Wednesday 30 November 2011

Spotify launches new music app with Guardian

The Guardian has gone into partnership with Spotify to create a music app for the new Spotify Platform.

Using the Guardian’s Open Platform service, the app brings album reviews from the Guardian and Observer straight to Spotify’s users, who will also be directed to the Guardian’s website from the app where they can rate or review albums.

The Guardian says its app for Spotify builds on Guardian News & Media’s digital-first strategy, which was announced earlier this year.

Caspar Llewellyn Smith, music editor, Guardian News & Media, said: "We're big admirers of Spotify, and have recently partnered with them for a series of exclusive gigs. Now, with our app, which allows Spotify users to read our latest album reviews within the service, I think we're adding real value to what it is they do. It's also a great illustration of what third parties can do with the Guardian's ground-breaking Open Platform."

Spotify is also offering an app in partnership with Rolling Stone magazine.

Gudio 'denied day in court' before Leveson Inquiry

Blogger Guido Fawkes will not be appearing before the Leveson Inquiry tomorrow.

Guido, aka Paul Staines, was summoned to appear by Lord Justice Leveson after he leaked a draft of evidence Alastair Campbell was to give to the inquiry.

But Guido has posted on his site: "So after Guido having instructed solicitor Robert Dougans of Bryan Cave to formally submit a Witness Statement to Lord Justice Leveson, as so compelled under threat of imprisonment, Lord Justice Leveson now says he is discharging Guido from appearing tomorrow. Well Guido had a lot to say.

"It is almost as if they are embarrassed at the string of cock-ups. First of all no crime has been committed. The evidence was not restricted until after it was published. Some might think that an inquiry into matters like press hacking and privacy should be careful to protect itself from press leaks."

Campbell told the Leveson Inquiry today he sent drafts of his witness statement to lawyers, journalists and former political colleagues before it was leaked. He said he was confident that none of the people he copied the statement to would have passed it on to the blogger.

Guido adds: "Oh, and under the terms of the Restriction Order Guido is not allowed to tell you what he was going to tell the judge in his Witness Statement tomorrow. Suffice to say Guido was refusing point blank to reveal his source’s name. Maybe Guido should just email it to a few close journalist friends…"

Pic: Paul Staines (Jon Slattery).

Leveson Inquiry into press tops news agenda

The Leveson Inquiry into media ethics topped the news agenda in the week ending Sunday 27 November, as the first witnesses gave evidence of their treatment by the tabloids, according to journalisted.

The Leveson Inquiry generated 339 articles (including evidence given by Hugh Grant, 120 articles and Bob and Sally Dowler, 106 articles); violent protests involving thousands of people at Tahrir Square in Egypt before elections take place, 273 articles; scandal continues to engulf the England Rugby World Cup squad after damning reports of their conduct are leaked, 195 articles; and the death of Gary Speed, 85 articles.

Covered little, according to journalisted, were Carina Trimingham, partner of Energy Secretary Chris Huhne, embroiled in row over privileged access to ministers, 13 articles; three bombs explode in Basra, Iraq, killing 19 civilians, 6 articles; and Welsh Labour and Liberal Democrats agree Budget deal after months of deadlock, 4 articles.

    Tuesday 29 November 2011

    McMullan: 'Hugh Grant story came from his mate'

    Former News of the World journalist Paul McMullan has told the Leveson Inquiry that the news that Tinglan Hong was having Hugh Grant's baby came from a friend of the actor and not from phone hacking.

    McMullan claimed he was given the story by one of Grant's mates "making mischief."

    Grant has told the Leveson Inquiry he believed his phone may have been hacked by the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday, a claim denied by the two papers.

    McMullan also rounded on former editors of the News of the World Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks claiming they were the "scum of journalism for trying to drop me and all my colleagues in it."

    He told the inquiry: "Privacy is for paedos, no-one else needs it."

    Nick Davies: 'Phone hacking sources include 15 to 20 former News of the World journalists'

    Nick Davies told the Leveson Inquiry today that around 15 to 20 former News of the World journalists had spoken to him or his researcher about phone hacking at the paper.

    Asked about the sources of his hacking revelations published in the Guardian, Davies said the ex-NoW journalists had been a "tremendously important engine driving the story forward".

    Davies said other sources included private investigators who were alarmed by "cowboys" in their trade and also the victims of phone hacking and their legal actions.

    He told the Leveson Inquiry that some of his sources would only speak off the record if guaranteed anonymity.

    Davies argued that an advisory body should be set up that could judge whether potential stories were in the public interest but would not have the power to prevent publication.

    He said he didn't think the press was an industry capable of self-regulation and that he was in favour of corrections being given equal prominence to the offending story.

    Davies also claimed it was News of the World journalists that deleted Milly Dowler's phone messages and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire who had "facilitated" the hacking.

    Guido obeys Leveson order on Campbell draft but says it is not 'an acceptance of jurisdiction'

    Blogger Guido Fawkes last night took down a link to Alastair Campbell's leaked draft evidence to the Leveson Inquiry "pending legal advice".

    Lord Justice Leveson yesterday made an order preventing the publication of any witness statements provided to the inquiry until they are formally put into evidence.

    Guido, aka Paul Staines, has been summoned to appear before the inquiry on Thursday after publishing extracts of Campbell's draft evidence at the weekend.

    Today he published a letter to the Leveson Inquiry:

    Dear Sirs,

    Yesterday afternoon I became aware, via calls from journalists, that an order had been made against me. As I told the journalists and is widely reported this morning, I had not received any such order at that time.

    Late night a tweet by the BBC’s Ross Hawkins directed me to the Inquiry website where I found a copy of the order. I also understand there is a notice, which I have yet to receive.

    On the front page of my blog, in large type, my email, phone and fax numbers are clearly displayed. Could I politely request that service is effected by either email or fax as set out below.

    Pending sight of the notice which will enable me to get legal advice, late last night I removed the statements by Alastair Campbell from my website. This is in no way an admission of any kind nor is it an acceptance of jurisdiction.

    Paul Staines
    Editor Guido Fawkes’ Blog

    Monday 28 November 2011

    By Gove! Militant NUJ picket is now in Cabinet

    After Education Secretary Michael Gove launched a ferocious attack on "hardline, militant" union barons over this week's mass public sector strike, the London Evening Standard quoted a PCS spokesman: "This is the latest tedious rubbish from a minister who ought to know better. The real militants are in the Cabinet."

    Could the spokesman be referring to Michael Gove himself who was once happy to man an NUJ picket line when a journalist on the Press and Journal, Aberdeen, during a lengthy dispute over union recognition in 1989, as this pic by Donald Stewart shows.

    Financial Times' NUJ members reject pay offer

    The NUJ chapel at the Financial Times has voted to ballot for industrial action after rejecting a pay offer of 2 per cent.

    The chapel is also opposing what it claims is a threat to collective pay negotiation - management’s proposal to keep back nearly half of a potential award of 3.5 per cent to hand out to select individuals.

    Steve Bird, the NUJ FoC, said: "A low pay offer is bad enough, but plundering the pay fund to retain staff or reward select individuals has added insult to injury. The majority should not be forced to subsidise opaque bonus payments with yet another real terms pay cut. Industrial action is not something to be taken lightly, but the chapel is united over this."

    New doc promises 'sulphurous, personal and moving' inside story on the WikiLeaks saga

    More 4 is billing a new documentary on Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, due to be broadcast tomorrow, as the definitive account of the 'wiki-saga.'

    More 4
    claims: "This is the story of WikLeaks told by the people involved: sulphurous, personal and moving, it documents history in the making and the frontier of new technology and journalism."

    The documentary by Patrick Forbes includes an interview with Assange and brings together his erstwhile partner Daniel Domscheit Berg, and the editorial teams at the Guardian, Der Spiegel and New York Times newspapers, as well as the US state department spokesperson who had to deal with the leaks.

    The pre-publicity quotes the Guardian's Nick Davies describing the WikiLeaks saga as "a Greek tragedy... as triumph was turned into disaster through the actions of one man."

    According to today's Independent, Assange is scathing in the documentary about British journalism, claiming: "One of the most extraordinary things about British journalism is that it is the most credit-stealing, credit-whoring, backstabbing industry ever encountered. And Nick Davies is part of that industry."

    True Stories: WikiLeaks is broadcast tomorrow at 22:00 on More 4.

    Pic: Julian Assange (Jon Slattery)

    Sunday 27 November 2011

    Sunday Times: 'Shame of the tabloid abattoir'

    Two Sunday Times journalists reviewing the Leveson Inquiry today can't be accused of being soft on the News of the World or the tabloids.

    Tim Rayment says evidence given to Leveson last week shows why the News of the World, owned like the Sunday Times by News International, had to close.

    And columnist Dominic Lawson feels the Leveson Inquiry is showing the public inside "the journalistic abattoir".

    Rayment in the Sunday Times' News Review writes: "There are times when a reporter feels ashamed of his industry. The News of the World is the very newspaper that published Kate McCann’s diaries without asking her and abused and bullied the McCanns — there are no other words for it — into an interview. As time passes, it is more and more clear why James Murdoch, the chairman of News International, abruptly closed the paper in July."

    Lawson in his Sunday Times column says: "It is frequently said that if you like sausages your stomach will not thank you for discovering how they are made. The tabloids will fear that the Leveson inquiry might have a similar effect on those who avidly consume stories about people’s personal lives. Brian Leveson’s forensic approach is taking the public into the journalistic abattoir to see how the front-page snap of a dazed-looking actress is achieved."

    Friday 25 November 2011

    Media Quotes of the Week: From the tabloids trashed at the Leveson Inquiry to the last Post

    Sally Dowler, mother of Milly Dowler, at the Leveson Inquiry on the moment she
    found her daughter's phone messages had been deleted and had cried out to her husband: “She’s picked up her voicemail, Bob, she’s alive.”

    Kate McCann to the Leveson Inquiry after extracts of her diary were published by the News of the World: "I felt totally violated. I had written those words at the most desperate time of my life and it was my only way of communicating with Madeline. There was no respect shown for me as a grieving mother or for my daughter Madeline and it made me feel very vulnerable and small."

    Sienna Miller to the Leveson Inquiry: “It was baffling how stories kept coming out. I changed my number three times in three months and decided it couldn’t have been as a result of hacking, so horribly, I accused my friends and family of selling stories and they accused each other.”

    Allison Pearson in the Daily Telegraph: "Not all journalists are the same. Some of us shudder at the vultures who make money, fun and increased circulation out of human misery. Since when did the destruction of a family become public sport? Let’s hope that Lord Justice Leveson teaches the culprits a lesson they’ll never forget. Hack Fact Rats 'caught with pants down in legal sting’.”

    Mark Lewis, the solicitor for phone hacking victims, writing on ExaroNews argues that people should realise there were many victims of the hacking scandal: "The people whose phones were hacked; the people who worked for the News of the World who were not involved but lost their jobs; the readers who lost their paper; the honest journalists who are tarnished by the activities of those who broke the law; and, most of all, the population who need the fourth estate to expose the impropriety of the powers that be."

    The Daily Telegraph on the value of Northcliffe: "Daily Mail & General Trust has appointed Ernst & Young to value its Northcliffe Media regional newspapers division ahead of a potential sale. The results of E&Y's 'vendor due diligence' review show the regional newspaper group has plummeted in value from £1.5bn to just £150m in less than five years."

    Liverpool Daily Post editor Mark Thomas on the decision to take his paper weekly: "We are lucky to possess one of the great brands in journalism and we’ve been serving our city for 156 years. This change sets us up to serve it for the next 156 - in print and online and through whatever channels readers seek to receive it."

    Steve Dyson on HoldtheFrontPage on the move by Trinity Mirror Midlands to close the Chase Post:
    "We can only hope that someone, somewhere – perhaps without huge central costs and with no plc shareholders to please – might take a long, hard look at whether a locally owned Post with its great staff might still work."
    • Old Quote of the Week, via The Word. Napoleon Bonaparte: "Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets"

    Thursday 24 November 2011

    Liverpool Daily Post switches to weekly publication

    The Liverpool Daily Post - the city's morning newspaper - is to end its daily publication after 156 years on the streets, Click Liverpool reports.

    The decision to axe the title comes as its circulation dipped below 10,000 and advertising revenues were reduced.

    Instead it will switch to the The Liverpool Post as a weekly, published on Thursdays from 18th January.

    The title's website will also continue to be updated daily, but six journalists are being axed from the Old Hall Street newsroom.

    Publishers Trinity Mirror say the new weekly will boast 100 pages with particular emphasis on its traditional core content of business, sports, the arts and politics.

    Daily Post
    editor Mark Thomas said: "It is always difficult when we lose people and I am hoping the redundancies can be voluntary.

    "It is never easy to lose jobs but the changes to format and to staffing sets the Post up for an exciting new future.

    "We are lucky to possess one of the great brands in journalism and we’ve been serving our city for 156 years.

    "This change sets us up to serve it for the next 156 - in print and online and through whatever channels readers seek to receive it."

    Journalists have begun work designs for the new weekly with the masthead The Liverpool Post.

    Added Mark Thomas: "We've just completed research which proves yet again how much people like and want our current content mix. However, we appreciate that the world is changing and people's buying habits and news consumption requirements are very different.

    "There is clear evidence that a bumper Post once a week, full of high-quality news, views and analysis, will be better for readers and a more appealing vehicle for advertisers.

    "This move enables us to maximise brand potential and make a marked improvement to our profit performance in what are extraordinarily challenging times for the media industry and for business in general."

    The Welsh Daily Post will continue unchanged on a six-day publication model. The Liverpool Echo is also unaffected.

    But some Liverpool weekly titles The Bootle Times, Merseymart (South) and Star (Anfield & West Derby and Maghull), are to merge into two "community titles" which will be distributed with the Tuesday edition of the Echo.

    Managing director of Trinity Mirror North West & North Wales, Warren Butcher, said: "We recognise that the proposed changes are fundamental and that they affect long-lived and much-loved brands.

    "However, a change in approach is vital. Our business has been built on the ability to be proactive and to continually adapt our portfolio to reflect market conditions and changing consumer trends. We are convinced these changes will strengthen and add greater relevance to our portfolio in the long term and in turn improve the service we provide to both readers and advertisers."

    Only months ago the Liverpool Daily Post, and its sister title the Liverpool Echo evening newspaper, were granted the Freedom of the City of Liverpool.

    The NUJ has condemned the end of the Liverpool Daily Post, with general secretary Michelle Stanistreet calling it "a national tragedy".

    She said: "This paper was a part of my daily life when I grew up in the city and the people of Liverpool will lose out enormously.

    "The end of one of the country’s most famous morning papers is a national tragedy.

    "The move from daily to weekly production is part of a very worrying trend – and here we have yet another iconic city title biting the dust. Trinity Mirror should be investing in quality journalism, not killing off our local press.”

    Her worries were echoed by Chris Morley, NUJ Northern & Midlands Organiser, who said: "This is the latest in a string of grim redundancy announcements by Trinity Mirror.

    "Turning the Liverpool Daily Post into a weekly is a real gamble by the company with a title that has a prestigious history of publishing.

    "As a union, we remain to be convinced that this format is likely to be a successful way forward in Britain's big cities. Trinity Mirror has already carried out a similar operation with the Birmingham Post some two years ago but the jury is still out on the impact on circulation.

    "We will be engaging with the company closely during the consultation now to take place, but our members are acutely conscious of the effect these cuts would have on already extremely stretched departments such as photographic."
    • Jon S: "I'm away until Saturday but was sent this copy by Click Liverpool, the city's independent website, about the important change in frequency of the Liverpool Daily Post."

    Wednesday 23 November 2011

    The Last Post: Read this and weep for local press

    Ex-Birmingham Mail editor Steve Dyson has written a terrific piece about the closure of the Chase Post by Trinity Mirror Midlands and its editor of more than 25 years Mike Lockley.

    His article on HoldtheFrontPage looks at the huge economic problems facing newspapers, including a jump in newsprint prices, and concedes that the Chase Post was making heavy financial losses.

    But Dyson really captures the character of a weekly with its own style and an outstanding editor that is at the heart of a community.

    Reviewing, the last Post, he notes: There were "five pages of 50+ tributes that flooded in during the closure week – messages sent by everybody from ordinary readers to politicians, and from police chiefs to rock stars like Glenn Hughes of Deep Purple.

    "But it was Lockley who best summed up how everyone was feeling as his page one message continued: 'We set out from the start to be the voice of this community. Judging by your kind words, we’ve succeeded. I intended to write a long tribute but you, the readers – the people that count – have beaten me to it'.”

    Dyson ends with this plea: "We can only hope that someone, somewhere – perhaps without huge central costs and with no plc shareholders to please – might take a long, hard look at whether a locally owned Post with its great staff might still work.

    Pic: HoldtheFrontPage

    FIFA boss Blatter is splattered across the news

    FIFA president Sepp Blatter's comments on racism in football caused outrage and made him the top news topic in the week ending Sunday, November 20, according to journalisted.

    Blatter surviving calls for his resignation after his controversial comments that racism rows in football could be settled with an after match handshake generated 186 articles; the start of the Leveson Inquiry into press standards and phone hacking, 130 articles; UK youth unemployment surpasses one million people, 119 articles; The Northern Rock bank, nationalised in 2008, sold to Virgin Money by the UK Government, 113 articles; and Occupy Wall Street protesters are removed from Zucotti Park by order of New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, 102 articles.

    Covered little, according to journalisted, were CIA drone attack kills two UK terror suspects in South Waziristan, Pakistan, 15 articles; Tibetan Monks stage large protest in India following self-immolations, 13 articles; and Pentagon tests new hypersonic long-range weapon, 5 articles.

      Tuesday 22 November 2011

      'Phone hacking has tarnished honest journalists'

      Solicitor Mark Lewis, who is representing Milly Dowler's family and other victims of phone hacking, says honest journalists have been tarnished by the scandal.

      He has also given examples of cases where he believes hacking by journalists could be justified in the public interest.

      Writing for the ExaroNews website, Lewis argues that people should realise there were many victims of the scandal:"The people whose phones were hacked; the people who worked for the News of the World who were not involved but lost their jobs; the readers who lost their paper; the honest journalists who are tarnished by the activities of those who broke the law; and, most of all, the population who need the fourth estate to expose the impropriety of the powers that be."

      Lewis adds: "Imagine a journalist who has a story that there there has been corruption or illegality; a politician that lies about a matter that could take us to war; or a court official taking bribes to stop the prosecution of speeding motorists. If hacking a phone could confirm this, then surely that would be a good thing."

      He said the law was broken for "celebrity tittle-tattle" or the intrusions into grief of crime victims.

      But: "If it were in the public interest, then there would be a justification for doing it. Define the public interest, and create a public interest defence."

      Lewis is giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry tomorrow.

      Pic: Mark Lewis (Jon Slattery)

      Guardian puts paidContent publisher up for sale

      PaidContent:UK is reporting that Guardian News & Media is in talks with potential buyers about a possible sale of ContentNext Media, publisher of paidContent and several other sites.

      GNM acquired ContentNext, which was founded by Rafat Ali and has covered the digital media business since 2002, for an undisclosed sum in July 2008 in a deal which was meant to help the Guardian's ambitions to expand in the US.

      The Guardian is now concentrating on developing its online presence in the US with its own dedicated staff in New York.

      PaidContent reports that GNM’s international and business development director Stella Beaumont told staff: “ContentNext has strong brands, great people and an excellent reputation, but GNM’s focus in the U.S. is on building the Guardian.

      “We have received expressions of interest in the company, but the sale process is still in the early stages. We are talking to a select number of potential buyers.”

      The company is working with the bankers Coady Diemar Partners on the possible sale.

      ContentNext has three active sites—, and—as well as a fourth site,

      Monday 21 November 2011

      Revived Woking News & Mail goes fortnightly

      Here, at last, is some good news about a local newspaper.

      The Woking News & Mail which was closed by the Guardian Media Group in March and revived as a monthly title by an independent publisher in May, has decided to go fortnightly.

      The 117- year-old paper, saved from the scrapheap by local family business Knaphill Print and Web, puts the move to going fortnightly down to "the overwhelming support and constant requests from our loyal readers since we returned to the streets of Woking."

      When the paper was relaunched the new publisher said the paper would first be monthly, then fortnightly and the long term plan was to produce it as a weekly once again.

      Thomson Reuters: NUJ rejects 'insulting' pay offer

      Journalists at Thomson Reuters are to ballot for industrial after rejecting a below-inflation pay offer of 1.5 per cent.

      The news agency’s NUJ chapel has passed a resolution stating: "This chapel rejects the below-inflation offer of 1.5 per cent across the board as insulting after three years of real-term pay cuts. This chapel insists on a return to the previous practice of annual across-the-board pay rises at least in line with inflation.

      "It demands 7 per cent across the board and in light of our continuing pay dispute, and the company's failure to come close to our demand, the chapel will proceed with its ballot for industrial action."

      NUJ delivers wreath to Cannock Chase Post but says doomed Trinity Mirror trio can be resurrected

      Journalists have delivered a wreath to the offices of the Cannock Chase Post newspaper in the West Midlands to mark the closure of three weekly papers by Trinity Mirror Midlands.

      The NUJ claims that the closure of the Chase Post, together with the Sutton Coldfield News and Stafford Post, is an exanple of the "cuts-for-profits model of media ownership".

      Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary said: “Trinity Mirror has again taken the sledgehammer approach to local news provision. It is wrong for the company to continue to make profits and pay shareholders whilst the public and journalists face dire newspaper closures and job cuts. The decision to axe titles leaves the local community with only one remaining rival paper. The company have trampled on quality journalism, media plurality and the citizens right to know.”

      Chris Morley, the union's Northern & Midlands Organiser, delivered the wreath which included the message "Chase Post, Sutton News & Stafford Post R.I.P under Trinity Mirror".

      Members of the NUJ branch carried posters saying "Chase a buyer Trinity Mirror", "No! to Closure", "Save Our Papers" and "Post Haste to Sale".

      The NUJ had called on Trinity Mirror to seek a buyer for the papers. Morley said: "Although we have laid this wreath, the NUJ does not believe these papers have to die. Trinity Mirror claims to have searched for a buyer, but has not been open about its efforts. It has an obligation by law to try to eliminate or reduce the number of redundancies the closure of these titles will bring about and one obvious way of doing that would be to actively seek a buyer.

      “If it is serious about finding a new owner, Trinity Mirror should consider giving away the titles to any credible local investors with a clear interest in keeping them as the valuable community asset that they are. The group reaped the profits from these papers over the past ten years and should now be responsible to the community who provided those profits.

      “The closure of these titles was announced in the same week that the new Localism Act was passed. As a union, we will be looking hard to see if this new Act’s provision for forcing companies to allow time for community groups to organise a bid to take over threatened local 'assets of community value', could be adopted to save threatened local papers.”

      Pics: Tom O'Neil

      'No newspapers please, we're journalism students'

      I am told that a poll of 150 journalism BA students at the University of Central Lancashire, conducted this autumn by a senior lecturer, has revealed that fewer than 10 per cent said they regularly read a national newspaper.

      Of the ones that did, almost all read either the Guardian, the Independent, or the i. Around a third said they regularly used the BBC, mostly its website.

      The poll apparently showed that the students, in their final year before graduation, favour social media like Facebook and Twitter and specialist websites over "mainstream media" like the national press.

      Highlighting how the killers of journalists go free

      International Freedom of Expression Exchange, the global network for free expression, has designated this Wednesday (November 23) as the inaugral International Day to End Impunity, and will highlight cases where journalists have been killed and their murders have not been brought to justice.

      IFEX reports that in the past 10 years 500 journalists have been killed and in nine out of 10 cases the murderers have gone free.

      November 23 is the anniversary of the anniversary of the single deadliest attack on journalists in recent history: the 2009 Maguindanao massacre in the Philippines when 57 people were slaughtered, including 32 journalists and media workers.

      "The day will be a platform... to demand that journalists' killers do not go free, and to ensure that our colleagues working in countries with continuous and rampant impunity feel that their work is valued and their life is treasured," said the Committee to Protect Journalists. According to CPJ's 2011 Impunity Index, Iraq once again ranked the highest in terms of unsolved murders (92) in the past 10 years.

      The NUJ and the International Federation of Journalists is supporting a number of events to mark the second anniversary of the Magindanao massacre and highlighting the killings of journalists and others in the Philippines. They including a public meeting on Wednesday 23 November at 6.00pm on 'The Maguindanao Massacre: Never Forget' at Amnesty International Human Rights Action Centre17-25 New Inn Yard London EC2A 3EA. Speakers include: IFJ President Jim Boumelha and Carlos Zarate
      , from the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.

      Friday 18 November 2011

      Trinity's Liverpool Daily Post and Echo makes Parly correspondent Ian Hernon redundant

      The Trinity Mirror-owned Liverpool Daily Post and Echo, publisher of the Daily Post and Liverpool Echo, has made Ian Hernon, the company's long-serving and highly respected Parliamentary correspondent, redundant.

      Award-winning Hernon is expected to leave the Daily Post and Echo next month in another blow to regional press representation in the Parliamentary Lobby which continues to be reduced as papers cut back on editorial costs.

      Hernon is one of the most most experienced lobby correspondents in Parliament.

      An Early Day Motion, proposed by Labour MP Louise Ellman (Liverpool, Riverside) states: "That this House is concerned at the decision by Trinity Mirror North West to close its Westminster operation and the impact this will have on daily coverage of Parliamentary and constituency issues, the effect of which will result in making Ian Hernon, the most experienced lobby correspondent in Parliament, with 33 years of continuous service, the last 11 for the Liverpool Daily Post and Echo, redundant; recognises his reputation for straightforward reportage and political analysis; and is concerned that this could result in a diminution of Parliamentary reporting."

      It has been signed by 28 MPs.
      • It is also understood that in the latest job cuts by Trinity Mirror Midlands all the photographers at the Birmingham Post and Mail have been made redundant although some will be used on a freelance basis.

      Quotes of the Week: A town loses its heart and why Leveson needs to hear from working journalists

      Mike Lockley editor of the Chase Post which is being closed by Trinity Mirror Midlands:
      "Times and technology change, people’s desire to know what’s happening in their community doesn’t. A town without its own weekly newspaper is a town without a heart."

      The Times
      in a leader: "It is obvious that News International’s failure to heed the alarms over phone hacking has been a disaster. It has had to accept the resignation of its chief executive and her predecessor, as well as abandon proposals to buy out BSkyB. The lesson is clear: the company should always be its harshest critic and its own most assidous investigator. A powerful organisation with a victim complex has the capacity to do great damage, not least to itself."

      Ex-News of the World journalist Tom Latchem in the Independent on Sunday on the arrest of Sun reporter Jamie Pyatt: "It does not surprise me that the corporation handed over a dossier against Pyatt to the authorities. This, remember, is a company that axed 220 jobs to save the skin of one woman: Rebekah Brooks, the chief executive who resigned days after the NoTW closed. Pyatt's arrest highlights again the ruthless survival mentality of the Murdoch clan: it is in damage-limitation mode again, as another of its newspapers finds itself in danger of self-combusting."

      Ex-News of the World reporter Neville Thurlbeck in Press Gazette: "If you still think me guilty of the Gordon Taylor hacking in any way, shape or form. And if you believe I was fairly dismissed, please consider this. I have chosen not to take the offer of potential immunity from prosecution. I stake my very liberty on the truth of what I say. That makes me a fool or an innocent man."

      New Press Complaints Commission chairman Lord Hunt, interviewed in the Guardian: "I think the greater challenge is with the bloggers, whether it's Guido Fawkes or whoever."

      Guido Fawkes responds via Twitter: "Message to new PCC chairman Lord Hunt: You can't touch me."

      Tom Watson MP in letter ot Society of Editors on what he would have like to have done if able to attend the SoE conference: "I would also have taken a pot shot at Lord Patten’s lugubrious speech justifying the BBC not being able to adequately investigate the phonehacking scandal. The DCMS committee published a report that found Rupert Murdoch’s executives guilty of “collective amnesia”. We found it “inconceivable” that others were not involved in hacking. Where was Nick Robinson, the most powerful political editor in the land, during this period? Kissing Andy Coulson’s arse."

      New Johnston Press boss Ashley Highfield interviewed in The Herald: “The opportunities are very clear with Johnston Press, as with other regional publishers, because the brands of the local newspapers are incredibly strong in local communities. The trick is to help move those brands into the digital age and get the right balance between print and digital."

      NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet on the Leveson Inquiry: "It is vital that the newspaper bosses are not allowed to dominate this inquiry and that the concerns, experiences and views of ordinary working journalists are placed firmly at its heart."

      Wednesday 16 November 2011

      The only way isn't just about ethics, what about the future of our regional newspapers as a business?

      On the same day the Lord Leveson inquiry opened this week, it was announced that three more local newspapers are to close and 45 journalists' jobs are being cut by Trinity Mirror Midlands.

      A survey of members of the Society of Editors estimated this week that editorial staff had been cut by 29% since 2007.

      If only the same amount of resources being put into the Leveson Inquiry could be spent on looking at ways to help the local press, which has never had anything to do with phone hacking, to survive and adapt to a digital future without this massive destruction of journalists' jobs.

      I've written an article for TheMediaBriefing saying the events of this week support the views of former regional editor Neil Fowler, now Guardian Research Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford, that what really matters in newspapers right now is the financial state of the local press.

      'Don't close papers sell them': NUJ urges Trinity

      The NUJ is calling on Trinity Mirror to put three weekly Midlands papers up for sale instead of closing them.

      Trinity Mirror Midlands has announced that the Sutton Coldfield News, the Chase Post and Stafford Post are to close.

      NUJ negotiator Lawrence Shaw said: “The only beneficiary of these closures is the Northcliffe group, the papers’ rival in this area. It makes no sense to journalists to shut down popular papers that are full of adverts. That is why we believe the Trinity Mirror management must have an ulterior motive for the closures, which it is not revealing. We will be asking for answers and the chance for these paper to continue to serve their local communities."

      NUJ general secretary confirms to Leveson that private investigator Derek Webb is union member

      NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet today confirmed to the Leveson Inquiry that private investigator Derek Webb, who claims that News International had asked him to put solicitors working for phone hacking victims under surveillance, is a member of the union.

      The NUJ had previously claimed it could not comment on whether or not Webb was in the union because membership matters are covered by data protection legislation.

      But Stanistreet told the Leveson Inquiry today that Webb alleges that he was told by a senior executive at News International that he must switch from being a private investigator to become a journalist.

      "He was told to join the NUJ and this he duly did," Stanistreet said. She added: "This is a breathtakingly cynical move on behalf of the News of the World but also an interesting perspective on an organisation that is so hostile to the NUJ.

      "Clearly, in the minds of senior executives at News International, presumably a proper journalist is one who is a fully fledged NUJ member with a union press card rather than the ones News International dispenses to its staff."

      The NUJ general secretary revealed that the union is working with the inquiry team to see if working journalists can give evidence anonymously. She said: "Speaking out is not an option for many journalists" because of the threat to their existing or future employment.

      She also said the union opposed the licensing of journalists and favoured a "conscience clause" to be included in journalists' work contracts which would protect them from being sacked if they refused to do unethical journalism.

      Stanistreet claimed that newspapers with "a robust" NUJ presence could stick up for journalists over ethical issues, giving as an example the way the Express chapel had complained to the Press Complaints Commission over the coverage of asylum seekers in the Daily Express.

      However, she said the PCC "had done nothing".

      Armistice anniversary plus poppy row tops news

      Coverage of the Armistice commemorations led the news agenda in the week ending November 13, according to Journalisted.

      The 93rd anniversary of the November 11 Armistice generated 567 articles (including FIFA row over allowing the England football team to wear poppies, 133 articles versus allowing the Welsh football team to wear poppies, 19 articles).

      Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi resigns after a week in which he lost his parliamentary majority in a budget vote, 521 articles (including coverage of his successor, Mario Monti, 188 articles); James Murdoch appears for a second time before the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, 136 articles (including references to 'Mafia', 64 articles); Theresa May is engulfed in a row over lax UK borders, as Border Agency boss Brodie Clarke denies wrongdoing and resigns, 122 articles; Dr Conrad Murray is found guilty of the involuntary manslaughter of singer Michael Jackson, 101 articles.

      Covered little, according to journalisted, 179 members of the English Defence League are arrested after threats to attack St Paul's protesters, 17 articles; cricketer Sachin Tendulkar becomes the first player to reach 15,000 test runs, 10 articles; a second student dies as a result of the crush in a Northampton nightclub, 9 articles; Welsh Assembly in deadlock as opposition parties unite to block budget, 5 articles.

      Tuesday 15 November 2011

      Editors say editorial staff down 29% since 2007

      A new Society of Editors' survey reveals that editorial staff numbers have fallen by 29% since 2007.

      The survey of editors' attititudes by consultant Jim Chisholm says content generation staffing has fallen by 19%, levels of editorial management have fallen by 37% and in editorial production by 37%.

      In terms of volume of material produced, since 2007 traditional output has fallen by 17%, while digital output has increased by 163%, the survey says.

      The survey report adds: "Inevitably given the decline in staff numbers and training resources, and the impact on productivity, the ability to innovate and the negative effect on sale was raised many times."

      Asked "if you were the head of or a major shareholder of your organisation what strategic decisions would you make in the next 12 months?" some of the editors responded:

      • Fewer bean counters, more visionaries. Invest sensibly in products and staff. Radically reshape print publishing portfolio. Get on the front foot.

      • Focus on quality of writing - the most old fashioned skill of all.

      • Go free: cut ad rates: belong to communities - drop arrogance from your dictionary.

      • I would go back to on the day editions and only put the first two pars of any story on the internet. The public can buy the paper to read the rest. We are giving away our content for nothing, it's ridiculous.

      • I would hire a staff member to trawl and engage with social media full time both as a source of potential news and as a conversational-marketing tool to reach new users.

      • Invest in journalists and journalism.

      • Invest in retraining journalists to be multi-media experts.

      • Look at new ways of bringing in revenue to protect and grow our newspapers. Grow our websites but not at the cost of traditional newspapers.

      • Make the newsroom a 24-hour. When you're on the press, on-the-air, you are online! The news never stops. The climate in the newsroom needs to be one where when the paper is printed or the news program is completed it doesn't mean it is the end of the day.

      Sell out at whatever price I can get; negotiate an orderly default on loans to JP and Trinity Mirror.

      • Withdraw from the stock exchange and run the company for the benefit of customers, both editorial and advertisement, by reducing cover price and advertising rates, increase wages and accept sustainable profit margins.

      • Work as hard as possible on finding a digital business model that works for my content.

      The Society of Editors emailed its membership and a number of other senior figures an invitation to complete an online survey. During October and November; 2011; 23% responded. The questionnaire included both standard choice and open-ended questions.

      Sun rises under new boss Rupert Murdoch in 1969

      There is a fascinating piece from the archives in the Guardian today on the run-up to the launch of Rupert Murdoch's Sun on the 17th November 1969.

      Written by Geoffrey Moorhouse, and published on the 15th November 1969, it described how the old Sun had "swapped its indebted position within the International Publication Corporation for lean and hungry times among Mr. Rupert Murdoch's ambitions".

      Moorhouse told how the new Sun will be "tabloid and unrecognisable" and be produced from the News of the World building in Bouverie Street.

      He reports how the new editor Larry Lamb is enthusiastic about his new boss who "at the News of the World is apt to sit in his shirt sleeves among a pool of proofs at the top of the sub-editors' table: which probably marks him as unique among his his kind."

      This is how the Guardian reported the launch of the original Sun, born out of the Daily Herald, on 15 September 1964.

      "The first editions of the Sun, successor of the Daily Herald, and the first new mass sale daily newspaper to be published in Britain for 34 years, rolled off the presses in Covent Garden at 10 40 p.m. last night.

      "The front page gives prominence to a policy statement which claims that the "Sun" is politically independent, informative and gay - "a paper for those with a zest for living."...After seeing the first edition of the new newspaper - the initial print order is 3,500,000 - Mr Hugh Cudlipp, its chief architect, said he believed the first issue of a newspaper, like a bride, was never perfect. 'But I think this is an excellent start,' he added."

      Pics: Rupert Murdoch with the launch issue of the new Sun on 17 November, 1969. The splash is: 'Horse Dope Sensation': Second pic, the launch issue of the original Sun.

      Investigate how a NI private investigator became an NUJ member, the union's leadership is told

      The NUJ leadership has been urged to hold an inquiry into how private investigator Derek Webb (top) , who says he was told by News International to spy on the solicitors acting for phone hacking victims, became a member of the union.

      The call has come in a motion, proposed by former NUJ deputy general secretary Jake Ecclestone, and passed overwhelmingly by the union's London Freelance Branch last night.

      It read: "London Freelance Branch notes that Derek Webb - the private detective used by News International to follow lawyers, MPs etc going about their lawful business - was admitted into membership of the NUJ.

      "The branch calls on the the general secretary and NEC [National Executive Council] to conduct an urgent inquiry into whether Mr.Webb was qualified to join the NUJ, how he was able to join the NUJ and whether he is entitled to remain a member of the NUJ."

      The union has said it cannot comment on whether or not Webb is an NUJ member because membership matters are covered by the Data Protection Act.

      It has been claimed that Webb was told by News International managers to apply for an NUJ card as cover. The move has infuriated the union as NI derecognised the NUJ when it moved to Wapping 25 years ago. It is understood the incident has been included in the NUJ's submission to the Leveson Inquiry.

      One of the solicitors put under surveillance by Webb, Mark Lewis (also pictured) who acts for Milly Dowler's family and was invited to speak at last night's meeting, was on hand to see the motion passed.

      Asked about Webb's NUJ membership, Lewis replied: "I don't think it's an indictment of the NUJ. I didn't spot him so why should you?"

      Lewis went on to back the NUJ's call to the Leveson Inquiry for a "conscience clause" to be included in journalists' contracts to protect them from being sacked if they refused to do unethical journalism.

      Lewis said at the moment it would be difficult for a young, ambitious journalist on a Murdoch title given some celebrity tittle-tattle that had been obtained illegally to say "I can't do that". He said: "You would be out of a job and find it difficult to get another job."

      The London Freelance Branch also heard that the cost of re-running the election for NUJ deputy general secretary due to a membership data error will be up to £20,000. The new election deadline is now January 5 next year.

      Monday 14 November 2011

      Trinity Mirror to cut 45 editorial posts in Midlands

      Trinity Mirror Midlands has announced plans to cut 38 editorial posts by creating a regional production hub, a regional features unit and merging specialists reporter roles.

      The company is also closing its free weekly titles the Chase Post, the Stafford Post and the Sutton News. The final editions of the weeklies will be published this week and their closure is expected to result in an additional seven editorial redundancies - making a total of 45 posts going.

      The regional production hub will involving content editors from both Birmingham and Coventry and the features unit will provide entertainment annd lifestyle material.

      Trinity Mirror Midlands said in a statement: "These changes are expected to result in a reduction in editorial headcount of approximately 43 across the Midlands businesses and Trinity Mirror has entered into a period of consultation with all affected staff.

      "In order for the new structure to be effective however, the proposals will also call for the recruitment of an additional five full-time editorial roles. As such, the restructure will result in a total net reduction in editorial roles of 38."

      The cuts follow a review by new Trinity Mirror Midlands managing director Steve Anderson-Dixon. He said:“This review of our organisational structure is vital if we are to ensure a future for our newspapers and websites in the Midlands.

      “We all need to work more closely as a region and sharing key resources is a key theme in these proposals. These actions will result in a reduction in the number of roles at all levels, across a number of offices and departments and we have entered into a period of consultation with all affected staff.”

      NUJ: 'Don't let bosses dominate Leveson Inquiry' Union urges working journalists to speak out

      NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet has written to union members saying it is vital that newspaper bosses are not allowed to dominate the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics and behaviour which opened today.

      Stainstreet says: "Newspaper groups are putting significant resources into the Inquiry, with extensive legal teams, ironically at a time when many of the same groups are slashing jobs and making budget cuts across their titles.

      "It is vital that the newspaper bosses are not allowed to dominate this inquiry and that the concerns, experiences and views of ordinary working journalists are placed firmly at its heart. To do that we need your help."

      She has promised to give anonymity to any journalists who want to speak out about how they were put under pressure or bullied to deliver stories.

      Stanistreet writes: "We want to be able to put the perspectives of members working at the sharp end - and not just in national titles, but also in the regional and local press, which has been largely ignored in the introductory sessions of the Inquiry to date.

      "It is clear that it is impossible for the vast majority of journalists to be able publicly to state their views and experience at an Inquiry, without jeopardising their current or future employment within the industry. It is also clear that currently it is precisely this perspective that is currently lacking in the Inquiry.

      "To that end, the NUJ is asking for members to come forward and share their experiences - whether it's on journalistic practices, your experience of how matters ethical are handled in your current or previous workplace, about how your working culture could be improved or problems you've had to deal with that you feel the Leveson Inquiry should consider. Please get in touch with me.

      "I will be dealing with all queries personally and in complete confidence. We can speak on the phone or face to face. Some members have already made contact with us and have given testimony that will be put to the Inquiry anonymously, through the NUJ."

      The NUJ has long campaigned for the introduction of a Conscience Clause in law, in order that journalists who take a stand against their employer on an ethical issue have protection against being dismissed.

      Stainstreet says the NUJ also wants to make the links at the Inquiry between collective union representation and the ability for journalists to speak out on issues of ethics.

      NUJ members are asked to email their experiences to

      Pic: Michelle Stanistreet (Jon Slattery)

      BBC's Robinson 'kissed Coulson's arse' says MP

      Tom Watson MP has sent a letter to the Society of Editors accusing BBC News political editor Nick Robinson of "kissing Andy Coulson’s arse".

      Watson, who last week compared News International to the Mafia, made the jibe in a letter explaining why he could not attend the conference.

      The letter, published on his website, says: "I am very sorry that I will not be able to attend the conference today.

      Roy Greenslade has just revealed that six months ago, members of the DCMS Select Committee were the targets of covert surveillance by private investigators and journalists working for News International. This revelation became the third occasion that I know of in which I was a target of covert surveillance News Corp in the UK.

      Under the circumstances, I have to spend the day seeking advice from the Speaker and discussing the matter with fellow members of the DCMS Select Committee as to our legal and constitutional position.

      I am very disappointed not to be with you. Had I been there, I would have made the case for editors getting on the front foot and coming up with their own reform position – one that protects the noble tradition of robust, no-nonsense journalism that typifies the British newspaper industry but that ensures editors put matters right when they get them wrong.

      I would also have taken a pot shot at Lord Patten’s lugubrious speech justifying the BBC not being able to adequately investigate the phonehacking scandal. The DCMS committee published a report that found Rupert Murdoch’s executives guilty of “collective amnesia”. We found it “inconceivable” that others were not involved in hacking. Where was Nick Robinson, the most powerful political editor in the land, during this period? Kissing Andy Coulson’s arse.

      Please feel free read out the contents of this letter to delegates with my sincere apologies for not being there."

      'Axing local radio will cut lifeline for older people'

      The NUJ has condemned the planned cuts to BBC local radio and highlighted the impact they would have on older people who rely on their local stations for news and information.

      It says more than 7 million people listen to local radio and research by MORI for Ofcom found older people are more likely to listen to radio at least five days a week, with almost nine in ten (87%) of those aged over 55 doing so.

      The union adds that BBC local radio is listened to more often by older listeners (23% of over 55s listen daily), compared to younger listeners.

      According to the NUJ, all of the BBC's local radio stations face budget cuts including job losses and reductions in programming. Some stations face more than 20 per cent cuts and BBC London could lose a quarter of its budget.

      Almost a half (48.7% ) of the listeners of Radio Lincolnshire are aged over 65, as are more than a third (35.2% ) of Radio Newcastle and more than four out of 10 (44.8% ) of Radio York and Radio Essex (43.3%).

      Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary said: “For many older people, BBC local radio is a lifeline. It provides people with a sense of connection with their community. The BBC website says ‘Audiences are at the heart of everything we do’ so why on earth are BBC management planning to axe the services that are relied upon by isolated and vulnerable people?”

      • The cuts are being made as part of the BBC’s Delivering Quality First proposals which include the loss of 2,000 jobs and plans to save a total of £700 million a year. All the BBC unions (NUJ, Bectu and Unite) are balloting for industrial action.