Thursday 30 September 2010

Dear says BBC pension strike dates not 'political'

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear (pictured) claimed today there was no political motive behind the broadcasting unions selecting strike dates, in their dispute with the BBC over pensions, which could black out coverage of next week's Tory party conference.

His statement followed a letter sent to the NUJ by BBC News presenters and political journalists, including Huw Edwards, Jeremy Paxman, Martha Kearney, Jim Naughtie, Carolyn Quinn, Michael Crick, and Nick Robinson, expressing "serious concerns" that the strike action during the conference "risks looking unduly partisan" and would undermine the BBC's reputation for impartiality.

Dear said:" Quite rightly, the focus of staff anger at the BBC remains the proposal to undermine people's pensions, earned through hard work over many years. These damaging proposals mean staff will pay significantly more for worse benefits or face a cap on pensionable pay of 1%.

"When NUJ members were asked for their views on these plans, 97% of them voted to take industrial action if an agreed settlement could not be reached. Strike action is always a last resort. NUJ members are responsible individuals and do not take such decisions lightly. Our position has always been that we wish to negotiate in a mature way to resolve the BBC's deficit at the appropriate time.

"However, despite our best efforts, the BBC has repeatedly rejected this position and left members with no choice but to take action to defend their pensions from attack. Strike dates were set by joint union reps from across the BBC, representing the views of thousands of members. Since these dates were fixed, officials have held meetings at all major BBC sites.

"Hundreds of members have attended and endorsed the decision to take action on 5th, 6th and 19th and 20th October if the BBC was not prepared to properly address their concerns. The selection of specific dates was not a political act. The dates were chosen by elected reps because they are major broadcast events and for no other reason.

"Tomorrow elected reps will meet again in London to agree next steps. The issue of strike dates will be openly debated at this meeting and a democratic agreement reached. Finally, we remain committed to reaching a negotiated settlement with the BBC and know that members will support us, through strike action if necessary, in doing this."

Chris Wheal: 'BBC wouldn't leave my sister alone'

Journalist Chris Wheal who has blogged about the way journalists have "death knocked" his relatives after his nine-year-old nephew Jamie Bray was killed in a freak accident playing on a swing, today criticises the behaviour of the BBC, news agencies and magazines as the boy's inquest was held.

Chris writes: "The coroner yesterday ruled that my nine-year-old nephew, Jamie Bray’s death was an accident. Despite repeated requests to the press to leave my sister alone she had a BBC film crew using telephoto lenses at the end of her drive and tittle-tattle magazines and agencies contacted her."

He asks: "The Press Complaints Commission is rewriting its guidance and looking at its procedures. But will that be enough? One of the callers this morning was from Full House magazine, which chooses not to subscribe to the PCC editors’ code anyway. Self-regulation fails when the press can opt out."

Chris says the coroner was very supportive and praises the detailed report by PA which noted: "Recording a verdict of accidental death, Deputy Central Hampshire Coroner Simon Burge said the tragedy could not have been either avoided or anticipated. The father-of-three said that, in times where children were often “mollycoddled”, James’s parents should be “applauded for making provision for a healthy, physically challenging life” and they should not feel responsible for his death. Children have to be allowed to grow and develop and be allowed to have some unsupervised play,” he said."

Chris adds: "Once the coroner had listed the inquest – last Friday – the local press was on the case. In the main they contacted me. The PCC issued a request to that effect."

But he is scathing about other journalists: "The public sees most of us as the gutter press. But there is a group even worse. They must be in the sewers. They are the sorts of low-lifes who make their parasitical living buying and selling people’s sorrowful stories."

Chris also says how disappointed he was at the BBC after agreeing to give them an interview: "I felt the BBC went behind my back. I felt they must have realised that standing at the end of the street feels as much like harassment as knocking on doors. I’d like to think they do at least realise that now. Had I known they were going to harass my sister anyway I would have tried to stop them. I doubt I’d have agreed to do the interview."

Tindle acquires The Forester from Northcliffe

Agreement has been reached for the ownership of The Forester, the paid-for weekly in the Forest of Dean, to be transferred to the Tindle newspaper group.

Tindle is acquiring the 130-year-old title from Gloucestershire Media, the local subsidiary of the Northcliffe Media group, and will add to the Tindle stable of more than 200 newspapers across England and Wales.

Sir Ray Tindle, group chairman (pictured), said he was delighted that the Forester was joining his group which included such titles as the Monmouthshire Beacon, the Ross Gazette and the Abergavenny Chronicle.

The nine staff members at the Forester offices at Cinderford will transfer with the business and consultations with these employees have started. Negotiations for Tindle have been led by Brian Doel, group managing director, who will be joining the board of the new company, Forester Newspapers Limited.

Tindle has a long track record of publishing local community newspapers and has launched five new titles in the past year. In many towns Tindle owns both the local paid-for and free newspapers which are run as separate businesses.

Sir Ray said that earlier gloomy predictions were quite wrong: more newspapers had been launched than closed in the UK in the last year. Michael Pelosi, managing director of Northcliffe, said he was confident that the Forester would continue to have a a bright future as part of the Tindle group.

Russian pledge on unsolved murders of journalists

Russian investigators have pledged to pursue 19 cases of murdered journalists presented to them by a delegation from the Committee to Protect Journalists, reopening several closed cases and pursuing new leads in a number of other probes.

The CPJ delegation, led by board member Kati Marton and CPJ chairman Paul Steiger, met on Tuesday with Aleksandr Bastrykin, chairman of the Investigative Committee, and a dozen investigators probing individual cases. "It's a matter of honour for us to solve these murders," Bastryskin told the CPJ delegation. "It's a matter of proving our professionalism."

According to the CPJ: "The Investigative Committee, responsible for probing the most serious crimes in Russia, has been given greater autonomy under a plan announced this week that has the agency reporting directly to President Dmitry Medvedev."

Marton said: "We were encouraged by our three-hour-long meeting with the Investigative Committee and the thorough, detailed briefing we received. Investigators reported progress in a number of cases. Of course, we will not be satisfied until we see prosecutions and convictions."

  • The CPJ estimates that 52 journalists have been killed in Russia since 1992.

The part of the News of the World will be played by Professor Roy Greenslade...

Great line-up for a debate at City University on Tuesday on the subject of 'How far should a reporter go? The lessons of the News of the World phone-hacking story'.

Speakers include Nick Davies, who has covered much of the phone-hacking row for the Guardian; former News of the World reporter Paul McMullan who has gone public on how the paper investigates stories; solicitor Mark Lewis, who is acting for many alleged hacking victims; former director of public prosecutions, Ken Macdonald; and Max Mosley, the former Formula One chief who won a privacy action against the NoW after it revealed that he took part in sado-masochistic orgy.

So who is going to represent the NoW? Step forward City University's Professor of Journalism, Roy Greenslade (pictured).

Roy reveals on his MediaGuardian blog that all the NoW execs will be at the Tory party conference: "So I will be arguing the paper's case, not as a comic routine, but in complete seriousness. I will be the voice of the NoW throughout."

I am sure the NoW will be pleased. Roy's references to it as a "rogue newspaper" - even before the phone hacking scandal - so angered the high-ups at the Sunday red-top that they withdrew funding from City's journalism course.

Still, it sounds like fun. If Roy wins the debate against this line-up he'll deserve an Oscar.

Local newspaper launches in UK outstrip closures

Here's a reason to be cheerful about the future of print. According to the October issue of Press Gazette, more local newspapers have launched in the UK this year than folded.

PG says, according to the Newspaper Society, so far in 2010 there have been six closures against 16 new launches, which is a happy antidote to the gloomy forecast by media analyst Claire Enders, who told MPs in 2009 that up to half of the UK's 1,300 regional newspapers were set to close.

I've written a feature in the current issue of PG looking at how the new launches are getting on. In Birmingham it's a tough battle with Chris Bullivant relishing taking on Trinity with the Birmingham Press and Birmingham Free Press. He admits that the titles are yet to make money but believes he has come up with the right business model for the future of the regionals.

I also look at the new launches by Archant, including Cambridge First and the Scene titles. They have a bright new look, are described by the company as "newszines" and are published across lots of different platforms and a variety of ways to market.

Tindle Newspapers, led by its formidable founder Sir Ray Tindle, has launched a series of community newspapers in London this year and promises more to come across the group.

The independent Southport-based Champion Media Group has launched the Crosby and Litherland Champion. Chief executive Betty Drummond told me: "People like us are in newspapers because we love newspapers."

The last few years have been a terrible time for regional newspapers and the many regional journalists who have lost their jobs, but I finished the feature thinking at least there are people out there who still love launching papers, even in the teeth of a recession, and are out to prove the gloomy analysts wrong.
  • The Independent has an article today Local Heroes by Ian Burrell saying regional newspapers will not be drafting their own obits just yet due to a recent boost in their fortunes.

Wednesday 29 September 2010

Loaded editor Martin Daubney says goodbye to helicopters, radioactive wolves, dwarves, donkeys, dressing up as a duck and setting fire to writers

Outgoing Loaded editor Martin Daubney says goodbye in Press Gazette after seven years in the chair with an exit interview that proves the spirit of Hunter S Thompspon lives. In this extract, he is asked "What was your most outrageous escapade?"

Daubney: "Where to start? I shot radioactive wolves from a helicopter, rode a powerful motorcycle past Bucko House dressed as a duck, was chased by Cuban cops on an illegal motorbike while dressed as Che Guevara, flew burgers to David Blaine in a little helicopter, and paid dwarves to race donkeys while we drank iced gin.

"I set fire to writers, bailed them from Russian jails, shot them from cannons, threw them in ice pools, blew them up with napalm, made them wrestle grizzly bears and had them commit all manner of foul sex acts in the tireless pursuit of our readers’ entertainment.

"Along the way, we were sued by the Pope, and offended Christians, feminists, Satanists and the animal rights mob.

"It was a perpetual adolescence, and, for a while, nodody ever told us to stop. I doubt there'll ever be another job like it again in the media, and if there was, I wouldn't want it!”

Private Eye calls Miliband brothers right

Private Eye was available yesterday but it obviously thought the Miliband brothers were not going to be cabinet colleagues - even before David announced this evening that he was standing down from "frontline politics".

Council papers could be cut to four issues a year

It looks like all that campaigning by the regional press against local council-funded newspapers has paid off.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has announced proposals to tighten up the publicity rules for councils - including limiting municipal newspapers to no more than four issues a year.

Regional publishers have claimed that the so-called 'Town Hall Pravdas' have been muscling in on their territory by looking more like newspapers and grabbing local ad revenues.

Pickles, said today: "An independent local press is an essential part of our open democracy helping local people scrutinise and hold elected councillors to account."

A consultation document on the proposals and a new code of practice states: "To give effect to the Government’s commitment to stop unfair competition by local authority newspapers, the proposed Code will contain specific guidance on the frequency, content and appearance of local authority newspapers or magazines.

"They must not appear more frequently than once a quarter, must only include material that is directly related to the business, services or amenities of the authority or other local service providers and should be clearly marked as being published by the local authority. These provisions also extend to web-based editions of publications."

He added: "The rules around council publicity have been too weak for too long allowing public money to be spent on frivolous town hall propaganda papers that have left many local newspapers looking over the abyss - weakening our free press - or to use 'hired-gun' lobbyists that operate in the shadows to bulldoze special interests through.

"The proposals I am publishing today will close off these inappropriate practices and make sure that councils focus taxpayers' money on where it should be spent - protecting frontline services."

In April, I commissioned a guest-blog from the editor of a council newspaper who, for obvious reasons, wants to remain anonymous. In it he admits his job is "not journalism" and involves producing "anti-news" but he also points an accusing finger at the local press for low salaries, poor circulation and negative reporting: You can read it here: Confessions of a council newspaper editor.

Jon Gaunt set for political campaign comeback?

After being off the air following the sudden closure of SunTalk in July, shock jock Jon Gaunt is hinting on his Facebook page that he may be set for a return by entering politics as a campaigner.

Friends who follow "Gaunty" on Facebook note that he has been posting from Brussels, where he was making a video about the EU, and is linking to material on the European Referendum Campaign website.

The ERC objective is to gain as many referendums on the EU Lisbon Treaty in as many EU member states as possible.

Asked if he is entering politics, Gaunt posts: "Watch this space."

Steve Dyson: 'My fears over centralised subbing'

Steve Dyson today on his blog, hosted by HoldtheFrontPage, highlights central subbing problems with a look at the Johnston Press-owned Burnley Express and related weeklies in east Lancashire.

Dyson noticed that the Nelson Leader had the wrong imprint, instead carrying the one for the Burnley Express next to its barcode, and says: "It was an edition-change error somewhere in the production process, of course, but such a fundamental one."

Dyson adds: "We all know that group editors and multi-title subbing hubs have rightly or wrongly become the norm for weekly newspapers, as companies strive to preserve profit margins. But I fear that local identities are being further swallowed up as some papers amalgamate pages across different titles as well to cut editorial and production costs."

He concludes: "My residing thought, however, is that Johnston Press – and others with group editor, central subbing and 'clever' CMS operations – must take more care and retain enough resource to eliminate costly and brand-diluting production errors."

Tuesday 28 September 2010

Games beat Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband for cover

According to journalisted the chaos surrounding preparations for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi was the most covered story in the week ending Sunday, September 26, ahead of reports on Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrat conference and Ed Miliband winning the Labour leadership race.

Journalisted says "covered lots" were: The Commonwealth Games, amidst health and safety boycott threats against the Delhi games village, with 479 articles; Nick Clegg and the UK Lib Dem party conference with 273 articles; Ed Miliband winning the Labour Party leadership on Saturday, 259 articles; Iranian President Ahmadinejad's UN speech which prompted General Assembly walk-outs, 72 articles.

Covered little were: Allegations of violence and fraud during Afghanistan's elections, 6 articles; the ongoing Kashmir-India conflict, with increasing regional nuclear tensions, 3 articles; The World Alzheimer Report 2010, indicating the annual global cost of dementia now at £388 billion, 9 articles.

New launch: The Media Briefing site has gone live

TheMediaBriefing the first site to be launched by Briefing Media, the new company started by Neil Thackray and Rory Brown which promises a new approach to serving business to business markets, has gone live today.

Super-injunction granted over sex blackmail claim

A high-profile public figure has been granted a "super-injunction" to prevent publication of claims by a woman who was trying to blackmail him over his sex life, the Daily Telegraph reports today.

It says: "The man obtained a High Court ruling stating that his name and details of his alleged relationship with the woman should not be published, nor even the existence of the gagging order.

"A judge has now agreed that the fact of the injunction can be reported, as the risk of it being leaked onto the internet can never be eliminated, but ruled that the identities of those involved must remain secret.

"It can now be disclosed that the man sought the order because a woman had threatened to reveal her affair with him unless she was paid “very substantial sums.”

John Sweeney confronts Scientology film crew

The BBC has released film ahead of tonight's Panorama special report by John Sweeney showing him confronting strangers following and filming him while he was investigating the Church of Scientology in the US.
His report The Secrets of Scientology is broadcast at 9 pm on BBC 1 tonight.
  • Film of Sweeney losing his temper in an earlier confrontation with Scientologists became a YouTube sensation.

Northcliffe Media shows revenues down by 6%

Northcliffe Media's total revenues for the eleven month period to the end of August 2010 were 6% lower with advertising revenues down 7% and circulation revenues down 6% compared to last year, according to an Trading Update from the Daily Mail and General Trust.

The Update says: "For the quarter to September so far, advertising revenues are down 5% due principally to weakness in our East Midland titles and the widely anticipated effects of reduced public sector advertising spend."

According to the summary for DMGT as a whole: "Underlying revenue up 2% on last year, down 7% on a reported basis. Trading remains robust, with underlying growth from both B2B and consumer media businesses. Strong margin and profit growth, driven by positive revenue trends and effective cost control."

Bell turns Ed Miliband into the Death-Ray Panda

Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell wrote in the paper yesterday how he was going to concentrate on the new Labour leader's "crazy, staring eyeballs." Today he's transformed Ed Miliband into the Death-Ray Panda.

Hunt to lift regional media ownership restrictions

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt is expected to say today he’ll lift all cross-ownership restrictions on regional media to encourage the setting-up of local television stations.

According to BBC News, Hunt will use a speech to the Royal Television Society in London to say an expansion of superfast broadband and the easing of rules on owning local newspapers, radio and TV will help encourage the new stations.

But a report says advertising alone will not be enough to support the stations, but corporate sponsorship might work. Nicholas Shott, of investment bankers Lazard, was commissioned by Hunt's department to investigate the local TV proposals.

His interim report suggests a multimillion-pound corporate sponsorship deal could be one way to make them work, citing Barclays' backing of the London bicycle scheme as an example.

  • Hunt told BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning that the "market had failed" in the UK to build the type of network of local tv stations that exist in the US, Sweden and Canada.
  • Hunt's enthusiasm for local tv stations has been met with some scepticism. Trinity Mirror chief executive Sly Bailey said in June: "We look forward to seeing the results of the independent commercial assessment of local television but it's worth noting at this point that we don't see 'City TV' as a viable proposition. Our research suggests that the costs are too high and the revenues too low to support a sustainable business model."

Monday 27 September 2010

Newsquest NUJ staff make 5 to 8 % pay rise claim

NUJ members employed by Newsquest today submitted a pay claim to management asking for an increase of between 5-8%.

The NUJ claims that as of today (Monday 27 September) most journalists employed by Newsquest, Britain's second biggest regional newspaper publisher, will have endured 1,000 days at work without an increase in pay.

According to the NUJ, Newsquest is the only regional publisher with a continuing pay freeze in response to the recession.

Tobias Grubbe opines on the brothers Miliband

The latest opinions of Tobias Grubbe, the work of Michael Cross and Matthew Buck, is at today. It features the Miliband brothers among other topics.

Cartoonist Steve Bell eyes up Ed Miliband

cartoonist Steve Bell, writing in the paper today, already has a line on new Labour leader Ed Miliband, saying he has "crazy, staring eyeballs."

Bell adds: "His brother David has similar eyes but nowhere near as dramatic. I once had Gordon Brown tell Ed: 'Since Tony left, this government has had a mad eye deficiency, and you've not one but two.'

"He has huge potential for caricature. Like John Prescott and unlike Tony Blair, his face tends to betray what is on his mind. Most politicians put on a guarded expression, but his face is more open and seems to let his feelings show.

"He has been caught gurning a couple of times, and looked like a rabbit caught in headlights just before the result was announced. That is great, not just for me as a cartoonist but for politics."

Steve Bell (by himself) top left; Ed Miliband by Bell with 'crazy, staring, eyeballs' (right).

New media briefing website goes live tomorrow

Briefing Media, the new company started by Neil Thackray and Rory Brown which promises a new approach to serving business to business markets, plans to go live tomorrow with its first site TheMediaBriefing.

According to Briefing Media, the new site will be a: "Real-time news and intelligence platform for media industry professionals. As well as highlighting the very best coverage from around the web, we will draw from an experienced range of industry experts to deliver feature articles, opinion pieces, white papers and high quality research. "

Media journalist Patrick Smith has been recruited as an editor for the new venture. You can see a promotional video about Briefing Media here.

Briefing Media from studio .fu on Vimeo.

The toolkit needed by a journalist reporting live

The Rambling Thoughts Blog has this picture of the toolkit needed by a journalist covering a live event.

The blog notes that in:"Bygone days a journalist covering an event was likely to be accompanied by a photographer, cameraman or both. Nowadays due to universal budget cuts a modern journalist is often expected to file text, photos and video all by themselves."

On the list:



USB wireless broadband device:


Video Recorder:


Sturdy Analog Wristwatch:

USB Drive:

Power Charging Cables:

...And, perhaps, you could add a pen and notebook.

Via Paul Bradshaw on Twitter

Saturday 25 September 2010

Charles Atangana moved to hostel in Barking

Charles Atangana, the NUJ member who is fighting deportation to Cameroon, has been moved by the Home Office to a hostel in Barking, Essex.

It is Atangana's third address since August when the NUJ campaigned successfully to win his release from detention at the Dover immigration removal centre. Since then he has been moved around different hostels in London waiting for a judicial review to decide his fate.

The NUJ believes Atangana will be at risk if returned to Cameroon because of his work there as a journalist exposing corruption. He has been based in Glasgow while in the UK.

  • Journalists are being urged to demonstrate outside London's High Court in the Strand on 7 October in support of Atangana when he is due to appear before a judge at the High Court. He is seeking a judicial review into the decision to deport him. The protest is likely to be held at 9.45am, but this may be subject to change depending on how the case is scheduled.

Friday 24 September 2010

MEN Media in final move to Oldham this weekend

The Manchester Evening News and its weekly sister titles, will complete their move from Scott Place in Manchester to Trinity Mirror’s Chadderton, Oldham site this weekend, North-West media site How-Do reports today.

How-Do says: "Despite the lengthy preparations and notice period the significance of the move is certain to reverberate around certain pockets of the Manchester media community, bringing to an end as it does the association of the MEN’s HQ with the city where the paper was born in 1868."

Trinity points out that the paper will still retain a city centre presence, in Piccadilly Gardens, while, in a statement prepared for How-Do, the management noted: “there are plans for advertising and editorial staff to hot-desk at various locations throughout Greater Manchester.”

Judith Townend: Podcast on bloggers and the law

Judith Townend has produced a podcast on her new Meeja Law website in which she talks to bloggers, journalists and a lawyer about fighting legal battles online.

It includes a discussion with multimedia journalist Adam Westbrook and myself; Richard Wilson, an author and blogger who has been threatened with libel action, talks about the risks of online publishing; Connie St Louis, head of the Science Journalism MA at City University London and an experienced broadcaster shares her thoughts on science and the libel reform debate.

There is also an interview with Robert Dougans, the solicitor who represented author and journalist Simon Singh in his libel case.

Townend, formerly a reporter with, has just started studying for a PhD at City University's new centre of law, justice and journalism, focusing on legal restraints on the media.

Jailed bloggers could face death penalty in Iran

Press freedom campaign group Reporters Without Borders says it is very concerned about serious human rights violations by the Revolutionary Guards against journalists and netizens held in Iranian prisons.

It says prosecutors may be about to request the death penalty for two bloggers who have been detained since 2008, Vahid Asghari and Hossein Derakhshan.

“The serious charges against Asghari and Derakhshan, which are completely groundless, are punishable by the death penalty under Islamic law,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The international community must intervene and demand explanations from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is backed by the Revolutionary Guards, and from the judicial authorities, who are abusing the law.”

Asghari, an ICT student in India, was arrested on 11 May 2008 at Tehran airport for possessing several credit cards. RWB says he was held in solitary confinement for seven months and was mistreated and tortured to make him confess to organising a pornographic network that blasphemed Islam and criticised the government.

Derakhshan, who has Iranian and Canadian dual nationality, was arrested by Revolutionary Guards on 1 November 2008. RWB says he was given a trial without due process and has remained in detention even since awaiting the court’s verdict. He was charged with “insulting government leaders and Islam’s holy texts.”

Quotes of the Week: From the future path of journalism to a roadblock of Andrew Marr books

Giving the James Cameron lecture, vice president at large of the Washington Post Leonard Downie Jr. urges UK universities to play a much more active role in shaping the future of news: "That means not just teaching, talking and doing research about journalism. It means actively producing journalism and assisting others in doing it. And it means acting as a watchdog to hold the news media accountable for the ways in which they transform themselves in this turbulent time. None of us wants to wake up one morning in the near future to discover that the new news is mostly bad."

Jeff Jarvis who is to head the City University of New York's new Entrepreneurial Journalism Center:
“We are optimists about the future of journalism. We tell our students they will build that future. To help them do that, we realized we have to give them the ability to create and run new products and new companies. We must train not just journalists but entrepreneurial journalists.”

Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger in the Spectator on how to stifle the press: "It couldn’t be simpler. You hire a solicitor with a working knowledge of Britain’s libel laws to fire off a fierce letter to whichever journalist has been pestering you. It will be the opening salvo in a process which rapidly threatens to become eye-wateringly expensive. If it’s a local paper that may well be all it takes. Most local editors will admit to having quietly shelved stories or investigations, not because they were wrong, but because the paper simply couldn’t afford the cost of fighting an action. Game over."

Stephen Glover in the Independent on the PCC uholding Clare Balding's complaint about AA Gill describing her as a "dyke on a bike": "The PCC is being over-sensitive. I can understand that Ms Balding was hurt, and I am sorry that she was. But what Mr Gill wrote could not in a million years incite homophobia. Nor, because of its pointless crudity, did it damage Clare Balding. It was just childish and silly – but these are not crimes, just relatively minor lapses of taste which do not justify censuring and censoring a columnist. I hope the PCC is not turning into the Thought Police."

Press Complaints Commission director Stephen Abell in a letter to Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger about the News of the World: "The Commission recognises that both Guardian articles, and the New York Times piece, have produced material giving rise to concern about behaviour at the News of the World prior to 2006...The commission came to a view – based on the information available at the time – as to whether it had been misled by the News of the World. Further information has, of course, since appeared. The commission's position on this, together with other aspects of the case, will be assessed when we return to the matter at the conclusions of the enquiries, which are currently being undertaken, and following the end of any legal proceedings which are brought."

Minutes of PCC meeting which considered an NUJ complaint against Johnston Press alleging editorial standards were being compromised by rules regarding a new editorial management system: "Commissioners considered that no further steps were appropriate at this stage, Johnston Press having affirmed its commitment to the PCC - a commitment it said was unchanged by the latest technological developments."

Freelance foreign correspondent Michela Wrong, accepting this year's James Cameron Award at City University: "We are reaching a stage where outside contributors will be academics on a salary, authors promoting their books or those who are independently wealthy."

Psychologist Alberto Iturra on how the trapped Chilean miners are going to be given media training via closed-circuit tv, which will including advice on: "Remaining poised during an interview, asking the interviewer to repeat the question if they don't understand it, and how to say that they prefer not to answer".

BBC News reports a lorry overturning in Theale, Berkshire, shedding its load of books by Andrew Marr:
"The carriageway was shut through the night and a clear up operation has started, but police warned the road could be closed until lunchtime. The driver was unhurt. It is thought almost 15 tonnes of Mr Marr's The Making of Modern Britain were spilt."

Thursday 23 September 2010

Protest in support of journalist facing deportation

Journalists are being urged to demonstrate outside London's High Court in the Strand on 7 October in support of NUJ member Charles Atangana who is fighting deportation to Cameroon.

Atangana, an investigative journalist who the NUJ believes will be in danger if deported to Cameroon because of his record of exposing corruption, is due to appear before a judge at the High Court. He is seeking a judicial review into the decision to deport him. The protest is likely to be held at 9.45am, but this may be subject to change depending on how the case is scheduled.

In August the NUJ campaigned successfully to win Atangana’s release from detention at the Dover immigration removal centre. Since then he has been moved around different hostels in London waiting for the judicial review to decide his fate.

Bullivant warning on future of Brum Free Press

TheBusinessDesk is reporting today that free newspaper entrepreneur Chris Bullivant has told advertisers that his latest free title in Birmingham, the Birmingham Free Press, will fail if they don’t rally round to support it.

The Free Press is a sister title to the Birmingham Press launched by Bullivant in April. The Free Press was launched in June.

TheBusinessDesk says that in a letter to customers he has accused rival publisher Trinity Mirror of slashing prices to drive him out of business. Bullivant claimed to TheBusinessDesk Trinity Mirror had been offering estate agents full page advertisements in its titles for as little as £150 , which he claimed was "an attempt to remove us from the marketplace.”

Bullivant said: “A number of my customers have been lured back to Trinity Mirror, and if that continues, we’ll have to close.” He has called a meeting of estate agents to invite them to form a consortium that would own a part of the title.

A spokesperson for Trinity Mirror told TheBusinessDesk: “We don't engage in anti-competitive practice.”