Saturday, 30 April 2011

The Times and Independent dare to be different

The Times has won plenty of plaudits today for daring to be different with its front page wraparound treatment of the royal wedding using a shot of the newlyweds driving off, rather than opting for the traditional kiss on the balcony scene.

The Independent also strived to be different with an original artwork of the royal couple by Tracey Emin but still went for that kiss.

The Mail and Sun opted for the kiss photograph, as did the rest of the nationals.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Royal wedding splashes: FT is the odd one out

The Financial Times is the only UK national paper not leading on the royal wedding today.

The Independent, which has traditionally played down royal coverage, carries pictures of the build-up to the wedding celebrations on its front page - although it does say in the bottom right corner: "Not interested in the Royal Wedding? Turn now to page six."

The Guardian also splashes on the royal wedding but says in a leader: "For most of us this is a day off..not a day for tugging of forelocks."

  • Online the Guardian has it both ways with readers being able to select wedding coverage or other news by clicking a box for "royalists" or "republicans".

Quotes of the Week: From gagging journalists to being doorstepped by the man from the Mail

Andrew Marr in the Daily Mail about his privacy injunction: "
I did not come into journalism to go around gagging journalists. Am I embarrassed by it? Yes. Am I uneasy about it? Yes. But at the time there was a crisis in my marriage and I believed there was a young child involved. I also had my own family to think about, and I believed this story was nobody else's business."

Leader in the Independent on super-injunctions:
"Such is the secrecy surrounding super-injunctions that the public simply cannot make a judgement about whether justice is being done. Media organisations are forbidden from reporting not only the details of the case, but the reasons why an individual judge has reached a decision. Justice needs to be open if it is to command public respect. It is hard to see how super-injunctions can be compatible with a transparent legal system."

Telegraph diary on the actor Hugh Bonneville: "The star not merely of Downton, but also of films such as Scenes of a Sexual Nature and Conspiracy of Silence, Bonneville has undoubtedly come a long way since he started out at the National and the RSC in productions of The School for Scandal and 'Tis Pity She's a Whore'."

Stephen Glover in the Independent on the rise and rise of Mail Online:
"I realise, of course, that some people may feel less enthusiastic about Mail Online's global success than I am likely to. But perhaps anyone who wants newspapers to survive and thrive should draw comfort from the apparent debunking of what was until recently received wisdom. It turns out that online newspapers which don't charge can be profitable, and their success need not be at the expense of print."

Roy Greenslade in Media Guardian on NUJ general secretary elect Michelle Stanistreet: "She charmed me too. In October 2007, I resigned from the NUJ after 43 years of membership because I thought the union had responded negatively to the advance of digital media. Stanistreet doesn't mention that fact until we rise from the table after our talk. As a parting shot she says: 'Why don't you come back? Come on, you know you want to.' So, dear readers, I agreed. I have decided to return to the NUJ fold. The new general secretary has secured her first recruit."

NUJ letter to Johnston Press shareholders: "The performance of Johnston Press under John Fry’s stewardship has been unimpressive to say the least. Despite the downturn in the company’s fortunes, Mr Fry enjoyed a 4.3 per cent rise in pay to £1.01million in 2010, on top of this he received an additional 32.5 per cent of his base salary as pension contributions. That’s a £1.18million pay package in total. In return he has failed to develop a clear recovery and growth strategy for the company – something of grave concern to employees, shareholders and the many loyal journalists the company surreally claims not to employ."

Documentary photographer Marc Vallée, one of the founders of
I'm A Photographer Not A Terrorist: "The privatisation of public space is impacting on public photography. Private companies, with the backing of national and local government, are eroding the common law right of the citizen to take a picture in a public place."

Julie Burchill on being doorstepped by the Daily Mail: "When I had an adulterous affair in the 1990s, and the Daily Mail found out and sent a man in a grubby mac to doorstep us at my girl's flat, I actually tapped on his window when he fell asleep in his car outside, all the better to give a fellow hack a fighting chance of going back to the DM with his smutty story."

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Enfield Nine: From a funeral to tea in Farnham

The "Enfield Nine" journalists ended their two week strike over staff shortages by holding a street tea party outside the Tindle Newspapers headquarters in Farnham today.

They organised bunting, fairy cakes, cucumber sandwiches and music as part of the campaign to save their titles which are published by the Tindle owned North London & Herts Newspapers and include the Enfield Gazette, Haringey Advertiser and Barnet Press.

The campaign has included a mock funeral in Enfield which was held to warn local residents that their local papers were in danger. The strikers claim that their action has prompted a debate about the future of the local press and quality journalism.

NUJ FoC Jonathan Lovett, said: “It just shows that striking can be a positive action if the cause is right. We feel we have finally found a voice after months of fruitless negotiations and frustration.

“When we started this we didn’t realise we would hit such a nerve with journalists and readers up and down the country.

"We hope this is the start of a national debate about the future of local journalism. For too long, profit-hungry newspaper owners have been getting away with inferior products which do a disservice to their loyal readers.”

NUJ to hold strike ballot at BBC over job cuts

Thousands of NUJ members at the BBC are to be balloted for strike action in response to the threat of compulsory redundancies across the Corporation.

The union says that around 100 BBC journalists based in the World Service, BBC Monitoring, Online, and in Scotland and Wales are threatened with compulsory redundancy.

The NUJ, which represents the majority of journalists at the BBC, is to ballot members after it says the BBC refused to consider further moves to secure redeployment or find alternative opportunities for around 100 staff.

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said: "For months we have been negotiating with the BBC and have been able to resolve most cases by agreement. But the BBC’s refusal to consider workable alternatives for around 100 staff has left us with no choice but to ballot members for industrial action to defend jobs and services. There is no justification for these compulsory redundancies."

The union will begin the ballot next week.

Pic: Jeremy Dear speaking at protest against BBC World Service job cuts outside Bush House in London. (Jon Slattery)

NUJ's letter to Johnson Press shareholders

The NUJ handed out this open letter to Johnston Press shareholders at the company's AGM in Edinburgh today.
Dear Shareholder,
You’ll know only too well that management of your investment has produced little to celebrate in recent times. The current share price stands at just 8p. John Fry, who is finally leaving next March, has presided over a slump in share price from last year’s low of 17p and just over 30p at the 2010 shareholder’s meeting.
The performance of Johnston Press under John Fry’s stewardship has been unimpressive to say the least. Despite the downturn in the company’s fortunes, Mr Fry enjoyed a 4.3 per cent rise in pay to £1.01million in 2010, on top of this he received an additional 32.5 per cent of his base salary as pension contributions. That’s a £1.18million pay package in total. In return he has failed to develop a clear recovery and growth strategy for the company – something of grave concern to employees, shareholders and the many loyal journalists the company surreally claims not to employ.
The Johnston Press annual report boasts about ‘local content,’ ‘teams of local experts’ and proclaims that ‘Content is King’. Yet behind the corporate jargon, the company has reduced staff in its editorial teams dramatically in the last 12 months, with so-called ‘back-office functions’ - which include newspaper content creators - being moved sometimes miles away from the communities they serve.
The much-hailed new content management system is ‘operational’ across the business. This is purely down to the hard work of journalists. The company’s failure to invest in new hardware made the shaky implementation of the system exceedingly difficult. Similar systems have been introduced successfully at other newspaper groups who recognised this was a key investment that couldn’t be brought in on the cheap.
Over 230 editorial staff have been made redundant; significantly, 85 per cent volunteered to leave, a testament to the poor morale amongst staff. Those made compulsory redundant were often treated badly - in some cases individuals were given only a few hours to make a choice between a huge pay cut and imposed relocation or being forced to leave. All of this has taken place at a company that claims to belong to ‘Investors in People’.
The Chairman’s Statement says of Johnston Press – “Our core competences are providing strong local news and information coverage and attracting advertising and associated revenue. Our content and brands are established and well respected in their local communities. Our vision is to utilise that local news and information to create and sustain strong local brands which operate both in print and digital media. To support that vision, our strategy is to innovate locally to maintain print circulation and maximise advertising revenue; develop profitable partnerships which allow us to continue to grow our digital revenues; and develop associated revenue streams which capitalise on our strong local brands”. For anyone familiar with the group’s recent history, those are hollow words indeed.
The future of Johnston Press deserves the diligent attention of shareholders. We hope you will join with us in raising these important issues at today’s meeting and encourage the management to work with us to secure a better future for the company – for shareholders and staff alike.
National Union of Journalists

New blow to local press as council sells web ads

Windsor and Maidenhead Council is to appoint an independent advertising agency to sell advertising space on its website which, the Newspaper Society claims, will compete with independent local media for revenues.

A member of the council's cabinet will vet and approve each advert and an independent advertising agency will work on a commission basis. The plans were approved at a meeting in March.

The worrying move for local media publishers comes as a new code is imposed limiting the frequency and scope of council publications after complaints that they were unfair competition for the local press.

Lynne Anderson, head of communications at the Newspaper Society said: "Local authorities must not use public funds to compete for readers and advertising with the only voices which can hold them to account - independent local newspapers and their websites. This would never be tolerated at a national level and should not be tolerated locally.

"The local media is reliant on advertising revenue to fund its journalism - revenue which has been under severe challenge as the industry fights its way out of the economic downturn. The local council should be supporting local businesses, not competing with them for vital advertising revenues."

Source: Newspaper Society.Full story in Slough Observer.

Football manager who hit reporter gets the boot

A Danish football manager has been sacked from his job a day after hitting a tv reporter during an interview.

Ove Christensen took exception to what he thought were "stupid questions" from a pitchside reporter after his Randers team lost 4-0 to Brondby on Monday and hit the reporter on the arm.

The reporter in question then said "why did you hit me?" to which Christensen replied "because you did a good job" in a sarcastic manner.

A day later Christensen was out of a job, although Randers said they sacked him to try and avoid relegation and not because of his altercation with the reporter.

Burchill: 'Why are injunctions only used by men?'

Julie Burchill lays into privacy injunctions in her Independent column today claiming that they are only used by men to gag women.

She says: "Though injunctions are modern inventions, their intention is as old as Adam; they seek to return relations between the sexes to the level of those idealised in Downton Abbey and shown in surprisingly harsh reality in the earlier and far superior Upstairs, Downstairs, when rich men could do exactly as they pleased to parlour maids, prostitutes and showgirls and get away with it.

"If there is a law which is used by one gender only, we should surely be very suspicious of it, as the MP Louise Bagshawe has pointed out. The feeling that women and girls should be seen and not heard, which the law seems to perpetuate with the light punishments it hands out to rapists, child abusers and wife-killers, has now been extended to take in this new development whereby men, if they are rich enough, can be heard and not seen.

"The monstrous regiment of right-wing judges who haven't heard of Emmeline Pankhurst is compounded by the liberal lawyers who seem to believe that once you have ticked the box that says brotherhood of man, you can treat women in a way that you would never dream of treating ethnic minorities."

She also tells a great story about being doorstepped by the Daily Mail: "When I had an adulterous affair in the 1990s, and the Daily Mail found out and sent a man in a grubby mac to doorstep us at my girl's flat, I actually tapped on his window when he fell asleep in his car outside, all the better to give a fellow hack a fighting chance of going back to the DM with his smutty story."

Could communities save the Guardian local sites?

The Guardian has responded to calls for it to rethink plans to close its local sites in Cardiff, Edinburgh and Leeds by asking if local communities would raise funds to support the blogs.

Meg Pickard, head of digital engagement at the Guardian, has posted on the Inside blog: "Thanks for all the replies. We are reading them and clearly hear how much the Guardian local sites were valued in the communities they covered.

"On that note, in conversation with editors here earlier, an interesting idea was mooted: would any of the local communities or individuals affected be interested in carrying on the Cardiff/Leeds/Edinburgh blogs? Or fundraising a sum to enable us to continue? If We could find an alternative - community-supported? - funding model, that could extend the local project....

"Worth pondering? Any thoughts?!"

Postings on the Inside blog have praised the work of the beatbloggers - John Baron (Leeds), Hannah Waldram (Cardiff), and Michael MacLeod (Edinburgh) - on the Guardian local sites and called for them to be saved.

On Twitter a campaign to save the Cardiff blog #savegdncardiff is gaining momentum. Campaigns have been launched to save all three communities and in Leeds supporters are donating cash.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Guardian to 'wind down' local beatblogger project

The Guardian announced today that it is "winding down" its local project of beatbloggers based in Cardiff, Edinburgh and Leeds, claiming they are no longer sustainable in their present form.

The Guardian launched the project in February last year, recruiting John Baron (Leeds), Hannah Waldram (Cardiff), and Michael MacLeod (Edinburgh) in the role of beatbloggers, defined by the Guardian as people who would cover a city with particular attention to council activities and citizenship. Regional blogs and network expert Sarah Hartley was launch editor.

A posting on the Inside blog says: "The Local project has always been experimental in both concept and implementation. We've learned a lot from the beatbloggers, under the expert guidance of Sarah Hartley. We have also learned from the local communities who got involved with telling their stories. And using this we have continually refined our approach over the past year.

"As an experiment in covering local communities in a new way, it has been successful and enlightening. Unfortunately, while the blogs have found engaged local readerships and had good editorial impact, the project is not sustainable in its present form.

"So over the next month or so, we're going to be winding down the Cardiff, Leeds and Edinburgh blogs and retiring the local project. Don't worry – nothing's going to vanish or stop suddenly, and we're going to integrate communities and topics into our wider site coverage wherever possible."

  • Fantastic support for the work of the beatbloggers and their sites in comments on Guardian announcement.

Telegraph in super-tribute to Hugh Bonneville

What a super-tribute to actor Hugh Bonneville in the Daily Telegraph diary on Monday, under the headline: Hugh Bonneville's simple pleasures.

"Few, if any, users of the Twitter social networking website make a better advertisement for married life than Hugh Bonneville, the Downton Abbey star.

"The 47-year-old actor has lately regaled his 16,600 followers with his happy experiences at Chessington World of Adventures with his wife, Lulu, and nine-year-old son, Felix. It is the simple pleasures for Hugh: he talks, too, of his joy at "jogging through a bluebell wood... glorious."

"His tip for wholesome television viewing for Easter Monday? Just William on CBBC. 'It's superb family viewing,' he decrees. The star not merely of Downton, but also of films such as Scenes of a Sexual Nature and Conspiracy of Silence, Bonneville has undoubtedly come a long way since he started out at the National and the RSC in productions of The School for Scandal and 'Tis Pity She's a Whore'."

The Sun says goodbye to the typewriter in style

The Sun says goodbye to the typewriter in a special headline font today.

The paper reports that Indian firm Godrej and Boyce, the last company making typewriters, has shut its Mumbai plant.The firm started making typewriters in the 1950s and was still selling 50,000 annually in the early 1990s.

But general manager Milind Dukle is quoted as saying: "From the early 2000s onwards computers started dominating. All the manufacturers of office typewriters stopped production, except us. Until 2009, we used to produce 10,000 to 12,000 machines a year.

"But this is the last chance for typewriter lovers."

  • To show young people what a typewriter was, the Sun features a still from All the President's Men, with Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford portraying Watergate journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

Independent: 'The balance between the right to privacy and free expression has been lost'

The Independent in a leader today on super-injunctions says the balance between the right to privacy and the right to free expression has been lost.

It says the decision by Andrew Marr, a former editor of the Independent, to let his privacy injunction lapse highlights a growing sense of disquiet about such super-injunctions.

The Independent says: "Given that these injunctions often involve the infidelities of celebrities, some people have assumed that the only thing the public is being denied is access to salacious gossip. But that assumption is a mistake. In the case of at least one super-injunction there was an issue of genuine public interest involved. In 2009, the oil-trading firm Trafigura took out a super-injunction to prevent information being reported in relation to a toxic disaster in Ivory Coast. The existence of the legal order was only revealed because an MP, Paul Farrelly, referred to it in the House of Commons.

"Moreover, such is the secrecy surrounding super-injunctions that the public simply cannot make a judgement about whether justice is being done. Media organisations are forbidden from reporting not only the details of the case, but the reasons why an individual judge has reached a decision. Justice needs to be open if it is to command public respect. It is hard to see how super-injunctions can be compatible with a transparent legal system.

"There are parallels with the battle over the blanket secrecy that until recently prevailed in the family courts and the Court of Protection. Here, reporting restrictions had sound justifications, namely to protect the privacy of children and vulnerable adults. But that secrecy went too far and harmed the broader interests of justice. Controversial decisions were hidden from public view. Protection swamped transparency. The same thing has happened in the case of super-injunctions.

"Judges have granted several super-injunctions under the Human Rights Act, which guarantees a right to a private life. It is perfectly proper for them to take that legislation into consideration. But too often the balance between that right and the right to free expression, also enshrined in the Human Rights Act, has been lost.

"The family courts and the Court of Protection have been opened up in recent years thanks to public and media pressure. The privacy of the vulnerable has been preserved, but so too has the right of the press to bring important information into the public domain. A similar rebalancing needs to take place in our legal system over super-injunctions. The Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger, will publish a report on the use of them next month. It is to be hoped that he will recommend such sensible reforms. If not, the appropriate boundary between free reporting and privacy will need to be drawn in Parliament."

Royal wedding gets news vote over AV debate

The upcoming royal wedding dominated the UK news agenda in the week ending Sunday, April 24, gaining more coverage than the debate on AV, according to journalisted.

News and comment on the royal wedding, as preparations for street parties and security continue ahead of Friday, generated 722 articles; the debate around AV referendum, with party leaders divided and 'yes'/'no' voting campaigns in full swing, 197 articles; letter bombs sent to Celtic Football Club manager Neil Lennon and and two other fans, 108 articles.

Covered little, according to journalisted, were France and Italy pushing for EU border control reforms, as the African migrants crisis worsens, 15 articles; Ed Miliband's engagement with Blue Labour ideals, including a re-thinking of the previous government's immigration policies, 7 articles; a leaked UN report alleges both the Sri Lankan government and Tamil Tigers committed war crimes during the final days of the civil war two years ago, 7 articles; a river ferry capsizes in Bangladesh after colliding into wreckage of another ferry, with 33 reported dead, 3 articles.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Orwell Prize: Bloggers and journalists shortlists

The shortlists for this year’s Orwell Prize 2011 for political writing have been announced.

The shortlisted bloggers are:

Cath Elliott, Too Much To Say For Myself (; and Liberal Conspiracy, Comment is Free.
Daniel Hannan, Daniel Hannan – Telegraph Blogs (
Heresiarch, Heresy Corner (
Molly Bennett, Mid-Wife Crisis (
Paul Mason, Idle ScrawlBBC Newsnight (

Journalism Prize

The shortlisted journalists are:

Philip Collins, The Times
Amelia Gentleman, the Guardian
Catherine Mayer, TIME
Gideon Rachman, Financial Times
Jenni Russell, Sunday Times; the Guardian
Rachel Shabi, the Guardian
Declan Walsh, the Guardian; Granta

Among those shortlisted for the book prize is Christopher Hitchens, for his memoir Hitch-22. Last year, his brother Peter Hitchens won the Orwell Prize for Journalism.

Director of the Orwwell Prize, Jean Seaton, said: "Blogging is mutating faster than a fruit fly in a scientific experiment: now in its third year, the Blog Prize shows how this new vehicle for writing is both taking us into areas of private and unreported experience (like the inner life of politics in Mid-Wife Crisis), but also finding new voices, magnanimous and distinct."

The winners of the Orwell Prizes – each worth £3000 – will be announced at an awards ceremony at Church House, Westminster, on Tuesday 17th May, 6.30 for 7pm.

Enfield Nine: 'We've suggested ways to save titles'

Nine NUJ journalists, who are starting a second week of strike action at North London & Herts Newspapers over staff shortages, have hit back at claims by Tindle Newspapers' management that they have offered no suggestions on how to stop their newspapers' financial losses.

The strikers, who last week held a mock funeral for their titles in Enfield, say members of the public who have written to their owner Sir Ray Tindle about the strike action over non-replacement of editorial staff have received a letter claiming: "We asked the whole staff, particularly the journalists, to join with management to seek a solution to the huge losses the papers were making. The only reply was seven days' notice of a strike."

In response, the "Enfield Nine" claim they have suggested numerous revenue-boosting ideas to advertising management, including; a teen model search, a male-targeted magazine supplement, photosales specials, education-related editions, distribution reshuffles, several competition ideas and web-savvy initiatives.

They say these are in addition to a monthly supplement called Families In The Loop which editorial staff pitched to management and is now a 12-page monthly edition successfully bringing in a new source of revenue.

Father of the NUJ chapel Jonathan Lovett said: "The suggestion by management that we have been unhelpful is a downright lie.

"As well as producing nine newspapers in addition to our extensive workload, we have given numerous ideas to management to raise the bottom line. The majority of these have been ignored apart from a successful monthly supplement for families which has done well and showed how far our staff are prepared to collaborate and put in the extra hours.

"It is patronising and simplistic to suggest we have not considered the commercial reality of our situation when we are made all too painfully aware of it on a daily basis."

Pic: Journalists on strike outside the Enfield office (Jon Slattery)

Royal Wedding Mug: Arise, Sir Steve Bell!

Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell is guaranteed at least a knighthood for his beautifully rendered commemorative royal wedding mug, which carries the illustration above.

You can see the mug being made on a special Guardian video. Guardian readers are being given the opportunity to buy one of the special Bell mugs described as "a true republican collectible".

I guess if the Independent was doing a royal wedding mug it would just be blank.

Mail: Andrew Marr to let privacy injunction lapse

Andrew Marr has told the Daily Mail that he is to let a privacy injunction, which stopped the press writing about his extra-marital affair with another journalist, lapse rather than face a legal challenge from Private Eye magazine.

Marr, the BBC broadcaster and former editor of the Independent, won a High Court injunction in January 2008 to suppress reports of a relationship with a fellow journalist five years earlier.

According to the Mail, at the time, he believed he had fathered a child with the woman. He also made maintenance payments – until he discovered through a DNA test that he was not the girl's father.

The Mail reports: "When challenged by the Daily Mail yesterday, Marr declared he was now embarrassed by his gagging order and would no longer seek to prevent the story being published.

"His affair, which ended in 2003, was common knowledge at Westminster and within the BBC, where he was political editor. But the injunction banned publication of his name in connection with the story.

"Mr Marr said injunctions should not last 'for ever' and that their increased use by celebrities was 'out of control'."

Marr told the Mail: "I did not come into journalism to go around gagging journalists. Am I embarrassed by it? Yes. Am I uneasy about it? Yes. But at the time there was a crisis in my marriage and I believed there was a young child involved. I also had my own family to think about, and I believed this story was nobody else's business."

The Mail also says: "Marr decided to go public after being contacted by another publication – thought to be the satirical magazine Private Eye – which planned to challenge his injunction, taken out in 2008 against Associated Newspapers, publisher of the Daily Mail.

"As that would have involved further legal action, he decided, after discussing the issue with his wife, to walk away from the controversial gagging order."

Private Eye has been reporting on the existence of the Marr injunction for sometime. The Eye's Legal News column says: "So it was last year when Andrew Marr won an injunction to stop the media revealing 'private information' about him – and to stop them revealing that he’d stopped them.

"Marr himself was on record arguing against a judge-made privacy law and calling for a public debate on the subject. Any such debate should include some reference to the effect of super-injunctions; yet Marr’s, like many others these days, was so draconian that one couldn’t mention its existence.

"Nor were we allowed to know on what grounds it had been given. After a long struggle by Lord Gnome’s lawyers, the order was varied so that we could at least say that he’d obtained it, while not repeating the story he wished to suppress."

Monday, 25 April 2011

Roy the rover returns: Greenslade rejoins NUJ

MediaGuardian commentator Roy Greenslade (top) announces today that he is rejoining the NUJ in a flattering profile of the union's new general secretary elect Michelle Stanistreet.

He writes in Media Guardian of Stanistreet: "Her down-to-earth, apolitical approach was widely admired, a major reason why she has walked into the job of general secretary.

"She charmed me too. In October 2007, I resigned from the NUJ after 43 years of membership because I thought the union had responded negatively to the advance of digital media. Stanistreet doesn't mention that fact until we rise from the table after our talk. As a parting shot she says: 'Why don't you come back? Come on, you know you want to.'

"So, dear readers, I agreed. I have decided to return to the NUJ fold. The new general secretary has secured her first recruit."

Greenslade, a professor of journalism at City University and former editor of the Daily Mirror, announced he was quitting the NUJ in 2007 because of what he perceived as its outdated approach to new media.

He wrote on his blog: "I think it would be hypocritical to remain inside when I am now so opposed to the union's central aims.

"I do believe, most sincerely, that journalism matters. I also think the act of journalism matters. But the brave new world opened up by the internet makes protectionist organised labour on the lines of the NUJ outdated."

The catalyst to his resignation was widespread and hostile comments from the new media camp to an article in the NUJ magazine, The Journalist, entitled 'Web 2.0 is Rubbish', by Donnacha Delong, then new media representative for the NUJ, which raised concerns that traditional journalistic content and skills was under threat from user-generated content and the internet.

Delong is now the NUJ's vice-president.

Pic: Jon Slattery

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Frontline Club: Interview with Tim Hetherington

The Frontline Club is rebroadcasting its January 2009 interview with Tim Hetherington, the photojournalist killed covering the war in Libya last week. He talks to colleague James Brabazon about working in West Africa.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Photographers plan flashmob protest at City Hall

I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist! (PHNAT), the campaign group set up to fight unnecessary and draconian restrictions against individuals taking photographs in public spaces, is planning a flashmob outside London’s City Hall.

It will take place on International Press Freedom Day on May 3, starting at 12:30. It is supported by the NUJ and the union's London Photographers’ Branch.

PHNAT is concerned many privately employed security guards are illegally preventing citizens from taking photographs and that areas designated as public realm are often privately managed spaces that are subject to rules laid down by the private management companies.

It says photography is banned in some of our most widely enjoyed public spaces, such as Canary Wharf and the Thames Walk between Tower Bridge and City Hall.

The mass gathering will highlight the restrictions on street photography in a public space. Photographers are encouraged to bring a tripod.

PHNAT successfully campaigned for the repeal of Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (January 2011), however Section 47a has been drafted in by a remedial order to enable police to use stop-and-search powers when a senior police officer reasonably suspects a terrorist action will take place.

PHNAT says it is very concerned that Section 47a will be used against amateur and professional photographers, stopping them taking photographs in public.

An illustrated PHNAT pamphlet will also be launched at the event. Created by PHNAT and LPB members, supported by the NUJ, British Press Photographers Association (BPPA) and the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom, it will celebrate the history of the PHNAT campaign.

Documentary photographer Marc Vallée, one of the founders of PHNAT, said: "The privatisation of public space is impacting on public photography. Private companies, with the backing of national and local government, are eroding the common law right of the citizen to take a picture in a public place. This is why we will be outside London City Hall on the 3rd May."

BBC Northern Ireland: 'And in otter news...'

Everyone likes an animal story. BBC Northern Ireland goes hyperlocal with a tale about an otter that caused chaos in Tulla, County Clare.

The saga involves the otter becoming aggressive and attacking people,
getting its head stuck in a Tayto crisp packet, being captured, escaping through a broken window of a Jeep, being recaptured in a traffic cone and eventually released into a local lake. Complete with dramatic pictures (top).

"A dramatic day indeed. The residents of Tulla may never see an otter one like it," says the story on BBC News online.

Quotes of the week: From tabloid hacks wasting their lives to privacy and judges' underpants

Charlie Brooker in the Guardian:
"Because it can't be easy being a tabloid hack at the best of times. Sure, there's the camaraderie, the sense of power, the rush of skulduggery, the thrill of feeling like one of the chosen few who can see through the Matrix but these are illusory compensations, sweatily constructed by your quaking, sobbing psyche in a bid to counterweigh the cavernous downside: the awful knowledge that you're wasting your life actively making the world worse."

Lawyer for Christopher Jefferies, the former landlord of Bristol murder victim Joanna Yeates, who is suing a number of national newspapers for libel and invasion of privacy:
“Mr Jefferies will be seeking vindication of his reputation for the terrible treatment he received. Mr Jefferies will not be making any statement about these claims until their conclusion, which he hopes will be in the very near future."

Peter Preston in the
Observer: "The trouble with so much phone-hacking murk is that ordinary standards of press-freedom behaviour get lost in the dirty washing. Take the Guardian report last week that, early in 2004, a Home Office warrant allowed Scotland Yard to bug the phone of Rebekah Brooks as part of an anti-corruption investigation of the News of the World.They didn't find anything, apparently. But that's not quite the point. In 2004, Ms Brooks was editor of the Sun, not the News of the World: so maybe it was a crossed line anyway. And why should we be so damned insouciant about tapping newspaper editors' phones? This is Wapping, not Belarus."

Press Gazette editor Dominic Ponsford: "It was a travesty that Clive Goodman was locked up in Belmarsh in 2007 alongside murderers and rapists for what was a gross invasion of privacy, but no more. And it would be a huge over-reaction if more journalists suffered out of proportion punishments because of widespread anger over the perception that News International has been involved in a cover-up over phone-hacking."

Fleet Street Blues on the phone hacking saga: "If the Guardian is serious about trying to send every journalist who hacked a phone and every editor who knew about it to Belmarsh, it should be open about it - and rapidly expand the scope of its investigation beyond the News of the World. If not, then any evidence of phone hacking which is still going on would be instantly newsworthy. Otherwise, it might be time to move on..."

Northern Echo editor Peter Barron tells HoldtheFrontPage how his first job as a reporter on the Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph should have gone to someone else: "Twenty years later, I learned that they meant to give the job to another candidate who had curly hair like me. They liked the other lad but got us mixed up. He turned out to be a newly-graduated Jeremy Clarkson. He’s now a multi-millionaire, driving flash cars. I’m the editor of The Northern Echo with an overdraft and four kids to get through university. I’ve been bitter ever since. I once heard him say on Top Gear: 'I’d rather have a vasectomy than a people-carrier.' I found myself shouting at the telly: 'How’d you think I feel you b*****d, I’ve had to have both'.”

David Cameron on privacy injunctions: "The judges are creating a sort of privacy law, whereas what ought to happen in a parliamentary democracy is parliament – which you elect and put there – should decide how much protection do we want for individuals and how much freedom of the press and the rest of it. So I am a little uneasy about what is happening."

Richard Littlejohn in the Daily Mail: "If Great Britain could select an all-star XI from the ranks of Premier League players currently shielding their sexual indiscretions behind a wall of court-sanctioned secrecy, we would romp to Olympic gold in 2012. (Although perhaps ‘romp’ isn’t quite the right word in the circumstances.)"

Kelvin MacKenzie in the Sun on High Court judges: "There is a state in America that has a phrase summing up its attitude. It says: Live free or die. The High Court and its silk panty-wearing judges - hiding their own sexual peculiarities - have torn up the phrase. I despise them."

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Cameron 'uneasy' about spate of privacy gags

Prime Minister David Cameron has said he feels "uneasy" about the development of privacy law in the UK via court injunctions which stop the media reporting on the private lives of public figures.

He argued that Parliament, not judges, should decide on the balance between the freedom of the press and the right to privacy.

Cameron was challenged about the use of injunctions during a question-and-answer session at the General Motors factory in Luton, BBC News reports.

He said that judges were using cases based on the Human Rights Act to develop a privacy law that left him feeling "a little uneasy".

However, Mr Cameron admitted he had not got all the the answers and said he needed to think some more about it.

Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming has said he may use parliamentary privilege to name some of those covered by privacy injunctions.

Maybe they should have kept this story zipped up

I'm all for a free press but there's probably a bit too much information on about the painful "zipper trauma" suffered by a six-year old boy in Dubai - complete with a big picture of the offending zip.

Doctor's libel nightmare ends as company closes

Index on Censorship reports that NMT Medical, the US company which pursued cardiologist Peter Wilmshurst in the London libel courts for almost four years, has announced that it is ceasing operations and selling off its assets.

Dr Wilmshurst has been fighting since 2007 to defend his comments about a clinical trial of a heart device manufactured by NMT Medical. Losing the case could have meant he lost his house.

It is one of the cases that has been used to highlight the need for the libel laws in the UK to be reformed.

Index says: "This news of NMT’s closure comes just weeks after Wilmshurst discovered he was facing a fourth libel suit over an interview he gave to BBC Radio 4 Today Programme piece on the chilling effects of England’s libel laws on medical science."

Wilmshurt told Index on Censorship: “It is good news that it seems that my libel case may now be over. However it has cost me all my free time for the last three and a half years. It has also cost hundreds of thousands of my own money and about £200,000 on the conditional fee agreement with my lawyers, Mark Lewis and Alastair Wilson QC. Now that NMT have gone into liquidation, we are uncertain how much of the money we will get back. There will be no compensation for the enormous amount of time my family and I have wasted in fighting the case.”

Solicitor Mark Lewis commented: “It looks like the nightmare is nearly over. After 4 years NMT looks to have gone out of business. Poor Dr Wilmshurst. The continual deployment of the libel laws to stop scientific discussion seems to be over. Peter Wilmshurst and his family enter the normal world blinking from the bright light of a case that is over.”

Times goes blankety blank over privacy gags: Telegraph on 'worldwide' ban on naming tv star

The Times today blanks out parts of its story - both in print and online - on the latest privacy injunction granted to a football star to emphasise what readers are not allowed to know.

While the Telegraph reports that an unprecedented worldwide privacy order has been imposed to stop the media reporting on a tv star's private life - even online.

It says: "A Premier League footballer won a legal gag yesterday against a topless model, preventing her from revealing details of their six-month affair.

"The married sportsman, who plays for ****, is using controversial human rights laws to prevent details of his adulterous relationship from being made public.

"The secrecy orders override the traditional principle of open justice in favour of the right to privacy or to prevent the risk of harm to family members who may be embarrassed by the revelations.

"Politicians had pledged that human rights laws would not be used by the courts to introduce a legal right to privacy behind the back of Parliament.

"**** had been accused of having a six-month affair with Imogen Thomas, a glamour model who has appeared as a housemate in Channel 4’s Big Brother."

The Telegraph reports: "A High Court judge has issued an unprecedented gagging order in an attempt to prevent details of a television star’s private life being published, even on the internet.

"Mr Justice Eady, who has been at the centre of most recent controversial libel and privacy cases, made the injunction "against the world" rather than just against national newspapers and broadcasters.

"His order seeks to prevent the publication of “intimate photographs” of a married public figure after a woman tried to sell them for a “large sum of money". The judge said the woman “owed” the claimant, identified only as OPQ, a “duty of confidence” and breaching his privacy would damage the health of the man and his family.

"His order is intended to cover discussion of the case online as well as in traditional media, despite the difficulties in enforcing it. The injunction contra mundum is intended to be never-ending and, as its Latin name suggests, applies to the entire world."

The Telegraph adds: "It is understood that it is the first time that such an order has been granted in a privacy case. They were issued on personal safety grounds in the cases of Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, who murdered James Bulger; the child killer Mary Bell, and Maxine Carr, the former girlfriend of the Soham killer Ian Huntley.

"The ruling takes secrecy laws to a new level, marking a further advance in the steps the courts are prepared to take to protect high-profile figures and to restrict the right to freedom of expression."

MacKenzie tells Sun readers: 'Journalists know who is protected by injunctions but you don't'

Kelin MacKenzie tells readers of the Sun today that while he and "most media folk" know the names of the public figures protected by privacy injunctions the public don't.

He says: "There is currently a dangerous two track-society.

"There are those that know and I'm one of them. And there are those that are denied knowing and that's you, dear reader."

He suggests that somebody could set up a site in America to run all the names and allegations against the people the courts are protecting and the High Court couldn't touch them.

In a blast at the judges, Mackezie says: "There is a state in America that has a phrase summing up its attitude. It says: Live free or die.

"The High Court and its silk panty-wearing judges - hiding their own sexual peculiarities - have torn up the phrase.

"I despise them."

The Sun
has a full page rundown on all the privacy injunctions granted to public figures under the headline: 'Doesn't it make you gag.'

They include a famous actor, tv star, top footballers, a soccer manager, various sportsmen and a tv journalist.

The latest injunction, according to the Sun is a married entertainer who has cheated on his wife with an actress and has left the show they both appeared in.

The Sun says: "Hypocritical showbiz stars, sports idols and high-profile public figures lap up positive publicity. And they often cash in on their popularity and wholesome image with mega salaries and huge fees from companies whose products they endorse.

"But when they misbehave and things turn sour, they go for the gag in order to protect false impressions - and their massive incomes."

Two photojournalists killed covering war in Libya

British photojournalist Tim Hetherington (pictured), an Oscar-nominated filmmaker and photographer, is reported to have been killed in the city of Misrata while covering fighting between Gaddafi's forces and Libyan rebels in a rocket-propelled grenade attack.

Chris Hondros, a US Pulitzer Prize-nominated photojournalist, was also killed in the attack in Misrata, and British photographer Guy Martin injured.

Born in Liverpool in 1970, Hetherington, 40, was nominated for an Oscar this year for Restrepo, a documentary film he made with the journalist Sebastian Junger about soldiers on the frontline in Afghanistan. He also won World Press Photo in 2008 with a still image from the same location in Afghanistan, shot while on assignment for Vanity Fair.

Hondros was based in New York for Getty Images and had covered conflict zones since the late 1990s including Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Martin, who was working with Panos Pictures agency, was hit by shrapnel and is being treated at a hospital in Misrata. New York-based photographer Michael Christopher Brown was also treated for shrapnel injuries.

Joel Simon, executive director of the Committeee to Protect Journalists, said: " Our hearts go out to family, friends, and colleagues of Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros, whose work in some of the world's most dangerous places has had a profound impact on how we understand and perceive war. Their deaths are another illustration of war's cruelty and a reminder of how devastatingly difficult coverage of the Libyan conflict has become."

According to the CPJ, two other journalists have been killed this year in the Libyan conflict. An unknown gunman killed Mohammed al-Nabbous, founder of the online Libya Al-Hurra TV, as the journalist was streaming live audio from a battle in Benghazi on March 19. Cameraman Ali Hassan al-Jaber was shot when his Al-Jazeera crew was ambushed near Benghazi on March 13.

CPJ has documented more than 80 attacks on the press since political unrest erupted in Libya in February. They include the fatalities, numerous injuries, 49 detentions, 11 assaults, two attacks on news facilities, the jamming of two international television transmissions, at least four instances of obstruction, the expulsion of two international journalists, and the interruption of Internet service. At least six local journalists are missing amid speculation they are in the custody of security forces. One international journalist and two media support workers are also unaccounted for.

  • A photo by Chris Hondros ran on the front page of the Washington Post yesterday.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

A good day to bury news: Strikers stage mock funeral of titles in editorial quality dispute

A mock funeral for the newspapers at the centre of a dispute about editorial quality took place in the centre of Enfield today.

Nine NUJ members on strike at North London & Herts Newspapers organised the funeral to highlight staff shortages which they claim are harming the quality of their newspapers and could lead to them going out of business.

Led by NUJ FoC Jonathan Lovett, dressed as a priest, the journalists and their supporters carried a coffin with the names of some of their newspaper titles, which include the Enfield Advertiser, Enfield Gazette, Haringey Advertiser and Barnet Press, written on the side.

Lovett urged members of the public to write to the newspapers' owner, Sir Ray Tindle, to back their call for more staff. He said the journalists would end their action if they were given one more reporter and guarantees that staff would be replaced.

Lovett added: "This feels like the last stand for quality journalism in the borough. We've got just three reporters putting out nine newspapers. The strike was a last option."

NUJ head of publishing Barry Fitzpatrick told "mourners" the strike was "proof that journalists care". He said: "This is the frontline in a battle going on throughout the regional press."

Tindle Newspapers say the North London newspapers are losing money and being subsidised by the rest of the group. The strikers were warned in letters on the eve of the action that their newspapers may face reorganisation and there could be redundancies.

Pic: NUJ FoC Jonathan Lovett, dressed as a priest, leads the mock funeral through Enfield. (Jon Slattery)

Is this the most draconian media injunction yet?

Political blogger Anna Raccoon is describing an injunction issued by the Court of Protection, which acts to protect vulnerable people, as "the most draconian injunction so far issued by any court" because it stops the news media contacting 65 people.

She says the injunction concerns a case in which the mother of a a 53 year old woman, known as 'M', who is in a ‘minimal’ conscious state, has applied to the court for permission to allow her daughter to die.

Anna Raccoon states that rather than contenting themselves with the usual demand that no party may be named or identified, the court has issued an injunction which prevents any news organisation from contacting 65 different witnesses connected with the case or from communicating with M or with any of the 65 people listed, "whether orally in person, or by telephoning, text message, email or other means."

She adds: "It is the most draconian injunction so far issued by any court.

"It now means that the understandable secrecy which is attached to court proceedings regarding vulnerable people who are in no position to give informed consent to publicity – has been extended to 65 members of the public, and journalists risk imprisonment if they breach the injunction.

"It is a quite breathtaking extension of their remit."

  • The Telegraph has a full report on the injunction. It says, under its terms, reporters also risk being fined or jailed if they come within 164ft (50 metres) of any one of four properties listed in the injunction. It adds: "Legal experts said they had never seen the press restricted in such a way, in powers usually used to protect vulnerable women from ex-partners or keep animal rights protesters away from scientists."

  • The Sun says today that a married actor has obtained an injunction to stop the paper naming him in a story about his alleged fling with a co-star. According to the Sun, the actor told the court that naming him would harm his teenage children. It is the latest in a string of privacy injunctions granted to actors, celebrities and sports stars to stop the tabloid press writing about their private life.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Royal Wedding beats Marathon in race for news

The upcoming Royal wedding beat the London Marathon and the anger of the nurses to take first place on the UK news agenda, for the week ending Sunday, April 17, according to journalisted.

Preparations for the Royal wedding generated 421 articles, of which 127 articles mentioned Kate Middleton; the London Marathon, with Kenya's Emmanuel Mutai and Mary Keitany finishing first, 186 articles; Andrew Lansley losing Royal College of Nursing confidence vote, generating more debate around NHS reforms, 135 articles; disputed Ivorian president Gbagbo, prised from a bunker by opposition forces with the help of French military and the UN, 124 articles.

Covered little, according to journalisted were a study in the Lancet revealed the UK has one of the poorest records of stillbirths for a developed country, 16 articles; 26 articles on Nigeria's election, won by Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party; and 12 articles on Finland's election, with a eurosceptic anti-immigration party gaining one-fifth of the votes.

'Hold the front page...we're having a revamp'

Holdthe FrontPage, the website specialising in covering the regional press, has unveiled a smart new look - its first revamp in 11 years.

HTFP says an improved job search is key to the new-look platform with all jobs now searchable by region, keyword and sector as well as category at a new jobs board, HTFPJobs.

There is also a dedicated social networking and blogging platform, HTFPConnect, where journalists will be able to link up with old colleagues and college mates, and write their own blogs for the site.

The entire archive of 20,000-plus HoldtheFrontPage stories has been migrated across to the new WordPress-powered site.

publisher Paul Linford said: “The original version of HTFP which went live in February 2000 certainly stood the test of time but in the fast-changing world of digital publishing a redesign was long overdue.

“What we set out to deliver was a platform that provides a better showcase for our content, offers an improved service to jobseekers and employers, and introduces a new element of social networking and interactivity, and I hope we have managed to do that."

  • HoldtheFrontPage was launched in February 2000by Northcliffe Electronic Publishing, now Northcliffe Digital, in Derby. The Newsquest publishing group acquired a 50% stake at the start of 2001. Trinity Mirror came on board in 2002 and Johnston Press joined the partnership in 2004.
  • Despite being owned by the biggest regional publishers, HoldtheFrontPage maintains its editorial independence and shares something in common with all those covering the media: Newsquest chief executive Paul Davidson won't speak to them.

Strike starts at Tindle titles in North London as journalists are warned of posssible redundancies

NUJ members at the Sir Ray Tindle-owned North London & Herts Newspaper group began a two week strike over low staffing levels today which they say are harming the editorial quality of their titles.

The nine NUJ journalists claim more than a third of editorial staff have left without being replaced and key positions are not being filled.

NUJ FoC Jonathan Lovett said:
“This dispute is solely about the quality of our papers, we are not asking for more pay. We are hard working journalists trying to do a decent job without having to rely on people doing work experience. Staff are not being replaced and we have three reporters churning out nine newspapers every week.”

The journalists are planning a mock funeral procession in Enfield tomorrow to mark the death of their newspapers.

Tindle Newspapers says it regrets the decision of the NUJ members and claims the company was unable to take on new people or increase pay because of the North London centre's rising losses. It also says Tindle Newspapers is the only newspaper group not to have made journalists redundant during the recession.

Lovett said that the journalists were warned on the eve of the strike that the papers may be restructured and there could be redundancies.

Tindle Newspapers said in a statement to HoldtheFrontPage: "The rest of the group is currently supporting Enfield, but it is not possible for the group to continue to support the current level of loss.

"It follows that unless we are able to increase our profitability dramatically over the coming weeks, we will need to take action to make the papers profitable.

"We may do this by re-structuring the newspapers, which could potentially result in redundancies."

North London & Herts Newspapers comprises: The Enfield Advertiser, The Edmonton Advertiser, The Winchmore Hill Advertiser & Herald, The Enfield Gazette, The Barnet & Potters Bar Press, The East Barnet Press & Advertiser, The Edgware & Mill Hill Press, The Hendon & Finchley Press and The Haringey Advertiser.

Pic: NUJ

Monday, 18 April 2011

Ex-journalist jailed for leaking police info to press

A Hertfordshire police community support officer who had previously worked as a journalist has been jailed for a year for leaking confidential information to the INS news agency, BBC News reports.

Emma Smiter, 26, of Welwyn Garden City, was found guilty of misconduct in a public office and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Basildon Crown Court was told she passed on information gleaned from police computers to the news agency.

The former reporter with the Welwyn and Hatfield Times had denied the charges and said she used police computers and e-mails only for legitimate reasons. She told the court she knew Neil Hyde, a director of the INS news agency, but said they had been "just friends".

Prosecutors told the court she gave details of police inquiries to Hyde, who passed the information on to newspapers.

One accusation was that she told the news agency about a charity box at a police station in Borehamwood being £12 short.