Wednesday 31 October 2012

Stormin' US front pages as Hurricane Sandy hits

This is how some of the US press covered the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. Many of the front pages come via the Newseum in Washington which has had to close because of the storm.

Tuesday 30 October 2012

New Bond movie Skyfall is top story of the week

The new James Bond film Skyfall was the most covered UK news story in the week ending Sunday, October 28, according to journalisted.

It said Skyfall is released generated 198 articles.

Other top stories were:
Covered little, according to journalisted were:

Sunday 28 October 2012

Those were the days for regional newspaper deals

The Sunday Times has reported that the Daily Mail and General Trust is in talks to "ditch" Northcliffe - its regional newspaper group - by selling it to David Montgomery for £110 million.

Sky News City editor Mark Kleinman is also reporting that Montgomery is in talks with Iliffe News and Media, owner of the Cambridge News, in an "audacious attempt" to merge the business with the Northcliffe titles.  

He claims: "The deal will create a business with more than £250m of annual revenue and could spark a bidding war in the regional newspaper industry involving Trinity Mirror and Johnston Press, two of the three largest players.

"I understand that Crispin Odey, whose hedge fund Odey Asset Management is among the most prominent names in the City, has agreed to support a deal that would combine Iliffe and Northcliffe. They will be folded into a new vehicle called Local World plc that will be privately-owned. Mr Montgomery will own a stake in it, while Iliffe's parent group, Yattendon, and DMGT will between them own close to 50%."

PA quotes DMGT: "In response to media speculation, DMGT confirms that it is currently in talks regarding the future of Northcliffe Media. No deal or transaction has been agreed but if these talks move to the point where agreement is reached, an announcement will be made to the market."

The Telegraph says Trinity Mirror has also been involved in the talks over the future of the Northcliffe and Iliffe titles.

The latest sale speculation reminded me that there was a time when regional titles sold for a premium. Remember these deals?
  • 1994 Northcliffe Newspapers bought Nottingham Evening Post for £93m. 
  • 1997 Midland Independent Newspapers is bought by Mirror Group for £297 million.1998 Fourth largest regional press publisher, United Provincial Newspapers, is sold in two deals: UPN Yorkshire and Lancashire newspapers sold to Regional Independent Media for £360m and United Southern Publications sold to Southnews for £47.5m.
  • 1999 Trinity merges with Mirror Group Newspapers in a deal worth £1.3 billion. Newsquest is bought by US publisher Gannett for £904 million. Portsmouth and Sunderland Newspapers is bought by Johnston Press for £266m.
  • 2000 Newscom is sold to Newsquest Media Group for £444m, Adscene titles are sold to Southnews (£52m)and Northcliffe Newspapers, Belfast Telegraph Newspapers are sold by Trinity Mirror to Independent News & Media for £300m, Bristol United Press is sold to Northcliffe Newspapers Group, and Southnews is sold to Trinity Mirror for £285m. 
  • 2002 Johnston Press acquires Regional Independent Media's 53 regional newspaper titles in a £560 million deal. 
The Sunday Times is behind a paywall. 
Pic: Jon Slattery

Crook: 'Why Leveson should never have happened'

Tim Crook,  senior lecturer in media law and ethics at the department of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London, argues in this YouTube film that the Leveson Inquiry should never have taken place.

It was his contribution to the 'After Leveson' conference organised by the Institute of Communications Ethics at the Front Line Club in Paddington last Thursday.

Tim says it was "legally and morally wrong" for the Leveson Inquiry to take place while criminal proceedings against a number of journalists were pending and claims they are now unlikely to get a fair trial. 

Saturday 27 October 2012

Miles Barter: 'Why I resigned from my NUJ post'

When Miles Barter (top) quit as the NUJ's campaigns officer at the end of 2009 I ran a story which attracted a lot of comments and speculation about why he had left.

Miles recently read the exchanges again and has decided to release his letter of resignation, which he has posted on the original story. In it he claims the NUJ's democracy was being dismantled and that he passionately disagreed with cuts that were being made by the union's leadership.

It was emailed on 20 November 2009 to Stephen Pearse, who was then the NUJ's communications manager, and states:

"Subject: My resignation

"Hi Stephen
"I was stunned to hear the conference had voted to support a delegate meeting every 18 months rather than annually.
"Added on to the ending of annual elections for the NEC and other councils this seems to me to be a total dismantling of the union's democracy.
"It is such a fundamental attack on the things I believe in - orchestrated by the union's leadership - than in all conscience I can't continue to work for the NUJ.
"I couldn't look members of the union in the eye while I am taking a salary and the NUJ is making cuts I disagree with so passionately.
"I believe this is symptomatic of an attitude of contempt displayed by many in the union's leadership to the union's democratic processes. They are often seen as a hindrance rather than a help.
"As you know I believe the solution to the union's financial crisis is to stimulate more democracy not less.
"To put effort into reviving the moribund branches so there is a core of activists in every town who will fight for the union, represent people in personal cases, and recruit new members.
"Without this activity - and the democratic structures to stimulate it - the union is in danger of becoming a bureaucracy with a hollow shell.
"That redbuilding of the branches is not happening and I am clearly out of touch with the policies my colleagues at Headland House wish to pursue.
"Therefore I have no option but to resign from the post of campaigns officer.
"If possible I would like to leave today as I can't stomach the anti-member, anti-democracy gloating that I am bound to witness when everyone returns next week. I'm not bothered about being paid my notice.
"Best wishes and thank you for giving me the opportunity to work in the campaigns and Communications department.
"Miles Barter"

Friday 26 October 2012

Rozenberg's verdict on journalism: 'Don't do it'

Joshua Rozenberg, Britain's best-known law commentator, says his advice to anyone wanting to be a journalist is "don't".

Rozenberg, writing on the Legal Cheek blog, says:  "If I had known the state that journalism was going to be in now, I would still have devoted the best part of 40 years to it. But I would certainly not advise anyone to go in for it now.

"As a job, it looks very easy: just listen to what someone has to say and summarise it. As a job it is very easy, which is why so many people go into journalism when they have nothing better to do.

"What’s difficult now, though, is getting a job in journalism. With newspapers in rapid decline and the electronic media paying little or nothing to contributors, the chances of making a living out of it – unless you started when I did – are vanishingly small.

"So my advice for anyone seeking to follow in my footsteps is: don’t."

Quotes of the Week: From the Savile scandal to Superman quits newspapers and Malcolm Tucker

Liz MacKean (top), one of the Newsnight journalists who investigated sex abuse claims against Jimmy Savile, in an email to BBC director general George Entwistle, as reported by the Independent: "To see what began as a BBC story running large on ITV is a hard thing. For it not to be mentioned in any way on Newsnight is another, quite absurd, thing. But worst of all has been what seems like a concerted effort to make it appear that our story was about something else, something that could be dropped and forgotten ahead of fulsome tribute programmes. It is this which seems to be fuelling the damaging claims of a cover-up."

Mark Damazar in the Guardian: "In fact the BBC has an entrenched need to kick itself hard when under editorial attack. Every senior editor has a gene that makes it a major worry if his or her programme isn't leading the media pack when the corporation has apparently done something wrong.The noble reason for this acute and sometimes embarrassing navel- gazing is the need to protect the BBC's impartiality and integrity."

The Sunday Times (£): "With [Andrew] Mitchell’s resignation, a Ministry of Defence inquiry into The Sunday Times revelations and Starbucks facing calls for a boycott, it has been a good week for British newspapers.After a year of almost constant derision and condemnation from the celebrity moaners Hugh Grant and Steve Coogan, the press is back doing what it does best: exposing wrongdoing among the powerful."

Peter Preston in the Observer: "Two sorts of peas don't always fit in the same pod. And, almost invariably, this means regional and national papers can't flourish within a single management structure."

Toby Young in the Sun: "Celebrities like Hugh Grant and Steve Coogan have been campaigning for statutory Press regulation on the grounds that, unlike politicians, they don’t have any real power and, therefore, the state should be able to prevent the tabloids from scrutinising their private lives. But the Savile case illustrates that, on the contrary, celebrities do have power and in some cases they use it for the most malignant of purposes. To prevent such abuses from happening in future, we need to strengthen the freedom of the Press, not reduce it. Lord Justice Leveson, please take note."

Tim Luckhurst in the Telegraph: "Since newspaper journalism holds government to account, government must not regulate newspapers. The constitutional objection is plain: if politicians regulate newspapers, they will make sure they get the press they want, not the press they deserve."

Camilla Long in the Sunday Times (£) interviewing Conrad Black: "He confides that he is always 'astounded' by what people say about him — 'how self- important I am, whereas you can see I am not'. Obviously, he is the most pompous man I have met."

Conrad Black on Rupert Murdoch in the Mail on Sunday: "He is a psychopath, a person of no emotional or ethical thought, governed entirely by an expedient analysis of what his self-interest requires and oblivious to any other consideration and any other attachments. He’s an astonishingly cold man, like Stalin except that he doesn’t kill people."

Leader in the Sunday Times (£): "Even a touch of statutory regulation would signal the end of three centuries of press freedom. Legislation has a habit of evolving as it is interpreted by the courts and seized on by politicians. Supposedly independent bodies get stuffed with placemen and women who frequently do the government’s bidding. It is the feared slippery slope. Nobody envies Lord Justice Leveson’s task. Enhanced self-regulation is a model that can work but would be seized on by press critics as a soft option. Criticism would rain down on him. Yet he should stand tall. A free press is too important to be so easily surrendered."

Brian Cathcart on the Hacked Off blog: "The Sunday Times is very persistent in its cause, which is its right. But it also surely has an obligation to reflect other views, so that its readers have an idea what the debate is about, and an idea of the breadth of the arguments. That obligation is all the greater when it is the press that is under scrutiny. Imagine how the Sunday Times would feel if the BBC failed to report criticism of its own behaviour over the Savile affair. Now imagine how it would feel if (improbable I know) all the other leading broadcasters also buried the story. That is what is happening now, with the story of press regulation, in the press."

Clark Kent (aka Superman) on quitting the Daily Planet to become a blogger, as reported by the Telegraph: "Why am I the one sounding like a grizzled ink-stained wretch who believes news should be about – I don't know – news?"

Malcolm Tucker in The Thick Of It: "The Guardian...a newspaper that hates newspapers."

(£) = Pay wall

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Vote on Scottish independence is top story of week

Plans for a referendum on Scottish independence was the top news story for the week ending Sunday, October 21, according to journalisted.

The 'Edinburgh agreement' marking the commencement of Scotland's independence referendum, generated 215 articles.

Other top stories were:
Covered little, according to journalisted were:

Friday 19 October 2012

Quotes of the Week: From scumbag celebrities to will the Guardian axe print editions of its papers?

(top) on Twitter: "Told UK's Cameron receiving scumbag celebrities pushing for even more privacy laws. Trust the toffs! Transparency under attack. Bad."

Women In Journalism analysis of UK national press , as reported by the Guardian: "Male journalists wrote 78% of all front-page articles and men accounted for 84% of those mentioned or quoted in lead pieces, according to analysis of nine national newspapers, Monday to Saturday, over the course of four weeks."

Newspaper Society director David Newell in a briefing paper:  "Greenslade’s little bit of statute would herald into UK law a special state regime for popular newspapers unprecedented in the free world. This shows that there is no such thing as a little bit of statute. And even more to the point it is inconceivable that a regime would be established which would be so selective in its scope. The 99.9 per cent of innocent newspapers and magazines would be dragged into funding and being shackled by the scheme from day one. The current battle is to preserve the freedom to publish from which freedom of expression flows."

Ken Clarke in a letter to Lord Justice Leveson, as reported by the Guardian:  "I am not convinced, though, that a statutory underpinning of some kind would amount to state control of the press."

Nick Cohen in Press Gazette: "The people who are cheering on the round-up of the despised tabloid hacks are the same people who want to scrutinise the state. They are about to learn that censorious power does not only target people the respectable despise. Once unleashed, it oozes across boundaries and suffocates stories that right-thinking people rightly believe the media must publish.
You cannot have it both ways. If you want to hold power to account, you ought to worry about the mass arrest of tabloid journalists and wonder who will be next."

Kevin Marsh on his blog: "Not even when Savile had died and the risk of libel had passed away with him was there any flicker of interest from the press. Were their safes not full of witness testimony waiting for their briefs' green lights? Apparently not. Instead, just as Newsnight was ramping up its investigation, the same tabloids that have been spitting outrage at the BBC in the last week were lionising Savile, much as they had during his lifetime, re-running the kind of uncritical profiles that had done as much as anything at the BBC to elevate him to the ‘national treasure’ status he used so effectively to enable and shield his abuse of young women."

Marc Reeves on the Re-thinking Regional Media blog: "In Trinity Mirror as in its peers such as Johnston Press and Northcliffe, you now see single MDs traversing the country running multiple regional businesses, trying to fill the shoes of dozens of now-redundant local bosses."

'Kendo Nagasaki' posting on HoldtheFrontPage about cover prices at Johnston Press: "People are more likely to compare the price of their local paper with the nationals. Sun = 40p, Boston Standard = 50p. To them, that’s a bit like being charged more to watch Boston United than Manchester United."

Tina Brown, editor-in-chief and founder of The Newsweek Daily Beast Company, and ceo Baba Shetty in a statement on the move to scrap the print edition of Newsweek magazine: "Exiting print is an extremely difficult moment for all of us who love the romance of print and the unique weekly camaraderie of those hectic hours before the close on Friday night. But as we head for the 80th anniversary of Newsweek next year we must sustain the journalism that gives the magazine its purpose—and embrace the all-digital future."

The Daily Telegraph: "The publisher of the Guardian and Observer newspapers is close to axing the print editions of the newspapers, despite the hopes of its editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger to keep them running for a few more years."

Roy Greenslade responds to Telegraph story on his MediaGuardian blog"In Fleet Street parlance, this could be deemed a flyer - a story you run up the flagpole hoping someone will salute. But no-one will be lifting an arm. It's just wrong. Plain wrong."

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Tory party conference is top story of the week

The Tory party conference was the most covered story for the week ending Sunday, October 14, according to journalisted.

The Conservative Party conference  in Birmingham generated 568 articles.

Other top stories were:
Covered little, according to journalisted were:

Friday 12 October 2012

Quotes of the Week: What if Jimmy Savile had appeared at Leveson and Jagger as Murdoch

Richard Littlejohn in the Daily Mail"If Jimmy Savile was alive today, he’d have been a star witness at Leveson, given the full ‘Sir James’ treatment by his lordship and allowed to trash the Press without fear of contradiction or cross-examination."

Fleet Street Fox on her Mirror blog: "Journalists can't win. If they stick to the law and don't report what they can't prove, they're involved in a cover-up. And if they do report what they can only half-prove, they're lying cowboys who need to be brought to book."

David Cameron on Leveson on The Andrew Marr Show: "I don't want to pre-judge it. We don't want heavy-handed state intervention. We've got to have a free press."

"The state should be as remote from newspaper regulation as a viper from a nursery."

Brian Cathcart on Hacked Off: "Well it is surely relevant that it was television journalists who were free to break the Savile story – ITV journalists who are subject to independent regulation by Ofcom, underpinned by a statute."

Newspaper Society director David Newell, as reported by HoldtheFrontPage: "Put simply the freedom to publish in the UK is rightly exercised by all sorts of individuals and organisations for a myriad of motivations and all having a choice as to their mode of publication. This helps guarantee wider democratic freedoms. To target for inclusion in a special statutory regime all those that exercise those freedoms purely on the basis that they have chosen to do so on newsprint or magazine grade paper cannot be justified on any fair evaluation of the evidence presented to Leveson."

Daily Mail in a leader: "Like three harpies from Hell, they have been traipsing around TV studios and the party conferences denouncing media intrusion. Max Mosley (filmed being whipped until he bled in a sado-masochistic orgy with five German-uniformed prostitutes), Steve Coogan (exposed for having cocaine-fuelled sex with lap dancers) and Hugh Grant (caught by police in a sex act with a prostitute, and father of a child from a short-lived casual affair) are having a field day."

The Sun on Harriet Harman at the Labour Party conference: "SNOOTY Harriet Harman mocked Page 3 girls yesterday — by portraying them as dumb blondes. Labour’s deputy leader put on a squeaky voice to describe herself as “Hattie, 62, from Camberwell...and here’s today’s news in briefs” in her closing speech to the party conference. The remarks were a clear dig at the gorgeous girls who brighten up Britain’s favourite paper."

Daily Mail's Stephen Wright on his blog: "Because of the fall-out of the phone-hacking scandal, these are difficult days for police/media relations. Sadly, Scotland Yard’s answer has been to discourage one-to-one contact between reporters and police officers/staff, to say as little as possible about running cases, and to order leak inquiries into the most innocuous of stories. A climate of fear remains which is not good for anyone, particularly the Met. How refreshing it was to see officers in Dyfed-Powys wanting to engage with the media, making it clear they respected the role of journalists sent to report on the abduction of April."

Richard Ingrams in his just published collection Quips and Quotes. A Journalist's Commonplace Book : "I first experienced the excitement of seeing my words in print when I was about 16 and editor of the Shrewsbury school magazine, the Salopian - and I am ashamed to say that I still get a kick out of it now I am in my seventies."

Michael Wolff on the Financial Times on Comment is Free: "Why do rich men love the FT? Perhaps because its salmon color so distinctly identifies men of common interests and aspirations; or because its Britishness suggests a further class consciousness and, too, because among all business publications, it really is the liveliest read. At any rate, they like it so much that even though it is a newspaper – as doomed as any other – there is an intense competition among the super rich to own it."

Max Hastings in the Daily Mail: "If the day ever comes that Boris Johnson becomes tenant of Downing Street, I shall be among those packing my bags for a new life in Buenos Aires or suchlike, because it means that Britain has abandoned its last pretensions to be a serious country."!

Lynn Barber reviewing Mick Jagger by Philip Norman in the Sunday Times [£]: "Incidentally, Norman claims Jagger is hoping to make a film about Rupert Murdoch with himself as Murdoch. Wow, thrice wow, if it happens! But I wouldn’t hold your breath."

Tuesday 9 October 2012

Jimmy Savile sex abuse allegations lead UK press

Stories about Jimmy Savile abusing under age girls dominated the news in the week ending Sunday, October 7, according to journalisted.

It reports that new allegations made against Saville for the sexual abuse of young girls, generated 287 articles in the UK press.

Other most covered stories were:

Covered little, according to journalisted, were:

Friday 5 October 2012

Quotes of the Week: From Bill Deedes on journalists taking risks to Tony Blair and war

Bill Deedes, quoted by Richard Ingrams in his just published collection Quips and Quotes. A Journalist's Commonplace Book (top):"None of the legendary successes in journalism were achieved without risk - risk of offending, displeasing or incurring wrath or transgressing the law or even getting the sack. You can't have success and security in journalism."

Deedes, again quoted by Ingrams: "A sinking ship is my spiritual home."

The Daily Telegraph in a leader: "It should be noted that the most illuminating story of the conference season so far came not from a broadsheet investigation, nor from a TV interview, but from the disclosure in the Sun of Andrew Mitchell’s foul-mouthed rant at police officers guarding the gates of Downing Street. We are sleepwalking into a world in which such ostensibly demotic stories – which actually reveal deeper truths and spark useful national debates – will be officially frowned upon. The growing clamour for press regulation backed by statute threatens a priceless British freedom. A Conservative prime minister should have no part of it."

Ex-Daily Star and Sunday Express editor Brian Hitchen, in the Daily Express, on why Fleet Street never exposed Jimmy Savile: "In those days newspapers did not write 'nasty' stories about celebrities unless the famous had been handsomely paid for their often fairly tame revelations. The second reason is because Britain's libel laws too often help make those like Savile untouchable." 

Brian Hitchen in Press Gazette: "I feel sorry for journalists today. They sit at their desks like battery hens, sipping Evian water and eating half-frozen sandwiches from the vending machine. Many are the product of half-baked courses of journalism and have no news sense and the same goes for their news editors."

Tony Harcup at the Reuters Institute conference on journalism ethics, reported on this blog: “Journalists today are coming out of university and going into newsrooms having looked at ethical issues in far more detail than ever before, but they are not in charge once they get there. I don’t think an absence of ethical training is the problem, I think it’s an absence in some places, and at some times, of an ethical and questioning culture.”

Tim Crook in a paper for the Reuters Institute conference on journalism ethics, reported on this blog: "The attack on the News of the World and its largely working class and lower middle class culture of readership has been waged by the so-called broadsheet, middle class and elitist media institutions who have seen fit to morally proselytise its failings as the refuge for what has been described as the prurient, disgusting, tawdry, cheap, pornographic, voyeuristic, exploitative, lust-gorging, dirty, smelly, perverted, indecent, and inferior class of low-life under-class individual."

Grey Cardigan in Press Gazette: "Has Kelvin completely lost his marbles? I've ruined many a middle class dinner party by defending him in the past, but even I'm baffled this time around. Asking the South Yorkshire Police for an apology? There's more chance of seeing a chief sub smile."

Ex-Today editor Kevin Marsh in his new book Stumbling Over Truth: The inside story of the 'sexed up' dossier, Hutton and the BBC: "Tony Blair didn't take us to war on a lie. He took us on a shrug."

Tuesday 2 October 2012

Start of Ryder Cup is the top story of the week

The start of the 2012 Ryder Cup - which ended in a last gasp victory for the European team - was the most covered story in the UK press for the week ending Sunday, September 30, according to journalisted.

The win was reported in Monday's (October 1) papers.

Most covered stories were:
  • Golfing stars begin competing for the 2012 Ryder Cup, 502 articles.
  • 15-year-old Megan Stammers and her teacher Jeremy Forrest are caught in Bordeaux where he is arrested on suspicion of abduction, 182 articles.

Covered little, according to journalisted, were:
  • A reported crowd of 30,000 gather peacefully to take part in the Unionist parade to mark Ulster Covenant centenary, 15 articles.

A pic that sums up the demise of our local press

I took this picture last year in Kent (Margate, I think). I am not sure whether it was an old newsagent's shop or newspaper office but it somehow seemed to sum up the plight of our local papers.

Now Press Gazette reports today that Northcliffe has closed one of the papers emblazoned on the front of the building -  the 116 year-old Thanet Times.

Press Gazette says the Times was one of seven titles that Northcliffe tried selling to rival publisher the KM Group before the deal was scuppered by the Office of Fair Trading last October.

But according to the Thanet Life blog the Times may have a new life online.

  • The Thanet Times was known for its tabloid-style headlines under editor Mike Pearce, who edited the title for 20 years until 2004.  They included Napoleon Blown Apart - When the Napoleonic festival in Thanet was ruined due to a storm. Elephant Ate My Pigeon  - A pigeon racer's bird was killed by an elephant at the local zoo. French nickers - When French exchange students rampaged through Margate shops.

Monday 1 October 2012

'Journalists must have ethical voice in newsroom'

Journalists need to be brave enough to stand up for honest and ethical reporting in the face of commercial and other pressures, Sheffield journalism lecturer Tony Harcup (left) told an international conference on ethics.

But, he added, an industry that relies for its sense of ethics on the bravery of a few individuals is one that is almost bound to fail to live up to the high standards that journalists routinely demand of others.

Presenting a research paper to a Reuters Institute conference on journalism ethics (at the University of Oxford), Harcup stressed the importance of a climate of mutual respect and open discussion within newsrooms, in which journalists are regarded as citizens with the right to speak out and raise concerns.

Addressing journalism scholars from 15 countries, Harcup pointed to evidence of bullying heard by the Leveson inquiry as an example of what can go wrong in a dysfunctional newsroom that denies a voice to its own staff.

The senior lecturer in journalism studies at the University of Sheffield also took part in a conference round-table discussion on UK journalism, alongside Richard Sambrook (former director of BBC Global News), Angela Phillips (Goldsmiths), and Professor Robert Picard (Reuters Institute).

Harcup said: “Journalists today are coming out of university and going into newsrooms having looked at ethical issues in far more detail than ever before, but they are not in charge once they get there. I don’t think an absence of ethical training is the problem, I think it’s an absence in some places, and at some times, of an ethical and questioning culture.”

Tony Harcup teaches ethics to undergraduate and postgraduate students at Sheffield and is the author of The Ethical Journalist (Sage).