Sunday 31 October 2010

LA Times: Some of our subheads are missing

Even big newspapers can suffer from the missing headlines syndrome - as shown by this page from the Los Angles Times.

The paper's readers' representative Deidre Edgar explained: "Some readers in The Times' East zone, which includes the San Gabriel Valley and Riverside, were startled to see "dummy" headlines in the National Briefing column on Page A22. About 55,000 papers were printed before the error was discovered.

"Readers feared that all the copy editors had been laid off, or even "massacred," as one put it.But according to Operations Editor Dave Rickley, Page A22 for the East zone was not touched -- or seen -- by the newsroom. The page was sent by editors to the pressroom with headlines written and in place.

"The only thing that was supposed to change on the page was advertising. However, Rickley said, a technical problem apparently replaced the edited text with an earlier, incomplete version.

"The pressroom caught the error early in the press run and notified editors. That quick work allowed the newsroom to send a new, correct version of the page, which limited the damage."

Via Editor & Publisher

Saturday 30 October 2010

Dear attacks PM over 'delicious' BBC cuts claim

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear has hit out at Prime Minister David Cameron for describing cuts at the BBC as "delicious".

Cameron, in response to a question on the EU budget from Newsnight's Michael Crick, stated: "We’re all in it together, including, deliciously, the BBC, who in another negotiation agreed a licence fee freeze for six years. So what is good for the EU is good for the BBC.”

Dear told the Telegraph today: "“David Cameron’s comments, revelling in the prospect of people losing their jobs and services being axed, are crass and insensitive. They appear to betray his real feelings about the BBC. He’s happy to hand over more money to the EU while cutting resources to one of our most important national institutions.”

Friday 29 October 2010

Media Quotes of the Week

Noel Gallagher on the Independent's new i newspaper: "It's a top idea to have a paper for clever people who can't be arsed to spend hours reading every day."
Independent editor-in-chief Simon Kelner on the i launch: "The baby is doing pretty well, and managed its first smile yesterday with the news that circulation figures for the first issue surpassed our most bullish expectations.”

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear on union members at the BBC rejecting the new pension proposals: “This massive vote against the BBC’s latest proposal comes as no surprise, given the fundamental ‘pay more – work longer - get less’ nature of the offer. NUJ members across the BBC have consistently dubbed the proposals a ‘pensions robbery’. That hasn’t changed. The BBC have now left members with no choice but to take action to defend their pensions."

Roy Greenslade on his MediaGuardian blog: "Remote subbing" can work (and has worked). But I just wish that it didn't have to mean a reduction in editorial staff. Newspapers are fond of saying that there should be more bobbies on the beat (rather than at the station). The analogy should apply to papers. Saving desk jobs by utilising new technology is fine. But that should mean getting more reporters on to the streets (well, on the phone, at the computer, wherever necessary). It's just important to have more of them because news-gathering is the name of our game."

Stephen Glover in the Independent: "By 2015, the income of BSkyB could be twice that of the BBC. Rupert Murdoch can charge his subscribers what they are prepared to pay, whereas the BBC can charge its customers only what the Government says it can. It is a hopelessly unequal fight. The lesson of last week is that the BBC will survive and thrive only if it has a direct relationship with its customers. It should supply a variety of services, and they should pay for what they want."

Conrad Black hints on a BBC Radio 4 Media Show interview that he may be back: "I think they [newspapers] have been so devalued that some of them are bargains now. Many of these great American newspapers are now in the hands of receiver managers, if they can be had for almost nothing they are a bargain."

Thursday 28 October 2010

BBC journalists plan to strike over pensions

The NUJ said today that its members at the BBC will strike after 70% of them rejected the corporation’s latest pension proposals in a ballot.

Union reps have agreed plans for a series of strikes and other industrial action, including a threat of a walkout at Christmas.

NUJ general secretary, Jeremy Dear said:“This massive vote against the BBC’s latest proposal comes as no surprise, given the fundamental ‘pay more – work longer - get less’ nature of the offer. NUJ members across the BBC have consistently dubbed the proposals a ‘pensions robbery’. That hasn’t changed. The BBC have now left members with no choice but to take action to defend their pensions.

"Under the proposals people will be much poorer in retirement and the value of their pensions will be threatened every year by inflation. Staff are angry at continued management excess, believe they have been sold down the river in recent negotiations with the government and refuse to pay with their jobs and their pensions”.

NUJ members will strike for 48 hours on 5 and 6 November and 15 and 16 November with further dates to be named in the coming days. Union members will also refuse to take on additional duties or volunteer for acting up duties as part of an indefinite work to rule.In an email to staff, the BBC said it was "pleased" that members of the broadcasting union Bectu had accepted the offer. It added: "We urge the NUJ to reconsider its position in relation to the joint union result."

Beckett takes down post about Sun journalist

Francis Beckett, who handles media relations for the Fire Brigades Union, has taken down his post about his sparky conversation with the Sun's Whitehall correspondent Clodagh Hartley, on the FBU's planned strike action, after saying he now accepts that she "wasn't trying to bully or intimidate me".

Beckett blogs: "So – yes, I understand how deeply Clodagh was upset by my remarks yesterday. Does she understand how upset and angry the members of the Fire Brigades Union were about the story she ran the same day? And how little chance they have to reply to it? They can sit in their fire stations and fume, and throw things at the television, and if they vent their anger on the streets, they will be caught by cameras, and the Sun will be able to give them another kicking."

Still, Clodagh Hartley isn’t a natural bully. She’s a talented writer, and I hope she will not stay so long at the Sun that the poison enters her soul, and she ceases to be hurt by that sort of accusation."

The Paul Foot Award shortlist announced

The judges of the Paul Foot Award have announced the shortlist for this year's prize, which recognises the best investigative campaigning journalism of the year.

Chairman of the judges Brian MacArthur said: "It is always a cheering experience, giving the lie to any impression that investigative journalism is no longer so important to contemporary editors as it was.

"One pleasure is the unexpected entries: it isn't only the big beasts who impress. There was a creditable entry from Horse and Hound on equine cruelty, for instance, another from John Hoyte's website exposing the threat to airline passengers from aerotoxic fumes. And investigative reporters still flourish on regional evenings and weeklies.

"This year's shortlist speaks for itself. The six entries selected are (in alphabetical order):

Jonathan Calvert and Clare Newell (Sunday Times) on MPs and peers seeking cash for influence ("I'm like a cab for hire" – Stephen Byers)

David Cohen (Evening Standard) on the plight of the poor in London, including children's poverty and the continuing existence of paupers' graves in the capital.

Nick Davies (Guardian) on phone-hacking conducted by the News of the World when Andy Coulson, now the government's director of communications, was editor.

Linda Geddes (New Scientist) on evidence that DNA tests are not always accurately interpreted.

Eamonn McCann (Irish Times, Belfast Telegraph, Guardian) on the cover-up of the British army's actions on Bloody Sunday.

Clare Sambrook (numerous publications) on the scandal of the detention of asylum seekers' children.

Also highly commended from the longlist were Andrew Gilligan (Sunday Telegraph) on the fundamentalist infiltration of Tower Hamlets; Nina Lakhani (Independent on Sunday) on the fate of NHS whistleblowers; Sean O'Neill and David Brown (Times) on the failure of Ealing Abbey to protect children from a known paedophile priest; and Robert Verkaik (Independent)on events at Guantanamo Bay.

The award was set up by Private Eye and the Guardian in memory of Paul Foot, the campaigning journalist who died in 2004. The £5,000 first prize will be presented on Tuesday 2 November in London, with each of the runners-up receiving £1,000.

Tuesday 26 October 2010

Spending review coverage outscores Rooney

The comprehensive spending review received most press coverage in the week ending Sunday 24 October beating the saga of Wayne Rooney's contract negotiations with Manchester United, according to journalisted.

The comprehensive spending review generated 1,045 articles; Wayne Rooney, threatening to leave Manchester United, 677 articles; the BBC, which avoided taking on the cost of TV licences for over-75s by offering to start paying for the World Service, BBC Monitoring, and various other bits and pieces, 109 articles.

According to journalisted "covered little" were Xi Jinping, reported to be the likely successor to President Hu Jintao after his promotion to China's military commission, 15 articles; the Obama adminstration announcing the largest US arms deal in history, going to Saudi Arabia, 9 articles; Jose Serra, an increasingly close contender for the Brazilian presidency run-off this weekend, 3 articles.

  • Celebs beat serious news: Coleen Rooney generated 78 articles vs. the protests in France over rising retirement age, 73 articles; British citizen Mary Bale fined £250 for throwing a cat in the bin this summer, 30 articles vs. the released post mortem in the inquest of Dr David Kelly's death, 27 articles; Elton John, with a jibe against the X-Factor, 46 articles vs. the cholera outbreak in Haiti, 33 articles.

'Times paywall has more than 360,000 subscribers'

Interesting post here from Gordon MacMillan on The Wall which says The Times has more than 360,000 subscribers since introducing the paywall, according to figures released by Nielsen today.

MP takes Atangana case up with Home Secretary

Islington South MP Emily Thornberry has taken up the case of journalist Charles Atangana, who is fighting deportation to Cameroon, with Home Secretary Theresa May.

In a letter to May, Thornberry says: "I understand that Mr. Atangana claims to have been tortured and detained for writing about political corruption in Cameroon, and therefore faces great personal danger if he was deported.

"I also understand that Mr. Atangana has been living in Glasgow since 2004 where he has made a valuable contribution to British society, including voluntary work at the Parkhead Citizens Advice Bureau and the Maryhill Integration Network.

"At the High Court hearing on October 7, Mr. Atangana's case was adjourned for three months to allow extra evidence to be prepared and reviewed to support his claim to remain in the UK.

"I would be grateful for any action you can take to ensure Mr. Atangana's case is looked at fairly. On the basis of the claims made by Mr. Atangana and his barrister, I believe there would be a strong case for allowing him to remain in the UK."

The NUJ is campaigning for the journalist to be allowed to stay in the UK, saying his life could be at risk if he is deported because of his investigations into corruption.

Monday 25 October 2010

Grubbe on Wayne Rooney and his golden balls

Gentleman journalist Tobias Grubbe, the creation of Michael Cross and Matthew Buck, gives his opinion on Ferguson and Rooney as well as his own financial state on today.

Raymonds News Agency goes into liquidation

Raymonds, one of the country's biggest regional news agencies, has gone into voluntary liquidation and ceased trading, adding to the crisis over the lack of coverage of courts by the media.

Raymonds which is based in Derby, with a branch office in Lincoln, specialises in covering Crown Court, general news and sport across the East Midlands for the national and local press as well as broadcasters.

All six journalists employed by the agency have been made redundant and a letter has gone out to creditors saying a creditors' meeting will be held on November 1.

News agencies have long complained about the poor rates being paid for copy and pictures by national newspapers which have cut their freelance budgets and commissions. Some agencies claim national rates are lower than they were 20 years ago and say its common to wait six months for payment.

Built up by Klaus Jacoby, John Twells and Neil Hallam, Raymonds once had a network of offices based in Chesterfield, Ipswich, Norwich, Nottingham and Stoke-on-Trent as well as those in Derby and Lincoln. It was the largest regional news agency in the country.

Raymonds started in the 1930s and at one time employed 25 journalists and gained the financial backing of free newspaper publisher Lionel Pickering in the late 1980s.

Journalists who have worked for Raymonds include ITV News editor-in-chief David Mannion and his former ITN colleague, foreign correspondent Terry Lloyd who was killed in 2003 while covering the invasion of Iraq.

In January this year another regional agency, Kent News and Pictures, started by former Evening Standard journalist Chris Eades in Maidstone in 1993, ceased trading. Around 10 editorial staff lost their jobs.

The worrying question facing the media and the law is if news agencies cannot make money covering the courts and newspapers have too few reporters to send to them, how is justice going to be seen to be done?

I worked for Raymonds in the 1980s at Eastern News, its Lincoln office.

Pic: Lincoln Crown Court, one of the courts covered by Raymonds.

Tuesday 19 October 2010

Will celebs, sex and sport crack the NoW paywall?

‘Nudist Welfare Man’s Model Wife Fell for the Chinese Hypnotist From the Co-op Bacon Factory’ is my all time favourite News of the World headline.

It lives up to the paper’s famous advertising slogan : ‘All Human Life is There’ and in popular press parlance is a “Fuck me! Doris” story – as in husband looks up from his paper and exclaims to his wife (Doris) at the other end of the breakfast table about the sensational story he’s reading. A more up to date FMD story in the News of the World is likely to involve a Premiership footballer snorting coke with a couple of X-Factor contestants and a member of the Royal family, all brought together by a fake Arab sheikh.

But the aim is the same. To astonish and amaze on every page . And the News of the World is very good at it. Look at some of its scoops this year. Fergie selling access to Andy, the cricket betting fix scandal, Wayne Rooney playing away with prostitutes and boxer Ricky Hatton taking drugs.

When the then NoW editor Andy Coulson gave a rare interview to Press Gazette editor Ian Reeves in April 2005 he picked out the key elements of the paper. He named them as revelations; investigations; sport; campaigns; columnists; and politics.

Coulson described sport as: “A central part of the NoW. We manage to get 24 live pages out with every game covered into our first edition.” So why is there so much pessimism about the Screws coming paywall? Sex and sport is often seen as the driver behind any new technology, including the internet. And sport is definitely the driver behind the success of Sky and satellite television in this country – that’s why football rights cost so much.

Some pundits have suggested that News Corp's desire to buy the whole of BSkyB may create opportunities for bundling multimedia packages for its subscriber base which could mean readers being offered a NoW and Sky Sports deal. It has also been argued that paywalls aren’t just about monetising the internet but a way of building a database of information about subscribers, including gathering their credit card details. In the case of the NoW that’s access to the readership of the biggest circulation national Sunday newspaper in the UK.

Would be subscribers to the NoW site are being offered “a bigger, better video player” and the chance to be “first to see all our agenda- setting exclusives.” Popular journalism is constantly changing. I doubt whether ‘Nudist Welfare Man’s Model Wife Fell for the Chinese Hypnotist From the Co-op Bacon Factory’ or another old NoW tale: ‘Awful discovery in Drury Lane: child found pickled in jar’ has much online appeal.

But exclusive shots of celebs, Royals and the peccadilloes of Premiership stars may well have potential subscribers reaching for their credit cards. One thing hasn’t changed. The NoW’s job is to break the big exclusives. If its sex and sport sensations can’t crack the paywall and pull in the punters then what hope is there for popular journalism?
  • I am away in Prague this week but the above is a piece on the News of the World's paywall I have written for the new TheMediaBriefing website

Monday 18 October 2010

What did Murdoch ever do for the Independent?

Stephen Glover in the Independent today questions the claim that by smashing the print unions in the Wapping dispute Rupert Murdoch saved the Guardian and the Independent.

The claim was made last week by Simon Jenkins in the Guardian who suggested that without Murdoch "it is most unlikely that today there would be any Guardian or Independent".

Glover, one of the founders of the Independent, makes the point that before Wapping the Independent had struck a deal with printers outside London and the paper was later a victim of Murdoch's decision to cut the price of The Times.

He says: "One could certainly make a strong case for saying his victory over the print unions in the mid-1980s boosted all newspapers since it greatly reduced their production costs. Yet The Independent may not have been the biggest beneficiary.

"Before Mr Murdoch's Wapping lock-out in January 1986, the paper, still in the planning stage before its launch in October of that year, had an agreement with four provincial publishing companies. These printers, which did indeed produce the paper in the early years, were not cowed by the unions in the way other Fleet Street titles were. It is possible that, without Wapping, The Independent would have been printed in the provinces while enjoying a cost advantage.

"Mr Murdoch undoubtedly did one considerable disservice to this paper when he cut the cover price of The Times in September 1993. In the previous month, the sales of the two titles had been broadly similar. Thereafter the circulation of the discounted Times shot up while that of The Independent, whose owners could not afford to reduce its price, fell away. Mr Murdoch may have done much for newspapers, but The Independent has no particular reason to be grateful to him."

Saturday 16 October 2010

Yes! we do have papers and magazines today

What a great looking newsagent. Steve Dyson liked it so much when he spotted it in Clitheroe, Lancashire, he sent me a picture via his BlackBerry. Colourful isn't it?

Friday 15 October 2010

NUJ says BBC £2billion pension deficit 'a sham'

Unions representing BBC staff claimed today they have been leaked figures drawn up for the corporation by financial consultants' which show management have overestimated the pension deficit at £2billion.

The unions say they have been leaked figures drawn up for the BBC by financial consultants which put the pension deficit at just under £1 billion.

According to the NUJ, the pension scheme’s actuaries are believed to be quoting a figure of £1.5 billion. The amounts are different because some things are variable, like the length of time pensioners will live. The actuaries and the BBC will have to agree on a final figure.

NUJ general secretary, Jeremy Dear said: “The BBC sought to sell its pensions robbery by claiming it had to plug a £2bn deficit. If today's figures are true, that has now been exposed as a sham.

"The BBC's credibility is in tatters and their justification for these punitive changes completely undermined. They must now come clean and re-start negotiations with everything on the table."
  • Members of the BBC staff unions, the NUJ, BECTU and Unite are now voting in a consultative ballot on the BBC's latest pensions offer.

How will post-grads pay when tuition fees go up?

This week I was talking to a journalism lecturer very concerned about the future - particularly for post-grad journalism courses.

It follows the news that the current cap of £3,290 on tuition fees may be lifted and a "free market" introduced into higher education. There is speculation that fees could rise to up to £10,000 a year.

The journalism lecturer could not see how, following a hike in tuition fees, students will be able to find the extra funds to pay for post-grad courses. What makes it more difficult is in journalism there is no guarantee you are going to earn a decent salary when you graduate and in some cases you'll be asked to work for nothing on an "internship".

  • Tonight I'm going to a reunion of my City University journalism post-grad course. Tom Welsh, the first director of journalism at City University, tells me that all the students on our course in 1976 got local authority grants and had their tuition fees paid.

Martin Stabe leaves Emap to join Financial Times

Martin Stabe is leaving Emap to join the Financial Times as a producer on’s interactive desk.

Writing on his blog, Martin, who was online editor for Retail Week, says: "It’s a great opportunity to finally practice the area of journalism that has most fascinated me in recent years — the visualisation of data and integration of multimedia elements in online journalism."

While at Emap, Martin helped relaunch four websites — Retail Week, Drapers, Retail Jeweller and Professional Beauty — and was part of the team that pioneered Emap’s paywall strategy. Previously he was new media editor of Press Gazette.

Johnston boss: 'Limit BBC's local web stories'

Regional newspaper groups will not be able to charge for digital content unless the BBC local ambitions are controlled, John Fry, chief executive of Johnston Press, tells the Daily Telegraph today.

Fry says he has written to the BBC Trust calling for it to limit the number of local stories it can publish on the internet in a geographical area to no more than three stories per region or city . The Telegraph says his demand comes as he wants the group to introduce more paid-for digital content but claims the BBC could prove a stumbling block to Johnston's efforts.

"We've not got a response yet, as it is part of a wider review. The danger is that it could be pushed into the long grass," Fry tells the Telegraph.

The Telegraph adds: "High on his agenda is deciding whether to follow some national newspapers and launch paywalls on regional newspaper websites, with the popular an obvious target. He says that this is something that is being considered, but he is waiting for greater penetration of internet-enabled devices such as iPads and iPods."

Fry says once iPhone penetration grows, there will be significant take-up for local news apps that offer anything from local library and cinema times to speed camera locations.

NUJ leader told stick to nappies and breastfeeding

A UKIP politician has told the deputy general secretary of the NUJ Michelle Stanistreet to stick to nappies and breastfeeding, The Workers United blog reveals today.

Stainstreet (pictured) had written to Euro MPs, on behalf of the union, about a proposed directive on pregnant workers.

In an emailed reply Godfrey Bloom, UKIP MEP for Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, said:"To be brutally honest Mrs Stanistreet, I have never read such dreadful nonsense in my life. You clearly have no idea how businesses work or recruitment policy in the private sector.

"I am simply far too busy to go through line by line and pick up on the flaws in your argument. I implore you to stick to giving advice on nappies and breastfeeding or whatever it is that brought your organisation into existence."

The Workers United blog points out that Bloom is a member of the European parliament's women’s rights and gender equality committee.

Pic: Jon Slattery

Quotes of the week: From who Cameron can depend on to how spite replaced Fleet Street fun

Stephen Glover in the Independent: "Mr Cameron can only depend on The Times and The Sun, and their Sunday stablemates, with whose owner, Rupert Murdoch, a deal has been sealed in blood. They will support the Coalition until it is broken on the rocks."

Dan Sabbagh in the Mirror:
"The Murdoch empire now takes the view that David Cameron owes it for supporting the Tories at the Election - although the party's lack of an overall majority would indicate that News Corp's supposed power to influence public opinion may be largely an illusion."

The Times hits back at BBC director-general Mark Thompson for joining the alliance opposing News Corp's full takeover of BSkyB: " Mr Thompson has made a serious and surprising error. First, he has embroiled his taxpayer-funded organisation in a political and commercial battle that it should have nothing to do with. Having argued that the BBC should not be regulated in the same way as normal media outlets, he has now acted exactly as an ordinary business would do, seeking to gain commercial advantage in league with News Corp’s rivals."

Andrew Marr at the Cheltenham Literature Festival on bloggers: "A lot of bloggers seem to be socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed, young men sitting in their mother's basements and ranting. They are very angry people."

Paul Bradshaw responds to Marr on his Online Journalism Blog:
"This fake-debate was laid to rest years ago (is anyone really claiming that citizen journalism will replace journalism? Or still trying to compare blogging – a technical process – with journalism – a cultural construct?). As I tweeted yesterday: the year 2005 called, Andrew. They want their prejudices back."

Russell Brand in The Word magazine on Sachsgate:
"I did a stupid thing the BBC handled it badly and opportunist; negative institutions exploited the situation to help destroy one of the few remaining facets of British national life of which we can be genuinely proud. But the Daily Mail is evil and it's only a matter of time before they make a mistake. And when they do we will be ready."

US correspondent covering the rescue of the Chilean miners, as reported in the Guardian: "I'm used to being treated like a vulture but here families want to talk to you. It's kind of weird. Weird in a good way."

Colin Dunne on
Gentlemen Ranters on the good old days of Fleet Street: "Personally, I don’t think those times require a defence. If so, I’m happy to rely on Mike Molloy, the Mirror editor, as he watched his happy team clatter into the lift on the way to El Vino. ‘I always think that if they’re having a good time, it will sort of spill over into the paper.' It did. The papers then were bubbling with affection and joy and mischief – and respect for their readers. Now they bubble with spite. When the fun went out of Fleet Street, it went out of the papers too."

Thursday 14 October 2010

Police tweet the news as local press declines

Sad to hear Manchester Chief Constable Peter Fahy on the Today programme this morning saying it's got "more difficult to get out information, particularly with the decline of local newspapers."

Fahy was talking about why the Greater Manchester force had decided to put out information on Twitter today. Not sure that tweets on shoplifting and fireworks being let off by youths in Salford will ever adequately replace the likes of the Manchester Evening News' award winning former crime correspondent Steve Panter.

Socialist Worker infiltrates Mail's Lily Cole story

Miles Barter's new blog The Workers United has an intriguing twist to a Daily Mail story about supermodel Lily Cole and her new hair colour.

It shows her being "asked for an autograph by a punk". But The Workers United site claims the "punk" is a Socialist Worker supporter handing her a petition. Is the real story that Cole's opposing the cuts and embracing socialist revolution?

MEN to relaunch Trafford Metro as two titles

MEN Media announced today that the Trafford Metro will relaunch as two new newspapers: The Sale & Altrincham Advertiser and The Stretford & Urmston Advertiser.

The launches will take place on 21st October and, the company says, will see the titles "include more local content as a result of the editorial restructuring of the MEN Media business over the summer."

In addition, the combined distribution of the two new titles is expected to be 78,000, more than 10,000 higher than that of the Trafford Metro.

The publication day of the paper will move from Friday to Thursday and each of the new titles will include a new property supplement - Homesmine .

Chile miners' rescue is front page gold worldwide

  • For more front pages see the fantastic Newseum website.

Wednesday 13 October 2010

Dyson renews call for local press to drop sex ads

Former Birmingham Mail editor Steve Dyson (left) has renewed his call for local papers to stop carrying sex advertising after claims that editors and publishers could face prosecution if their titles carry them.

The Croydon Guardian, which has been investigating sex trafficking, has quoted a senior Metropolitan Police officer saying editors and publishers who continue to run adverts which are fronts for brothels could be arrested.

Vice squad detective inspector Kevin Hyland told the Guardian: "It is an offence to advertise for prostitution. If newspapers do run adverts there is a possibility of prosecution. The legislation we are thinking of using is aiding and abetting offences of controlling prostitution for gain, offences of trafficking under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and possibly money laundering."

Dyson, who this summer campaigned that 'It's time to ban sex ads' on his blog hosted by HoldtheFrontPage, said: "This is exactly why the regional newspaper industry needs to be so careful about the sexually explicit services it potentially offers via its classified sections.

"One, the implied activities and certain images used are distasteful given most titles' family, community-based audiences.

"Two, if editors are not vigilant and honest about the real-world activities taking place in the establishments they promote, they could ultimately find themselves in court.

"What has been seen in Croydon is surely a reminder to all in our industry that now is the time to ban sex ads."

Met asks Guardian to help with hacking inquiry

The Metropolitan police has written to the Guardian asking the paper to supply it with any new material it has about phone-hacking at the News of the World, editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger revealed today.

Detective Inspector Dean Haydon, who is leading the Met's review of the phone-hacking case, has written to Rusbridger, asking for any new material that may have come to light.

In his reply, Rusbridger said the police already have access to evidence that would help with their inquiry, including transcripts of voicemail messages that were intercepted by News of the World employees from a mobile phone belonging to the PFA chief executive, Gordon Taylor.

"[The Guardian journalist] Nick Davies was able to reveal incontrovertible evidence of the involvement in phone hacking of other NoW reporters and executives: the material is sitting in you own files, and was obtained by lawyers acting for Gordon Taylor," Rusbridger wrote.

He said that Davies had been able to publish fresh revelations about the extent of the practice over the past year by "taking the trouble to interview a large number of people who were working at the News of the World at the relevant time". He suggested the police do the same.

"That, it seems to us, would be a more productive route than seeking to interview other journalists who have looked into the story," he said.

"It has been open to the MPS to [interview News of the World journalists] since your colleagues arrested Glenn Mulcaire and Clive Goodman in 2006," Rusbridger said. "But the MPS decided at the time that they would interview no other NoW journalists than Mr Goodman himself."

Rusbridger also criticised the Met for interviewing under caution ex-News of the World journalists who have come forward this year to talk about phone hacking at the paper. "Many external observers are troubled that the MPS is adopting the intimidatory approach of seeking to interview these whistleblowers under caution – ie treating them as potential defendants as opposed to potential witnesses," he said.

Rusbridger also told Haydon: "The fact that three separate news organisations have been able to uncover this story must give you hope that you, too, could got to the bottom of it without too much trouble."

Hamas closes Palestinian journalists' union office

The International Federation of Journalists has condemned the action of the Hamas Internal Security department which has closed down the office of the Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate (PJS) in Gaza.

"The action by the Hamas government is a violation of journalists' rights and a slap in the face of Palestinians who are courageously fighting for their rights and the independence of journalism in appalling conditions," said Jim Boumelha, IFJ president.

The Palestinian Journalists' Syndicate is one of the journalists' unions affiliated to the IFJ. According to the IFJ, the PJS aims to unite journalists across Palestine who are currently divided both by Israeli restrictions on freedom of movement and the political divisions between the Hamas government in Gaza and the Palestine Authority in the West Bank.

Times hits out at BBC D-G for opposing Murdoch

The Times in a leader today headlined "Self-Service Broadcasting" has hit out at BBC Director-General Mark Thompson for joining the alliance opposing News Corp's full takeover of BSkB.

After listing every BBC outlet from BBC 1 to BBC Radio Stoke, The Times thunders: "The man in overall charge of all these media outlets, their Director-General, has finally spoken out about his concern that too much media power might reside in one organisation. Extraordinarily, however, Mark Thompson was not expressing his fears about the growth of the BBC. He was instead talking about News Corporation, the parent company of The Times. The crushing weight of Mr Thompson’s responsibilities has clearly suffocated his sense of irony.

"By lending his name to the campaign to prevent News Corp from purchasing those Sky shares that it does not already own, Mr Thompson has made a serious and surprising error.

"First, he has embroiled his taxpayer-funded organisation in a political and commercial battle that it should have nothing to do with. Having argued that the BBC should not be regulated in the same way as normal media outlets, he has now acted exactly as an ordinary business would do, seeking to gain commercial advantage in league with News Corp’s rivals. They, at least, are openly self-interested (though, absurdly, they represent themselves as acting in the public interest). Any pretence that the BBC is not similarly self-interested is at an end. And public money is being used to advance that self-interest."

The Times also claims Thompson has made a mistake by "making the BBC part of a political story that it will wish to report upon. This was entirely avoidable. His blunder will be a burden for all BBC reporters."

  • The Times is behind a paywall.

'Without Murdoch there would be no Guardian'

Simon Jenkins in the Guardian today praises Rupert Murdoch claiming: "Murdoch is the best thing that ever happened to the British media...Without him and his Fleet Street revolution it is most unlikely that today there would be any Guardian or Independent, any third news channel and any Sky Arts 2.

"When Murdoch came along the pundits predicted at most three newspapers in Britain by 1980, as in most unionised countries.For a quarter-century Murdoch defied opposition to transform the economics of British newspapers and television, salvaging the first from union monopoly and the second from BBC/ITV duopoly. At every turn he worsted his rivals and left them whingeing to government. Now he wants to buy all of BSkyB and they are whingeing again."

But then he buries him..."Having taken Murdoch's shilling in the past, I am more than aware of his shortcomings as well as virtues. He may have kept British journalism alive, but he hardly enhanced its standing in British life. His competitiveness in bidding for the FT, undercutting rivals and tormenting the BBC was often motivated more by mischief than strategy. A journalist by instinct, he also found it hard to stop meddling in his papers. He loves the wielding of power and shamelessly uses his access to advance his businesses."

Jenkins says the letter sent by Fleet Street rivals to the business secretary Vince Cable urging him to stop News Corporation taking full control of BSkyB is "the greatest compliment Britain's great and good have paid Murdoch. He has reduced his foes to pleading for government protection. He should be cock-a-hoop."

But he concludes: "Maintaining a diverse media is a crucial underpinning of democracy. As for Murdoch, the sun has shone and he has made hay. It is time he heard a regulator knocking at his door."

Tuesday 12 October 2010

NUJ leader predicts 'no' vote by BBC members

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear has predicted union members at the BBC will vote ‘No' in the consultative ballot on the new pension proposals and strike action would become “inevitable” unless management revisited its latest offer.

Dear also warned expected cuts of up to 25% at the BBC World Service, the closure of services and on-going job cuts caused by a freeze in licence fee funding would lead to “more disputes, strikes and a growing sense of discontent”.

He said: “The BBC’s latest pension proposals are the result of months of tough negotiations but the fact is they remain unfair and unacceptable to a majority of staff. Thousands of staff are expected to pay more for less and to work longer for the privilege. With the prospect of pensions being devalued by tens of thousands of pounds it is little wonder that the overwhelming mood at meetings is to reject and to campaign for a fairer pensions deal.

“Add to that anger the massive pay off Mark Byford has been given, the threat of job cuts and service closures at the World Service and the inevitable consequence that as a result of the funding freeze fewer staff will be expected to cut more corners to deliver BBC services and there is a real prospect of a winter of growing discontent”.

Ballot papers are being issued to around 10,000 union members tomorrow. The ballot will close on 28 October. Strikes scheduled for the 19 and 20 October have been postponed to allow for the ballot to take place but the NUJ said a 24-hour work to rule will take place on 22 October and the unions are to inform the BBC of a series of additional strike dates which may be activated in the event of a no vote in the consultative ballot.

X-Factor gets more coverage than child benefit

TV show The X-Factor got more press coverage than the scrapping of child benefit for the higher paid, in the week ending Sunday 10 October, according to journalisted.

The X-Factor, with the press calling for the return of ex-contestant Gamu Nhengu, generated 379 articles; Government cuts to child benefit, with David Cameron apologising but insisting they are necessary, 335 articles; the newly elected Shadow Cabinet, 150 articles; and the toxic spill in Hungary, killing nearby villagers and polluting the Danube river, 73 articles;

According to journalisted, "covered little" were the terrorist mortar attack on British diplomats travelling by car in Yemen, 17 articles; the general election in Bosnia, won by the moderate Party of Democractic Action, 10 articles; and the arrest of a Mai-Mai rebel commander, Lt. Col. Mayele, thought to have led the mass rape atrocities in the Congo this summer, 4 articles.

Journalisted also noted that X-Factor judge Cheryl Cole, following her rejection of Gamu Nhengu, generated 179 articles compared to Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese dissident awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, who was the subject of 52 articles.

Sun let's Go Go of its George Michael splashes

How disappointing. The Sun has decided to pass up the chance of yet another George Michael "Go Go" splash headline on news of his release from prison. Instead we have to make do with the muted strapline: "THEY'VE LET HIM, ER, GO GO."

In the past the Sun has served up George Michael headlines: "Zip Me Up Before You Go Go"; "Lock Me Up Before You Go Go" and "Let Me Go Go".

Paul Bradshaw on the 'fake-debate' over blogging

Paul Bradshaw on his Online Journalism Blog has responded to Andrew Marr's comments yesterday about "socially inadequate" bloggers.

Marr, speaking at the Cheltenham Literary Festival claimed: "Most citizen journalism strikes me as nothing to do with journalism at all" and described bloggers as "socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed young men sitting in their mother's basements and ranting."

But Bradshaw (pictured) says: "This fake-debate was laid to rest years ago (is anyone really claiming that citizen journalism will replace journalism? Or still trying to compare blogging – a technical process – with journalism – a cultural construct?). As I tweeted yesterday: the year 2005 called, Andrew. They want their prejudices back.
Pic: Jon Slattery

Fleet Street rivals bury the hatchet - in Murdoch

In an unprecedented alliance Fleet Street rivals, the Guardian, Telegraph, Mail and Mirror have joined with the BBC and Channel 4 to urge business secretary Vince Cable to block Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation taking full control of BSkyB.

In a joint letter to Cable, the alliance of newspaper publishers and broadcasters say the "proposed takeover could have serious and far-reaching consequences for media plurality".

According to the Guardian, the letter is signed by Murdoch MacLennan, chief executive of Telegraph Media Group; Sly Bailey, chief executive of Trinity Mirror; and Andrew Miller, chief executive of Guardian Media Group.

They are joined by Mark Thompson, director general of the BBC; Ian Livingston, chief executive of BT; and David Abraham, chief executive of Channel 4.

Monday 11 October 2010

The Word: Russell Brand on the 'evil' Daily Mail

Russell Brand lashes out at the Daily Mail in the latest issue of The Word magazine.

Commenting on the Sachsgate affair, he says: "The BBC is brilliant, and we'll really regret it when its gone. And it will go - we're witnessing it unravelling now. But I don't think it handled [Sachsgate] at all well. They should've looked at the people who were pointing fingers - that was the problem.

"The problem was the Daily Mail...I did a stupid thing, the BBC handled it badly and opportunist, negative institutions exploited the situation to help destroy one of the few remaining facets of British national life of which we can be genuinely proud. But the Daily Mail is evil and it's only a matter of time before they make a mistake. And when they do we will be ready."
  • The Word has a website but its magazine content is not online.

Guardian correction: How to butter up readers

Great correction in the Guardian today: "Anybody taking our recipe for Chelsea buns with fennel seeds and apricots at face value was in for a surprise (Food, 2 October, page 64, Weekend). The 500g of bread flour was meant to partner with 30g of unsalted butter, not 230g."

Tobias Grubbe opines on his financial acumen

Gentleman journalist Tobias Grubbe, the creation of Michael Cross and Matthew Buck, has given his latest opinions, this time on financial matters, to

Campaign plan for no vote on BBC pensions offer

A meeting of the NUJ Left on Saturday – attended by the union’s general secretary Jeremy Dear and president Pete Murray – agreed to support BBC reps from all unions around the corporation who want to campaign for a no vote in the consultative ballot over a new pension deal.

A strike was postponed last week after the corporation improved plans for a career-average pension to replace the final salary scheme which covers most employees.

Reps from the NUJ, BECTU, and Unite agreed to consult BBC members – without making a recommendation about whether to support the new deal. The new offer, which will include seven pages of explanation, is to be sent out with ballot papers later this week.

The plan is for leaflets arguing for a no vote to be handed out around the BBC’s offices. The aim of the campaigners is to give BBC workers who don’t like the deal the confidence to vote no. The NUJ ballot was due to start last week but was delayed because the BBC wanted to revise its “final offer”.

Source: Miles Barter's new blog The Workers United

So, what's it like being an intern for six months?

Received the following posting over the weekend on a story I did about the NUJ saying it was going to try and claim backpay for those who had done unpaid internships. It was anonymous but struck me as an authentic view of the work experience/ internship dilemma facing would be journalists.

"When I set out on my first work experience placement, I was enormously enthusiastic and still had much to learn - indeed, I still am and still do.

"However, I've now completed more than six months of unpaid work placements at a number of the UK's top newspapers and magazines - and there are those out there who have done even more than me.

"And it has to be said that for every positive (welcoming, useful) placement, there are those that are simply unacceptable. Coffee runs are fair enough, as is research and menial tasks. As a top editor reminded me, even he was doing it at one stage. However, I've also been screwed out of bylines so that I don't have to be paid (they ran the content under a staff writer's name), and even been arrested on assignment from one magazine.

"I'll always be the first person in the office and the last one out, yet 90% the time the work goes unheeded.

"What is most surprising is that many of these publications will print intern's work, including byline, and not pay them. This is usually attributed to 'budget' - yet these publications are fine publishing the work of freelancers sat at home in their studies, pyjama-clad at 2pm, whose work is often lazy regurgitation of press release copy.

"There is a fine balance inherent in any internship - value to the journalist, versus value to the publication. If the balance is tipped in favour of the former, then fair enough with the no payment approach (although not paying expenses is utterly inexcusable, yet rife). However, in the current climate the majority of internships swing into the latter category - in which case, many interns are merely unpaid labour, and the NUJ is right to approach it as such."

  • The NUJ 's bid to claim the National Minimum Wage for journalists who have done unpaid work does not apply to students on work experience placements but those who have undertaken internships, which tend to be longer than work experience, with a greater time commitment and deadlines, and involve making a contribution to the work of the organisation.

'Cameron can only depend on the Sun and Times'

Stephen Glover in the Independent today suggests a subtle political realignment of the Press has taken place following the Mail and Telegraph coming out so strongly against child benefit being withdrawn from high earners.

Glover writes: "Mr Cameron can only depend on The Times and The Sun, and their Sunday stablemates, with whose owner, Rupert Murdoch, a deal has been sealed in blood. They will support the Coalition until it is broken on the rocks. The Guardian, Independent and Mirror are obviously never going to be Tory cheerleaders, and such a role is not in the style of The Financial Times. That leaves a third element comprising the Mail and the Telegraph and, I suppose, the Express. While supporting the deficit reduction, they will continue to attack the Coalition over a succession of issues.

"How much does it matter to the Prime Minister? Quite a lot – hence the response, part angry, part bemused, of the Cameroons. Ted Heath probably enjoyed more support from the Telegraph and Mail during the upheavals of 1973 than Mr Cameron does now. Given the course he has set, however, it is difficult to see how he can appease his Tory critics. His worry is that these are early days, and the Coalition is still broadly popular. What will the right-wing Press be saying in two years' time when it is not?"

Friday 8 October 2010

Bullivant 'withdraws' from battle of Birmingham

Free newspaper entrepreneur Chris Bullivant is "withdrawing" the two titles he launched in Birmingham this year after losing the support of estate agents in the city, holdthefrontpage reports today.

But the war with Trinity Mirror, publisher of the Birmingham Post and Birmingham Mail, may not be completely over. Bullivant in a parting shot said he would be complaining to the Office of Fair Trading about the pricing structure employed by his rivals.

Bullivant launched the Birmingham Press in April and followed in up with a sister title, the Birmingham Free Press in June. Trinity had hit back with a free version "lite" version of the Birmingham Post.

HTFP reports in a statement issued this afternoon, Bullivant admitted he was unable to compete with what he claimed was Trinity Mirror's latest offer to the estate agents. Trinity Mirror has always denied engaging in anti-competitive practices in Birmingham.

Bullivant's statement said: "It has been rumoured over recent weeks that the Birmingham Press and the Birmingham Free Press were due to close. The truth is that the CJB Company which publishes these Birmingham newspapers had secured the backing of our bankers to continue publishing providing we, in turn, secured the backing of the Birmingham estate agents to support the project.

"A meeting was held yesterday (Thursday) between representatives of BPM Media (Trinity Mirror) and the estate agents of Birmingham. The agents were offered an advertising package consisting of a page appearing in the Birmingham Mail and a page appearing in the Mail Extra, a total of 130,000 copies per week, full colour, for the sum of £250. The duration of this offer was until December 2011.

"I was approached by a number of the Birmingham estate agents this morning and asked if I could compete with the BPM Media price. I had to say that I could not – and I had to start the withdrawal of my newspapers from Birmingham as a result.

"I am complaining about the BPM Media pricing structure to the Office of Fair Trading, but if BPM Media prove to be right in their pricing, I fear there is no future for independent publishing in the UK.

"It would be interesting to know if Trinity Mirror has made similar offers to other groups of advertisers in the Midlands or in their Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle or Cardiff dailies; if not, why not?

"I can only imagine the delight of many pundits on hearing this news. The only way I can respond to what, I believe will be said, is to read Kipling’s 9th and 12th 'Ifs.'

"I introduced free newspapers into this country in 1970, and free dailies 1985. I firmly believe that the Press /Free Press formula will be the one that eventually replaces daily regional newspapers, I am extremely proud of the product.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank my excellent team who helped me develop the project over the last eight months and, to quote my 'north Brummie' editor, produce a bostin' newspaper."

Telegraph infographic on trapped Chilean miners

Great use of infographics by on the trapped Chilean miners. It shows a cross section of the San Jose mineshaft, how the rescue is planned to take place, plus pictures of all the miners and is regularly updated.