Wednesday 31 August 2011

NUJ urges media to go to court over riot material

The NUJ has called on media organisations and journalists to ensure that the police use the proper procedures if they wish to see unbroadcast or unpublished coverage of the rioting and civil unrest earlier this month.

The Guardian has reported that newspapers and broadcasters, including Sky News and the Guardian, have come under pressure from the Metropolitan Police to hand over all videos and pictures related to the London riots earlier this month.

It says ITN, which produces ITV News and Channel 4 News, The Times and also the BBC are among the media organisations resisting efforts by Scotland Yard to obtain material filmed during the riots that "could show crime in action".

The NUJ wants all media organisations to make strong representations to the court to protect the confidentiality of Journalistic Material and Special Procedure Material under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act and under the European Convention on Human Rights.

The NUJ said there are special protections for journalistic material and procedures that the police should follow and the NUJ will seek to defend the confidentiality of journalist's material and sources.

It said: "The NUJ has a long and proud record in fighting to protect journalists faced with actions over sources or journalistic material. It is important we do not allow the police to use journalists as information gatherers for their purposes. Such a move places all journalists at greater risk when covering public order issues and stops sources coming forward.

"The NUJ stance has been confirmed in various cases before the UK and European courts. Journalists have been attacked during the civil unrest and the union believes that attempts to compel journalists to provide evidence to the police will put our members at risk.

"Covering protests, both nationally and internationally, is already difficult and often dangerous for journalists. The danger increases if the images and video gathered whilst reporting events is used by the state. With many accounts of injuries and equipment damage already reported, the calls from politicians to hand-over press material will only increases the risks."

Regional ABCs: Norfolk does different again

Press Gazette reports today that only three UK daily newspapers grew their circulation in the first six months of the year, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulation.

Two of those were Archant Norfolk titles. The Eastern Evening News, which was up 3.4 per cent on the same period last year with sales of 19,161, and the Eastern Daily Press, which saw a 0.6 per cent rise to 59,490.

In the second half of 2010, the Eastern Daily Press was up 0.4 per cent to 59,389 and the Evening News up 0.5 per cent to 18,923.

Earlier this year I interviewed Don Williamson (pictured), Archant Norfolk’s head of sales and audience growth, for Press Gazette.

He stressed that the success in Norfolk was the result of work to build circulation going back several years and a change in status for his team.

Williamson said: “When I first came to Norwich circulation was in the basement, now we are in the boardroom.”

He added: “Our journey really started two years ago when we put together the key structure of an eight-strong circulation team focusing on nothing other than copy sales, rather than distribution or worthy causes like schools’ campaigns.

“We concentrate on circulation and building copy sales. Circulation is one of the strongest and most stable revenue lines.”

Williamson also stressed the importance of having three of his team “out on the road” every day visiting newsagents and providing daily e-mail reports giving feedback on how the titles are selling and what stories have had the most impact.

He said as well as the streamlined structure, there is also a culture within Archant Norfolk that building circulation was “not down to one team in the building,” adding “We regularly hear from editorial colleagues with contacts and ideas. We go to forward planning meetings with the heads of editorial content. Part of the discussion held is about sales activity.”

The sales activity focuses on casual sales in newsagents as well as encouraging readers to take home delivery of their newspapers. The casual sales effort involves supplying newsagents with good display equipment and offering them bigger commission than the national press.

Home delivery is built on canvassing and the Eastern Daily Press is now 55% home delivered.

Williamson said there is a local expression “You do different in Norfolk.” He believed it applies to Archant Norfolk, where there is a “local feel and local decision making”.

Pic: Don Williamson (Archant).

Conrad Black hits out at Murdoch 'price war myth'

Former Daily Telegraph-owner Conrad Black has blamed Rupert Murdoch for claims that he had to steal money because of the price war when News International slashed the price of The Times.

In an exclusive interview with Vanity Fair's Bryan Burrough about his time in Coleman Federal Prison, Black says: “The myth is that the price war put so much pressure on our profits that I was forced to steal money to maintain my opulent lifestyle. It’s part of the whole News Corp. mythmaking apparatus.

“It was Rupert, you know. He originated that one. He certainly parroted it. Rupert always says reasonably nice things about me, but then he throws in something like that for effect. I don’t really blame Rupert. He’s not a non-friend. Rupert is just Darwinian.”

Black also weighs in on Rupert Murdoch’s current troubles: “It has been for decades a rigorously micro-managed company and Rupert Murdoch has created and flaunted an attitude of unlimited right to intrude on, harass, and, to the limit that may be legally feasible, defame people whom he or his editors target,” he says.

“The News Corp. company ethos is one of lawlessness and unrestrained liberty self-righteously to do what it wants, inflated by notions of decisive political influence. I doubt if he personally ordered telephone or Internet intercepts on individuals, but he must have known that some of his employees did them routinely, going back, at the latest, to some of the famous cell-phone conversations of the Prince of Wales.

"Murdoch deserves all the credit for building so powerful a company that most of its institutional self-confidence was justified, and most of the discredit for the sleazy way he operated it. I would add that I was more offended by the cowardice and hypocrisy of those in the British establishment who licked his boots—not to mention other places—for decades, and now swaddle themselves in shock sanctimony, than I was by the offensive activities.”

Black tells Burrough about his experience in jail at Coleman Federal Correction Complex where he served for over two years after being convicted of fraud and where he is likely to return in September.

“I quickly developed alliances with the Mafia people,” Black says, “then the Cubans. I was friendly with the ‘good ol’ boys’ and the African-Americans. They all understood I had fought the system, and I do believe I earned their respect for that."

He recalls the welcome he received from a senior member of the Genovese crime family: “No one will bother you here. If you catch a cold, we will find out who you got it from. You know, we have much in common .… We are industrialists.”

Jessica Ennis came second but AP pic is a winner

A brilliant picture by the Associated Press photographer Kevin Frayer of Jessica Ennis landing in the long jump at the World Championship in Daegu made the front of the Guardian and Independent today.

The British athlete may have come second in the heptathlon and lost her world title but the picture is a winner.

Frayer is based in Delhi as the AP's chief photographer for South Asia. He started his career in 1991 as a photographer for the Canadian Press and his first assignments were in Yugoslavia.

From 2003-2009 he was based in the Middle East. Frayer's photographs of Palestinian protesters caught in a tear gas assault won a prize from the World Press Photo awards in 2009.

Tuesday 30 August 2011

Libya liberation and hunt for Gaddafi top newslist

The uprising in Libya and hunt for Gaddafi was the top news story in the UK for the week ending Sunday 28, August, according to journalisted.

The fall of Libya, and subsequent search for Colonel Gaddafi, as rebels took control of the capital Tripoli, generated 782 articles; America battened down the hatches in preparation for Hurricane Irene, 238 articles; Steve Jobs resigned as CEO of Apple due to ill health, 161 articles; GCSE results announced, 160 articles.

Covered little, according to journalisted, were violent clashes during Chile's national strike, 11 articles; Canadian opposition leader Jack Layton dies aged 61, 10 articles; Bolton man dies after being Tasered, the third death following an arrest in 8 days, 9 articles; 5 people die at Belgian music festival Pukkelpop as weather conditions cause stage collapse, 5 articles; Cyprus' financial problems continue, as the government debates an emergency fiscal package, 3 articles.

NUJ urges Johnston Press to open talks on strike

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet has called on Johnston Press to open talks with journalists at South Yorkshire Newspapers who are on indefinite strike now that more than 3,000 readers have signed a petition backing their action and opposing cuts planned by the group.

The petition was close to breaking the 3,000-reader barrier when it was presented by striking journalists to outgoing Johnston Press chief executive John Fry at a financial meeting in the City of London last Thursday.

The NUJ claims the journalists have won massive support from local communities since their action began on July 15 at the South Yorkshire Times, Doncaster Free Press, Selby Times and Epworth Bells over job cuts, office closures, increased workloads and a lack of faith in management.

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet (top) said: “Now is the time for John Fry to show some leadership. He claimed not to understand why journalists in South Yorkshire are out on strike, so what better reason to sit down and discuss the major issues at hand.

"Thousands of readers in South Yorkshire are appalled at what’s happened to their local papers under his watch. If quality journalism is as important to him as he said to us outside the Johnston financial meeting, John Fry needs to get his journalists back in work and doing what they do best, serving their communities. That can’t happen until common sense prevails and a commitment to meaningful talks is made.”

Pic: Jon Slattery

Monday 29 August 2011

Reuters video: How journalists hacked voicemails

Reuters has produced a video with computer hacker Kevin Mitnick giving a step-by-step guide to how it says News of the World journalists hacked into private voicemails.

Friday 26 August 2011

Quotes of the Week: From reporting Libya to a spectacular success in not finding Lord Lucan

BBC world news editor Jon Williams on
The Media Show
praises Alex Crawford of SKY News and defends the BBC team reporting from Libya: "I take my hat off to Alex Crawford for some brilliant reporting and I promise you this, if Alex wins the prizes she will be entered for I will be the first person to raise my glass and toast her success.But I also think that we should raise our glasses to the people who take very difficult decisions and make a judgment that something is not safe. I salute people for making those difficult decisions. Alex made the judgment that it was safe. The BBC team made the judgment that it was not safe. Six years ago I had to tell the wife of one of my colleagues that her husband had been shot dead. I never want to do that again."

Stuart Hughes, world affairs producer for BBC News, on the BBC College of Journalism website: "In the fevered and competitive world of 24-hour news it's inevitable that comparisons will be made between each network's coverage. But, please, let's leave the post-match analysis of which broadcaster 'won' the media war until all our friends and colleagues working in harm's way are home safely."

AA Gill in the Sunday Times Magazine:"In journalism or TV or publishing, you rarely hear a regional accent. The names of the runners on film sets or the assistants in TV companies read like the sons and daughters of a Who’s Who in the entertainment and arts world. Getting a child into a glossy magazine for a month to sort out the fashion cupboard is negotiated as part of a bribe for a celebrity who might prove to be useful later on, or as a mutual favour: you take my Benedict, I’ll have your Beatrice."

John Naughton in the Observer on Newsnight's riot coverage: "Newsnight fumbled it, staging sterile, phoney confrontations (such as Michael Gove versus Harriet Harman) and trotting out the usual cast of opinionated fools (such as David Starkey and Kelvin MacKenzie). I was reminded of Neil Postman's observation that you can't have a serious discussion on broadcast TV for the same reason that you can't do philosophy with smoke signals: the medium can't bear the weight. And yet, if the programme's producers read more widely, had richer address books and better contacts across academic and intellectual communities, then there's no reason why they couldn't do better."

BBC business editor Robert Peston on his blog: "The disclosure that Mr Coulson maintained a financial relationship with News International after moving into a sensitive role in the Tory Party will be controversial. According to a senior member of the government, Tory Party managers at the time say they were not aware Mr Coulson was receiving these payments from News International while employed by the Conservative Party."

New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser gives Dominique Strauss-Khan a Glenda Slagg-style send off:
"Get back on that Air France jet and soil your linens back home, Mr. Big Shot. We don't like your kind."

Ex-Mirror journalist Garth Gibbs, whose death was announced this week, on his hunt for Lord Lucan: "I regard not finding Lord Lucan as my most spectacular success in journalism. Of course, many of my colleagues have also been fairly successful in not finding Lord Lucan. But I have successfully not found him in more exotic spots than anybody else. I spent three glorious weeks not finding him in Cape Town, magical days and nights not finding him in the Black Mountains of Wales, and wonderful and successful short breaks not finding him in Macau either, or in Hong Kong or even in Green Turtle Cay in the Bahamas where you can find anyone."

Thursday 25 August 2011

Mirror accuses Guardian over sexist 'big jugs' ad

The Mirror accuses the Guardian of hypocrisy today for carrying a "sexist ad" for Ryanair which had the tagline "See The Frauleins With The Big Jugs" over an offer for cheap flights to Bavaria and a picture of a busty blonde.

Just so readers get the message, the Mirror carries the strapline "HYPOCRISY" in red letters above its story which claims "the ailing paper was besieged with calls from its right-on readership over the extraordinary sexist ad" which was published yesterday.

It adds: "Even their own staff were up in arms, some phoning in from their rustic Tuscan holidays to complain."

The story quotes one alleged member of the Guardian staff stating: "I nearly choked on my gluten-free organic muesli when I saw it.

"We are the keepers of the nation's morals and we let the nation down."

The Mirror story also takes a swipe at the Guardian over the investigation into a police officer accused of leaking info about the phone hacking scandal to the paper.

It claims: "The paper is already under pressure after exploiting a detective to get illicit information on the phone hacking scandal. and a staffer boasted how he got a thrill out of phone hacking."

The Mirror says the "shamed" Guardian faces a probe by the Advertising Standards Association, although an ASA spokesman merely says: 'The complaints have literally just come in so we have yet to assess the ad'."

Bemused readers must be left wondering why the Mirror is in such a strop with the Guardian. It can't be anything to do with phone hacking can it? Or maybe they just don't like the "Newspaper of the Year".

Hacks in the City: Jim Oldfield versus John Fry at Johnston Press financial meeting in London

Jim Oldfield (top left), the editor of the Johnston Press-owned South Yorkshire Times who has been made redundant during a strike by NUJ members, confronts Johnston Press chief executive John Fry outside the company's financial results meeting in the City of London today.

The Johnston Press meeting at Deutsche Bank in London Wall was called to present the company’s interim results. Johnston Press has just announced a drop of 47.4% in pre-tax profits.

NUJ members – now on the 42nd day of an indefinite strike – are taking action at the Johnston Press-owned South Yorkshire Times, Doncaster Free Press, Selby Times and Epworth Bells over job cuts, office closures and increased workloads.

The striking South Yorkshire journalists delivered a petition from thousands of readers protersting at the cuts to Fry, who is standing down as chief executive of Johnston Press and is to be replaced by Ashley Highfield, from Microsoft UK, in November.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: “The new Johnston Press chief executive Ashley Highfield has a huge repair job on his hands. The NUJ challenges him to show the sort of leadership required to turn the group around and enter into talks to end the South Yorkshire Newspapers strike and stop further damage to the newspaper titles and company.”

Pics via Lawrence Shaw

Johnston Press pre-tax profits down 47.4 per cent

Johnston Press has announced pre-tax profits down by 47.4% in its interim results for the 26 weeks ended 2 July 2011.

Total revenue was down 7.5% to £191.8m and total advertising revenues fell by 10.0% year on year, with employment revenues continuing to contribute most to the decline in print and digital, but offset by growth in national display advertising.

Operating profits after non-recurring items fell by 25.7% to 32.6m.

The company said digital revenues were down 5.0%, but with an improving trend from -9.7% in Q1 to -1.5% year on year in Q2, reflecting the benefit of the successful launch of the Find it business directory in March 2011

Total costs for the first 26 weeks of 2010 were reduced by £8.3m compared with the same period in 2010, despite a £4.2m impact of newsprint prices.

Operating margin were 17.4% compared to 19.5% last year.

Commenting on the results, John Fry, chief executive officer of Johnston Press, said: “The Group achieved an operating profit before non-recurring items of £33.3m despite the challenging UK economic environment of the first half of 2011, down 17.6% on the first half of 2010.

"This was achieved by tight operational control, with further cost reductions of £8.3m resulting from new processes and an increased centralisation of back office functions. Operating cash flow within the Group remains strong, with a further debt reduction of £16.0m achieved in the first half of 2011.

"We remain cautious about the advertising outlook for the second half of the year, with total advertising revenues in the first seven weeks down 8.1%. Digital revenues, which returned to year-on-year growth in May, have continued to grow in the second half with the first seven weeks up 6.8% compared to the same period in 2010.

"We are also delighted to be able to announce the new digital partnerships with Zoopla and Nimble which will enable a significant enhancement of our property website and the launch of a new online vouchers business in the autumn. The Board has confidence that, in the absence of a further significant deterioration in the UK economy, the outcome for the Group in 2011 will be broadly in line with current expectations.”

By George! Orwell's hop-picking diary as a blog

The Orwell Prize today launches a blog of George Orwell's Hop-Picking Diary at

‘Post-blogging’ the diary George Orwell kept while tramping in London and hop-picking in Kent between August and October 1931, each diary entry will be published as a blogpost, 80 years to the day since it was first written.

Hop-picking was a tradition where urban workers would head to the countryside to harvest hops. Orwell used his experiences in his second novel, A Clergyman’s Daughter (1935), and for a 1931 New Statesman and Nation essay, ‘Hop-picking’.

The Hop-Picking Diary blog is the third, and final, blog of the Orwell Prize’s Orwell Diaries project.

It follows the original 1938-1942 diary blog (, and The Road to Wigan Pier diary blog (, publishing Orwell’s diary entries from his journey to the north of England between January and March 1936/2011.

Jean Seaton, director of the Orwell Prize, said: “The people are desperately poor, and they live unrecognised lives cheek by jowl with the better-off who simply do not even see them. The economy is failing, and there is little hope of any improvement. They resort to criminality, and their lives are stunted by their circumstances.

“Walk beside, and share the thoughts and intrepid curiosity of George Orwell, one of our greatest writers and journalists, as he journeys out with the poor working class hop-pickers of Kent. Day by day, in real time, share his developing understanding.”

Gavin Freeguard, deputy director of the Orwell Prize and editor of the project, added: “We hope we’ve made Orwell’s work more accessible, by bringing his diaries to public attention, making them available to anyone with internet access, and publishing them a day at a time – reading each entry as it unfolds is a very different experience from racing through them in a book. And the internet gives us access to a wealth of supporting tools and material, whether it’s being able to map Orwell’s progress or link to videos of hop-pickers.

“The days of Orwell’s diary may be numbered, but we hope readers will continue to use the blogs to learn about Orwell and the history he records.”

Wednesday 24 August 2011

Readers support South Yorks strikers' petition

Striking journalists at the South Yorkshire Times are being supported by thousands of readers who have signed a petition protesting at job cuts and management changes at the paper, the NUJ claimed today.

Three editorial posts have been lost at the SYT and the remaining reporters will now be based in Doncaster with the paper coming under the editorship of Doncaster Free Press chief Graeme Huston.

South Yorkshire Times editor Jim Oldfield was made redundant during the journalists' continuing official indefinite strike.

NUJ organiser Chris Morley said: "It's wonderful that so many people have chosen to back our members’ campaign against what is effectively the death of their newspaper. It was brilliant to see how much support we have had from readers - at times people were literally queuing up to sign the petition.

"Under Jim Oldfield's editorship the SYT became one of the most vital, courageous and popular local weeklies in the country - it is heartbreaking to see such an inspiring era threatened in this way."

Journalists at the Johnston Press-owned South Yorkshire Times ,Doncaster Free Press, Selby Times and Epworth Bells have been on indefinite strike since July 15 over job cuts, office closures, increased workloads and a lack of faith in management.

Pic: Jim Oldfield (Jon Slattery)

Committe to Protect Journalists: 'Trapped journalists in Tripoli must be treated as civilians'

The Committee to Protect Journalists has called on all forces fighting in Tripoli to ensure the safety of journalists and respect their status as civilians.

"We are concerned about the safety of journalists trapped in Tripoli's Rixos hotel," said CPJ deputy director Robert Mahoney. "All sides in the conflict have an obligation to avoid harming journalists and to respect their status under international law as civilians."

More than 30 journalists have been holed up in the Rixos Hotel, located near the Qaddafi regime compound in Tripoli, since the fighting for the capital began several days ago, according to news reports. Journalists in the hotel said that snipers were positioned around the property where pro-Gaddafi forces are still operating.
  • BBC News reports a "desperate situation" is developing at the Rixos hotel, according to a BBC journalist trapped there along with some 35 other journalists and foreign nationals.

    Conditions "deteriorated massively" overnight, reported BBC correspondent Matthew Price, with pro-Gaddafi guards patrolling the corridors.

    "It became clear that we were unable to leave the hotel by our own free will," he told the Today programme.

    He reported that an ITN cameraman had an AK47 pulled on him by a guard, and that it is suspected that there are snipers on the roof.

  • Reporters Without Borders has urged all the parties involved to ensure the safety of journalists, both Libyan and foreign, who are covering developments in Libya. RWB said the National Transitional Council, which has been recognised by many countries as Libya’s provisional government, must do everything in its power to allow journalists to cover the fighting freely and safely.
  • BBC News has slideshow of pictures taken inside Rixos Hotel.
  • Huff Post Media has video from inside hotel.
  • Guardian has video from inside hotel.
  • The NUJ has called on the British Foreign Office and other authorities to assist in safeguarding foreign journalists under siege at the Rixos Hotel. NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “We hope that the British and other authorities will do everything they can to safeguard journalists who are caught up in the current events in Tripoli. The NUJ is working with our colleagues in the International Federation of Journalists to protect the interests of foreign journalists in Tripoli, and we look forward to their safe return.”
  • UPDATE: 5:32pm SKY News reports journalists free to leave Rixos Hotel

NY Post says goodbye and good riddance to DSK

The New York Post is giving former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Khan another monstoring - even though sex charges against him have been dropped.

Post columnist Andrea Peyser writes:

"Mon Dieu! Kick this toad out of town. And chuck his women, too.

"Dominique Strauss-Kahn's legal troubles are over, at least in this country, because the freaky French guy tangled with the wrong maid -- a woman nearly as sneaky and obscene as the wantonly adulterous Pepe le Pew himself.

"Whose company would you prefer, New Yorkers? A rich, horny, Gallic goof-ball who enjoys oral sex with a hotel maid, then skips off to lunch with his 26-year-old daughter as if to celebrate his rapid close encounter?

"Or an immigrant housekeeper who lies about being gang-raped in Africa, tells animated tales of being nearly frog-raped in New York -- then rolls around the floor, sobbing, as prosecutors try to sort fiction from fact?"

She ends her column with a Glenda Slagg-style pay-off: "Get back on that Air France jet and soil your linens back home, Mr. Big Shot. We don't like your kind."

Tuesday 23 August 2011

Eurozone crisis and A-Level results top the news

Before the rebels moved gainst Gaddafi in Tripoli, the financial crisis in the Eurozone and A-Level results dominated the UK news in the week ending Sunday August 21, according to journalisted.

The Eurozone crisis showing no sign of abating generated 414 articles (with opposition to Eurobonds continuing in Germany, 80 articles); A-Levels, with results announced and followed by university clearing, 359 articles; the aftermath of the riots in England, 287 articles (including the sentencing of those convicted, 129 articles); phone-hacking, including Operation Weeting's 14th arrest, 236 articles; Gaddafi's regime in Libya came under increasing pressure, with rebels advancing on the capital, Tripoli, 170 articles; continuing Syrian unrest, with calls from world leaders for President Assad to stand down, 101 articles.

There were also two big technology news stories: Google buys Motorola Mobile for $12.5 bn, 91 articles; US technology giant Hewlett-Packard buys Autonomy for £7.1bn, 82 articles.

Covered little, according to journalisted were Solomon Mujuru, Zimbabwean power-broker and ex-military chief, dies in fire, 12 articles; a bomb at a mosque in Pakistan kills 43 people, 7 articles; Spanish clothes outlet Zara is investigated for links with Brazilian sweatshop, 4 articles; the Prime Minister of Nepal, elected six months ago, resigns, 2 articles; violence over land ownership in Honduras kills 11, 1 article.

How the New York tabloids showed their contempt for 'French fat cat' Dominique Strauss-Khan

Prosecutors in New York last night formally asked a judge for permission to drop the sex assault charge against former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Khan.

So it might be the right time to look back at how some of the New York papers covered the case.

Just imagine the amount of money British lawyers would have made suing the papers for defamation and the actions they could have faced for contempt of court.

The New York Observer website says the city's tabloid papers seized upon the opportunity to characterise DSK "through colorful adjectives and verbs as decidedly French. Also, rich, horny, and fat."

The Observer collected some of the adjectives and French puns used by the tabloids to describe DSK:

New York Daily Post: Front page headline: “FRENCH WHINE!”; Story headline: “WHAT GAUL!”; First word of story: “Pompous”; Also: “Pompous arrogance”; “NYPD Sacre Bleu!”; “Un Animal”; “Sniffs”; “Scowls”; “Scowling”; “Red-faced”; “Whining”; “Whiny”; “Fat cat”; “Haughty”; “Hissy Fit”“A presse-ing affair”; “Creepy”; “Perv politician”; “In a snit”.

NY Daily News - Headline: “Le Perv”; “Sex-crazed”; “Noted-lothario”; “A Socialist party heavyweight”; “Naked pervert”; “Randy”.

And that was only on the first day that the news broke that DSK was accused of assaulting a hotel maid.

  • I've always thought the NYC tabloids adopted the persona of the abrasive New York detective 'Popeye' Doyle, as portrayed by Gene Hackman, and his hatred of haughty French criminal Alain Charnier (Fernando Rey) in the film The French Connection, in their attitude to Strauss-Kahn.

Monday 22 August 2011

Catt fight prompts response from Johnston Press

The NUJ has finally provoked a response from Johnston Press six weeks into a strike by journalists at South Yorkshire Newspapers over job cuts.

It follows leaflets (top) being handed out at a Doncaster Rovers football match critical of SYN editor-in-chief Graeme Huston over his decision to lay off the long-serving Doncaster Free Press sports editor Peter Catt.

The leaflet carried a picture of Huston and the wording: "The Man Who Kicked the Catt"

It led SYN md John Bills to fire off a letter to NUJ Northern and Midlands organiser Chris Morley.

Dear Chris

We bring to your attention the enclosed leaflet which we understand is being distributed by your members who are currently out on strike action. A copy of this was sent personally to Graeme Huston with a derogatory note included.

It must be stressed that actions of this nature are not acceptable and I am sure that you are as disappointed as I am that this literature is being circulated.

I trust that the NUJ does not condone this literature and type of behaviour. I would ask that you remind your members of their responsibilities and code of practice whilst taking part in industrial action

Yours sincerely

John Bills
Managing Director

Chris Morley's responded:

Dear John

Thank you for sending on a copy of the leaflet "The Man Who Kicked the Catt" and your letter dated yesterday.

It appears to me that the material is both accurate and fair comment. It is also presenting important news to the people of the town that has been withheld from the pages of the Doncaster Free Press during the strike.

I suggest that if the story of Peter Catt's dismissal had been properly reported in the DFP, then derogatory comments about the prime mover would have come to your offices directly.

As you know, the actions of the company in targeting talented journalists who were known by management as leading members of the NUJ chapel has angered my members so much they are on indefinite strike. Denying them the chance to bring about a satisfactory settlement of the dispute by your refusal to hold talks without withdrawal of the action, can only increase my members' determination to hold management to account.

Instead of asking me to repudiate the actions of my members, I suggest you instead ask me for my availability to hold talks to resolve the dispute. I am happy to do this at any time.

Yours sincerely


Source: Collective Invective blog

Dale sorry over 'wimp' jibe at BBC Tripoli reporter

Blogger Iain Dale has apologised after accusing a BBC reporter at the Media Hotel in Tripoli of being a "wimp".

Dale tweeted last night:
Who is this wimp of a reporter on the BBC wearing a flak jacket in the hotel! Bet he's been told he can't go out cos of Elf 'n Safety.

He says: "And then the wrath of twitter descended on me. I might as well have said I agreed with slaughtering the first born. But it wasn’t just the usual suspects who were having a right old go – it was journalists I respect.

"You can do one of two things in these circumstances. Stick to your guns or issue a rapid apology. I have been in this situation before on my old blog, and I have always taken the view that if you’re in a hole, stop digging. And if you think you’ve gone over the top or just been plain wrong, say so. Acknowledge it. Apologise and put it behind you.

"The latter is easier said than done in this case, I suspect, but I withdrew the tweet (although I didn’t delete it, as I would have been accused of hiding) and then issued a total apology and took up a twitter follower’s suggestion and made a donation to the Rory Peck Trust.

"I got it very wrong. In short, I fucked up. I didn’t know the circumstances of the Media Hotel and the danger the reporters there were in. I reacted too quickly, and didn’t apply my normal twitter rules."

Death of Lord Lucan hunter Garth Gibbs

There's a great obit on Garth Gibbs, the former Mirror journalist who has died aged 75, by Arnie Wilson on the Press Gazette website.

It includes a fantastic quote by Garth, who at one time wrote the Dog column in Press Gazette, about his unsuccessful search for Lord Lucan.

Wilson writes: "With a wonderfully fertile imagination – a prerequisite of any good tabloid journalist – plus a good deal of chutzpah, Garth relished the challenge of keeping Lord Lucan alive, but never finding him."

He quotes Garth saying: "I regard not finding Lord Lucan as my most spectacular success in journalism. Of course, many of my colleagues have also been fairly successful in not finding Lord Lucan. But I have successfully not found him in more exotic spots than anybody else.

“I spent three glorious weeks not finding him in Cape Town, magical days and nights not finding him in the Black Mountains of Wales, and wonderful and successful short breaks not finding him in Macau either, or in Hong Kong or even in Green Turtle Cay in the Bahamas where you can find anyone."

Are journalists too middle class to cover the riots?

AA Gill's scathing account in the Sunday Times Magazine of how the well connected middle class use the "patronage loop"of internships and work experience to get their kids jobs in journalism reminded me of the storming speech by The Times' football editor Tony Evans about the coverage of the riots.

As I've already reported, speaking at last week's NUJ debate about reporting the riots, Evans and the Guardian's Paul Lewis claimed journalists had failed to interview the rioters and get to the roots of what had caused the trouble.

Evans, who is from Liverpool, said he had personal experience of riots: "I've fought with policemen. I've kicked in shop windows. I've stole from shops. A lot of people haven't, but I have. And I understand the frustrations that come from being in that underclass, where you're written off, where you're given no opportunities. And you're demonised. You're demonised by the media and you're demonised by the political system. It was 30 years ago, but I felt the same way they did."

He said the riots had been building for four years and the only people who appeared to be surprised by it were journalists and politicians.

Evans claimed the riots were caused not by race but poverty: "Most of people reporting it [the riots] haven't lived through it. They are middle class," he said.

I remember at Press Gazette interviewing Barrie Williams, who edited three regional evening papers, the Kent Evening Post, Nottingham Evening Post and the Western Morning News, and described himself as a "council house kid" who joined a newspaper as a 16-year-old.

Williams claimed the new stress on academic qualifications has "cut out the council-house kids" from entering journalism. At Nottingham, he pioneered a scheme employing kids on council estates to write for the paper and supplied them with laptops.

"I wouldn't get into the profession nowadays," he said. "A lot of regional papers have lost touch with their readers. You have middle-class journalists writing for people who aren't on the same wavelength. They have lost the common touch."

Pic: Tony Evans (Jon Slattery)

Sunday 21 August 2011

AA Gill in Sunday Times: How the middle class use the 'patronage loop' of internships and work experience to get their children jobs in journalism

AA Gill is scathing in the Sunday Times Magazine today about how the well connected middle classes use the "patronage loop" to get their children, and those of their friends and contacts, jobs in journalism, television and publishing.

Gill writes: "The Job is arranged through an elaborate old-boys’ network of work experience and internship that has little to do with academic success. It’s unpaid, or barely paid, and getting your children into the right niches is as competitive and rigorous as it was getting them into the right nursery. Just another step in the relentless game of middle-class one-upmanship.

"The names of the runners on film sets or the assistants in TV companies read like the sons and daughters of a Who’s Who in the arts world. Only the very affluent urban middle class can afford to support children in jobs that don’t pay a living wage for years at a time.

"In journalism or TV or publishing, you rarely hear a regional accent. The names of the runners on film sets or the assistants in TV companies read like the sons and daughters of a Who’s Who in the entertainment and arts world.

"Getting a child into a glossy magazine for a month to sort out the fashion cupboard is negotiated as part of a bribe for a celebrity who might prove to be useful later on, or as a mutual favour: you take my Benedict, I’ll have your Beatrice."

Gill says: "Every journalist who has a byline will have been called by acquaintances to take on some bright, keen youngster."

Gill, who didn't go to university but started his working life in Pizza Express, also claims: "A university degree will still leave the deserving provincial working and middle class as far outside the patronage loop as they ever were, just now it costs them a lot more, and takes a lot longer."
  • The Sunday Times is behind a paywall.

Saturday 20 August 2011

Sun goes big on hacking story...about Guardian

The Sun hasn't given massive coverage to the hacking scandal at sister paper the News of the World but it couldn't resist going big today on the new twist involving the Guardian.

In my edition, it carried the story of a policeman involved in the hacking inquiry being arrested for allegedly leaking info to the Guardian on page one and as a lead on page four.

The Sun even tells readers about the Guardian's role in exposing hacking at the News of the World: "The Guardian was the first newspaper to publish claims about alleged phone hacking at the now closed newspaper."

It's not gloating is it? Surely not.

Friday 19 August 2011

Policeman arrested over hacking inquiry leaks

The hacking story just keeps on giving.

BBC News has reported that a police officer has been arrested in relation to leaks during the Scotland Yard phone-hacking investigation.

Sky News is reporting that the leak involves the Guardian which has led the way on the hacking story.

The 51-year-old detective constable was arrested at work on Thursday and has been released on bail until 29 September. He has also been suspended.

The Met's Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers said the officer's arrest was "hugely disappointing".

She said: "I made it very clear when I took on this investigation the need for operational and information security. It is hugely disappointing that this may not have been adhered to.

"The MPS (Metropolitan Police Service) takes the unauthorised disclosure of information extremely seriously and has acted swiftly in making these arrests."

MediaGuardian reports that a spokesperson for Guardian News & Media, which publishes the Guardian, declined to comment on reports that the leaks had been to the Guardian, and said: "We note the arrest of a Scotland Yard detective on suspicion of misconduct in a public office relating to unauthorised disclosure of information.

"On the broader point raised by the arrest, journalists would no doubt be concerned if conversations between off-the-record sources and reporters came routinely to be regarded as criminal activity. In common with all news organisations we have no comment to make on the sources of our journalism."

UK Riots: CNJ's contempt for 'name and shame'

The Camden New Journal prides itself on being an independently owned newspaper and it is taking an independent line from the "name and shame" stance of other parts of the press which are carrying pages of police pictures of alleged rioters and looters.

The CNJ's John Gulliver comment column says this week:

"YEARS ago, when I used to cover the courts, I had to follow the established rules governing preliminary hearings at magistrates’ court.

Only the name and address of the accused with a description of the charge could be published.

Anything else was barred: opening statement by the prosecution, police details about the charge, even a plea – it was all only for my notebook.

Anything that could prejudice a fair hearing was taboo.

The presumption of innocence, the cornerstone of our legal system, was held to be paramount.

In the past few years first newspapers, then TV news channels, have chipped away at this.

Year by year our tabloids have begun to ape the US press.

Once, an accused left early court hearings with his head covered to avoid prejudicial publicity.

This was reversed this week.

Men leaving courts awaiting trial at a crown court were taken away by police with their heads uncovered – and newspapers obliged by publishing their photograph.

Throw the presumption of innocence out of the window and you may as well say goodbye to natural justice.

This week, politicians in government, the Crown Prosecution Service, judges and newspapers and TV channels have taken leave of their senses.

This never happened during other riots – in Brixton and Liverpool in the 1980s, for example.

It is as if the nation is facing an unprecedented national crisis.

Yet, during a real crisis, the Second World War, the police, media and politicians acted far more sensibly.

It is one thing for the police to have published the name and shame photographs of suspected rioters but did the media, including local papers, have to ape them?

You would have thought the media would have learned from the way they virtually condemned an innocent man, Chris Jefferies, as a suspect in the Jo Yates murder case in Bristol.

I am glad to see newspapers are being sued by Jefferies.

This sort of thing has been getting worse year by year.

Whenever a big crime story breaks tabloids stick two fingers up to the “contempt of court” rules that were once part of the bedrock of a newsroom’s do’s and don’ts.

If you publish a picture of a “suspect” in the riots, in effect you are saying he is thought to have been committing a most serious offence of rioting.

You have already begun to put him on trial – though he has not yet even appeared in court.

Thank goodness major news channels and some newspapers are refusing to provide the police with photographs that have not been published.

For a democracy to function there has to be a separation of powers between the legislators, the judiciary, the police and the media.

If the politicians and the police throw the rule of law out the window, should the media blindly follow?

If it does, this is the road to an authoritarian state."

  • CNJ editor Eric Gordon spoke out against 'naming and shaming' at an NUJ debate on riot covearge last night. He urged journalists to follow their conscience and not produce material that could be in contempt and prejudice trials.

UK Riots: Where's the journalism on the causes?

The Guardian's Paul Lewis, who has won plaudits for his frontline reporting of the riots in the UK, says journalists have so far failed to provide a thorough analysis of why the trouble broke out.

He contrasted the innovative way in which social media like Twitter was used to report the riots with a lack of analysis and attempts by journalists to get to the roots of what caused such large scale civil unrest.

Speaking at an NUJ meeting to discuss coverage of the riots, Lewis described much of the journalism in the aftermath of the riots as "really quite bad".

He said: "I haven't read a single good piece which has interviewed a lot of people who were involved in the riots. Not one. I cannot understand why that is. Foreign reporters manage to interview members of the Taliban but not interview kids who were involved in the riots in the UK. It's almost incomprehensible .

"It's such a prize to get to the bottom of why this really happened".

Lewis said he had also not read any articles which explained why the riots had spread to some cities but not others.

Referring to the Government ruling out an official inquiry into the riots, he added: "We've had one the most unprecedented moments of civil unrest and yet no-one is looking into it, no-one is asking why. That's where we journalists should step in but looking at the product of last week we haven't done it so far."

Tony Evans from The Times said reporting of the riots had been a "particularly grim period for journalism."

He accused 24 rolling news presenters of editorialising about the riots without providing any context or background.

Evans said Sky TV reporters had behaved like headmasters by challenging rioters and telling them: "I live round here, I can't believe what I'm seeing, are you proud of yourselves?".

"That's not journalism," Evans said. "Journalism should be the pursuit of the truth and pursuit of knowledge. We weren't seeing knowledge there we were getting the vicarious thrills of being in the middle of a riot."

He said he was disappointed that newspapers, which had the time to interview people and give them anonymity, had not talked to those involved in the rioting about the reasons why they were doing it.

"There's no sense of blaming politicians, it's all about punishment, it's all about victimisation and it's all about marginalising the people with the least voice."

Evans said he believed some journalists were afraid to confront the preconceptions of the mass of the British public at a time when public trust in them was so low.

He added: "Our role is to look for truth and I don't think we've looked for truth very well in the last few weeks."

Pic: Paul Lewis (Jon Slattery)