Wednesday, 30 September 2009

NUJ confirms Journalist shortlist

The NUJ today confirmed the eight shortlisted candidates who will stand in a ballot to succeed Tim Gopsill as editor of the Journalist.
They are Rich Simcox, who edits Activate magazine for the Public and Commercial Services union; Michael Cross, a freelance who has written for the Guardian and has worked for the New Scientist and the Independent; Steven Usher, Daily Star FoC; Frank Morgan, Daily Record; Christine Buckley, ex-Times; Mark Watts, freelance, FoI campaigner and investigative journalist; Tim Arnold, freelance with broadcasting experience; Stephen David Tilly, Trinity Mirror content editor.
The ballot starts on 6 of October and lasts a month. All candidates have been invited to a hustings meeting to take place between 7pm and 8.30pm on Wednesday 7 October, at the NUJ’s headquarters, 308, Grays Inn Road, London, WC1X 8DP.

'Mail not Sun is Britain's most influential paper'

The Guardian's Michael White accuses the upmarket media of taking the Sun too seriously over its move to drop Labour and switch support to the Tories, arguing it is the Daily Mail that is the most influential newspaper in Britain.
White blogs from the Labour Party conference today: "The odd thing is that the upmarket media always takes the Sun almost as seriously as it does itself. The BBC, for instance, has been leading bulletins on this great event.
"Yet it's hardly a secret that the Daily Mail is Britain's most influential newspaper, far more frightening to politicians and other establishment targets, far more sophisticated than the Bun and – nowadays – selling almost as many copies as the sinking redtop. Its influence, not all of it angry and malign, can be seen in every corner of public debate, including Brown's speech.
"I think the basic difference, apart from the fact that the Mail's journalism is much more formidable, is that – allowing for a sensible dose of cynicism, always wise where media is concerned – the Mail and its editor Paul Dacre do believe in things.
"In contrast, the Sun's policy switch is dictated by Murdoch and his well-documented policy of being on the winning side."

Journalist candidate Simcox launches website

Rich Simcox, one of the shortlisted candidates for the editorship of the NUJ magazine, the Journalist, has launched a website giving his manifesto, biography and a list of supporters.
A former Newsquest journalist, Simcox currently edits the Public and Commercial Services union’s activists’ magazine.

Leicester Mercury editor on naming the youths accused of tormenting Pilkington family

Leicester Mercury editor Keith Perch has posted on his blog on why the paper named the youths accused of tormenting Fiona Pilkington who killed her daughter and then herself.
Perch writes: "As a rule, the Mercury, in line with the Press Complaints Commission's code of conduct, does not name children under the age of 16 involved in crime. ..The issue here was that there was no court case, but two boys and their older brother were named in national newspapers - one of them branded 'Street Rat' on the front page of the Sun. A local councillor was also raising a petition to have the family evicted.
"You may be surprised to hear that our first reaction was not to name the family and particularly the two younger boys. But after some discussion we decided to do the opposite - to name the boys and use their photographs.
"What was behind the decision?Primarily, it was because any pretence that these boys had anonymity was ridiculous. Everybody in the area knew the identity of the boys even before the national papers got involved. It was clear from our discussions with neighbours that they were well-known in the area and their links to the Pilkington case were common knowledge - not naming them would have made our article look very odd and would not have 'protected' the boys in any way."
Perch also discusses how the Mercury reported stories from three other families who claimed to have suffered harassment.

Internet now biggest single ad medium in UK

The internet has now overtaken TV advertising in the UK to become the biggest single advertising medium, according to a report out today.
In the first half of 2009 internet advertising weathered the recession and grew by 4.6% to £1,752.1m, says the bi-annual online advertising expenditure study from the Internet Advertising Bureau in partnership with PricewaterhouseCoopers and the World Advertising Research Centre.
The UK remains the world leader in terms of market share for online, with the medium accounting for 23.5% in the first half of 2009. The study claims the results signal a significant restructure of marketing budgets as advertisers follow their audiences online and look to the internet for even more measureable and accountable methods.
It adds: "Despite the property market crash and stalled automotive and recruitment sectors, classifieds grew by 10.6% to £385m – or 22% of all online ad spend – reaping the benefits of the continued migration of advertising from print to online formats."

Shares boost for Newsquest owner Gannett

Are the bad times for newspapers in the US over? Editor & Publisher reports "Newspaper stocks soared in early afternoon trading Tuesday, fueled by the news that Gannett [which owns Newsquest in the UK] will report third-quarter earnings that far exceed expectations."
The report says that shares in Gannett were up $1.73, or 17.3%, to $11.71 a share and that "the good feelings about Gannett extended to the rest of the newspaper sector, with every NYSE-traded newspaper company up -- some by even bigger margins."

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Sun switches to Tories

The Sun announced tonight that it is dropping its support for Labour and backing the Conservatives at the next election. The paper said its decision was made after Gordon Brown's speech to the Labour conference in Brighton.
Not a surprise given Labour's low poll ratings but the timing is a crushing blow to Brown and bound to detract from coverage of his speech.

Mark Watts on Journalist shortlist

Freelance Mark Watts (left) has confirmed that he is on the shortlist to succeed Tim Gopsill as editor of the NUJ's magazine the Journalist (see earlier story on possible candidates) .
He says: "I am standing on the basis of making several fundamental changes to the magazine: increasing its frequency; breaking more exclusive stories about the media industry; and launching a proper website."
Watts is a freelance journalist and broadcaster, a member of the NUJ’s London Freelance Branch and the Society of Authors, and the co-ordinator of the FOIA Centre, which helps the media and other clients obtain information using the Freedom of Information Act and other open-access laws.
He is the former chief investigative reporter on Sunday Business, and has worked for other newspapers and television current-affairs programmes such as World in Action. He was a reporter on the Hull Daily Mail.
Ballot papers for the editorship of the Journalist go out to all NUJ members in October and voting closes on 6 November.

Trinity Mirror postpones weekly closure

The closure of the Whitchurch Herald, announced last week, has been postponed to enable owner Trinity Mirror North West and Wales to consider new approaches from parties interested in purchasing the newspaper title.
Carl Wood, Trinity Mirror Cheshire publishing director, said: “There have been some developments in the last few days so we have decided to continue producing the Whitchurch Herald while discussions with interested parties take place."

BECTU: 'We'll back members who refuse to work with BNP leader on Question Time'

Broadcasting union BECTU says it will support any of its members who refuse to work on the 22 October edition of Question Time which will have BNP leader Nick Griffin on the panel.
BECTU general secretary, Gerry Morrissey said: “Contrary to what the BBC has said, the BNP is not a legitimate political party in our eyes. Its policies are directly opposed to the democratic principles which underpin our multi-cultural society and those policies should not be given airtime.
"The BNP’s constitution only permits white people to join the party; this fact speaks volumes about the BNP’s fascist policies and everyone who believes in democracy should be taking a strong stance against the BNP, rather than helping the party to spread its poison.”
BECTU represents production staff across all roles in broadcasting and has on previous occasions pledged to support any member who chooses, as a matter of conscience, not to work on output which either involves or promotes the BNP.
The union has reiterated that same commitment to support all members who choose not to work on the edition of Question Time if it goes ahead with a BNP representative on the panel. The union says it will also be lending its support to anti-fascist organisations who will be campaigning against Question Time’s plans to give the BNP airtime.

Northcliffe ads down 31 per cent but stabilising

Ad revenues at Northcliffe Media for the eleven months to 31 August were 31% lower than last year, with circulation revenues falling 7%, a trading update from parent company Daily Mail & General Trust reports today.
According to the update, weekly levels of advertising revenue are said to have stabilised and year-on-year rates of decline are now showing improvements, with advertising revenues 26% lower in July and August, with a continuing improving trend in September, especially in property.
The update says: "As a consequence of the transformation of Northcliffe’s cost base, operating profits during August were ahead of the same period last year, a trend that has continued into September."
For Associated Newspapers, total underlying advertising revenues for the period fell by 16%, with underlying circulation revenues 2% lower. The update says: "Whilst Associated’s total advertising revenues in July and August were down by 21%, September has been better, although trading remains volatile from week to week with little visibility on future advertising performance. Circulation volumes have been more stable in recent months, aided by the success of the Daily Mail direct marketing campaign."

Possible new editors for the Journalist

Who's up to replace Tim Gopsill as editor of the NUJ's magazine, the Journalist?
I've already mentioned Rich Simcox, who edits Activate magazine for the Public and Commercial Services union and has the backing of the NUJ Left.
Other possible candidates, expected to be shortlisted this week, are said to include Michael Cross, a freelance who has written for the Guardian and has worked for the New Scientist and the Independent; Steve Usher, Daily Star FoC; Frank Morgan, Daily Record; Christine Buckley, ex-Times; Mark Watts, freelance, FoI campaigner and investigative journalist; Tim Arnold, freelance with broadcasting experience; Dave Tilly, Trinity Mirror content editor.
Once a shortlist has been approved by the union, a ballot of the membership starts on 6 of October and lasts a month.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Newspaper closures: 'Where was Trinity Mirror's investment during the good times?'

David Banks, the co-editor of Essential Law for Journalists, has posted on his blog about the closure of the Neath and Port Talbot Guardians by Trinity Mirror's Media Wales, which the company has blamed on the economic downturn.
Banks writes: "One might forgive the company this sad decision, had it, during the times of massive profits, ie five years ago, invested in its newspaper operations to make them a more attractive proposition to readers and advertisers. Now, in a time of not-quite-so-massive profits, decisions to close loss-making operations might have been justifiable.
"But let's just look at what the senior management of this company have done in the good times to equip Trinity Mirror for the bad times that now afflict them.
"Their 'big idea' was to send in the time and motion men. Blokes with reams of paper, who surveyed every inch of the business looking for fat to trim so that it could post the even-bigger profits its shareholders demanded.
"Every newsroom had a visit from these people. Who came up with stunning ideas like: "Rather than check, rewrite and add to press releases, why not just cut'n'paste them into the paper, saving time and money?" Brilliance like that is beyond price.
"As a result newsrooms were slashed. Not through redundancy, but by non-recruitment of trainees and non-replacement of staff. A gradual process of attrition that has left these places understaffed and lacking in experienced reporters."
"And that was in the times of plenty. Ad revenues were good, circulation was in a gentle but manageable decline. These businesses were very, very profitable.
"Then the bad times come round and what's their big idea now? More cuts. This time redundancies which, understandably, have been seized by some veteran journalists who were the heart and soul of these operations. And who can blame them leaving newspapers where their knowledge, contacts and expertise are treated with such contempt by national management?"
Banks adds: "If TM cannot or will not give local communities the service they want, then I hope the BBC's ultra local plans are revived and this time the protests of newspaper corporations are ignored."
Via Patrick Smith on Twitter

NUJ anger at Trinity execs 'share-handout'

The NUJ claimed today that disclosures made to the London Stock Exchange show that Trinity Mirror's three executive directors have been rewarded with free share-handouts worth more than £800,000 while imposing job cuts and a pay freeze on the group's employees.
The union says the share awards to chief executive Sly Bailey, finance director Vijay Vaghela and group legal director Paul Vickers have been unearthed by NUJ members at Media Wales in Cardiff, who are about to take part in a strike ballot following an announcement last Thursday of 13.2 editorial redundancies at the Trinity Mirror-owned subsidiary.
Bailey wrote to all staff last November telling them there would be no pay rise in 2009 because of poor trading conditions and the group's difficulty in meeting interest payments on borrowings and making pension contributions. She said the pay freeze applied to all employees, including directors, adding that no bonuses would be paid either.
The NUJ says: "It has now emerged that on April 3 this year, Ms Bailey was awarded 270,270 Trinity Mirror shares at no cost to herself. At the time shares were trading at 28.5p, so the value of the chief executive's handout was £77,026.95. Since then, however, the share price has risen, and when trading closed on Friday it stood at £1.60. That meant Ms Bailey's free shares had rocketed in value to £432,432.
"Mr Vaghela was awarded 123,964 shares on the same day. Over the same period they rose in value from £35,329.74 to £198,342.40. Equally, Mr Vickers' 108,108 shares grew from being worth £30,810.78 to £172,972.80 on Friday.
"On top of this, the three directors exercised an option to "buy" more shares on June 29 this year. Ms Bailey "bought" 28,898 shares, Mr Vaghela 15,568 shares and Mr Vickers 12,060 shares.
"In fact, according to the London Stock Exchange website, there was no purchase price, and the shares were handed over to the trio free of charge. On the same day, Ms Bailey sold 11,755 of her new shares, picking up £5,995.05. Mr Vaghela received £3,241.56 after selling 6,356 shares, while Mr Vickers pocketed £2,516.85 after selling 4,935 shares."
Martin Shipton, NUJ FoC at Media Wales, said: "It beggars belief that at a time when these directors have been slashing jobs and freezing the pay of those left behind, they have been rewarded so handsomely in this way.
“Nothing was said about these share handouts at the time of the pay freeze, when much was made of the fact that it applied to directors too. This is an insult to every Trinity Mirror employee, and especially to those whose jobs are on the line."

Straw to face BNP leader on Question Time

Justice Secretary Jack Straw has agreed to take part in a debate alongside the British National Party leader Nick Griffin on the BBC's Question Time programme.
Straw told the BBC he would join a panel which will include Griffin, a Conservative and a Liberal Democrat, in London on 22 October. The programme will be chaired by David Dimbleby (pictured). Labour has previously refused to debate with the BNP. The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats had already said they would take part in the programme.
Speaking on the Politics Show, Straw said: "Wherever we have had BNP problems in my area and when we have fought them hard, we've pulled back and won the seats back. And that's what we have to do. We've got to make the argument for people and I am delighted to do so."
No BNP representatives have appeared on Question Time, but the BBC reviewed its position following the party's success in last June's European elections, in which Griffin was one of two BNP candidates to be elected as an MEP.

'Newspapers that apologised to Fabio Capello had not breached privacy code'

The Independent's media commentator Stephen Glover argues today that the News of the World and the Daily Mail apologised to England's football manager Fabio Capello, after publishing pictures of him and his wife on a beach, even though there was no breach of the Press Complaints Commission code.
Glover writes:"The newspapers' apology is unprecedented in these circumstances. Ill-mannered and intrusive they may have been. The fact remains that it is not an infringement of the Press Complaints Commission's published code to carry photographs of public figures taken in a public place, and I should be surprised if it were illegal."
He adds: "On grounds of taste I am on the side of the Capellos. Why not leave them alone? Moreover, Mr Capello is something of a national treasure, having revived England's footballing fortunes. We don't want him legging it back to Italy in disgust, though I suppose he would be unlikely to do so as it would entail giving up a salary of £6m a year.
"But this case is not fundamentally about taste. It is really about the freedom of the Press. By all means let the Capellos ask newspapers not to run holiday snaps of them. But if it becomes an offence to publish pictures of public people in public places, one can imagine all manner of concealment. At the very least, such a measure might enable celebrities to present themselves to the world on Hello! terms, with all their imperfections airbrushed out. In an extreme example a politician might object to being photographed in public when publication would be in the public interest."
"It may seem a trivial case, but I am sorry that the News of the World and the Daily Mail should have run up the white flag so quickly. A new precedent may have been established which takes us further than the J K Rowling case towards a de facto law of privacy. "

Saturday, 26 September 2009

'Media speculation puts pressure on those behind leaking of MPs' expenses data'

Newspapers like to protect their own sources while speculating about who leaked information to their rivals.
John Wick, the former soldier who handled the leaked data on MPs' expenses and sold it to the Telegraph, says in the paper today: "At no time has the Daily Telegraph identified the source and yet the various other media outlets have inferred the leak came from either the military personnel, staff of the Stationery Office or even the Civil Servants themselves. The fact is that no one knows and that is how it will stay. The rampant speculation only adds extra pressure onto the people who worked on the project in good faith."
He adds: "What was interesting was the anger that was felt by all the people involved in the redaction process to what they were seeing and the way in which the House of Commons authorities were trying to cover up. The team carrying out the censorship was made up of civil servants, private contractors and of course the moonlighting soldiers. It covered a complete cross section of all ages, backgrounds, race and religion and they all felt the rage at what they were seeing."
On the issue of the £110,000 payment from the Telegraph, Wick says "it is I who placed a requirement to have money paid for the data and not anyone else involved. It was there to pay for legal advice before the campaign started, to have contingency funds available if charges were made and legal representation was needed - and to give financial support to those persons whose involvement in the campaign could affect their and their families’ livelihood."

SoE launches new media consultancy

The Society of Editors has launched a new media consultancy offering organisations the experience of editors and former editors. Editors Inc says it "aims to to help businesses with their corporate and public relations. The consultancy is an initiative to link up editors and former editors who are skilled communicators in getting the best response from the media - and for the media itself."
Among those offering their expertise are Neil Fowler, Paul Deal, Charles McGhee, Mike Glover, David Seymour, Bob Satchwell and Simon Irwin.
For more information visit

Friday, 25 September 2009

NUJ plans 'rest day' protest against Guardian

The NUJ is planning a ‘Guardian day of rest’ when it will ask photographers to refuse to enter into contracts to work for the paper on a specific day in protest against recent changes to their terms and conditions.
The union wants the company to improve its offer to all freelance photographers, after it was able to negotiate an agreement that covers those working under retainer contracts for the paper.
The dispute relates to a decision by the Guardian to refuse to pay fees for re-using commissioned photographs.
The union says that after NUJ intervention it has been agreed that over a dozen photographers who work under contract for the Guardian will agree a licence to be paid re-use fees on a sliding scale for a five-year period after the end of the contract.
However, this only applies to contract photographers, and the union is demanding improved conditions for all photographers commissioned by the paper.
The day on which the protest will take place will be specified nearer the time, minimising the advance notice that will be given to the company.
NUJ freelance organiser, John Toner, said: “We’re pleased to have reached an acceptable deal for contractors. Now we’re looking to The Guardian to show the same willingness to review its position for all photographers. Our coordinated ‘day of rest’ will show management just how strongly our members feel about these changes.”
In July the Guardian wrote to all freelance and contract photographers stating that it would no longer pay re-use fees for photographs that they commission.

Why mole leaked leaked MPs' expenses data

A mole leaked MPs' expenses details to the Daily Telegraph because he was angry about the Government’s failure to properly equip Britain’s armed forces while politicians spent millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on themselves, the paper reports today.
The MPs' expenses mole tells his story in a new book, No Expenses Spared, telling the background to the MPs' expenses scandal which became the newspaper scoop of the year. The book reveals how the mole was among the workers who processed the MP's expenses files, and his colleagues included serving soldiers who were moonlighting to earn extra cash for body armour and other personal equipment.
The soldiers’ fury when they saw the way that MPs were lavishing taxpayers' money on their second homes led to the mole's decision to leak the data to the Daily Telegraph via a middleman. The man behind the leak - who is a civilian - says he has broken cover to tell his story for the first time, in the hope that it will shame the Government into supplying the right equipment for soldiers risking their lives in Afghanistan.
No Expenses Spared is written by two members of the Telegraph’s investigation team, Robert Winnett and Gordon Rayner. It describes the anger of employees at The Stationery Office – where the MPs’ files were sent for censorship before their intended publication by parliament – when they first saw the MP’s claims for second homes, furniture and luxury goods.
According to a report on the BBC, the Telegraph says it paid £110,000 for the story which is certain to win a string of journalism awards.

Could paidContent go in GNM asset sale?

paidContent:UK has been in the news this week with its poll on what readers will pay for online news services. Now its parent company is in the headlines with claims by the DailyFinance website that Guardian News and Media is losing so much money that it may be forced to sell assets, including ContentNext, the U.S.-based web publisher of paidContent, which GNM bought last year for $30 million.
DailyFinance says "with its good reputation for digital media coverage, sources say, ContentNext could make for an attractive acquisition target. One company interested in potentially scooping up ContentNext is WebMediaBrands, formerly JupiterMedia."
Via Rory Brown on Twitter

Quotes of the week

Grey Cardigan reviews Tanya Gold's Guardian article on Liz Jones: "The day confessional journalism ate itself."

The Independent's media columnist Stephen Glover on Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger: "Some journalists on The Guardian blame The Observer for their financial predicament, but the paper is not the chief culprit. The Guardian used to be run as a low-cost operation that kept an eye on the pennies. In recent years, its ambitious though mild-mannered editor, Alan Rusbridger, has tried to turn the paper and its website into an internationally renowned publication. He was the Gordon Brown of Fleet Street."

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger: "Since 2002/3 our spending on (operational and capex) has exceeded revenue by just £20m. There's a crisis in the industry, and the Guardian is no more immune than anyone else, but it's a myth that we've ploughed lunatic sums into digital."

The Committee to Protect Journalists' message to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: "Dear Mr. President, While you are in New York this week to attend the United Nations General Assembly, your visit will be covered by the hundreds of journalists from around the world who are in the city for the annual gathering. But as many of these journalists report freely and openly on your speech and meetings they will no doubt be thinking of the dozens of journalists back in your country who are behind bars for trying to report on events in Iran."

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Strike vote at Trinity titles in Wales

NUJ members at Trinity Mirror's Media Wales have agreed to hold a strike ballot following the company's failure to guarantee that there will be no compulsory redundancies in a plan to cut 13.2 jobs announced this afternoon. Media Wales publishes the Western Mail, South Wales Echo, Wales on Sunday and the Celtic series of weekly papers. It has today been served with a legal notice that 123 NUJ members based in its Cardiff headquarters and district offices will have strike ballot papers sent to them on October 1.
The company has also announced its intention to close the Neath and Port Talbot Guardian paid-for weeklies on October 1.
Martin Shipton, NUJ FoC at Media Wales, said: "Although we have been briefed fully about the financial position of the company and the group, we are determined that no NUJ member should be made compulsorily redundant as a result of these cuts. We expect the company to ensure that will be the outcome."

Judge keeps newspaper editor locked up for refusing to play volleyball in prison

A judge has rejected a request for the early release of Ganimat Zahidov, the editor of the opposition daily Azadlig in Azerbaijan, on the grounds that he refused to take part in a volleyball game in prison.
“The sole aim of the Azizbekov regional court’s decision is to keep Zahidov in prison as long as possible and prevent him from expressing his views,” Reporters Without Borders said. “It also aims to maintain the climate of intimidation against journalists.”
Describing the decision as “illegal and devoid of any basis,” Zahidov’s lawyer, Elchin Sadyhov, said he was determined to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.
Zahidov is serving a four-year sentence imposed on 7 March 2008 on charges of “aggravated hooliganism” and “assault and battery” that, RWB says, were trumped up by the police.
Story via Frontline Club

'Legal threat forced Express jobs climbdown'

The NUJ says a threat of legal action by the union has forced Express Newspapers to cut the number of jobs it wants to axe.
The union says it told Express Newspapers that the numbers involved required workers to be consulted for three months rather than 30 days and the company responded by reducing planned redundancies in London and Glasgow from 106 to 75. This would lower the number of journalists' jobs being cut from 80 to 57.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ deputy general secretary, is a former Express Newspapers union rep and has attended talks with the company this week.
She said: "The reduction in job cuts was only announced after the NUJ had warned the company that they were not following the right procedure. While we welcome the reduced numbers we still don't know how the papers can be produced with the few people who will be left. We want to see some proper plans and we want guarantees that there will be no compulsory redundancies."
So far, the NUJ says, 16 people in London have volunteered for redundancies, five in Glasgow and one in Preston.

Society of Editors conference line up

Shadow Justice Secretary Dominic Grieve will deliver a keynote address at this year’s Society of Editors conference, called 'The Fightback', in November.
Grieve's responsibilities include the Freedom of Information Act and access to courts, including Family Courts which have just been opened up to more media scrutiny.
Other names added to the conference line up include the BBC’s director of BBC News, Helen Boaden, editor of The Times, James Harding, Google UK director, Matt Brittin, News International’s managing director of Customer Direct, Katie Vanneck and Andy Trotter, chairman of the Association of Chief Police Officers’ Media Advisory Group.
Olympic gold medal winner Jonathan Edwards will speak at a session looking at the relationship between the press and the 2012 Olympic Games.
New Press Complaints Commission chairman Baroness Buscombewill deliver the 2009 Society of Editors Lecture that will open the conference.
The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, will deliver a keynote speech during the conference and other senior figures from the media, politics and the law including Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer and Information Commissioner Christopher Graham will also take part in some of the sessions.
The event will take place at the Radisson SAS hotel at London Stansted airport from Sunday November 15 to Tuesday November 17.
Delegates can book now online at, by email ( or by telephone (01223 304080).

Ofcom highlights vital role of regional press

Ofcom has highlighted the importance of the local press to society and how its unbiased reporting is trusted by the public, as part of its evidence to the government’s consultation on regional and local news.
The detailed research study, Local and Regional Media in the UK, was conducted by Ofcom as part of its submission to the Department of Culture Media and Sport consultation. It found that local newspapers play an “important role” in sustaining democracy, are “embedded in people’s lives”, and continue to be highly trusted.
The study states: "Local newspaper journalism not only underpins the delivery of local news on other media, but also makes a key contribution to the national news agenda.
“Consumers and citizens value the role local and regional content plays in their lives; local and regional news in particular helps to inform people about what is going on in their local community, while news and other types of local content contribute towards reflecting UK cultural identity and representing diversity and alternative viewpoints.”
Ofcom also said: “Within the local media ecology, local newspapers are the most trusted source of fair and unbiased local news and information, after regional TV, and closely followed by local radio.
“Many respondents felt an emotional tie with this medium, and considered it essential for those interested in following local politics."
“The DCMS consultation on sustainable, independent and impartial news in the Nations, locally and in the regions’, to which the NS also responded, closed this week.
Story via Newspaper Society

Newsweek puts Iran President on spot over detention of its correspondent Maziar Bahari

Newsweek's Lally Weymouth has asked Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is at the United Nations in New York, to free the magazine's correspondent Maziar Bahari (left) during an interview, according to excerpts published online.
Weymouth asked:
As you know, Iran has been holding a NEWSWEEK correspondent for three months, Maziar Bahari. I know you have been very generous this morning saying you would help release the American hikers. On humanitarian grounds, would you consider releasing Maziar?
Ahmadinejad: "I would like all prisoners to be released, but I am not the judge. The judge has to decide on this. If I were in charge of this case, I would guarantee that all the prisoners would be released."
But you said that you would try to get the American hikers released. Could you try to do the same for Maziar?
Ahmadinejad: "I want all prisoners to be released. Every one. Americans and non-Americans—it really makes no difference."

Print and online deals may get readers to pay

The paidContent:UK/Harris Interactive poll which this week has shown how resistant most consumers are to charging for online newspapers has ended on a more optimistic note for publishers.
paidContent:UK says: "One possible hope that arises on our final day of results is to consider print and online in tandem. While only five percent of people who read a news site at least once a month told us they would pay for online access, when you throw in a free or discounted subscription to the printed paper, that rises to a combined 48 percent.
"While the proportion of respondents who said they would still not pay remains a majority, it’s a slight one - it seems the printed edition could leverage online subscriptions; not just among existing readers of the paper, but also among those who don’t already buy it.
"The message is loud and clear - people continue to believe that touchable products command tangible economic value but, divorced from physicality and its associated costs, digital content should manifest itself cheaper."

SunTalk may go mainstream under Tories

Sun columnist Kelvin MacKenzie says today that the paper's internet radio station SunTalk will almost certainly go mainstream if the Tories win the next election and drop the impartiality rules for news from commercial broadcasters.
MacKenzie described as "great news" for SKY, ITV and Channel 4 the pledge by Jeremy Hunt, shadow Conservative Culture Secretary, to bring in new laws to free commercial broadcasters from impartiality rules.
"All these organisations will be allowed to take a view on their will will almost certainly mean that SunTalk will go mainstream - and Jon Gaunt can stuff it up the rear end of TalkSport and Ofcom," he says.

NUJ to lobby MPs over regional tv news

The NUJ and broadcasting union BECTU are to lobby UK MPs over the future of regional news and public service broadcasting on Wednesday 14 October at 3pm in Westminster.
The unions are campaigning against top-slicing the BBC licence fee and propose alternative means of funding independent news and current affairs on other channels.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Message to Iranian president in New York: 'We haven't forgotten the journalists behind bars in your country'

The Committee to Protect Journalists has sent a message to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who is in New York to speak at the United Nations.
It says: "Dear Mr. President, While you are in New York this week to attend the United Nations General Assembly, your visit will be covered by the hundreds of journalists from around the world who are in the city for the annual gathering. But as many of these journalists report freely and openly on your speech and meetings they will no doubt be thinking of the dozens of journalists back in your country who are behind bars for trying to report on events in Iran."

Charity to back PA's 'public service reporting'

Roy Greenslade in his Evening Standard column today says that the Press Association is just "days away" from getting funding from a charitable source to introduce “public service reporting”.
He says once funds are available, adverts will be placed to recruit staff for the pilot project in the Merseyside region in association with Liverpool Echo publisher Trinity Mirror.
"The idea is that the new team of public service reporters will then put up their copy on a dedicated portal that will allow any news outlet, whether it be a Trinity Mirror title, a national paper or an individual blogging outfit, to publish the content free of charge.
"It is an imaginative attempt to overcome the worrying prospect of courts, councils and other public bodies going unreported as traditional news organisations cut back on their reporting staffs."
Greenslade adds: "News has always been costly to provide, a fact concealed by the funding of advertising. Now that ad income is drying up, we are finally discovering that news comes at a price. It is a sobering thought that we may have to rely on charity and, ultimately, State funding to give us the news in future."

Readers will pay 'as little as possible' to access news websites: paidContent poll reveals

The paidContent:UK/Harris Interactive poll today asks the question: "how much would readers be prepared to pay to access news websites?" and gets the answer "as close to nothing as they can get away with..."
paidContent says: "When asked the maximum amount they would be prepared to pay, respondents who read a free news site at least once a month gave us the lowest possible amount in each category - annual subscriptions under £10, a day pass costing under £0.25 and per-article fees of between 1p and 2p."
The poll has already revealed that only five percent of regular news site users would pay if their favourite site started charging, and that readers would prefer to subscribe annually.

Whealie joins blogosphere

Freelance journalist, editor, trainer and consultant Chris Wheal, known on Twitter and elsewhere as 'Whealie', has launched his own blog.
Chris runs Wheal Associates, with his wife, Kate, writing and editing for a range of publishing companies and producing magazines for small professional membership organisations, such as the Healthcare Financial Management Association.

NUJ executive seeks annual subs rise

Delegates at the NUJ's Annual Delegate Meeting in Southport in November will be asked to back an increase in union subs from 1 March 2010 which would boost NUJ coffers by £157,000 a year. The suggested annual subs rise, as proposed by the union's National Executive Council is: Grade 1 – £4.16p, Grade 2 – £6.24p, Grade 3 – £7.80p.

Alan Rusbridger posts on Greenslade: 'We haven't ploughed lunatic sums into digital'

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger has posted on Roy Greenslade's blog on MediaGuardian to counter claims the paper has ploughed "lunatic sums" into online.
Rusbridger was responding to a post by Shanksy on Roy's blog about whether Rupert Murdoch's plan to get newspapers to charge for news website will work.
Shanksy wrote: "Five per cent paying something is a lot better than no-one paying anything. Look at the Guardian. It's ploughed so much into its internet operation that it is now having to lay off journalists - advertising revenues online are pitiful. Murdoch isn't worried about charging as deep-down he knows the BBC offers no real alternative - its website is dull as ditch water. People will pay and it will work - it's all about having access to decent content, however you define decent. And it won't be long before MediaGuardian is a paid site, one of the first being earmarked by the Guardian to go that way."
Alan Rusbridger responded: "That's not actually right. Since 2002/3 our spending on (operational and capex) has exceeded revenue by just £20m. There's a crisis in the industry, and the Guardian is no more immune than anyone else, but it's a myth that we've ploughed lunatic sums into digital."

Outrage over journalists still held in Iran

Reporters Without Borders says it is outraged that the Iranian judicial authorities are continuing to hold journalists employed by foreign news media.
They include Maziar Bahari (left), the Newsweek correspondent and acclaimed filmmaker arrested three months ago, and Fariba Pajooh, a stringer for Radio France Internationale and other media, who has spent two months in detention.
“The recent change at the head of the judicial system has not in any way modified repressive policies towards free expression,” RWB said. “The foreign media are still being targeted by the government and accused of spying. Physical and psychological pressure is being used to force their detained correspondents to make confessions.
“Like all their colleagues, Maziar Bahari and Fariba Pajooh are innocent. They are still in prison solely because they are journalists.”
Newsweek editor Jon Meacham has called for a protest inside the United Nations against the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, when he makes a speech to the General Assembly today, because of the detention of Maziar Bahari.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Veronica Wadley on way back

After six months out of journalism, former Evening Standard Veronica Wadley is about to return to the fray. An announcement about her new job is expected shortly.
Following her departure, after ex-KGB agent Alexander Lebedev took a majority stake in the paper, Wadley snapped back at the Standard's "sorry" ad campaign in which it apologised to Londoners for having been too negative in the past.
"London is laughing at this ludicrous campaign. It is utterly humiliating for the staff and contributors. They are in despair," she told MediaGuardian and said of the Standard's new editor: "As for Geordie Greig, well, Etonians have a history of collaborating with the KGB."

Nine in for Journalist editorship

Nine candidates are understood to be in for the job of editor of the Journalist to succeed Tim Gopsill who is retiring after 21 years editing the NUJ magazine.
The deadline for applications ended yesterday. A shortlist has to be approved by the union and then a ballot begins on October 6, ending on November 6. Among the candidates are Rich Simcox, who edits Activate magazine for the Public and Commercial Services union, and Coventry freelance Chris Youett.

'Consumers want subs not micro-payments'

On Monday paidContent:UK revealed how, if their favourite news site started charging for content, just five per cent of Brits would pay. Today the paidContent:UK/Harris Interactive poll shows that a long-term subscription, and not micropayments, is by far the most attractive option to consumers.
Users who read a news site at least once a month were asked what their favoured option would be if they either chose to pay for their favourite site or were forced to pay by all news sites going pay-for only.
A subscription of up to a year is the most desired model, supported by 54 percent.
A day pass giving unlimited articles within a 24-hour period is favoured by 26 percent.
Per-article fees (ie. micropayments) are the favourite option of only 21 percent.

'MEN will be down to less than 10 reporters'

At last night's 'Stand Up for the Observer' event in London (see report below) an NUJ official said that cuts at the Manchester Evening News, which like the Observer is owned by Guardian Media Group, will mean that next month the regional daily will have less than 10 journalists on its reporting staff.
The paper's last staff photographer was made redundant this month. Yesterday the editor Paul Horrocks resigned.
The MEN is one of the great regional titles dating back to 1868. Before the cuts announced earlier this year, the MEN had an editorial staff of 90. When I was a judge in the Regional Press Awards' reporter of the year category a couple of years ago, three of the six shortlisted entries were from MEN reporters.
With the Observer saved, and GMG looking for editorial cuts elsewhere, who's going to 'Stand Up for the MEN'?

Monday, 21 September 2009

Standing room only at Stand Up for Observer

It was standing room only at the 'Stand Up for the Observer' meeting in London tonight.
Hundreds of supporters of the world's oldest Sunday paper crammed into the Friends Meeting House in London - despite the assurance late last week from Guardian Media Group that the paper will not close as part of a review of the group's national newspaper and web operation, which is losing £100,000 a day.
There are fears that a closer integration with the Guardian could mean substantial job losses and the Observer losing its identity. Comedian and columnist David Mitchell, who chaired the meeting, said that the key issue was whether the Observer retains a proper level of funding and maintains its independence.
Katharine Whitehorn, one of the Observer's best known columnists, told the meeting how the paper had given women "a real voice" and added: "It cannot be allowed to change beyond all recognition".
Observer film critic Philip French stressed how the paper had been "open to new ideas and to new writers".
Barry Norman, a former Observer journalist, described it as "a great newspaper" and praised the current work of Henry Porter in defending the public against invasions of "our liberty by the Government."
Press Gazette editor Dominic Ponsford said that if a website could do what the Observer did each week - get 400,000 people to pay £2 to read it - then it would be the most successful website in the world.
NUJ deputy general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said the union wanted the Guardian Media Group to honour an agreement that there would be no compulsory redundancies.
Picture shows (Left to Right) Dominic Ponsford, Katharine Whitehorn, Philip French, Barry Norman. Pic: Jon Slattery

NUJ forms London photographers branch

The NUJ is to set up a branch for photographers who live or work in London. It is the first time NUJ members have been organised into a branch on the grounds of the specific job they do - rather than the sector of the industry they work in.
Photographers in London have the choice of transferring to the new branch or staying in their current branch - for example London Freelance or London Magazine.
The change was requested by a meeting of photographer activists in London in July.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ deputy general secretary, said: "Whether it's fighting cutbacks, highlighting the problems of covering public events or standing up for copyright, this new branch will give London photographers a chance to make their voices heard."

Paul Horrocks quits MEN editorship

Paul Horrocks announced today that he is quitting as editor of Guardian Media Group's Manchester Evening News, after 34 years with the paper, to set up a media and communications agency.
MEN deputy editor Maria McGeoghan will become acting editor as publisher MEN Media seeks a new editor.
Horrocks, who joined the MEN from the Daily Mail in April 1975, said in a statement: "Leaving after such a long time is a wrench, but it is the right time for me and my family. I leave on the best of terms with Mark Dodson and the rest of the management team and wish them every success in a tough environment.
"At the MEN we have created an integrated, multimedia newsroom that is the envy of many other publishing companies. It is an achievement I am proud of, and the whole editorial department shares in that."
Horrocks has edited the MEN since June 1997. He is also editor-in-chief of Manchester Metro News. In 1984 he was appointed the MEN's crime correspondent covering the whole of the Stalker Affair and the re-opening of the Moors Murders excavation. In September 1989 he was appointed news editor responsible for news investigations and campaigns. In July 1994 he was promoted to assistant editor and in March 1996 was again promoted to deputy editor. He was a member of the organising committee for the Commonwealth Games Manchester 2002.

Tim Gopsill retired 'reluctantly' from Journalist

Tim Gopsill wanted to stay on as editor of the NUJ's magazine the Journalist, the latest issue reveals.
A story about Tim's retirement after 21 years editing the magazine says: "He is retiring reluctantly, having applied to work on until the summer of 2010 to continue to develop the new-look magazine and a Journalist presence on the union website, but his request was turned down by General Secretary Jeremy Dear.
"His bid to work on was made under a new law that allows people reaching normal retirement age to do so - a law that the union supports - but it requires that the employer agrees. To retire an employee compulsorily can constitute age discrimination but the NUJ followed a procedure that complies with the law."
The story adds: "Last year's NUJ conference resolved that the Journalist "should have a more visible daily presence" on the website., but talks to achieve this have made little progress.
The deadline for applicants for the elected post of editor of the Journalist is today. A ballot begins on 6 October and ends on November 6.
One candidate to reveal he is standing is Rich Simcox, who edits Activate magazine for the Public and Commercial Services union and has the backing of the NUJ Left.

How-Do acquires North West property website

North West media industry website How-Do has acquired the specialist commercial property and regeneration website Place North West.
Place North West has been a subscription-only website since its launch in August 2007 but from today will be entirely free to access.
Place was launched by business and property journalist Paul Unger, with the backing of a group of private investors. Unger will remain as editor and retains a significant minority shareholding in the business. He is supported by reporter Michael Hunt and Paul’s father, editorial director Mike Unger, formerly editor of the Liverpool Daily Post, Liverpool Echo and Manchester Evening News.
How-Do's publisher Nick Jaspan said: “We are optimistic and confident that by converting the site into a free to access news and information service and simultaneously encouraging greater reader participation, we will increase traffic levels and a greater degree of visibility and engagement with the substantial market that the North West’s commercial property and regeneration sector is.”
Story via HoldtheFrontPage

'Rusbridger the Gordon Brown of Fleet Street'

The Independent's media columnist Stephen Glover could not resist commenting today on the Guardian Media Group in an article headlined 'When an editor's ambitions were too grandiose' in which he compares editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger to the beleaguered Prime Minister.
Glover writes: "Some journalists on The Guardian blame The Observer for their financial predicament, but the paper is not the chief culprit. The Guardian used to be run as a low-cost operation that kept an eye on the pennies. In recent years, its ambitious though mild-mannered editor, Alan Rusbridger, has tried to turn the paper and its website into an internationally renowned publication. He was the Gordon Brown of Fleet Street.
"About £100m was spent on new presses. Staffing soared so that at one stage there were over 850 journalists on the payroll. The paper moved from cramped, but surely adequate, premises in Farringdon Road to capacious, ritzy new offices near Kings Cross containing a small concert hall. This was all nearer to Citizen Kane than the old Manchester Guardian. The trouble is that, far from challenging The New York Times for world supremacy, The Guardian has been slowly leaking sales (though not, to be fair, as much as some titles, including this one) while the costly website has never produced any profits.
"Generally speaking, I am all for newspaper editors spending as much as possible, and I do not really blame Mr Rusbridger for presiding over a spending spree. The trouble is that high-rolling editors sometimes need to be reined in. Mr Rusbridger long ago galloped over the horizon. Now, as Tim Brooks indicates, The Guardian and The Observer have a cost base wildly out of synch with their ability to generate revenue. Savings achieved by further integrating the two newspapers represent only a small proportion of what will be needed."

Sunday, 20 September 2009

'GMG could axe up to 100 editorial posts'

Guardian Media Group is preparing to cut up to 100 more editorial staff as it looks at ways to cut costs after deciding against the closure of The Observer, the Sunday Times claims today.
The Sunday Times report also says dummy copies of a new look slimline Observer have been circulated, containing fewer sections and which folds business coverage inside the news pages. It claims the Observer's music, sport and food magazines are at risk.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

How can Guardian monetise online?

Now that Guardian Media Group has lifted the axe hanging over the future of the Observer the main problem facing the the group is how to make money from its online journalism, according to an article in the Financial Times today.
It reports: "GMG and its sovereign body, the Scott Trust , have had heated internal debates, with senior staff questioning the level of investment in the lossmaking at a time of recession. 'When the future of the Observer has been resolved, the issue will remain for [the Scott Trust] of how do you monetise online,' a person with direct knowledge of recent high-level discussions said."
The FT story adds: "A measure of the extent of the challenges faced by GMG is that up to 150 of the 850 jobs across The Guardian, The Observer and the website will go as part of the review of strategy, several senior executives said. Under one of the plans being debated by group management, it was feared the ranks of journalists on the Observer could be reduced to as few as five full-time staff, although a senior editorial figure denied this and said the reduction in headcount would be relatively small."

Friday, 18 September 2009

Stand Up for Observer rally still on

Monday's Stand Up for the Observer rally is still on despite the Guardian Media Group saying yesterday that it had no plans to close the paper.
Instead, GMG said it will give the Observer a new look and integrate it more closely with the Guardian.
The rally, jointly organised by the NUJ and Press Gazette, will be fronted by comedian and columnist David Mitchell. The event - which also features former Observer editor Donald Trelford - takes place in the Friends Meeting House, Euston Road, London, at 7pm.
Jeremy Dear, NUJ general secretary, said: “We welcome the commitment to retain the Observer as a distinctive title with its own editorial autonomy.
“But we want to see plans which give the paper the resources it needs for a viable future, and we want reassurances about staffing levels. Without reassurances our campaign to defend the paper and its journalists goes on”
An Observer staffer told Press Gazette: "It will be an opportunity to thank everyone who has been involved in the campaign and to celebrate what we have, but also to note that we have no idea what a future Observer will look like or whether it will have adequate resources."

And its goobye from them...

Last issue of the free thelondonpaper was given away on the streets of the capital today.

STV plans 300 local websites

STV is set to launch 300 local news and listings websites across the towns and cities of Scotland by the end of the year, Press Gazette reports.
It says the broadcaster will issue a phased rollout of the sites, to be called STV Local, to serve communities across Scotland. Each site will be a mix of news and local listings with the broadcaster aiming to fill the sites with content provided by members of each community.

Tories will restrict BBC to 'core broadcasting'

Conservative shadow Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt tells the Daily Mail today the BBC will be forced to rein in its commercial activities and internet operation if the Tories win the next election.
He says that the BBC would be required to restrict its ambitions to "core broadcasting" and suggests discussions over the future of the licence fee would hinge on the BBC agreeing to dramatically scale back activities that are "forcing out commercial competitors".
Hunt is also in favour of scrapping the BBC Trust, with powers transferred to an independent body – possibly Ofcom.
He also proposes changing the law to "free" commercial broadcasters from rules requiring political impartiality. "We have to ask in a free society whether it’s appropriate to have such tight regulations," he says.

'When Desmond bought the Express titles in 2001 I think he thought he was buying Express Dairies as he has been milking us ever since'

Bleak assessment of life on the Express from the NUJ FoC Steve Usher, quoted on the NUJ Left website.
He says: "Richard Desmond’s seemingly unquenchable thirst for journalistic blood demands the sacrifice of a further 96 London jobs from a total of 600 across the Daily Express, Daily Star, Sunday Express, Daily Star Sunday and their associated magazines.
"The Glasgow office is to lose a quarter of its staff – that is 10 from just 40 serving four national titles.
"Initial proposals, full of words like “eliminate” and “review”, indicate that no one is safe. Merging desks between titles and copy-sharing are strong possibilities.
"District reporters look set to be consigned to the history books, replaced by agency copy.
"The 1 January pay review for this year was postponed until 1 June. Then it was postponed completely. On the day we were due to commence pay negotiations for 2010, the company announced its latest cull.
"The NUJ chapel has warned management before that it views these constant cuts with anger. We believe they herald the demise of the Daily Express and Sunday Express as national titles.
"Redundancy exercises have become as regular as Daily Express splashes on the McCanns, or Jordan and Peter Andre front pages in the Daily Star.
"When Desmond bought the Express titles in 2001 I think he thought he was buying Express Dairies as he has been milking us ever since. He has paid himself millions in both salary and pension and then says the company is fighting for survival. I wonder why."

Subs fear 'clear out' at Johnston Press

Insiders at Johnston Press believe a new editorial system could lead to a "clear out" of the company's subs, HoldtheFrontPage reports today.
Johnston chief executive John Fry in a message to staff announced the company was to get a new editorial and content management system. Insiders have told HTFP the new system will mean reporters writing onto a template on a pre-designed page, and also writing headlines for both the paper and the web. Copy would then be subbed by the newsdesk and the page completed by the editor or deputy, with subs being retained only for page-design purposes.
In a further move, notices have gone up at some JP centres asking for editorial trainers on an 18-month secondment which staff believe is linked to the introduction of the new system.
One journalist told HTFP: "It looks as though the long-rumoured clear out of subs will be happening at Johnston Press. They want people to train reporters how to use a new system, which will see reporters write directly onto pages. Therefore, no subs required!"
Johnston Press said only that there will be "no formal announcement" about the new system at the present time.

Quotes of the Week

Rupert Murdoch: "I do certainly see the day when more people will be buying their newspapers on portable reading panels than on crushed trees. Then we’re going to have no paper, no printing plants, no unions.”

Culture secretary Ben Bradshaw on the BBC Trust: "Although the Trust has performed better than its predecessor, I don’t think it is a sustainable model in the long term. I know of no other area of public life where – as is the case with the Trust – the same body is both regulator and cheerleader."

Guardian News & Media md Tim Brooks Brooks warns staff in a memo that the company is losing £100,000 a day: "We are looking at everything – literally everything – that we do, to see how we can economise, and we will do whatever we can to keep the impact on staff to a minimum. However, because the biggest portion of our costs is people's salaries, we have to review staffing levels."

F1 boss Max Mosley in the Guardian: "The strange thing is that, because there is so much in the press about the Taliban or religious extremists, people are beginning to understand that it's not up to grubby little newspapers like the News of the World or Daily Mail to do the same in England."

Jon Swain in the Sunday Times on the mission to rescue Stephen Farrell and Sultan Munadi from the Taliban: "The overriding purpose of the mission was to save the two hostages’ lives, but a subsidiary reason for the operation was to scupper ransom negotiations. Intercepted telephone conversations revealed that the Taliban were demanding a large ransom for Farrell. If paid, any ransom would swell Taliban coffers, enabling them to buy more weapons to kill British and other Nato troops."

BBC director general Mark Thompson in MediaGuardian: "I would rather the BBC was abolished than we started encrypting news to stop people seeing it. The absolute first building block keystone of the BBC is delivering impartial, unbiased news."

Thursday, 17 September 2009

GMG says Observer will not close

Guardian Media Group this evening said in a statement that the Observer, the world's oldest Sunday newspaper, will not be closed but will be given a "new-look" and be more closely integrated with the Guardian.
The announcement was made just days before a 'Stand Up for The Observer' rally is due to take place in London on Monday, headed by celebrities and high profile journalists.
The GMG statement said: "As announced earlier this year, Guardian News & Media (GNM) is conducting a strategic review of its operations. One element of the wider process was a review of weekend publishing, which considered a range of different products and editorial structures across Saturday and Sunday. As a result of this review, GNM will develop its current weekend offering and introduce a greater degree of integration between the editorial teams of the Guardian and Observer.
"In research readers responded very positively to a new-look Observer developed by editor John Mulholland and his team, and to new ideas for the Saturday Guardian. The further editorial integration will continue a process that began before the two titles moved to a common home at Kings Place."
In an internal email to staff today Alan Rusbridger, editor-in-chief of GNM, warned of the possibility of further job cuts and said that a voluntary redundancy scheme would be reopened.
Rusbridger said in a statement: "Given the present state of recession and digital transition there isn't a media group in the world that isn't reviewing its publishing operations and the nature of its journalism. The weekend review has been rigorous and very helpful in understanding the changing needs of readers. A new-look Observer produced by John Mulholland and his team, and new ideas for the Saturday Guardian, were extremely well received. As a result of the review we will be publishing a formidable weekend package – with two papers that complement each other, each retaining a distinctive tone and voice."

Spectator puts up pay wall for mag content

As predicted by Guido Fawkes, The Spectator has put up a pay wall and will charge for magazine content viewed online.
Its political blog Coffee House will remain free along with other online content that does not appear in magazine.
To read magazine content online, without subscribing to the hard copy, users will now have to take out an annual digital subscription of £67.50. The Spectator claims to attract 300,000 unique users a month to its website.
Andrew Neil, the chairman of Press Holdings, which owns The Spectator, said: "The idea of a magazine or newspaper giving away its content for free over the internet was never particularly logical, but the industry was feeling its way in a new market. The Spectator has now agreed a clear business model, online and offline.
"Our website is profitable within its own right, through advertisers and sponsors, and its bespoke online content will remain free. But the magazine is a distinct entity and has to be paid for; we are asking those who want to read its superb content to pay for it and we have come up with a variety of ways in which they can do so."

Some good news for newspapers

Associated Press reports in the US: "The stocks of newspaper companies surged Wednesday on optimism that advertising spending may be, if not recovering, then at least not declining faster than before."
AP quotes a report from market research firm TNS Media Intelligence which said the rate of decline in overall advertising spending held steady from the first quarter to the second. Also, early data for the current quarter "hint at possible improvements for some media" because they will be comparing against steep declines a year ago, according to Jon Swallen, senior vice president of research at TNS.
Shares in Newsquest parent company Gannett were up 10 per cent.
Via Editor & Publisher

'Iran wants to punish not only journalists but anyone accessing news on the internet'

The Iran regime wants to humiliate journalists and bloggers as well as ordinary internet users who are sending emails or accessing news sites, Reporters Without Borders claims.
RWB reports that prosecutors have again put the media at the centre of its case during the fifth hearing before a Tehran revolutionary court in the mass trial of opponents of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election, this time going so far as to accuse Facebook and YouTube of waging a psychological war against Iran.
“This travesty of justice must be brought to an end,” RWB said. “The Iranian judicial authorities want to humiliate journalists and bloggers by staging forced confessions and requests for forgiveness. Journalists and ordinary Internet users are being tried just for sending emails and looking at news websites. The regime wants to punish not only professional journalists but also anyone accessing news and information.”
RWB said the prosecutor told the court: “There are 25 million people in Iran who use the Internet. The United States supported websites such as Facebook and YouTube with the aim of influencing the rioters and undermining the government’s position both nationally and internationally. Sites such as Facebook and YouTube were devised by the United States in order to wage a psychological war against Iran.”

Council under fire for TV launch plan

Councils are already accused by the press of producing propaganda in newspaper-style publications, now Carmarthenshire Council is under fire for plans to launch an internet TV station at a cost of £30,000 a year.
The Labour-Independent council, which already publishes a bi-monthly newspaper, Community News, has been criticised by councillors and an MP who claim the TV station will be used for "self-promotion" and as "a propaganda tool".
A provider and funding for the channel, which could be similar to Kent County Council’s, are currently being discussed. Carmarthenshire Council is planning to drop one issue of its Community News magazine to pay its share of the start up costs. The majority of the funding will be provided by the Welsh Assembly which brought forward the bilingual TV channel as a 12-month pilot project.
“This is something that concerns me greatly,” said councillor Huw Lewis reported in the Carmarthen Journal. “We are in a recession and vital and essential services are having to suffer cuts.
“Are we going to spend money on communication or building relationships with people? We have to invest our money in people and not in technology. What we don’t need at all is a computer programme which is simply a propaganda tool.”
Plaid Cymru leader councillor Peter Hughes Griffiths said he was concerned and pointed to alleged one-sided reporting in Community News. “There is a view about Community News in the community that it is very, very one-sided,” he said. “That’s a concern about the way we provide information.”
Adam Price MP added his voice to calls for the plans to be scrapped, as reported by the Journal on Friday. He said: “I am quite astonished that the county council would think it is appropriate to spend thousands of pounds of taxpayer's money on a TV channel and self promotion at the same time people in the county are struggling to make ends meet."
Via Newspaper Society

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Director Tim Toulmin to step down at PCC

Tim Toulmin is to step down as director of the Press Complaints Commission and will leave on 18 December.
The position will shortly be advertised in the national press, and interviews will be undertaken by a panel appointed by the board of the Press Complaints Commission, which is responsible for the appointment of the director, in October.
Toulmin, who has been director of the PCC since March 2004, and was acting director from January-March 2004, said: "I decided earlier in the year that - after 13 years at the PCC, and nearly 6 as its Director - it would be right for me to move on after helping to ensure a smooth transition from Christopher Meyer to Peta Buscombe (the new PCC chairman).
"It has been a privilege to be part of an organisation which has adapted well to the challenges of media convergence and the changing legal environment, and it is gratifying that there is an ever-increasing demand and respect for the PCC's range of services - from pre-publication action preventing intrusion to the negotiation of prominent corrections and apologies.
"The way in which the press is regulated will perhaps always divide opinion, but thanks to its brilliant and dedicated staff the PCC has a record of achievement of which any director would be proud".

TUC comes out against top-slicing licence fee

Delegates at the TUC have backed a motion against top-slicing the BBC licence fee and instead called on the government to use industry levies to help ensure that quality content, like news and current affairs, is still provided on commercial channels.
Proposing the TUC motion, NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear (pictured) condemned government plans to give 3.5 per cent of the licence fee to commercial broadcasters: “Let’s put this in to perspective – it is the equivalent of a Labour government taking money from NHS hospitals and handing it over to private health contractors.
“We’re clear. There is a funding crisis for other public service broadcasters – for ITV for Channel 4 – they should be supported to protect excellent public service programming and to deliver quality local news.
“But contrary to the claims of government ministers that there is no alternative to top-slicing the BBC, to undermining the independence of the corporation, to calling in to question the link between the BBC and the licence fee payer, to opening up the licence fee to be raided by future governments, there are other options – but they require a political commitment to defending the public service against commercial interests.”
Dear also took a swipe at James Murdoch, claiming:"If James Murdoch ran BUPA he’d attack the NHS, if he ran a private school he’d savage state education – he doesn’t – he runs a private media organisation and he is attacking the BBC.”
A motion adopted by the conference declared the government’s Digital Britain report to be “a woefully inadequate response" to the crisis facing public service broadcasting.