive people from accessing news."
New York-based Human Rights Watch, also said: "An attempt to censor the reporting of violence is an unreasonable violation of press freedoms."
Siamak Herawi, a spokesman for President Karzai, said the blackout would prevent the media from having a "negative impact" and stop people voting because of fears of violence.
Via BBC News website

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

BBC opens archive on spy Guy Burgess

The BBC has opened up its archive on Guy Burgess who spied for the Soviets and was a producer at the BBC for two spells between 1936 and 1944. A total of 24 previously unreleased documents have been published on the BBC Archive website.
One is a memo from a manager complaining about Burgess: "His office hours are very flexible - he is rarely here before 10.45am since he reads his papers and Hansards at home and spends most of the rest of the day out of the office making contacts."

Brum Mail charity may benefit from Nazi loot

The Birmingham Mail Charity Trust, which has been around for more than 100 years and makes grants to volunteer community groups in the city, could have its funds boosted by the sale of fine art and music looted by the Nazis.
Mail editor Steve Dyson explains on his blog: "Basically, what seems like a refugee from Germany in World War 2 came to Brum, was helped by many including the Mail's Trust, and left a huge chunk of his will to the charities in the 1980s.
"It's now come to light that many fine pieces of art and music once owned by this chap have now been reclaimed from Germany, after they were originally confiscated by Hitler's government."
He adds: "Details have to remain sketchy for now, as there's a lot of legal work to do, a few disputed claims, and a lot of other charities involved. But to whet your appetite, one piece of art involved alone may be valued at anything between $625,000 and $1,250,000! What a story it will make when the whole thing is settled."

Frank Branston in his own words

As a tribute to Frank Branston, the founder of Bedfordshire on Sunday who has died aged 70, I thought it was best to remember him in his own words:

Branston on Bedfordshire on Sunday: “Many newspaper publishers consider editorial to be a nuisance, especially when it annoys advertisers. Bedfordshire on Sunday proved the opposite; that news, vigorous comment and humour are the saviour of newspapers, not their undertaker.”

Branston on the second edition of BoS: "The second edition is still a terrible memory. We had practically no advertising and our total revenue only crept over £700 because I had just had a crime novel published and my publisher, bless him, rowed in with a £70 advertisement. It was still 16 pages, of which about 13 were editorial. I wrote most of it and a friendly sub-editor came in to help lay out the pages. He didn't know what he was in for and we never saw him again."

Branston on 30 years of BoS: "We survived because we produced a newspaper which was different in content to the other four that were then being published in Bedford; a newspaper which, no matter how slapdash its production, still told its readers news they did not get elsewhere."

Branston on Fred Plester, his award winning ex-policeman reporter who was on BoS for seven years: “He won a journalism award every year he was with the paper except one - that year I was one of the judges. It took him a long time to forgive me, if he ever did. Fred boasted that he had put more criminals before the courts than the entire Bedford CID during the same period."

Branston on lobster: “The best thing to have with lobster is another lobster.”

Brit beats Usain Guardian front page

Guardian reader Nick Wall from Merseyside takes issue with the paper (in a letter published today) for running a picture of British heptathalon gold medal winner Jessica Ennis on the front page rather than the Jamaican world record busting 100m sprinter Usain Bolt.
Wall writes: "He's run half a second faster than the legendary Jesse Owens. He's taken an unbelievable 0.11 of a second off his own 100m world record. So what does Usain Bolt have to do to get his picture on the front page (17 August) instead of the latest plucky British medal winner? Grow wings and fly?"

Another council newspaper faces closure

The Birmingham Post is reporting that Birmingham City Council’s fortnightly Forward newspaper could be the latest council publication to be axed as pressure on public spending grows.
Forward’s last edition appeared in June and the Post says city bosses will next month decide whether to make the suspension permanent or reduce publication and distribution.
Almost 400,000 editions of the free paper, formerly called The Voice, were delivered to homes, community centres and libraries every fortnight at a total cost of about £600,000 a year.
The Post adds: "Council publications were initially set up as a vehicle for council job vacancy and public notice announcements, and thought much cheaper than paying to advertise in commercial newspapers. But critics have slammed them as propaganda pamphlets allowing the council leaders to tell citizens how great they are."
It says that last year seven photographs of the council’s Tory leader Mike Whitby appeared on the first eight pages in one edition of Forward, prompting complaints from the Labour opposition, whose own budget article had been rejected from the publication.
Council papers have recently been scrapped in Doncaster, Cornwall and Lancashire.
Via HoldtheFrontPage

Monday, 17 August 2009

Farewell to BoS founder Frank Branston

Sad news today that Fank Branston, founder of Bedfordshire on Sunday, has died suddenly aged 70.
I interviewed Frank many times. He loved journalism and making mischief.
Once when he and a group of journalists were invited to cover the speeches at a dinner, but offered no meal, he sent out for a takeaway curry for all the reporters - had a picture taken and sent it to Press Gazette.
He always gave good quotes. Like when Beds on Sunday launched onto the internet. Frank said: "I think the internet is over-rated. It is just a day out for nerds and anoraks."
Or one of his famous job ads: "In the old days junior reporters were bought up the hard way; being run from pillar to post and being saddled with the menial jobs. They proved themselves by taking it on the chin, keeping their eyes and ears open and grabbing their chances. Now they are expected to have A-levels and to spend half their time at colleges, where failed journalists try to teach a job that is best learned on the street. Bedfordshire on Sunday prefers it the old way."
The success of Beds on Sunday was a matter of great pride to Frank, a provincial journalist of the year, having worked on the Bedfordshire Times.
Frank employed an ex-policeman, Fred Plester, as a reporter who won a string of awards for his exclusive stories. Legend had it that before switching to journalism Fred had once arrested Frank for trying to take a picture within the precinct of a court. Frank claimed Fred put more people in jail via BoS than Bedfordshire CID.
BoS launched in 1977 with a budget of only £9,000. On its 30th anniversary Frank said: "We survived because we produced a newspaper which was different in content to the other four that were then being published in Bedford; a newspaper which, no matter how slapdash its production, still told its readers news they did not get elsewhere. "
Frank sold the BoS group in 2005 for millions and went on to be the elected Mayor of Bedford.
A wonderful character.
Tributes to Frank on Bedfordshire on Sunday website.

The Financial Times is praised as paywall pioneer in New York Times article

The Financial Times is praised as a pioneer for introducing paywalls long before Rupert Murdoch, in a New York Times article headlined The Paper That Doesn't Want to Be Free.
The article says: "The growth of paid online services under the Financial Times banner shows that the paper was right to maintain pay walls at a time when other media companies were yielding to the Silicon Valley mantra that “information wants to be free,” said Tim Luckhurst, a journalism professor at the University of Kent in Britain and a former editor of The Scotsman.
“It has proved, in one niche at least, that editorial journalistic endeavor does create value,” he said."
Via GregMitch on Twitter

Jeff Jarvis: 'Why I went public about my cancer'

MediaGuardian's digital media columnist Jeff Jarvis has written an opinion piece today about why he revealed on his blog that he had prostate cancer.
Jarvis admits he risks becoming "merely a medical and emotional exhibitionist" and has "violated my own privacy to an extreme" but he makes much wider points about the benefits of openness and transparency on the web.
He writes: "By revealing my cancer, I realise benefits, and so can society: if one man's story motivates just one more who has the disease to get tested and discover it, then it is worth the price of embarrassment. If many people who have a condition can now share information about their lifestyles and experience, then perhaps the sum of their data can add up to new medical knowledge. I predict a day when to keep such information private will be seen by society as being selfish.
"Collectively, we will use the internet's ability to gather, share and analyse what we know to build greater value than we could on our own. That is the principle of transparency that I want companies and governments to heed: that openness in their information and actions must become their default, that holding secrets only breeds mistrust and robs them and us of the value that comes from sharing.
"I believe this openness at the source will become a critical element in a new, linked ecosystem of news, as institutions and individuals will be expected to provide maximal information on the web. Such open intelligence also allows an unlimited number of watchdogs on those in power, helping to bring about a new, collaborative – and ultimately, I hope, more effective and efficient – system of journalism.
"So for me, transparency is a necessary ethic of the age. That is why I used my medium, my blog, to share my prostate cancer. If I believe in the value of publicness, how could I not?"

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Sunday Times Magazine says Apple PR tried to block publication of profile on Steve Jobs

Bryan Appleyard in the Sunday Times Magazine has done a profile piece on Apple chief Steve Jobs today, highlighting the secrecy favoured by the company.
Appleyard writes: "The secrecy is all about preserving the magic of each new product. Apple hates personality stuff and press intrusion. “We want to discourage profiles,” an Apple PR tells me stiffly, apparently unaware she is waving a sackful of red rags at a herd of bulls. Another PR rings the editor of this magazine to try to halt publication of this piece."
In the article, Appleyard predicts that in a post-Jobs future Apple will seek a merger with Google.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Warning on Afghanistan election coverage

Reporters Without Borders has warned violence that threatens journalists working for Afghanistan’s news media has created a climate that does not favour free and impartial coverage of the crucial presidential election next Thursday (August 20).
The press freedom campaign group says media coverage is also affected by the fact that political obstruction has prevented the adoption of a new press law.
“One of the consequences of the failure to adopt the new press law has been unequal air-time for the candidates,” RWB says. “Voters have also been denied independent coverage on national television throughout the campaign. Even if the monitoring carried out by the Electoral Media Commission is a big step forward, it is not enough. Journalists need laws that guarantee their safety and freedom, at least in principle.”
RWB says in Afghanistan: "Fewer and fewer journalist visit regions that are no longer controlled by the authorities, with the result that these regions have turned into news “black holes.” It is important to remember that the threats to Afghan and foreign journalists do not come solely from the Taliban. Although the Taliban are the main source of violence and press freedom violations, criminal groups are also often to blame."

Friday, 14 August 2009

Guardian/Observer NUJ chapel tells management: 'Don't close the Observer'

NUJ members on the Guardian and Observer have passed a resolution urging management to drop any proposals which will threaten the survival of the Observer, the country's oldest Sunday paper.
Management at the Guardian are considering options which include closing the title or turning it into a magazine.
The resolution said: "The Guardian and Observer NUJ chapel believes that the survival of the Observer as the world's oldest Sunday newspaper is essential for the protection of pluralism and diversity in the British media and calls on the Scott Trust and GNM/GMG management to reject proposals to drop the title, downgrade it to a weekly magazine or undermine its character as an independent and competitive Sunday newspaper.
“The chapel believes that the closing of a 200-year-old newspaper cannot be regarded as in any way comparable to other product changes currently being considered as part of the drive to reduce losses and offers its full support to the public campaign to save the Observer as an independent Sunday newspaper.
“The chapel is committed to the editorial autonomy, resourcing and identity of both the Observer and the Guardian - along with the protection of editorial standards and absolute rejection of compulsory redundancies across all platforms."
Barry Fitzpatrick, NUJ head of publishing, said: “There is already a large and growing degree of public support for the paper so its vital that management engage with the union now and listen to the paper's workers and readers.
“The NUJ will support the Guardian and Observer chapel in their fight against these potential cutbacks."
More info on the NUJ website.

Conference on media convergence

The Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom is holding an all day conference called: “Media for all? The challenge of convergence”.
It is planned for Saturday 31 October at the School of Pharmacy, Brunswick Square, London, WC1N 1AX.
Sessions include media ownership and democracy in the age of convergence; the media as a public service; and diverse media in a digital age.Speakers include Ray Fitzwalter, former editor of ITV’s current affairs programme World In Action; former BBC political correspondent Nick Jones; Greg Philo of the Glasgow Media Group; media professor Bob Franklin; and NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear.
For more info see the CPBF website.

Journalism Online claims 500 affiliates

Journalism Online, the US company that plans to help publishers monetize online content, claims it has signed 176 dailies as affiliate partners, according to Editor & Publisher.
In total, more than 500 newspapers, magazines and other sites have agreed to join Journalism Online representing more than 90 million monthly unique users.
Publishing affiliates will be able to select their own pay models. Journalism Online is offering a variety of ways to do that including technology that allows for micropayments, sampling, the ability to turn off the system at will, and the ability to convert users from micropayments to a subscription model.
"By creating a platform of flexible hybrid models for paid content that maximizes online advertising revenue while creating a new revenue stream from readers, Journalism Online has helped shift the debate over charging for online new from 'if' to 'when and how,' " Steven Brill, co-founder of Journalism Online, said in a statement.

Persecution of journalists continues in Gambia

Reporters Without Borders reports that five of the six Gambian journalists who were jailed for two years on 6 August on charges of defaming the government – Emil Touray, Pa Modou Faal, Pap Saine, Ebrima Sawaneh and Sam Sarr – were transferred from the capital’s Mile Two prison to Old Jeshwang prison in the north of the country on 10 August.
RWB says the sixth journalist, Sarrata Jabbi-Didda, who has a seven-month-old baby she is breastfeeding, remained in Mile Two but, on 8 August, prison guards took advantage of what they said would be a routine medical examination to take the baby from her. They then promised she would be able to see the baby at least twice a day, but it is now with the Gambian child services at Bakoteh, 20 km outside the capital, and she has not seen it since 8 August.

Quotes of the Week

The Sun on ending of anonymity order on Baby P mum and stepdad: "At last, today the world can see the identities of Baby Peter Connelly's evil killers - murderers in all but name. True justice was never possible for this poor boy as long as these heartless sadists remained anonymous."

Letter to Sunday Times Business section: "We read with alarm that The Guardian is considering closing its sister paper, The Observer. It seems unthinkable to us that one liberal newspaper would seek to extinguish another. A pluralist press is vital for a thriving democracy."

Former Observer editor Donald Trelford in the Independent: "Last week's loudly expressed public dismay at the threat to The Observer should be a warning to The Guardian of the obloquy it would face – and the permanent stain on its liberal reputation – if, after 218 years, it were to remove the world's oldest Sunday paper from our national conversation."

Analyst Claire Enders in MediaGuardian: "The government believes the local press is read by people, middle-aged and older, who live local lives. They are not relevant to the government's view of itself. Instead of helping local media to stay alive longer, the effect of government action has been to push them over the edge faster. We're talking about a fourth estate that is facing the future with much fewer resources. The resources on the government side are overwhelming."

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Attack on 'ego-trip' council newspapers

On, Mark Wallace, campaign director of the TaxPayers' Alliance, lays into council newspapers.
Wallace notes that an increasing number of councils now produce their own free newspapers distributed at taxpayers' expense to every home in the local area.
He says: "With the recession making times tough for just about every business, having a taxpayer-funded, free-of-charge competitor appear on your doorstep is the death knell for a growing number of local papers.
"How did this come about? Councils of course have to publicise their services - particularly amongst hard-to-reach vulnerable groups such as the isolated elderly. From that basis, though, there has been a huge degree of mission creep. What started off as simple fliers distributed when necessary to notify people about new services or bin timetable changes has been transformed into a flurry of glossy, full-colour publications that are stuffed full of 'news' about how great councillors and their senior officers are, with only occasional boxes devoted to actual services.
"Part of this is down to human nature, and part down to cynical politics. It is human nature to empire-build. An officer responsible for designing and printing simple black and white fliers listing when people's bins are going to be collected will naturally hanker after something more prestigious, more impressive and better paid. It was only a matter of time before bold officers proposed a radical upgrade from flier to fully-fledged council newspaper."
He adds:" TaxPayers' Alliance research using the Freedom of Information Act has revealed that the average council now spends £1 million a year on publicity alone - of which a sizable amount is newspapers and magazines. These ego-trips have become utterly unaffordable."

Super Sun Duncan headline. . . . .

Great headline in the Sun today over story on Alan Duncan's ill judged remarks that MPs' are having to live on rations following the expenses scandal.

Backlash over council plan to withdraw ads from local press and put them in own paper

North East Lincolnshire Council proposals to withdraw all council advertisements from local media and instead place them in its own monthly newspaper have sparked heavy criticism from local residents, the Newspaper Society claims today.
It says the Grimsby Telegraph has published more than 20 letters from residents angry about the plans since reporting that the council was to review its advertising and marketing budget and consider removing all its advertising from independent local media.
The council had initially decided to shift all its advertising, largely recruitment, into its monthly Linc Up newspaper, which costs £86,000 annually to print and distribute, but the plans were called in by Conservative chief whip Martin Vickers.
As a result, the Liberal Democrat-controlled council decided that a select committee would review the local authority’s advertising and marketing budget in a bid to determine the best value for taxpayers.
In a letter published in the Telegraph Mark Price, managing director of Grimsby and Scunthorpe Media Group which publishes the Telegraph and associated titles, said the publisher was “very concerned” about proposals to remove council ads which would add to the “severe strain” caused by the recession.
He added: “We believe that, in print and on the internet, we offer the local authority the widest audience for their recruitment advertising. We also believe it is important that organisations such as North East Lincolnshire Council support independent local media. As local newspaper publishers, we have a deep commitment to and passion for the community we serve.”
The NS also says that South London Press has revealed that Lambeth Council’s fortnightly newspaper Lambeth Life was costing more than £500,000 a year to produce prompting an angry backlash from opposition councillors.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Photojournalist bailed in Iran

The Committee to Protect Journalists has welcomed the news that photojournalist Majid Saeedi has been released on bail in Iran, but said it remains concerned that he still faces charges.
Saeedi, a well-known freelance photographer who has worked for photo agency Getty Images, was released on bail on Tuesday. Getty Images co-founder and CEO Jonathan Klein said that Saeedi "is set to face trial on the charges set by Iranian prosecutors, and is possibly facing several years in prison if convicted."
"We are relieved by Majid Saeedi's release from prison today, but call on authorities to drop all charges against him," said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator ‎‎Mohamed Abdel Dayem. "Saeedi was simply doing his job in documenting post-election events. We appeal to the government to release all remaining imprisoned journalists."
On July 10, security agents arrested Saeedi at his home and took him to an unknown location, according to Getty Images.

Why BBC challenged Baby P restrictions

BBC head of newsgathering Fran Unsworth put up a strong case for why the BBC was one of the media organisations that successfuly contested the anonymity order stopping the naming of Baby Peter Connelly's mother and stepfather.
She told Radio 4's The Media Show today that the local authority had wanted the anonymity order to continue until 2026 and the BBC had contested it in the interests of open justice and open reporting.
Asked by Ed Stourton what the benefit of having the order lifted was, Unsworth said the BBC had been able to tell the full story of the backgrounds of Tracey Connelly and Steven Barker, including the fact that Connelly's father was a paedophile and that Barker had been accused of assaulting his grandmother.
She said it was in the public interest to show the "cycles of abuse" behind the perpetrators of the crimes against Baby Peter and give some insight and add to the debate about how legislators can act to protect children.
Charlie Beckett, director of POLIS, said the public had not understood why the names were freely available on the internet but were not being published in the mainstream media.
Unsworth suggested the way forward may be for judges to tell juries to be "sensible" and put information they may have seen on the internet out of their minds when considering the evidence in a trial.

Conrad Black bail plea rejected

Editor & Publisher is reporting that Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has turned down former Daily Telegraph owner Conrad Black's request to be freed from a Florida prison while he appeals his fraud conviction to the high court.
Lord Black has served nearly 17 months of a 6 and-a-half-year prison term. In May the court agreed to consider overturning Black's conviction in July 2007 on charges he siphoned off millions of dollars belonging to Hollinger International when he was chief executive. The case will be heard in the autumn.

Mandelson on Today

Another masterclass from Lord Mandelson on the Today programme this morning on how not to answer an interviewer's questions. He turned every question asked by Evan Davis into an attack on George Osborne and the Tories. And then accused Davis of "interviewing himself". Unbelievable.

Baby P reporting restrictions in an online world

Steve Herrmann, editor of the BBC News website has posted on the Editors Blog about the lifting of the reporting restrictions in the Baby Peter Connelly case and what it means online.
He notes of the restrictions: "These were ordered because the defendants were the subject of another trial, for the rape of a two-year-old girl, which could have been compromised if the jury were prejudiced by information from the earlier case, and also because there were children who were still in the process of being placed with alternative carers.
"Now that Steven Barker has been found guilty and sentenced in the rape trial, and all the children are being cared for, the guilty trio's anonymity has ceased and we along with the rest of the media have been able to name them.
"This sounds deceptively simple, but when you look at what this means online it is more complicated. A news website like the BBC's will have a huge archive of stories, some of which may contain information which only later becomes the subject of legal restriction.
"On this occasion, there were indeed two stories in our own archive relating to the very early stages of the Baby Peter case which, if you searched for them, did give the names of the defendants. We did not republish or link to them from new stories, but on this occasion plenty of other people chose to do so.
"There were vigilante-style websites, blogs and individual e-mailers who were determined to make the names public and who were making a point of linking to our archived stories.
"We removed the stories from our archive even though in practice the details were easy to find, and the information had already been reproduced and cached elsewhere on the internet. Now that the restrictions have been lifted we've reinstated the stories in the archive. Not, incidentally, a very practical or easy way of doing things if we had to do it very often.
"But it has raised again a wider question as to how useful or effective such restrictions can be, given the ease with which the web allows information to be shared, stored and duplicated on other sites, blogs or in search engine caches."
One thing I'm not clear about is why did the BBC name Connelly and Barker on its website and on Newsnight just after 11pm on Monday? It had been reported that the court order was due to end at midnight. Was it because the first editions of the national newspapers had splashed on the story?

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

NUJ petition over GNM axing repro fees

The NUJ has launched an online petition for photographers who are opposed to plans by Guardian News & Media to stop paying repeat reproduction fees for commissioned pictures.
With the help of the British Photographic Council, an online petition has been created.
The petition, in the form of a letter, states: "The Guardian and Observer have a proud record of championing the cause of downtrodden workers in other countries. We call upon GNM and the Scott Trust to behave in a manner consistent with their editorial policy, and respect the rights of their suppliers to be treated in a fair and equitable manner and in accordance with the spirit of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. As a first step, we urge you to enter into meaningful negotiations with the National Union of Journalists and other organisations representing photographers."
A demo is being organised for 9.30am on Tuesday 1 September at the GNM building, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU.

'Papers need committed readers not gadflies'

Tim Luckhurst, head of the Centre for Journalism at the University of Kent, has come down in favour of Rupert Murdoch in the debate over newspapers charging for news on their websites.
Writing on his blog, Luckhurt says: "Quality journalism is expensive. If Rupert can pioneer a system of micro-payments that will finance foreign correspondents, subject specialists and investigations, then his decision may mark the beginning of the end of the delusion that online news should be free. After all, we all know that, in reality, it is being subsidised by declining traditional newspapers and broadcasters."
Luckhurst, a former BBC journalist and editor of the Scotsman, adds: "We have been told for years that millions of unique users would create revenue. They do not create anything approaching enough and it does not serve the interests of good journalism to pretend that they do. Losses at newspapers such as the Guardian, one of the biggest and most inventive internet pioneers, demonstrate that painful truth. It is better to attract 10,000 readers who pay than 5 million who do not. Even advertisers will agree about that. They want committed readers with identifiable interests, not millions of promiscuous gadflies.
"The idea that the internet can transform journalism by introducing the perspectives of millions of untrained, unedited amateur reporters is only partially true. Of course it is tremendous to receive tweets from Iran or blogs from Tibet. I'm all in favour of that. But without editing and collation by professional journalists this is a clear case of going back to a very poor future. We had this sort of citizen journalism in the unstamped, radical press of the early nineteenth century. It was rooted in ideology not fact and prone to spread rumour. It was also easily ignored. To give the majority real power journalism needed to become fact based, accurate and sufficiently profitable to take on powerful vested interests."