Friday 31 January 2014

Media Quotes of the Week: From Save Our Apostrophes Now! to Sun Hacks Off Hugh

The Grey Cardigan on The Spin Alley calls for the defence of the apostrophe: "Luckily, the good people of Cambridge are fighting back and someone is roaming the streets with a black marker pen adding the missing apostrophe to aberrant street signs. We should all do the same. So be vigilant. If your local council starts to go down this route, object, kick up a fuss, and if all else fails, get the black marker pen out."

Ampp3d reports: "Ampp3d has scoured data from the Ordnance Survey to identify the 16,659 streets under threat from official guidelines telling local authorities to ditch street names containing investigation by Ampp3d reveals the scale of the threat to Britain’s streets. More than 1 in 50 are at risk of being wiped off the map, including Nob’s Crook in Hampshire, Pickle’s Way in Kent, Dick o’ th’ Banks Close in Dorset and Broad o’ th’ Lane in Wigan."

Johnston Press boss on the FA Cup on Twitter: "Wins for JP Cities Wigan, Sheffield, and Sunderland. And where 2 JP towns were playing each other - Blackpool and Doncaster - a draw!"

Sunday Times' chief sports writer David Walsh, giving the Hugh Cudlipp lecture: “When I was the bad guy I was the cynic, I was the guy who hated sport, I was the guy who hated cycling. And I used to say to people  I’m the only one here who’s not cynical. I’m actually a romantic. I believe that one day we can have a Tour de France that we believe in, where the winner is clean and is actually the best athlete, not the most doped-up cheat."

on Twitter: "One of the immutable laws of Twitter: When a football commentator or pundit is trending it is never because viewers are loving their stuff."

The NUJ Welsh executive council in a statement: "The NUJ Wales executive council would like to extend its support and solidarity to colleagues working for Newsquest and currently balloting for action in Bradford, York and Darlington. The dispute is in response to the threat of compulsory redundancies and the impact on quality and workloads after the proposed transfer of subbing work to Newport, Wales. Our union campaigns to protect local media jobs and local journalism. We believe that to move work away from the communities can only harm the titles and local democracy. The local press plays a crucial role in holding politicians or local councils to account. Local newspapers should be produced locally. The NUJ in Wales supports the calls for Newsquest to stop the threats to force journalists out of their jobs."

on Twitter: "Richard Caseby ex Sun managing editor is the new DWP Comms boss. I fear I may be slipping back a little in queue to interview IDS."

Alison Phillips in the Daily Mirror: "Seems Hugh Grant has taken to collecting love children the way young boys collect football cards. Except without the same level of commitment. Or maturity."

Guido Fawkes asks: "Why Did Hugh Grant Lobby Politicians to Gag The Press?

Wednesday 29 January 2014

Why the Press dosen't want to lose its balls

I have written an article for InPublishing magazine about the Royal Charter and press regulation.

Was going to headline it: "Why the press dosen't want to lose its balls" ...but instead opted for "Royal Charter: Press regulation without volunteers".

You can read it here.

Friday 24 January 2014

Media Quotes of the Week: Tony Gallagher axed at Telegraph, BBC bashed over whistleblowers and Us Vs Them gets exclusive pics of concrete

on Twitter: "Daily Telegraph editor Tony Gallagher has left. Newsroom in shock. Some in tears."

Tim Montgomerie @TimMontgomerie on Twitter: "Under @gallaghereditor The Telegraph was strikingly independent of the Tory Party- relentlessly reader-focused. CCHQ will hope that changes."

on Twitter: "Word seems to be that Tony Gallagher was fired. Had no shortage of squabbles with him on twitter + email, but often impressed by his paper."

on Twitter: "Although kind of amazed the editor who masterminded the expenses scandal coverage for the Tel got the boot. Daft."

on Twitter: "T Gallagher isn't some old-style print journo. He co-founded Mail Online. He walks the digital walk with aplomb. But he IS a journalist..."
Telegraph Media Group chief executive Murdoch MacLennan in a staement: “While continuing to produce brilliant newspapers in print and maintaining The Telegraph’s character and quality, the restructuring is designed to build on the Telegraph brand in order to attract customers with the very best, digital products possible. Unlike our rivals, The Telegraph remains profitable but we face increasing pressure on circulation and advertising revenue streams. To protect the company’s future we need rapidly to embrace and adapt to the new digital world in which our customers live.”

Nick Cohen in The Observer on Liz MacKean, the BBC journalist who helped expose the Jimmy Savile scandal: "The BBC has not treated its whistleblowers honourably or encouraged others to speak out in the future. Liz MacKean has had enough. Her managers did not fire her. They would not have dared and in any case the British establishment does not work like that. Instead, they cold-shouldered her. MacKean was miserable. The atmosphere at work was dreadful. The BBC wouldn't put her on air. She could have stayed, but she did not want to waste her time and talent and end up a bitter old hack. She chose the life of a free journalist instead and went off to work in independent – in all sense of that word – television."

Edward Malnick in the Sunday Telegraph: "The Government is suppressing official advice over the legality of new rules to regulate the press, The Telegraph can disclose. Ministers are refusing to disclose the contents of a key document on the Royal Charter, a new system of regulation which critics say risks granting politicians control over the press for the first time in 300 years."

Andrew Miller, chief executive of Guardian Media Group, on the planned sale of its £600million stake in AutoTrader, as reported by the Telegraph: “This proposed transaction makes strategic sense as we focus GMG’s activities on award-winning digital and print journalism. On completion, the sale-proceeds will strengthen our balance sheet and position us for further investment and growth in our core business.”

on Twitter: "The most surprising thing about (?) is the Henley Standard only ran David Silvester's claims as a letter, not a story.

Charlie Beckett on The Conservation about a meeting of international journalists in the UK hosted by Polis: "What was clear from what the international delegation said was that the damage to Britain’s reputation as a beacon of free expression has already been done. They are convinced that Leveson (along with events such as the government attacks on The Guardian over Edward Snowden) has made the state of British news media a cause for serious concern."

Guardian readers' editor Chris Elliott in his Open Door column on why the paper took down an article by freelance Emma Keller on Lisa Bonchek Adams who has breast cancer: "I don't think it is wrong to frame a question about how those with incurable illnesses use social media, but the Guardian was wrong in the way it went about it."

Mike Lowe@cotslifeeditor on Twitter: "For the first time I can ever remember, I haven't bought a newspaper this week. As a print junkie, that can't be good news for the industry."

on Twitter: "Guardian website blocked in China after revealing leadership's offshore tax secrets."

: "Want to know why the Victoria Line is suspended? We've got exclusive photos. WARNING: GRAPHIC CONCRETE."

Simon Rogers on data journalism, on this blog from new book Data Journalism: Mapping the Future: "Of course, for some people, this will never be journalism. But then, who cares? While they are worrying about the definitions, the rest of us can just get on with it. Punk eventually turned into new wave, new wave into everyday pop and bands that just aren’t as exciting. But what it did do is change the climate and the daily weather. Data journalism is doing that too. In the words of Joe Strummer: People can do anything."

Wednesday 22 January 2014

Simon Rogers: Why data journalism is the new punk and what it's got to do with Joe Strummer

Data Data Hey! Which one is Data Ramone?

Simon Rogers argues that data journalism draws on the great tradition of punk to celebrate the “anyone can do it” philosophy

This is a chord … this is another … this is a third. NOW FORM A BAND. So went the first issue of British punk fanzine, Sideburns, in 1977 in the “first and last part in a series”. It might be 35 years old, but this will do nicely as a theory of data journalism in 2012. Why? Arguably punk was most important in its influence, encouraging kids in the suburbs to take up instruments, with little or no musical training. It represented a DIY ethos and a shake-up of the old established order. It was a change. Crucial to it was the idea: anyone can do it.

Is the same true of data journalism? Do you need to be part of a major news operation, working for a big media company to be a data journalist? Now is the time to examine this. In May 2010, we published a piece on how journalists would be flooded with a “tsunami of data”. A few years on and data journalism is part of the fabric of what we, and many other news organisations do.

What is it? I would say data journalism incorporates such a wide range now of styles – from visualisation to long-form articles. The key thing they have in common is that they are based on numbers and statistics – and that they should aim to get a “story” from that data. The ultimate display of that story, be it words or graphics, is irrelevant, I think – it’s more about the process. There are even different streams now – short-form, quick-and-dirty data visualisations of the kind we do every day on the Datablog, right through to complex investigations and visualisations such as our riots data analysis or the kind of projects which made the shortlist of the Data Journalism Awards, from around the world. So, can we still say that anyone can do data journalism; in the first and last part in a series. Would this work?

1)      This is a dataset. 2) Here’s another. 3) Here are some free tools. NOW BE A DATA JOURNALIST

OK, it lacks a certain 1976 grittiness, but the theory is there. You don’t have to be a developer or a coder to be a data journalist. We asked our Twitter followers what they thought. A couple stand out to me: “Maybe everyone can do it, but not everyone can do it well.” “Like so many other things, done well is a mix of art and science.” Mutual disregard for shared constructs of authority? Shared overarching aim of revealing reality away from the facade? But is that enough? The thing about data journalism is that there are so very many “chords” – just the free ones could fill several training manuals: Google fusion tables, Tableau, Gephi, OutWit Hub, Google Refine … Can anyone really do it?

Dan Sinker knows about both data and punk: he heads up the Knight-Mozilla News Technology Partnership and is a former editor of Punk Planet. He says there are some parallels – with a crucial difference.

While I agree with the premise – it’s never been easier to do this stuff than it is right now – I think there are a few steps beyond just learning three chords when doing data journalism. For one, Legs [McNeil, who coined the word “punk”] didn’t really say a band needed to be *good* but I’d like to think we’d require that for data journalism. The theory goes that the punk bands we remember best are the ones that were good – but there needed to be a whole lot of kids experimenting and sounding awful before they got there. For what it’s worth, I like the fact that there are many just trying stuff out, even if it is forgettable – because some of it will be amazing.

Data journalism – the great leveller

In fact, data journalism is a great leveller. Many media groups are starting with as much prior knowledge and expertise as someone hacking away from their bedroom. Many have, until very recently, no idea where to start and great groups of journalists are still nervous of the spreadsheets they are increasingly confronted with. It’s rare for the news site reader to find themselves as powerful as the news site editor, but that’s where we are right now – and that power is only increasing as journalists come to rely more and more on their communities for engagement and stories. Says Sinker:

Where I think there are more parallels are in the fact that this is a young community (in years if not always age), and one that’s actively teaching itself new tricks every day. That same vitality and excitement that motivated punk, it’s motivating news hackers right now.

Meanwhile, more and more news teams are discovering that data equals stories and bulking up their teams. Some would say it’s just an extension of work they’ve always done, but that’s to ignore the huge shift in power the web has created. “Some people think that this stuff is instant,” says Sinker. “Even though there are incredible tools now, there is still a learning curve.” Out there in the world, there are lots of people who have just formed a band and got on with it – despite the obstacles.

Take the data team at LaNacion, recently shortlisted for the Data Journalism awards for their work on transport subsidies. When the team started, it was sparse, to say the least, says Florencia Coelho.

We had no web programmer or CAR [computer assisted reporting] people in our newsroom. We gathered an interactive designer and we self taught Tableau with their free training videos in what we called our Tableau days, in a Starbucks at a shopping mall in Buenos Aires.

The team is still not exactly huge – but it is easily the best data journalism site in South America and one of the most innovative around. It’s not all about investigative reporting. First, all reporting probably counts as investigative journalism, but if you want to play semantics, then I will see your “investigative” and raise you “analytical”. Not all data journalism has to bring down the government – it’s often enough for it to shine a light in corners that are less understood, to help us see the world a little clearer. And if that’s not investigative, what is?

Democratisation of data

There’s a great democratisation of data going on. Rather than the numbers belonging to the experts, they belong to all of us – and data journalism is part of that reclaiming of the facts. Even at the OECD, users’ voices are part of the process, making up the core analysis that lies at the heart of the Better Life Index on wellbeing. And, just to be clear – data journalism doesn’t have to mean data visualisation. It is not about producing charts or intricate graphics – the results of data journalism just happen to lend themselves to that. Sometimes a story is best told in images and infographics, other times it works as words and stories. It’s the ultimate in flexible formats.

But, when it comes to visualisations, what really comes across from this analysis of Visual.lys most viral infographics is how sometimes the simplest things can flood the web. Single charts are likely successful because they are easy to consume; the viewer only needs to learn how to read one “chunk” of visualisation to get the whole story. Simplicity lends itself to quick understanding and sharing, whereas complexity can prevent a viewer from reaching those points. Curiously, mixed charts, which is what we commonly think of as the typical form of an infographic, is the least successful here, perhaps because they take more mental work to consume completely, again pointing to simplicity and brevity as strengths in visual communication.

As the post points out, however, sometimes things done messily can still be hits – it’s the information that’s vital. People are willing to forgive a lack of perfection; they are much less forgiving for those who get the facts wrong. Data visualisation experts will always say: allow the data to choose the visualisation, that it’s crucial for the visualisation to fit the numbers – and not the other way around. That question equally applies itself to whether something needs a visualisation in the first place.

As Joe Strummer stressed: People can do anything

Of course, for some people, this will never be journalism. But then, who cares? While they are worrying about the definitions, the rest of us can just get on with it. Punk eventually turned into new wave, new wave into everyday pop and bands that just aren’t as exciting. But what it did do is change the climate and the daily weather. Data journalism is doing that too. In the words of Joe Strummer: People can do anything.
  • Simon Rogers is Data Editor at Twitter in San Francisco. He was previously 15 years at the Guardian – and he created its Datablog. He is also the author of Facts are Sacred (Faber and Faber, 2013).  
  • This article is from a new book  DATA JOURNALISM Mapping the Future, edited by John Mair, Richard Lance Keeble with Paul Bradshaw and Teodore Beleaga. It is published by Abramis Academic Publishing.

Friday 17 January 2014

Media Quotes of the Week: Pressing President Hollande, Newsquest action ballot, Indy sale and the football boss who can't stop telling the truth

on Twitter: "Much as a I love my confrères, if I ever get involved in a scandal, I'd prefer to be interrogated by 600 French reporters than six Brits."

Hugo Rifkind in The Times [£]: "On the Hollandaise sauce, France appears convulsed by doublethink. According to their quality press, the French are far too restrained and worldly to be interested in this sort of stuff, unlike silly, prurient Anglo-Saxons. And yet, after Closer magazine broke the story, those same restrained and worldly folk bought 600,000 copies in 24 hours."

BBC News director James Harding, quoted in the Guardian: "I am acutely concerned by the pressures facing the local newspaper industry and we at the BBC will do anything to help. But the BBC's primary responsibility must be to serve licence fee payers – and they want and are entitled to the best possible local news services we can deliver."

The Independent: Launched in 1986

Roy Greenslade on his MediaGuardian blog: "It is hard to imagine anyone buying The Independent and therefore places the paper's future existence in jeopardy. The fact that its owner has failed to find a buyer after months of seeking one suggest that its newsprint days are coming to an end. Though the financial losses have been significantly reduced over the past three years - down from more than £20m to just below £9m - the Indy's circulation has fallen to a level that no longer makes the paper a viable proposition."

on Twitter: "I miss on Sundays - reading about how naughty the rich & famous were brightened my day!"

Peter Preston in the Observer: "And if Hacked Off, in the name of yet another hand-picked judge, Brian Leveson, can't engage in reasoned debate rather than invective, many of us may begin to wonder whether too much hysteria (on both sides) hasn't knocked common sense right off the agenda. Which would be truly absurd."

The NUJ in a statement: "The NUJ has notified Newsquest management in Bradford, York and Darlington that the union will start a ballot for industrial action.The ballot is in response to the threat of compulsory redundancies and the impact on quality and workloads following the transfer of subbing work to Newport, Wales."

The Grey Cardigan on TheSpinAlley: "SOME USEFUL digging by industry tweeter @tabloidtroll into the accounts of the Media Standards Trust has revealed that the National Union of Journalists spent £4,000 helping to fund a series of fringe events organised by the Hacked Off organisation at the three political party conferences in 2012. To put that figure in context, it equates to the annual subs of 24 poorly-paid regional newspaper journalists. So were these union members asked if they wanted their money spent supporting an anti-press freedom pressure group run by left-wing activists, bitter academics and failed hacks? Of course not. Don’t be silly."

John Francis, editor of the Hemel Hempstead Gazette on the closure of the paper's office, on HoldTheFrontPage: “Where will our new office be, you might ask. Well, for now at least we haven’t got one – because we just don’t need it. Like many other organisations, we’ve realised that maintaining expensive town centre offices doesn’t make sense any more...Each member of our editorial team has a high-tech box of tricks that allows them to file copy, take pictures or record video, update our website and even send pages to press from wherever they are."

Ian Burrell in the Independent: "Immigration is a dangerous issue in the hands of the media. We have an obligation not to hide from the problems it might cause or the prejudices faced by some who make homes in this country. But it’s easy for news organisations – by their nature sensationalist – to make a difficult situation worse."

Jeremy Vine@theJeremyVine on Twitter: "I was once turned down for a job on the Northern Echo"

on Twitter: "Jeremy, I'd like to heal these psychological scars by formally offering you a job now."

Greenock Morton FC boss Kenny Sheils on why he won't speak to the press after matches on medical advice, as reported by HoldtheFrontPage: “It’s important I don’t compromise my position as manager of Morton Football Club. There’s a name for it – you can’t help it. If someone asks you a question, you’re emotionally imbalanced at that time and you feel an urge to tell the truth."

[£] = paywall

Friday 10 January 2014

Media Quotes of the Week: From pardon plea for Edward Snowden to tributes to Simon Hoggart

Guido Fawkes backs Edward Snowden

Guido Fawkes calls for  Edward Snowden to be pardoned: "His motivation was ideological and principled – it has cost him his personal freedom and his career. People who Guido would normally expect to side with the cause of liberty have focused on the medium not the message – because it was Alan Rusbridger’s Guardian that broke the story they have got their backs up."

The Guardian in a leader on Edward Snowden: "Mr Snowden gave classified information to journalists, even though he knew the likely consequences. That was an act of some moral courage. Presidents – from Franklin Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan – have issued pardons. The debate that Mr Snowden has facilitated will no doubt be argued over in the US supreme court. If those justices agree with Mr Obama's own review panel and Judge Richard Leon in finding that Mr Snowden did, indeed, raise serious matters of public importance which were previously hidden (or, worse, dishonestly concealed), is it then conceivable that he could be treated as a traitor or common felon? We hope that calm heads within the present administration are working on a strategy to allow Mr Snowden to return to the US with dignity, and the president to use his executive powers to treat him humanely and in a manner that would be a shining example about the value of whistleblowers and of free speech itself."

Assange: 'Unchallenged by BBC'

Stephen Glover in the Daily Mail on Julian Assange's contribution on the Today programme edited by singer P.J. Harvey: "I would have qualms about this morning’s circus even if Assange were due to be interrogated by John Humphrys in his most aggressive Rottweiler mode. As it is, I am aghast that he should be allowed to maunder on unchallenged. Would P. J. Harvey be given complete editorial freedom if she wanted to parade a highly controversial politician on the run from the law? I

Trinity Mirror managing director North West and Manchester Steve Anderson-Dixon on plans to launch a Sunday edition of the Liverpool Echo, as reported by Press Gazette: "The Liverpool Echo is a strong and respected brand. It has a connection with its audience that is unparalleled across Merseyside. We already have in place brilliant local journalists, an excellent local sales force and a well-established readership which we believe will welcome the Echo seven days a week."

Daily Mail in a leader: "Mr Cameron may claim to be a defender of free speech and a Press that has been free for 300 years. In reality, however, isn’t he the worst kind of fairweather friend?"

on Twitter: "As an ex- industrial Corr I now realise we missed a story even after miners strike. Scargill wasn't lying!"

: Trevor Kavanagh: “I gave Twitter up in the new year and I feel liberated..I didn’t read a book for six months..."

Daily Telegraph in a leader: "The 2010 leaders’ debates [on television] were perhaps the most exciting aspect of that year’s general election – and there is no good reason why they should not return in 2015. Unscripted confrontations undermine some of the politicians’ ability to control the agenda. In recent years, election campaigns have become obsessively choreographed – a series of photo opportunities with pretty locations and hand-picked party activists."

Philip Johnston in the Telegraph on the Leveson Inquiry: "Any disinterested observer looking back on those hearings two years ago must be astonished at how out of touch they were with the modern media world. The idea that the press retains the power that it had when Baldwin denounced it in the 1930s – or even what it had in the 1990s – is fanciful, with many newspapers struggling to survive and other platforms growing in reach and influence. Just before Christmas, the Liverpool Post became the latest casualty of this market fragmentation, closing after 158 years in print. Moreover, tasteless behaviour and flagrant breaches of the law are far easier to find on social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook or internet giants like Google and Yahoo, yet these were not covered by the inquiry."

Corinna Schumacher, the wife of ex-Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher, appeals for privacy and for reporters to leave the clinic where he is being treated following a skiing accident in the French Alps, as reported by BBC News: "It is important to me that the doctors and the hospital be left in peace to work - please trust their statements and leave the clinic...please leave our family in peace".

Simon Hoggart

Alan Rusbridger on Simon Hoggart who died this week: "Simon was a terrific reporter and columnist – and a great parliamentary sketch writer. He wrote with mischief and a sometimes acid eye about the theatre of politics. But he wrote from a position of sophisticated knowledge and respect for parliament. A daily reading of his sketch told you things about the workings of Westminster which no news story could ever convey. He will be much missed by readers and his colleagues."

on Twitter: "Tragically early death of Simon Hoggart, last of a heroic generation of sketch writers and a man you bought a paper for & who made you care."

From the Guardian's obit on Simon Hoggart, about his early days on the Guardian in Manchester: "He once earned a famous reproach for writing too highfalutin a match report of a game between Chelsea and Blackpool, evoking Greek tragedy and, specifically, the blinding of Oedipus ('Will you tell me one thing?' a grizzled night editor asked him,'were they playing with a ball or a discus?')."

Friday 3 January 2014

Media Quotes of the Year 2013: Parts 1 and 2

January to June 2013

The Guardian in a leader on Margaret Thatcher: "Her legacy is of public division, private selfishness and a cult of greed, which together shackle far more of the human spirit than they ever set free."

The Daily Telegraph in a leader: "Despite the widespread tributes on her passing yesterday, Lady Thatcher, of all people, would not have expected her enemies to wipe the slate clean in death. To paraphrase the words of St Francis of Assisi which she quoted on entering Downing Street, she certainly brought truth where there was error, but to deliver harmony was never her fate."

The Daily Mail in a leader: "She was a giant, beside whom other peacetime politicians of the 20th and 21st centuries look like mere pygmies."

Simon Kelner in the Independent:  "Above anything else, Mrs Thatcher implanted the gene of greed in the British soul. And, in the end, that is the poison of her legacy."

Harry slams press

Prince Harry in an ITV News interview slams the British press: “All it does is upset me and anger me that people can get away with writing the stuff they do. My father (Prince Charles) always says don't read it, everyone says don't read it, because it's always rubbish. I'm surprised how many in the UK actually read it.”

Farewell Fergie

Mark Ogden in the Telegraph on Alex Ferguson and the press: "Many reporters have been banned, myself included, for a vast number of random reasons. They have been banned for getting stories wrong and getting them right. Others have been exiled for writing books about Ferguson or making oblique references that have irked him deep within their articles. Yet Ferguson’s departure will be mourned by those who are employed to report on United, regardless of the bans, the hairdryers and the flying voice recorders. One sentence from Ferguson can carry more weight than a thousand words from his managerial counterparts – which can be a negative as well as positive quality – but being witness to the Ferguson years at United has been a rare privilege." 

Private Eye on coverage of Alex Ferguson's retirement: "Perhaps the most spectacular example of Stockholm syndrome was displayed by the BBC. Having been sent to Coventry by Ferguson for a full seven years after daring to expose his son Jason's activities as a football agent - a ban which ended only in 2011 -  the corporation found the perfect pundit to  pay tribute to Sir Alex on Radio Five Live. Step-up long-standing Fergie friend and fellow Labour stalwart Alastair Campbell, the man whose rabid desire to 'fuck Gilligan' over the BBC's WMD story in 2003 brought the corporation  as close to extinction  as it has ever been."

Snowden snooper scoop

Guardian Edward Snowden scoop makes four splashes

 NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in the Guardian: "I know the media likes to personalise political debates, and I know the government will demonise me."

Matthew Ingram on PaidContent: "The fact that both Greenwald and the Guardian are to some extent 'outsiders' may have helped them land what could be one of the biggest national-security stories since Watergate. And the stories — a series that Greenwald says has only just begun — will undoubtedly burnish the Guardian‘s reputation in the U.S., not to mention its web traffic."

Roy Greenslade on his MediaGuardian blog: "The breaking of the Snowden revelations story must surely put The Guardian in line for a Pulitzer, making it the first British newspaper to win the award."

Ben Brogan in the Telegraph on Edward Snowden: "A close reading of his manifesto, with his talk of a “federation of secret law” ruling the world, CIA hit-squads, surveillance nets on the verge of activation and his right to act against a duly constituted, democratically elected government, suggests he has spent too much time watching Hollywood DVDs on his laptop and studying conspiracy theory forums on the web. Whether he is naive, deluded or malicious, he has generated a drama that is more about the fantastical steps he took to put himself beyond America’s grasp than the content of the classified information he released."

Boris Johnson in the Telegraph on the NSA allegations: "I think if I were Shami Chakrabarti, or my old chum David Davis, I might get thoroughly aerated at this point; and I have some sympathy with their general position. But then I am afraid I also have sympathy with our security services, and their very powerful need to use the internet to catch the bad guys – the terrorists, the jihadis, the child porn creeps. There is a trade-off between freedom and security, as Barack Obama rightly says; between the citizen’s right to total internet privacy, and the duty of the state to protect us all from harm."

Bell on Bondage

Cartoonist Steve Bell in a Guardian video on his portrayal of George Osborne: "Why is George in bondage gear? Well, I was having a bit of a problem drawing George. The whole point about George's stance is its about restraint, restraint, restraint, cuts, cuts, whips, whips,  straps, straps, chains, chains... "

People Nigella scoop

Roy Greenslade on his MediaGuardian blog: "A couple of weeks ago I asked whether there was any point to the continued publication of the Sunday People. Ever since – and I know it's not because of what I wrote – the paper has been coming up with must-read stories. But none was more spectacular than yesterday's old-fashioned Fleet Street scoop – the pictures of Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi. Talk about agenda-setting. The Twittersphere went crazy. News website hits went off the scale. Every newspaper followed it up. It went round the world because Nigella is a global brand."

Downfall of Chris Huhne

The Sun in a leader: "Be in no doubt. Were it not for The Sunday Times, lying Lib Dem toad Chris Huhne would be sitting bold as brass in the Cabinet today. Indeed, he might have been Deputy PM. He was a whisker from beating Nick Clegg to the Lib Dem leadership in 2007. Those urging a Leveson law to muzzle the Press should reflect hard on yesterday’s sensational events."

Good news vs bad 


Charles Moore in the Telegraph accusing the national press of being dominated by bad news compared to the local media: "Local papers and broadcasters are unashamedly on the side of the areas they serve. Of course they relish scandals, but they also delight in successes. At flower and dog shows, if local papers are to be believed, rain always 'fails to dampen the spirits'. National papers only really get interested when every exhibit is swept away in a tidal wave or, as happened recently at a dog show in Kent, people start punching one another."

Peter Hirsch posts on Charles Moore's article : "Thank you, Charles. Now perhaps you could just post the link to that dog show in Kent?"

Fox reveals face 

Susie Boniface (aka Fleet Street Fox) reveals herself in The Times [£]: "It’s funny, my real name, Susie Boniface, has been in papers for 18 years and Fleet Street Fox has been around for five minutes, but she’s better known than I am. Recently someone told me: 'Wow! You’re Fleet Street Fox! If anyone can be trusted, you can.' Very flattering, but it puts a dent in your self-esteem when your creation is more popular than you are. Added to which, my — her — story is about to be read by more strangers than ever. It’s a bit like being married, only she is someone I can’t divorce."


Harolds Evans on 'arrogant' press

Sir Harold Evans giving the Hugh Cudlipp Lecture: "As depressing as exposure of the dark arts has been, it is deepened by the cynicism and arrogance of much of the reaction to Leveson, coming from figures in the press who did nothing to penetrate - indeed whose inertia assisted - the cover-up conducted into oblivion by News International, a cover up which would have continued, but for the skill of Nick Davies and the courage of his editor."

Mair bashes Boris 

Mair and Johnson (Pic: BBC)

Eddie Mair to Boris Johnson on the Andrew Marr Show: "You're a nasty piece of work, aren't you?"


Liberal-Left lambasted

 John Kampfner in the Guardian: "Many on the liberal-left sense a once-in-a-generation opportunity to 'tame' the unruly papers. They believe a more decent society cannot be achieved with the media we currently have, so it's time to act. Rather than seeing free expression as the bedrock of a strong society, they see it as providing an opportunity for nasty people to bludgeon nasty views on to a vulnerable public. They cannot tolerate an intolerant press."

Congregation of 'bastards'

St Bride's Fleet Street
Fleet Street Fox in her diary: "The vicar at St. Bride's is the only one I've ever met that looks down  from the pulpit in the certain knowledge that most of his congregation can be categorized as under the heading 'utter bastards', and doesn't seem to mind."


Sexism in the City newspaper office

Cathy Newman in the Telegraph: "Some of the most glaring instances of sexism directed at me took place in newspaper offices or at the hands of newspaper executives. When I worked for the Financial Times, I confronted a senior executive about the fact that a man who was significantly junior to me was getting paid a lot more. The executive asked me what I needed the money for, since I didn’t have a mortgage or a family. I laughed it off and made sure I got a pay rise. Slightly more intimidating was the time, ironically at a political party conference, when a man who was then the editor of a national newspaper started propositioning me in the bar, despite knowing I was in a long-term relationship, and despite my making it patently clear that I wasn’t interested."

Loveson Inquiry 

The Mail in a leader on the affair of Leveson lawyers David Sherborne and Carine Patry Hoskins: "When the affair began is unclear. They say it didn't start until after Leveson reported last November, but admit they went on holiday to the romantic Greek island of Santorini last August. They claim - with a straight face - their relationship was then still platonic. But even if there was no pillow talk, it beggars belief they wouldn't have discussed Leveson over the odd glass of Retsina."


Guardianistas vs Mail

Zoe Williams in the Guardian"The Daily Mail reminds me a little bit of climate change: you think you've got the measure of just how bad it is, but every time you look it's taken another appalling leap forward. Yesterday, following the conviction of the Philpotts for the manslaughter of their six children, it called Mick Philpott the "vile product of welfare UK". The cynicism, the lack of respect for the dead, the dehumanising terminology (he "bred" the children, it says); the front page alone told us all we need to know." 

Daily Mail in a leader: "As the debate over welfare reform rages on, one mystery increasingly perplexes and infuriates the Guardianistas of the well-heeled, middle-class Left. Why, they ask over the Chablis, do the working-class poor so stubbornly refuse to share their enlightened belief in the wonders of the welfare state? To their bemusement, poll after poll has shown that three-quarters of voters (including most Labour supporters) want benefits reined in, with the clamour for cuts at its loudest among workers at the bottom end of the pay scale."

 Caitlin Moran on her family values

Caitlin Moran in The Times [£]: "My father raised eight children on welfare benefits, and didn’t kill any of us. I feel I should say that this week. I feel I need to firmly point to a large family raised on public handouts who were normal, and gentle, and never set fire to their house during a personal vendetta against a former lover."

Murder in Woolwich

Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger in the Guardian on the paper's front page on the Woolwich murder (above): "This was an extraordinary, perhaps unprecedented, event. In broad daylight on a British street a man was hacked to death allegedly by someone who then essentially gave a press conference, using Islamist justifications. It was, by any standards, a unique news picture – but in a new media context in which the killer's message had already been distributed around the world virtually in real time."

Guardian readers' editor Chris Elliott in his Open door column on the same front page:  "It was right to use the picture and the video, as both were crucial to an understanding of the event. It's not the first time shocking images have been run on the front page. However, the effect of the quote embedded in the photograph meant the message was unmediated."

Twitter explodes

Ben Brogan about Twitter on his Telegraph blog: "Politically, the micro-blogging site has become a weapon of mass destruction. Where Alastair Campbell complained about the drumbeat of the 24-hour news channels, Mr Cameron must contend with the minute-by-minute verdict of social media, where his performances and policies are scrutinised, judged and discarded instantly. Where journalists used to meet in the bar, they now exchange gags and gossip on Twitter. It is a political accelerant."

When interviews go bad...

Michael Hann on the Guardian's Music Blog on interviewing drummer Ginger Baker (top) in front of a live audience: "I've had peculiar interviews before. I once sat on the floor in the dressing rooms at Spurs' training ground to talk to Sol Campbell, while John Scales stood just to my right, listening in. He was naked. His penis kept dangling in and out of my eyeline at disconcertingly close range. But I've never had any interview experience quite so unsettling as half an hour with Ginger Baker in front of a couple of hundred people. It's not something I want to repeat."  

Janice Turner in The Times: "I’m not sure where it started to go wrong with Rhys Ifans. A truly awful interview can catch you like a cloudburst in August. How quickly his answers escalated through disdain to disgust then mad-eyed vibrating hostility until he announced 'I am bored with you' and stalked out, leaving his publicist hand-wringing and ashen."

July to December 2013

Two titles at war: Guardian top; Mail bottom

MI5 chief Andrew Parker, as reported by the Independent, claims Edward Snowden's leaks on surveillance by security services gave terrorists: "The gift to evade us and strike at will'

Daily Mail headline over leader on the Guardian: 'The paper that helps Britain's enemies'

The Guardian in a leader: "The Mail's leading article must be read in the context of a fervent discussion about press regulation in which it is leading the charge for journalists to be both free and trusted. But yesterday's editorial argues the opposite. It is a statement of anti-journalism: editors, it says, cannot be trusted. They must defer to the state."

Simon Jenkins in the Guardian: "In a Guardian basement, officials from GCHQ gazed with satisfaction on a pile of mangled hard drives like so many book burners sent by the Spanish Inquisition."

David Carr in the New York Times: "If the revelations about the N.S.A. surveillance were broken by Time, CNN or The New York Times, executives there would already be building new shelves to hold all the Pulitzer Prizes and Peabodies they expected. Same with the 2010 WikiLeaks video of the Apache helicopter attack. Instead, the journalists and organizations who did that work find themselves under attack, not just from a government bent on keeping its secrets, but from friendly fire by fellow journalists. What are we thinking?"

MPs quiz Rusbridger

Rusbridger: 'Patriotic about a free press'

Alan Rusbridger asked if he loved this country by Home Affairs Committte chair Keith Vaz, as reported by the Guardian: "I'm slightly surprised to be asked the question. But, yes, we are patriots and one of the things we are patriotic about is the nature of democracy, the nature of a free press and the fact that one can in this country discuss and report these things."

Dan Hodges on his Telegraph politics blog: "When politicians are summoning newspaper editors before them to question their patriotism then we’ve got a problem. It’s fashionable to complain of 'McCarthyism' whenever someone is challenged on just about anything these days. But what has just happened is the very definition of McCarthyism."

Carl Bernstein in an open letter to Alan Rusbridger: "As we learned in the United States during our experience with the Pentagon Papers and Watergate, it is essential that no prior governmental restraints or intimidation be imposed on a truly free press; otherwise, in such darkness, we encourage the risk of our democracies falling prey to despotism and demagoguery and even criminality by our elected leaders and government officials."

Ed goes for Mail over attack on dad

Mail attack on Ralph Miliband
Ed Miliband in the Daily Mail: "Journalists need to hold politicians like me to account — none of us should be given an easy ride — and I look forward to a robust 19 months between now and the General Election. But what appeared in the Daily Mail on Saturday was of a different order all together. I know they say ‘you can’t libel the dead’, but you can smear them. Fierce debate about politics does not justify character assassination of my father, questioning the patriotism of a man who risked his life for our country in World War  II, or publishing a picture of his gravestone with a tasteless pun about him being a ‘grave socialist’. The Daily Mail sometimes claims it stands for the best of British values of decency. But something has really gone wrong when it attacks the family of a politician — any politician — in this way."

Paul Dacre in the Guardian responds to the storm over the Mail's Ralph Miliband feature: "The hysteria that followed is symptomatic of the post-Leveson age in which any newspaper which dares to take on the left in the interests of its readers risks being howled down by the Twitter mob who the BBC absurdly thinks represent the views of real Britain."

Ed Miliband on the Fleet Street press at a private dinner for Labour donors, according to the Financial Times: "We've got to be willing to call these people out. They are less powerful than people ever thought and they are less powerful now than they were."

Press charter plan rejected

Culture secretary Maria Miller speaking in Parliament, as reported by BBC News: "The committee of the Privy Council is unable to recommend the press's proposal for a royal charter be granted. Whilst there are areas where it is acceptable, it is unable to comply with some important Leveson principles and government policy."

Press industry statement condemns politicians' Royal Charter: "This proposed Royal Charter has already been universally rejected by the industry and it is even more regrettable that the industry will have no opportunity to take part in the discussions between the political parties over possible amendments."

Maria Miller, as reported by the Guardian, speaking to MPs on the culture, media and sport select committee: "[Hacked Off's presence] became quite a destructive force in the perception of the press, I think it made some lasting damage. We had managed to get to a stage where we were on the verge of agreement. Some of the interventions over [that] weekend created a great deal of bad will."

David Cameron in an interview with Fraser Nelson of the Spectator: "I believe there’s a great opportunity here to put this difficult and painful issue to bed. If the press set up their regulator I hope, in time, they will make that regulator compliant with – will be able to then seek recognition under – the charter recognition body. If that then happens, we’ll have in place a system that I think will settle this issue because we would have achieved what Leveson wanted which is independent self-regulation by the press, but not marking its own homework, having itself checked, and only having the body checked as it were by the charter."

Telegraph warning over Royal Charter

Adams cartoon from the Daily Telegraph

The Daily Telegraph in a leader: "The Guardian’s recent investigation into state spying is exactly the kind of reporting that could spark a moral panic among politicians and give them cause to limit what the press can publish. If Parliament can find the numbers to impose a royal charter upon the industry, it can also find the numbers necessary to censor it."

Twitter better than Beeb


Emily Bell in the Guardian: "Twitter is already a far more effective tool for reporting, discovery, dissemination and collaboration than anything the BBC will ever produce."

Last Post for Liverpool 


Editor Mark Thomas on Trinity Mirror's decision to close the Liverpool Post, as reported by HoldTheFrontPage: “It has been a privilege to edit the Liverpool Post for the last seven years. This is without doubt the saddest day of my career. I am very proud of all the journalists who have worked alongside me on the Liverpool Post. This is no reflection on them."


 Reporter 'worst job' in 2013

Tony Lee, publisher of which ranked newspaper reporter as worst job in 2013, as reported by the World Street Journal: “What probably pushed it [newspaper reporter] to the bottom is that several things got worse – job prospects decreased, the average salary continued to fall, and work hours continued to rise. Those factors also make the job more stressful.” 

Hacking: Read all about it


The Grey Cardigan on The Spin Alley: "I’M ALL for open justice, but it does strike me as a trifle odd that when members of the press are put on trial for hacking private voicemail messages, those messages are then read out in public and subsequently reported in the very same press. How does that work then? "

Bullying media bosses

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, on bullying in the media: "It has been heart-breaking to deal with members whose dreams have been shattered because of the behaviour of their managers and of failure of employers to tackle bullying and bullies. I have heard testimonies from members who said, 'News editors threw reporters on to the same story, everyone was terrified of putting a foot wrong. People were put under such pressure. Reporters were effectively encouraged to shaft each other. It was such a demoralising situation' and from women journalists who had been offered promotion in return for having sex with their boss."

Roy Greenslade on his MediaGuardian blog on bullying: "Outsiders may wonder why adults put up with the MacKenzies and Dacres. The obvious answer is that they control people's livelihoods. It is a case of accepting it or getting out (and not "getting in" anywhere else). For too brief a period in the 1970s, the National Union of Journalists exercised enough power to save the jobs of those who dared to buck the system by standing up to the bullies. But the NUJ, having lost its fight to create closed shops, gradually lost its potency. And there is still not much constraint on the autocratic rule of popular paper editors."

Monty's message to the troops


Local World chief David Montgomery's vision for the future of local papers, as reported by Press Gazette: "On the smaller weekly titles a single individual, Content Manager, will skim largely online published content to create the newspaper in a single session or small number of sessions rather than a number of staff following a laborious and time-consuming schedule spanning many days of the week. On daily papers only a handful of Content Managers will be office bound and will orchestrate all products across the platforms." 

Grey Cardigan on TheSpinAlley: "While this is terrible news for Local World’s employees – despite several years of shedding talent, still some of the best in the business – it could well be good news for those just waiting in the wings for the big groups to get fed up with these troublesome regional titles and start returning them to local ownership where they truly belong. And all those redundant hacks launching proper, hyperlocal news websites must be rubbing their hands with glee. Monty’s pursuit of this Holy Grail is deluded, dangerous and desperately unfair on those who have carved out successful careers in our trade."

Press freedom mission to UK

Vincent Peyrègne, CEO of WAN-IFRA, the global organisation of the world’s newspapers and news publishers, which is sending a delegation to the UK in January: “A press freedom mission to the United Kingdom is unprecedented and we cannot underestimate our concern for what is happening. It is rather difficult for the United Kingdom to lecture Sri Lanka and others about their press freedom record, when its own actions result in such widespread international condemnation.” 

Humphrys on John Cole


John Humphrys on the BBC's former political editor John Cole, in the Guardian: "I reported back to my then-bosses that, although I thought he was an absolutely brilliant political journalist and the nicest person in the world, I didn't think we should employ him as the on-air political editor because people would simply find it too difficult to understand his accent. Mercifully they ignored my advice completely. Of all the massive errors of judgment I've made, that was probably my biggest. He turned out to be a great star."

Another new look for Indy

Publisher Evgeny Lebedev on the Independent's latest redesign: "This newspaper has a proud record of innovation. It was the first broadsheet title to go compact, after which many others, including The Times, followed. In the past four years, my family took its sister title, the London Evening Standard, free, returned it to profit, and launched this newspaper’s very successful spin-off, i, which comfortably outsells The Guardian. That tradition of innovation makes me glad to see our masthead made vertical. Together with other changes you can see today, I believe this redesign revives the elegance and sophistication of the paper’s first editions."

Times' three-year investigation into grooming

Andrew Norfolk: 'Lucky to work for Times'
Andrew Norfolk, The Times' journalist who investigated the Asian gangs who groom young girls, speaking at City University: "I feel so lucky at a time of staff and budget cuts that  a newspaper gave me three years to work on a story. It was a major commitment by The Times."

It's a nib

 Matt in the Telegraph

Chris Huhne in the Guardian: "The News of the World sparked the end of my marriage, but another Murdoch title, the Sunday Times, then groomed my ex-wife until she told them about the speeding points."

The Telegraph in a leader on Chris Huhne's Guardian column: "A more self-delusional and morally contemptible article would be hard to imagine. Many people have swapped speeding points, he wrote, as if this made any difference to his breaking the law. Moreover, he claimed that a newspaper investigation into his affair with another woman “sparked the end of my marriage”. It seems not to have occurred to him that his adultery was responsible for that."

Losing the local

Chris Oakley warns in the updated edition of What Do We Mean By Local? of a "Kafkaesque nightmare vision – citizens with no local pub, no local post office, no local newspaper, no knowledge, no informed opinion on anything that should matter to them or their families.  Times are always changing, but if good men and women - and good journalists - can do nothing then change can destroy rather than create progress."

Bezos buys Wash Post

Donald Graham on the sale of the Washington Post to Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon:  "Our revenues had declined seven years in a row. We had innovated, and to my critical eye our innovations had been quite successful in audience and in quality, but they hadn’t made up for the revenue decline. Our answer had to be cost cuts, and we knew there was a limit to that. We were certain the paper would survive under our ownership, but we wanted it to do more than that. We wanted it to succeed."

James Fallows on The Atlantic website on the sale of the Washington Post: "I think I'll remember where I was when I first heard the news -- via Twitter! -- and I am sure it will be one of those episode-that-encapsulates-an-era occurrences. Newsweek's demise, a long time coming, was a minor temblor by comparison; this is a genuine earthquake."

Sunday Times victory over gang boss

The Sunday Times [£] in a leader about David Hunt after he lost a libel case against the newspaper: "Mr Hunt, in the judgment of Mr Justice Simon who tried his libel complaint, has been involved in fraud, prostitution, money laundering and “extreme violence”. Previously confidential documents produced at the trial revealed that the police and other crime-fighting agencies have been well aware of his activities for many years. Yet it has taken extremely brave witnesses, including a persistent investigative reporter, Michael Gillard, to bring these facts before the public. It has been a high stakes legal battle. This newspaper has needed deep pockets to fill the vacuum left by those who should have taken on Mr Hunt long ago. We have not shied from the task, just as in the past we took on the distributors of thalidomide and the quarter-master general of the Provisional IRA. This is what we do."

Murdoch meeting leak

Rupert Murdoch in a meeting with Sun journalists, leaked to Exaro and broadcast by Channel 4 News: "The idea that the cops then started coming after you, kick you out of bed, and your families, at six in the morning, is unbelievable. But why are the police behaving in this way? It's the biggest inquiry ever, over next to nothing."

Lawson defends Lawson

Dominic Lawson in the Sunday Times [£] on the way columnists attacked his sister, Nigella, during the fraud trial of her assistants: "Naturally I understand that for newspaper columnists, desperate to meet yet another deadline, human tragedy provides the ideal opportunity for a piece of hastily improvised moralising; but that self-righteousness depends (if the sensitive reader is not to feel nauseated) on some sort of relation to the truth."

Piers Morgan goes into bat


Piers Morgan ‏@piersmorgan on Twitter: "I'd swap every job I've had, and every penny/dime I've earned, to play cricket for England. Where's the pride? The sense of honour? #Ashes"

Jumping Jack Hack


Mick Jagger interviewed by John Humphrys on the Today programme: "There're a million things that you would have loved to have done, a politician, a journalist. I thought of being a journalist once."

Our Subs Are Missing



Gameoldgirl on the Sub Scribe blog: "When did subs stop being journalists? And why do executives everywhere now refer to them as the production department? The production department used to be where the type was made and put into pages, whether in hot metal or bits of sticky paper. Then it was the area where a clutch of people would chase for pages and send them via computer to the printers. Now it refers to the subs. They are no longer thinking, talented journalists, masters of language, mistresses of design,  but 'producers', conveyor-belt handlers of copy, fit only to write a Google-friendly heading and to do the bidding of whoever happens to be sitting on the newsdesk. Never mind how experienced the sub or how green the news editor."