Friday 31 August 2012

Quotes of the week: From Mandelson on the dangers of internet news to Leveson's 'loaded gun'

Lord Mandelson (top) in a letter to the Financial Times: "Internet “news” has ransacked conventional media business models. The profit motive is (or has been) central to quality journalism over the past century and it is hard to see how some of the best-known sources of quality English language journalism – The Times, New York Times, The Guardian spring to mind – will ever make money again. We fund quality in the case of the BBC by means of a licence fee. Can this apply to newspapers? The only alternative (the FT being an honourable exception) would seem to follow the Daily Mail’s model – profitable but in a race to the bottom in the selection and presentation of news – or even the path of tabloids in using digital technology to become even more intrusive and even less concerned about individual privacy in order to attract readers."

Neil Wallis quoted in the Independent on Sunday on the Sun's publication of naked Prince Harry: "This was a decision taken by Rupert. Rupert cares passionately about newspapers. He thinks this stuff is important. This is the only good thing that has happened at News International for a year. Once they knew they were going to do it, there was just a magnificent morale boost. They have stood up and looked the rest of the media in the eye, Parliament in the eye, and looked Leveson in the eye. Rupert has done an enormous amount for the morale of his own newspaper. And also, I know, journalists from other companies, although they can't publicly say so."

The Sunday Times [£] in a leader: "There is a dangerous coalition forming of aggrieved film and television stars, out-of-sorts Labour politicians and bien pensants who would happily bring much greater regulation and censorship to the press."

Brian Cathcart, founder of Hacked Off "No, nobody wants to censor the press, but plenty of people would like it to obey its own rules, rules which editors never tire of telling the public they support, and rigorously adhere to....The Sun’s actions are just the latest proof of the inability and unwillingness of the press to regulate itself, a failure that has been consistent for at least 60 years."

on Twitter: "Simple equation: free, open uncontrollable Internet versus shackled newspapers equals no newspapers. Let's get real."

Louise Mensch quoted in the Sun supporting the paper's publication of naked Prince Harry pics: “We cannot have our press scared to publish things that are in the public interest. Someone, a total stranger, took those photos — and honeytraps have happened.” 

MP Nadine Dorries on ConservativeHome on Louise Mensch:  "I would ask the former MP, next time she wants to open her mouth about a boy who lost his mother at the hands of the media in a way which shocked the world, she might want to look to her own heart and wonder how she would feel? After all, it’s not as though Prince Harry has admitted to taking illegal drugs, abandoned his post, or failed to turn up to work every Thursday in the style of Louise Mensch, now is it?"

Independent editor Chris Blackhurst on BBC Radio 4's The Media Show on letters sent by the Leveson Inquiry to give prior notice of possible criticism in the final report: "The best way I can describe it is he's loading a gun, and this document - well over 100 pages - is all the ammunition. And believe you me there is plenty of ammunition, you read the ammunition and you just gulp."

[£] paywall

Thursday 30 August 2012

Self regulation of the press is a dead duck - claims updated book on hacking and the Leveson Inquiry

Self regulation of the press in the UK is a dead duck and Lord Justice Leveson will be the "crowbar for change", according to a newly updated book of articles on the hacking scandal and the Leveson Inquiry.

John Mair, co-editor of the second edition of The Phone Hacking Scandal: Journalism on Trial, states: "Self regulation of the press in the UK is now as dead in the water as a wooden duck in an MP’s pond. Dead and buried. It was always a nonsense for the editors to regulate themselves delivering an odd slap here and there to little avail. The fig leaf of lay members of the PCC was always just that – a convenient cover.

"You cannot be the judge and jury in the modern world. Broadcasters in Britain are subject to the rigours of the law, so why should the printed press not be? The newspapers have drunk their last drink in the last chance saloon."

He adds: "The 2011 Society of Editors conference examined Hackgate and the PCC from every which way and concluded that the best posture to take was an ostrich one. Denial and tinkering with the PCC was the order of the day. It still is. This simply will not wash. Lord Justice Leveson will be the crowbar for change there."

Mair is scathing about the appearance of  Paul McMullan, the former deputy features editor of the  News of the World, before the Leveson Inquiry and suggests it should be broadcast as a warning of the "twisted moral compass of tabloid hacks" to all first year journalism students.

He writes: "McMullan is a caricature of the tabloid journalist. The hack’s nightmare or dream. You can almost picture him in the long raincoat and trilby with a ‘PRESS’ card tucked in...McMullan’s evidence is jaw dropping. He admits when on the News of the World to breaching people’s privacy as a matter of course, harassing them and more. In his world view – and he says also of his fellow tabloid hacks – ‘Privacy is for paedophiles’."

Mair, an associate senior journalism lecturer at the Coventry University department of media and communication, adds: "McMullan’s Leveson appearance and his tour d’horizon of the twisted moral compass of tabloid hacks should be played to all first year wannabe journos at university as the antipathy of what we might expect from them."

The Leveson inquiry has shown that the police and the press are seemingly too often in bed with each other aided by greased palms and other favours, says Mair.  "News International executives went in and out of a revolving door at Scotland Yard – allegedly with pockets full of gold. That had to stop and will stop. Some good investigative journalism may suffer as a result in the short term but it is a small price to pay."

He also claims politicians "need also to get out of the beds of the press barons and lose their fear of their power."

But he concludes: "Good journalism works! Nick Davies (and Alan Rusbridger) of the Guardian did not give up for two years and more. Davies did what good, hard working hacks do – he dug, dug and dug and ignored the noises off, however powerful the voices. Some journalists have an ethical frame and they will be determined to get to the truth, however uncomfortable for them. The Guardian has already been garlanded with newspaper/media industry awards including a Media Society one in May 2012 for which I nominated them. Deservedly."
  • The Phone Hacking Scandal: Journalism on Trial, edited by John Mair, Richard Lance Keeble is published by Abramis on September 17. It can be ordered at the special rate of £15 via

Wednesday 29 August 2012

Prince Harry uncovered is most covered story

Prince Harry's naked romp on his holiday in Las Vegas was the top news story in the UK press for the week ending Sunday, August 26, according to journalisted.

The most covered stories of the week were:
Stories that got little coverage, according to journalisted, were:

Tuesday 28 August 2012

"I'm a content gatherer in need of media interaction. Can I speak to a reputation officer?"

A contact in Lincolnshire drew my attention to the above job being offered by South Kesteven District Council for a "reputation officer" - which seems to be what we used to call a press officer.

They commented: "I suppose the new job title is in keeping with reporters now called content gatherers and news editors being content editors."

Friday 24 August 2012

Media Quotes of the Week: From Prince Harry's naked romp to the BBC 'peeing' on business

The Sun on why it published Prince Harry naked pics on Friday: "The Royal Family’s lawyers claim there is no public interest in The Sun running the photos. This is a favourite mantra of those who wish to muzzle the world’s most vibrant newspapers, here in Britain — stuffily declaring that a story has 'no public interest', as though it were an unassailable fact. But there is a clear public interest in publishing the Harry pictures, in order for the debate around them to be fully informed. The photos have potential implications for the Prince’s image representing Britain around the world. There are questions over his security during the Las Vegas holiday. Questions as to whether his position in the Army might be affected. Further, we believe Harry has compromised his own privacy." 

Guido Fawkes on his blog on why he published Prince Harry naked pics: "This situation illustrates the threat to a free press in Britain. The truth is the old media have been scared into submission by the Leveson Inquiry. This is the third in line to the throne, the son of Prince Charles and one of the biggest names in British public life. Yet not one British newspaper is reporting the story with pictures. Nevertheless everyone in Britain will be searching online for these pictures and will find them regardless. The old rules won’t work in the internet age."

Alison Phillips in the Daily Mirror, before the Sun published Harry pics: "I’ve always had a soft spot for Prince Harry and these pictures have just made me like him even more. Unlike the royal stuffed shirts, he seems genuine and a bit of laugh. Which is why it was so disappointing when his aides called in lawyers to ban the pictures from UK newspapers – even though they’re being published in Ireland. It’s the same mindset that in 1936 ensured the last people to know about Edward and Mrs Simpson’s affair were the King’s own subjects. Us."

Neil Wallis on the Huffington Post, before the Sun published Harry pics: "Lord Justice Leveson, your work here is done. In just a few short months you have managed to do what the massed phalanxes of the Guardian and BBC have been trying to do for years but failing. You have neutered the great British press, and made it a laughing stock. And that is a damned disgrace. I am, of course, talking about Fleet Street's collective decision this morning to cave in and not dare to publish perfectly good pictures of a naked Prince Harry that are all over the internet and being printed in newspapers all over the rest of the world."

Daily Mirror headline: Nudes! Nightclubs! Nazis! A decade of Harry scandals

Charlie Brooker in the Guardian on the demise of the Dandy in print: "Why is the Dandy going all-digital? Because it's a magazine for children, and today's children don't seem to want magazines any more than I wanted a 1920s whirligig when I was their age. Kids today have Moshi Monsters and the Nerf Vortex Nitron Blaster. Traditional ink on paper looks like medieval tapestry to them. This is the price you pay for technological advancement. On the plus side: fewer cases of rickets." 

The Guardian's readers' editor Chris Elliott in his Open Door column: "Over the 17 Olympic days the Guardian and Observer sold a total of 250,000 extra copies, considered by editors a healthy uplift when sales normally go down during school holidays. However, there was more coverage on the web than ever before, and it was here that the impact of the Games was most notable."

Johnston Press boss Ashley Highfield on the company's latest results, as reported by HoldtheFrontPage: “The first half has been a period of tremendous activity and we have made significant progress. Johnston Press is going through a strategic transformation. As we continue to develop our digital portfolio, refresh our print offering, reduce costs, and use our substantial operating cash flow to bring down our debt, we are increasingly confident about the success of the strategy and the benefits that it will deliver.”

Financial Times [£] comment on Johnston Press results: "Although some industry observers may raise an eyebrow at Johnston blaming poor weather and the Olympics for a fall in print advertising, one point is clear: publishers must adapt to the changing ad market, and fast. Johnston has made an admirable fist of it, cutting costs – including a sizeable chunk of its workforce – while keeping margins high at 17 per cent. Trading at a forward price/earnings ratio of 2, the shares are cheap, but still higher than fellow struggler Trinity Mirror on 1.2. However, the whole sector looks dire and should be only tackled by the brave. Both should be avoided."

Simon Jenkins in the Guardian: "British courts jail at the drop of a headline. One of the few cabinet ministers in recent years to show a sincere desire to relate punishment to crime and imprisonment to consequence is the justice secretary, Kenneth Clarke. He is now being bad-mouthed out of his job by Downing Street's dark arts, frightened not of Clarke but of the rightwing press."

Michael Wolff on Comment is Free reviews new video internet channel HuffPost Live: "Like fingernails on a blackboard, it is brutal in its insipid banality and obviousness. But whether this is good or bad for the enterprise, or whether quality is in any way a relevant point, is not at all clear. In some sense, HuffPost Live just dramatically furthers a determined trend. It's another leap in turning media – that is, content – over to amateurs and know-nothings. Anybody who wants to be an expert can be. All blowhards are equal."

Elisabeth Murdoch giving the MacTaggart lecture at the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival, as reported by the Guardian: "Profit without purpose is a recipe for disaster."

Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith in the Mail on Sunday bashes the BBC and its economics editor Stephanie Flanders: "Last month, there was a marginal rise in youth unemployment so they centred on that. This time it came down so they cast doubt on the figures. [Flanders] said it could be industry is so bad they have to take on two people where one person could do the job. She was peeing all over British industry and the private sector. It was terrible. Our private industry is unbelievably robust compared to much of Europe."
  • Intro of the Week comes from KentOnline: "Firefighters have warned of the dangers of driving into a petrol forecourt while your car is on fire."

Tuesday 21 August 2012

WikiLeaks' Julian Assange is top story of week

WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange's continuing bid to avoid extradition to Sweden made him the top news story for the UK press in the week ending Sunday 19 August, according to journalisted.

Most covered stories of the week were:
Covered little, according to journalisted were:

Intro of the week: Good advice from firefighters

Intro of the Week comes from KentOnline with this sound advice from the fire service, via George Dearsley.

Saturday 18 August 2012

Marsh: The inside story on the 'sexed-up' dossier

Kevin Marsh who was editor of  the Today programme when it broadcast the Andrew Gilligan report on the "sexed-up dossier" on Iraq is publishing a book in September giving his view of the affair: ‘Stumbling Over Truth: The inside story of the 'sexed-up' dossier, Hutton and the BBC.’

The book will be the subject of a special Media Society, Westminster University and Biteback  debate on Monday, September 24, chaired by Steve Hewlett, which will explore the long term effects of Hutton on the BBC on the 10th anniversary of the ‘dodgy dossier’

As well as Marsh, speakers will include Peter Oborne, the Daily Telegraph's political commentator; Lance Price, former spin doctor to Tony Blair; Professor Steven Barnett, of Westminster University; and Professor Jean Seaton, of Westminster University, the official historian The BBC.

The debate starts at 18:00 for 18:30 at the University of Westminster, Regent Street W1. The event is free but you should register. Please contact Sam at

Friday 17 August 2012

Quotes of the Week: From Heffer on desperate news about the Dandy to our subs are being sunk

Simon Heffer on MailOnline on the demise of The Dandy, Britain's oldest comic which is to go online only in December: "Children from eight to 80 felt a kick from the hob-nailed boot of harsh reality yesterday. The Dandy, a staple of so many British childhoods, and the nation’s oldest surviving comic, is on the brink of closure...After all these years, so much of the D.C. Thomson world has passed into our culture: a world in which children waged a constant battle of spiteless amusement against their elders, and got nothing worse than a clip round the ear for it, seemed to sum up not just a more black-and-white approach to life, but came close to representing that most elusive of qualities, the true nature of Britishness." 

Simon O'Neill ‏ on Twitter: "Working at Derby Telegraph in 90s was like being in a real life edition of The Dandy. Both now things of the past."

Jeremy Vine on Twitter:"How to get on newspaper frontpages: (1) Stand near camera (2) Open A level results (3) Scream YES! (4) Jump and wave (5) Wear skimpy clothes."

Tom Bradbury in the Radio Times on how he and Prince William are shocked by the fallout from Buckingham Palace's decision to alert police after details of their conversation on mobiles appeared in the News of the World, as reported by the Guardian: "We agreed that there was some potential security implication and it was then up to them to go to the police, as they did. Ultimately, it was that tiny nexus on a trivial, unimportant, irrelevant story that triggered this avalanche...I had no idea this was going to happen, and neither did he [William]. Have we both occasionally been quite shocked by the scale of the avalanche? Yeah. Do I occasionally feel uncomfortable about it? Yup. A free press is a pretty critical part of the democratic mix and I would feel nervous about that being diluted."

Roy Greenslade on his blog about the proposal by Johnston Press to axe three editors' posts in the Midlands: "According to an internal company announcement, a 'consultation period' should be completed by 7 September. I imagine that to be a redefinition of the word consultation."

Grey Cardigan in Press Gazette's Journalism Weekly on the Olympics:  "Those Geeks might sneer at what they call the Dead Tree Industry, but London 2012 provided a superb example of how grubby old newsprint can still work its magic. The Times deserves a special mention for that excellent series of wraps, but the 28-page supplements in the Sunday Times were an absolute joy. Superb job, chaps."

Iliffe News and Media staff memo on plans to scrap subs, as reported by HoldtheFrontPage: “Although there could be some reduction in head count if our proposal to eliminate the sub editing role is confirmed, it is important to recognise that the overall aim of our strategy is to increase our audience through the delivery of high quality content.”

Homer in post on HoldtheFrontPage: "Having started on an Iliffe title, and having worked as a sub on several of their titles, I must say this news saddens me more than almost anything I have heard about the future of newspaper production in recent years. And that is saying something! Quite apart from the practical issues at hand in having no people to taste/correct/enhance/headline reporters’ copy and photographers’ images, or to design pages, what does this say to the sub editors working on the titles? Well clearly, it says you’re not wanted any more. So imagine you are one of those subs, who has been the ‘glue’ that holds newspapers together for donkey’s years, and imagine how you must be feeling today."

Nick Hart, posting on Press Gazette: "So, no subs, and reporters who can't write any better than their rapidly-diminishing pool of readers, the ones who will soon forego 'news' websites for other better-informed, better-written, more entertaining, 'cooler' and more responsive single-interest alternatives. Goodnight Vienna."

Friday 10 August 2012

Quotes of the Week: Margate, Mockridge, Murdoch and mockery from Private Eye

Essex Chronicle editor Alan Geere on leaving Northcliffe to run a journalism degree course at Uganda’s Victoria University, as reported by Press Gazette: “I've been lucky to work in quite a bit of the developing world – Afghanistan, Caribbean, eastern Europe...Margate! – and see this as a great opportunity to strengthen my international experience."

News International chief executive Tom Mockridge in an email to staff, as reported by the Guardian: "I'm sorry to have to tell you there has been another arrest of a Sun journalist in connection with Operation Elveden. The arrest took place earlier this morning. We have given our colleague from the Sun the same legal and practical support that we have offered others. We are of course all concerned that these arrests continue to take place. I am also disappointed that representations made on behalf of the MSC [News Corporation's management and standards committee] about how arrests take place have not been taken up."

Professor Sarah Niblock, quoted by HoldtheFrontPage, on a report on media coverage of last year's riots which she said had identified: "A cultural sea change that has occurred when new financial priorities made local journalism remote from its readers and which becomes a source of reactive rather than proactive reporting. Instead, the status and watchdog role of local journalism needs to be rejuvenated, as a distinct sector with its own values where journalists stay and prosper, living and breathing their patch.”

Rupert Murdoch on News Corporation's latest results, showing a $1.6 billion loss: "We find ourselves in the middle of great change, driven by shifts in technology, consumer behaviour, advertiser demands and economic uncertainty and change brings about great opportunity. News Corporation is in a strong operational, strategic and financial position, which should only be enhanced by the proposed separation of the media and entertainment and publishing businesses."

Chief NCE examiner Steve Nelson, quoted by HoldtheFrontPage: “It is apparent that many trainees are not getting sufficient help and guidance in their day-to-day work. In today’s busy, pressured newsrooms there is often little time for editors and senior staff to go through stories with trainees, check their understanding of a situation and give advice on structure.”

Private Eye on the damages awarded against Associated Newspapers to child AAA for invasion of privacy: "AAA was awarded £15,000 in damages, which buys a lot of toys."

Tuesday 7 August 2012

British Olympic success is news gold for UK press

British success at the London Olympics dominated the news in the UK press for the week ending Sunday 5 August, according to journalisted.

Covered little, according to journalisted were:

Friday 3 August 2012

Quotes of the week: From the dangers of press laws to Gore Vidal on writers and journalists

Daily Telegraph leader on Leveson: "Once there is a press law on the Statute Book, however benignly phrased, its powers can be ratcheted up by future governments and parliaments if they are unhappy with their treatment at the hands of the newspapers. Politicians sometimes profess their commitment to press freedom, but they are hardly disinterested parties and more often resent the way it is exercised. Nor do we believe it is possible or desirable to define the public interest in law, which would inevitably be along high-minded lines that assume the interest of the popular press and its readers in the lives of celebrities or sports stars is to be deplored."

Andrew Sullivan in the Sunday Times: "We need to remember this in the age of Leveson. The only thing worse than a disrespectable press is a respectable one. Respectability means a concern for the established order over the truth. In the legitimate attempt to root out abuse — phone hacking isn’t journalism; it’s stenography — we need to ensure we don’t make journalism something great and good that people aspire to. The very disreputable nature of our profession is what keeps freedom alive. Some pillars of liberal democracy must have foundations in the dirt."

Jonathan Chait in New York magazine: "The British press is an outrage-generating machine the likes of which we American reporters can only gaze upon with awe. The very best outrage we can gin up comes from Andrew Sullivan — who occupies the ideal pro-Cameron, anti-Romney sweet spot — and Andrew still can’t match the offense-taking theatrics of the British media, expressed in such outlets as the Guardian ('Mitt Romney's Olympics blunder stuns No 10 and hands gift to Obama') or the Telegraph itself ('Commentary: if Mitt Romney doesn’t like us, we shouldn’t care')."

on Twitter: "News this week: if it's not Olympics, the boss isn't interested. If it is Olympics, it's all 'but we've got too much Olympics.' SIGH."

on Twitter: "London Olympic opening surprisingly great, even if a little too politically correct. Danny Boyle a creative genius."

Grey Cardigan on Northcliffe's legal action against the spoof Twitter account UnSteveDorkland: "The legal bill is likely to be enough to save the jobs of a couple of journalists in the next round of cost cutting. And to what end? To protect the fragile ego of a man who, frankly, should know better. I do hope that UnSteveDorkland survives to tweet again. Not least because one can only imagine the bucket of shit he’s been storing up to unload on his tormentors."

Part of UnSteveDorkland's defence submission in US, as reported by Press Gazette: "The underlying identities of anonymous critics of powerful and public figures have a long and constitutionally-protected history in America. Plaintiff, ironically a British newspaper holding company, seeks to avoid those protections in its quest for the identity of an anonymous critic who has parodied its CEO on Twitter.”

HoldtheFrontPage reports: "Regional publisher Northcliffe Media has dropped its bid to unmask an anonymous tweeter who was parodying the company’s chief executive Steve Auckland."

UnSteveDorkland in statement to BBC News: "By withdrawing the case against me they have, finally, recognised the futility of their heavy-handed approach and the entirely baseless nature of all the accusations they threw at me in a vainglorious attempt to divert attention from the real issue, namely their idea that by throwing money and bullying tactics at someone you can throttle freedom of speech."

Northcliffe in a statement, reported by Press Gazette: "Since the beginning of this case, Northcliffe Media  has been clear that its approach to Twitter was not about freedom of speech, but about a barrage of anonymous tweets that amounted to cyber-bullying and harassment."

Gore Vidal, who died this week: "A writer must always tell the truth, unless he is a journalist."