Monday 31 May 2010

RWB condemns Gaza flotilla media censorship

Press freedom campaign group Reporters Without Borders has strongly condemned the censorship attempts that accompanied the assault by Israel on a flotilla that was carrying aid the Gaza Strip.
“We deplore this assault, which left a heavy toll of dead and wounded,” RWB said. “The journalists who were on the flotilla to cover the humanitarian operation were put in harm’s way by this disproportionate reaction. We urge the Israeli authorities to release the detained journalists and allow them unrestricted access to the Gaza Strip. The international community needs accurate information about this Palestinian Territory.”
According to RWB, two Bulgarian journalists working for the Bulgarian television station BTV were arrested during the assault. Bulgarian news media identified them as reporter Svetoslav Ivanov and cameraman Valentin Vassilev.
RWB also says the Israeli authorities have forbidden all the journalists to enter the Gaza Strip.

'Stinking hypocrisy of the media over David Laws'

Matthew Parris in The Times today argues that David Laws did not have to resign following the Telegraph's revelations about his expenses.
He writes: "No, he did not have to go. No, it was not “always inevitable”. No, Mr Laws was not right to jump “with dignity”, “before he was pushed”. And who, pray, would have done the pushing? We, the media. What stinking hypocrisy, then, to call the fall inevitable, and then wring our hands in pious lament about what a tragedy this is for the individual and the nation, as though we were helpless witnesses to some kind of extreme weather event. We in the media have been the instruments, not just the chroniclers, of the fall of a good man."

Former Scotsman editor Alan Ruddock has died

Alan Ruddock, a former editor of The Scotsman, has died suddenly in Ireland aged 49.
A report in today's Scotsman, says Ruddock was taken ill while playing cricket near his home in Ireland. He had previously overcome Hodgkin's Disease.
A native of Dublin, Ruddock was Scotsman editor between 1998 and 2000, and wrote about politics and economics for Ireland's Sunday Independent.
Current Scotsman editor, John McLellan, said: "Alan Ruddock was a fine editor of The Scotsman, an instinctive journalist with a keen eye for political and business stories. He steered the paper at a crucial time for Scotland [the creation of the Scottish Parliament] and his sharp brain combined with his Irish background meant he had a natural feel for the issues facing the country.
"He was a charming, fun and extremely helpful colleague. All our thoughts are with his family."
Ruddock launched the Irish edition of the Sunday Times in 1995; wrote a book on Ryanair's controversial boss Michael O'Leary; contributed to the Observer; and was also a columnist for London paper City AM.
Via allmediascotland

Is the BBC noble or craven defending Campbell?

Stephen Glover in the Independent today says Downing Street was silly to have refused to field a Cabinet minister for last week's Question Time because Alastair Campbell was on the panel.
But, he also says it is fascinating to see the way the BBC has defended Campbell even though he had "bullied" the BBC and journalists when he was in Downing Street.
Glover writes: "It is fascinating to see the corporation bowing and scraping before the man who declared war on it after Andrew Gilligan's revelations about the "dodgy dossier" and New Labour's lies over Iraq. I can't work out whether the BBC is being noble or craven in constantly paying court to the monster who tried to destroy it."

Sunday 30 May 2010

The killer par in Telegraph David Laws' story

It seemed inevitable that David Laws would have to resign over the expenses story broken by the Daily Telegraph on Saturday.
There was this killer paragraph about the MP in the Telegraph splash by Holly Watt and Robert Winnett: "He has already drawn up tough new rules limiting the pay and perks of hundreds of thousands of public sector workers. However, his hard-line approach could be undermined by the disclosure of his own controversial use of public money."
How true, and how quickly this proved to be correct.

When headlines and pics just don't mix

Via George Dearsley on Twitter and

Saturday 29 May 2010

Peerage for Telegraph's Guy Black in Honours List

Former Press Complaints Commission director Guy Black, now executive director of Telegraph Media Group, has been awarded a working peerage in the Dissolution Honours List.
He is quoted in the Telegraph today saying: “I am deeply honoured to have been granted a Peerage. I greatly look forward to supporting the Prime Minister and the Coalition Government in the House of Lords.”
Black's first political job was in the Conservative Research Department from 1986-89, which he left to become Special Adviser to the Secretary of State for Energy, John (now Lord) Wakeham.
After the 1992 election he spent four years in public affairs, working for Westminster Strategy and then Good Relations. In 1996 he returned to work for Lord Wakeham as director of the Press Complaints Commission.
In December 2003 he became director of communications for the Conservative Party, and press secretary to the Leader of the Opposition, Michael Howard.
Black returned to the media after the 2005 General Election, joining the Telegraph Media Group in September that year. In September 2009 be became chairman of the Press Standards Board of Finance, the body responsible for funding the PCC and overseeing the industry's system of self regulation.

Friday 28 May 2010

George Galloway: 'I sent Fergie pic of fake sheikh'

Former Respect MP George Galloway told Andrew Neil on BBC1's This Week programme last night how he had sent the Duchess of York an email picture of the News of the World's 'fake sheikh' Mazher Mahmood four years before she was the victim of one of his famous stings.
It followed a press conference in April 2006 when Galloway 'outed' Mahmood by displaying his photograph and distributing it to journalists. Galloway had rumbled an undercover investigation by the News of the World, spearheaded by Mahmood, which set out to see if the MP would take illegal funding for the Respect Party.
Galloway said last night: "I sent an email picture to Fergie four years ago after I unmasked the fake sheikh. I sent an email with a picture of him to every member of the royal family and every MP."
He told Neil that he thought the News of the World sting on Fergie, in which the Duchess offered to sell access to Prince Andrew, on Sunday was justified.
The News of the World took court action to stop Mahmood's picture being published after it was distributed by Galloway and asked newspapers not to use it, claiming he was the subject of death threats after playing a role in the jailing of 130 criminals. A temporary injunction stopping publication was lifted and the photo published by the Guardian and on the internet.

Quotes of the Week: From a Duchess to a King

Roy Greenslade blogs on the News of the World's Fergie sting: "As for the subterfuge itself, I have said many times that the method is not necessarily the problem. It should be used sparingly and only when no other way could be found to obtain a story of real public interest. I cannot imagine that the NoW could have got the Duchess to have owned up to her duplicity by any other means."

Stephen Glover in the Independent: "In normal life nice people do not try to entrap one another. It is sneaky and underhand. But journalists for these purposes are not particularly nice people and neither, often, are the people they entrap."

Philip Knightley also in the Independent: "So why do newspapers do it? Going undercover is considered glamorous. Acting a role that exposes wrongdoing or greedy and bad behaviour attracts some journalists, particularly those seeking to become the heroes of their own stories. But above all, at a time of falling circulations and editorial financial restrictions it is a comparatively cheap form of journalism with a quick result."

Waldman, Guardian Media Group's former director of digital strateg
y and development, warns at JEEcamp: "It's not about paywalls it's about how you succeed in the advertising market. The challenge is in the ad market . There is a danger in becoming fixated about paywalls."

News International's commercial managing director Paul Hayes,
at Haymarket Brand Media's Big Media Debate, on The Times' paywall: "If it doesn't work then I'm in the shit."

Stewart Kirkpatrick editor of Scotland's online newspaper, the Caledonian Mercury, at JEEcamp: "There's never been a better time to be a journalist. And there's never been a worse time to work as one."

The Independent's online editor Martin King on why the paper is stopping anonymous postings: "Websites have been encouraging cowardice. They allow users to hide behind virtual anonymity to make hasty, ill-researched and often intemperate comments regardless of any consideration for personal hurt or corporate damage. If you are speaking up, then speak up proudly and with responsibility. Embrace this opportunity to come out from the cloak of anonymity."

  • Vintage quote of the week. Ben Bradlee, the celebrated editor of the Washington Post, as reprised by Philip Knightley in the Independent: "In a day when we are spending thousands of man-hours uncovering deception, we simply cannot afford to deceive."

Thursday 27 May 2010

New dawn for banned Daily News in Zimbabwe

There have been many false dawns, but there is renewed hope that the Daily News will be returning to the streets of Zimbabwe, along with other independent titles, after being banned seven years ago.
The Committee to Protect Journalists has hailed the decision by the Zimbabwe Media Commission to grant publishing licences to the Daily News, and a number of other publications.
Commission Chairman Godfrey Majonga announced the licences would be issued immediately, marking the first time in nearly seven years that an independent daily will be allowed to print domestically, local journalists told CPJ.
The CPJ says: "The Daily News, the nation’s most popular paper before it was banned by the government in September 2003, will resume publishing under its one-time editor, Geoffrey Nyarota, a former CPJ International Press Freedom Awardee, according to international news reports."
A new independent daily, NewsDay, was also approved for domestic publication as was The Daily Gazette, to be published by the company that now produces The Financial Gazette, a weekly that has some reported ties to the ruling ZANU-PF; The Mail, a new publication owned by a company linked to the ruling party; and The Worker, a monthly run by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions that now will become a weekly.
“We welcome this decision with open arms and hope this will allow the public access to independent reporting,” said CPJ’s Africa Program Coordinator Tom Rhodes.
Journalists on the Daily News were arrested, forced into exile and the paper's printing press was bombed before the publication was finally shut down in 2003.
  • Picture: London protest in 2003 at closure of Daily News (Jon Slattery)

NUJ president claims it is a 'false belief' that council papers are unfair competion to local press

<span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_0">NUJ</span> RELEASE: Response <span><span></span></span>NUJ president Pete Murray is showing no solidarity with the Newspaper Society in its campaign against what it sees as unfair competition from council funded newspapers - claiming that it is "a dogmatic adherence to a false belief".
The NS today called for talks with Eric Pickles, the new Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to discuss local press concerns about council newspapers and local government advertising practices. It follows the new coalition government's policy document’s commitment to “impose tougher rules to stop unfair competition by local authority newspapers.”
But Murray, in a response to the Queen’s Speech, said today: “We are concerned about the new government’s lack of clarity on definitions of so called ‘responsible journalism’ and the dogmatic adherence to the false belief that local authority newspapers represent unfair competition.”
Proposals welcomed by Murray were reform of the libel laws, plans to stop the misuse of anti terror legislation and the restoration of the right to peaceful protest.

Northcliffe: Profits up but revenues down

Northcliffe increased its UK operating profits by £8.9 million to £12.3 million in the six months to 4 April but revenues were down 7% to £132 million, according to half -year results announced by the Daily Mail and General Trust today.
Northcliffe's advertising revenues were down by 9% to £93 million. Property ad revenues were up 1%, but all other major categories fell with retail down 4%, recruitment down 24%, notices down 8% and motors down by 6%. All other categories combined contracted by 9%.
UK digital revenues for the period were £9 million, up 13%, despite recruitment revenues being down 14%. UK circulation revenues fell by 7% to £33 million. In the July to December 2009 ABC period, circulation of both daily and weekly titles, down 8% and 6% respectively,but the number of visitors across the entire digital network rose by 16% in March 2010, compared to March 2009.
Operating costs were 15% lower than in the previous period, with lower newsprint and other production costs, staff and distribution costs in particular. Headcount was reduced by a further 143 (4%) in the period.
Trading during April and the first three weeks of May has seen advertising revenues 4% below last year. Property (up 9%) and recruitment (up 2%: first growth for over two years) have performed well, retail continues to show single digit declines, whereas notices are finding market conditions challenging.

NS seeks meeting on council newspapers concerns

The Newspaper Society has written to Eric Pickles, the new Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, calling for a meeting to discuss local press concerns about council newspapers and local government advertising practices.
It follows the new coalition government's policy document’s commitment to “impose tougher rules to stop unfair competition by local authority newspapers.”
The letter, written by NS communications director Lynne Anderson, says: “We would like to arrange a meeting with you as soon as possible to brief you on our members’ specific concerns and to discuss the steps the Government plans to take, the type of rules, their likely effectiveness and how quickly these will be imposed, to help ensure that this unfair competition, which has been allowed to develop unchecked and continues to cause real damage to independent local newspapers across the country, can be stopped as a matter of urgency."

It ends: "We would welcome a meeting with you to discuss the problem and to hear about the specific steps the Government now plans to take to deal with this issue which is wasting taxpayers’ money and undermining a free local press."

  • In response to the BBC’s Strategy Review, the NS has asked the BBC Trust to “set new boundaries” which will immediately and truly reduce and restrict the BBC’s local role and local ambitions. The NS considers that the issue is whether “the BBC Trust and BBC Executive wish to exercise self-control, or whether the strategy review may become the latest in a long line of BBC acknowledgment of criticism of its ever growing activities, without any effective action to curb and reduce them.”

Lord Steyn: 'Libel law is tilted against the media'

Lord Steyn giving the Boydell Lecture last night said he believed libel law is "tilted against the media" and that he hoped super injunctions gagging the press would be stopped in the future.
He said: "It is (I believe) a fact that very often British newspapers, when sued in libel, give up and settle when one would not expect them to do so. The reasons for this state of affairs are to be found in centuries old strict liability in defamation law. Libel law is tilted against the media."
On super-injunctions which prohibit reporting: "The effect of such injunctions is to outlaw publication of the very fact of an injunction having been granted. Possibly the most notorious is the super injunction granted to the oil traders Trafigura: Guardian, Saturday, 17 October 2009, My understanding is that a high level inquiry will deal with this subject. I hope the result will be that super injunctions will never, or virtually never, be granted."
On the Singh case: "Fortunately there is now, among the senior judiciary, in other respects considerable momentum for substantive improvement of libel law. An enormous advance is the case of Dr Singh who was accused of libel by the British Chiropractic Association over a piece he wrote for the Guardian in April 2008 suggesting that there was a lack of evidence for claims some chiropractors make on certain childhood claims.
In a judgement to which all members of the Court contributed the court observed that asking judges to rule on matters scientific controversy would be ―to invite the court to become an Orwellian ministry of truth."
On the Reynold's defence: "Unfortunately as matters stand, the Reynolds privilege will continue to complicate the task of journalists and editors who wish to explore matters of public interest and it will continue to erode freedom of expression."
You can read Lord Steyn's lecture here.
Liberal Democrat Lord Lester has published a Private Member's Defamation Bill which would reform libel law. It's main points are:
  • Introduce a statutory defence of responsible publication on a matter of public interest;
  • Clarify the defences of justification and fair comment, renamed as ‘truth’ and ‘honest opinion’;
  • Respond to the problems of the internet age, including multiple publications and the responsibility of Internet Service Providers and hosters;
  • Protect those reporting on proceedings in parliament and other issues of public concern;
  • Require claimants to show substantial harm, and corporate bodies to show financial loss;
  • Encourage the speedy settlement of disputes without recourse to costly litigation.

Wednesday 26 May 2010

Indy urges: 'Come out from the cloak of anonymity'

The Independent's online editor Martin King explains why the paper is stopping anonymous postings on its online site.
He writes: "Websites have been encouraging cowardice. They allow users to hide behind virtual anonymity to make hasty, ill-researched and often intemperate comments regardless of any consideration for personal hurt or corporate damage."
King urges posters: "If you are speaking up, then speak up proudly and with responsibility. Embrace this opportunity to come out from the cloak of anonymity. That’s for the cowards for whom “freedom of speech” is something to rant about rather than an expression to live by. With all its obligations."

Independent weekly succeeds without the web

Steve Dyson in his blog reviewing the regional press, hosted by HoldtheFrontPage, looks today at the independent local weekly Cleethorpes Chronicle.
The Chronicle was launched by Nigel Lowther (pictured) , former deputy editor of Northcliffe's Grimsby Evening Telegraph and Mark Webb, former managing director at Grimsby and Scunthorpe Newspapers, in March 2008.
Dyson gives the paper the thumbs up and says: "Surely there's the beginning of a template for more local, independent launches here?"
He adds: "There's one more little secret that it wasn't hard to discover about the community allure of the Chronicle: not a jot of it is reproduced online. When I asked Lowther about this, he confirmed it was 'just a printed publication', although they were considering a 'website in the future'. I pressed him on this point: given the success of the printed product in notching up two years trading and readership in the worst recession since the 1930s, did he think this might be harmed by a website? 'Yes, we believe it would have been harmed if we had just given away the hard-gained content free. We are determined this will not happen. When we do go online, we will charge... It represents a good opportunity and a sensible way forward.' "

Tuesday 25 May 2010

Sunday Times website: There's eleven Jean Shrimptons but only one Jimmy McIlroy

Thanks to a preview of the Sunday Times new website, soon to go behind a paywall, I know who was on the cover of the first issue of the Sunday Times colour section on February 4 1962.
There were 11 shots of Jean Shrimpton by David Bailey, and one of Burnley football legend Jimmy McIlroy.
It is one of the classic covers featured on the new website, illustrating 40 years of the Sunday Times Magazine. Well worth a look.

'New journalists need imagination not cynicism'

At the JEEcamp conference on Friday, Stewart Kirkpatrick, who has launched Scotland's new online newspaper, the Caledonian Mercury, brilliantly summed up the dilemma facing journalism students about to graduate: "There's never been a better time to be a journalist. And there's never been a worse time to work as one."
The internet has created fantastic opportunities for journalists whilst undermining the business model that employs many of them.
But do not despair, at least that is the message of Adam Westbrook, the multimedia journalist, lecturer, blogger, writer and founder of the UK Future of News Meetup group, who claims: "The internet, this new digital age we now find ourselves in, is not a threat: it's a huge opportunity."
To help journalists make the most of the opportunities offered by the internet, Adam has produced an e-book called Next Generation Journalist which has just gone on sale.
He writes: "Welcome to the era of the Next Generation Journalist, the multi-media storyteller, entrepreneur, and technical all-rounder, who isn't threatened by the decline in value of news, or the lack of jobs, or the slashing of budgets brought about by the digital revolution."
Adam says: "The brutal truth is the thousands upon thousands of journalism students graduating this summer will need to think differently. The statistics alone betray that. According to UCAS figures, in 2009 more than 2,600 people en-rolled on journalism courses in the UK alone, an increase of 15.7% on the year before. All the while, the number of actual jobs available on graduation have decreased by as much."
The e-book contains interviews, case studies and "10 New Ways to Make Money in Journalisim in 2010." Adam adds: "As unnatural as it may be for the hardened journalist, in this new age of ideas we need imagination not cynicism."
  • Next Generation Journalist costs £10 but is discounted to £6.50 until midnight this Friday (May 28).

Monkey business at Johnston Press pet show

"Just plug me into the Atex system". Panic grips Johnston Press newsrooms as the latest entry for the Johnston Press giant pet show is revealed.

Monday 24 May 2010

Roger Alton made executive editor of The Times

Plenty of Twitter action tonight saying that Roger Alton, the hugely popular former editor of the Independent and the Observer, is to be the new executive editor of The Times.
Among those tweeting the news are Times' journalists David Aaronovitch and Daniel Finkelstein.
The Independent announced on April 9 in the run-up to the General Election that Alton was standing down with immediate effect. He has been replaced by Independent editor-in-chief Simon Kelner.
The paper quoted Alton saying: "I think it's right, following the sale of the paper to Alexander and Evgeny Lebedev, that the new owners should be free to appoint an editor of their own choosing. The two-year period in which I have been editor of The Independent has been easily the most exhilarating and exciting time of my career, and every day has been a chance to learn from a truly remarkable collection of colleagues and workmates, the most talented, dedicated and likeable of any group I have worked with. I wish them all the very best for the future, and I am sure that, under the ownership of the Lebedevs, the paper will go from strength to strength."

Journalists carp at Johnston Press giant pet show

Journalists posting on HoldtheFrontPage are having a laugh over the Johnston Press to stage giant pet show story.

Scribbler writes:"Perhaps this is the latest JP staffing-cuts ploy? Find a few tame monkeys, train 'em to use Atex and bingo! No subs OR reporters necessary."

billy davies: "Shortly to be followed, I understand, by the "Hate Journalists and See them Eaten by Crocodiles" show at the Wembley Arena."

Subby Sub: "This will actually double up as a recruitment drive to replace the current senior management executives. The animals will not require a salary, thus saving millions, and do a far better job than the current incumbents. However, the ability to s**t all over the company when they feel like it will still remain."

outofit: "if we needed proof that JP is going to the dogs, here it is. These clowns belong in a circus."

Donnacha DeLong: "So THAT'S what they do - pet show organising! As we found recently, they don't actually employ any journalists. It all makes sense now."

prionmonkey: "The directors have realised that they know nothing about running newspapers and are desperately casting about for something else to screw up. This would be hilarious if it wasn't for the fact that they are making hundreds of journos redundant."

Lensman: "Haven't laughed as much in ages. Would like to have been in the boardroom when this brilliant idea came up. Anyone sure they're not planning to turn their redundant journos into cans of meaty pet chunks. Sales of these could cover the cost of setting up the show."
  • Some pedants claim that the HTFP headline suggests that the show will be for "giant pets". When I first started on a paper I wrote a story about the exploding cat population in Lincoln. One senior journalist quipped: "Here Jon, where are all these exploding cats?"
  • Exclusive: Giant pet show pic

News agencies' group condemns PA public service reporting plan as being 'UK version of Pravda'

The National Association of Press Agencies is seeking talks with the new coalition government in a bid to kill the PA plan for a public service reporting network - described by NAPA as "some kind of UK version of Pravda".
The association, which represents the UK's freelance news agencies, has revealed that it held talks last year with the Department of Culture Media and Sport and with the then Conservative shadow culture spokesman Jeremy Hunt MP.
NAPA said it was now planning further talks with Hunt, following his appointment as Culture Secretary. It says the original proposals for the PA unit - which would aim to fill the reporting gap left by the local press cutting its court and council coverage - suggested that funding could come from top-slicing the BBC TV Licence Fee, but NAPA questions the concept of using public money "to distort the competitive market for news in the UK."
NAPA treasurer Chris Johnson said: "This would be the first step on a slippery slope to further demands for the BBC licence fee cash to be used to subsidise all kinds of reporting deemed 'too expensive' for commercial companies. Many NAPA members find that with the retrenchment of local newspapers they are increasingly being called-upon to provide grass-roots content of all kinds.
"We can see no justification for replacing staff who have been made redundant with an expanded network of PA staff subsidised with public money. It would tend towards creating a dangerous reporting monoculture - some kind of UK version of Pravda - and a phenomenon that is quite alien to the British news industry and a free press.
"NAPA will raise its concerns with Jeremy Hunt and will encourage the DCMS to examine the potentially damaging and distorting effects this plan would have on an already a fragile market. We believe that it would distort the market and serious discourage new entrants from setting-up in business. It would be anti-competitive, and should be resisted at all costs."

Indy's John Rentoul: 'Why I love Twitter'

John Rentoul, chief political commentator for the Independent on Sunday, has put up a strong defence of Twitter in the Independent today.
He says: " The secret of Twitter's success is that it sounds stupid. No one has to take it seriously, which means anyone can use it for anything they want."
Rentoul adds: "When I started on this newspaper as a political reporter in 1995, the main source of UK 'breaking news' was the Press Association wire – short bulletins of news, as it happened. Now Twitter fills that gap, as journalists and citizen-reporters let each other know when someone has left their microphone on, or has ruled out standing for the Labour leadership.
"When Adam Boulton started to lose his temper with Alastair Campbell on live television during the post-election negotiations, people tweeted to tell others to put Sky News on – to catch the best bits. William Hague announced that the talks with the Liberal Democrats were back on on Twitter. It is a way for politicians to speak to – or beyond – the conventional media. But it also offers journalists other ways of reporting."
He concludes: "Twitter is a friendlier place than the blogosphere because people tend to follow each other if they are interested in what the other has to say; so we avoid the bile and insults of news site and blog comments. . . I love it, for passing on intelligence, arguing with friends, commenting on life, the universe and everything."
  • On Saturday, Simon Heffer suggested in the Telegraph it was "preposterous" that supposedly intelligent grown ups should be using Twitter.

First pic: Johnston Press to stage giant pet show

Exhibits at the Johnston Press giant pet show: "...And these are our production journalists."

  • According to HoldtheFrontPage today: "Newspaper publisher Johnston Press is staging what is being billed as the UK's ultimate show for animal lovers this autumn....As well as giving exhibitors the chance to show off their wares, the show will also feature visitor attractions and live displays, including dog agility and duck herding events."

'I am ready for my close-up now John'

Glad to see my hands and shorthand skills are being put to good use in this artistic take on new and old media at Friday's JEECamp conference by founder John Thompson on Flickr. Now where are my new ideas?

Entrapment journalism: 'Sneaky but valid?'

Stephen Glover argues in the Independent today - following the Mail on Sunday Lord Triesman story and the News of the World's sting on Fergie - that entrapment journalism is still justifiable.
He says: "In normal life nice people do not try to entrap one another. It is sneaky and underhand. But journalists for these purposes are not particularly nice people and neither, often, are the people they entrap.
"You cannot easily encourage a person to say or do something out of character, though one can imagine exceptions where extreme pressure might be put on someone. The primary test should not be that of consequence. You might feel it is highly regrettable that The Mail On Sunday has jeopardised England's bid. I might feel that the News Of The World's sting indirectly damages the monarchy, and is part of its owner, Rupert Murdoch's, republican agenda. We may both be right, but that is beside the point. If journalists fret about the consequences of what they write – as long as it is true and lawfully obtained – we can say goodbye to revealing journalism.
"Significance is the test. It is significant that the (now former) chairman of the FA thinks the Spanish and Russians a bunch of crooks. If he is right, I should like to know more, and if he is wrong I should like to know how he formed his view in the first place. It wasn't the best story in the world, but it wasn't a terrible one. The Fergie story was stronger, though in view of her known character it was hardly along the lines of "St Francis of Assisi caught stealing from the poor". Neither story makes us feel better about the world, but both were justifiable."
  • Also in the Independent today, the investigative journalist and former member of the Sunday Times' Insight team Phillip Knightley says entrapment journalism is a cheap way for newspapers to get quick results. He claims: "Most of the reporters I worked with at The Sunday Times in the 1980s opposed the use of deception on principle. They took their lead from a statement by Benjamin C Bradlee, executive editor of the Washington Post: "In a day when we are spending thousands of man-hours uncovering deception, we simply cannot afford to deceive." So why do newspapers do it? Going undercover is considered glamorous. Acting a role that exposes wrongdoing or greedy and bad behaviour attracts some journalists, particularly those seeking to become the heroes of their own stories. But above all, at a time of falling circulations and editorial financial restrictions it is a comparatively cheap form of journalism with a quick result."
  • Roy Greenslade, who has often been a fierce critic of the NoW and Mazher Mahmood, defends the paper on his blog today and said it was right to run the Fergie story.