Tag Archives: journalism

Opinion: Protecting journalists and foreign correspondents – it’s about time

What is currently happening in Egypt in my view is a very sad and violent transformation. Yet as a native of this country, I believe this to be an internal process and should be shaped only by Egyptians living in Egypt.

However, what should not be accepted as an internal matter is the level of intimidation and violence against journalists and foreign correspondents, particularly foreign journalists and those working for foreign media organisations.

They are unwittingly being sucked into a political turmoil they do not control. They are seasoned professionals caught in the line of fire while doing their …

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Duff arguments to ignore over Leveson

Here is a safe prediction: whatever the Leveson report recommends for British journalism, there will be an awful lot of duff arguments rolled out. Despite much of the debate being couched in how important it is for the press to tell the truth and how many difficult judgements there are to make, we’ll hear plenty of simplistic rhetoric based on shonky factual foundations.

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Opinion: The Sun has clearly boobed on this issue of free speech

I’m frankly disgusted that The Sun has decreed that I have a right to see Prince Harry’s penis, but not Kate Middleton’s nipples. I fail to understand how my being unable to see Prince Harry naked is somehow a disgusting breach of the freedom of speech of the UK press but my being unable to see Kate Middleton naked is completely correct because this is a hideous invasion of her privacy.

Let us briefly review. Prince Harry was happily naked in a hotel room where he had a reasonable expectation of privacy, someone took photos of him from a short distance …

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Have I gone mad?

I’m wondering if I’ve gone mad.

There’s this issue that I just can’t think about without one question occurring to me. For me, it is blindingly obvious, absolutely basic and impossible to avoid if you want to talk about the issue.

And the thing is, it doesn’t appear to have occurred to anyone else.

I’ve read plenty of media stories about the issue, and I’ve not found one that asks, answers or even obliquely mentions this blindingly obvious question.

The problem gets worse than that, however.

I’ve waded through lots of public comments on the …

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Today’s news is: Let’s all be shocked by the blatantly obvious

Story one.

Dear politician, do you think people should knowingly assist others in breaking the law? What, you say ‘no they shouldn’t’? Hold the front page, I’ve got a scoop!

Story two.

Dear politician, might you want to lead your party one day? What, you might!? Hold the front page again. This is an amazing scoop discovering a politician who would fancy leading their party.

Story three.

Dear politician, if there is another hung Parliament, would you take the same approach as you did to the last one? What, you would? OMG! Someone saying they would do the same thing again! Unthinkable! …

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Politicians are not mere pawns in the hands of journalists

Understandably the Leveson Inquiry has concentrated on the misdeeds of journalists and the behaviour of newspaper owners. However, the appearance of a series of figures this week at Leveson could – indeed should – have highlighted how often the power lies with politicians, not the media. We had three figures appear who all, in their own very different ways, showed that despite all the talk of politicians been cowed by the media, it is far from uncommon for politicians to have far too much power over the media.

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Do you think News International could be done for stalking?

From our Facebook page:

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Leveson: it’s a good thing Nick Clegg was there

Today’s latest revelations from the Leveson Inquiry are a reminder of how wise it was to create a judge-led inquiry with wide terms of reference and powers. And who was it who did that when the Coalition Government was drawing up the plans, rejecting the talk of a lesser inquiry? Step forward, Nick Clegg.

PS I should have added that it was of course Lib Dem MP Adrian Sanders who was the first in the party to be calling for a judicial inquiry, following his experience on the DCMS Select Committee.

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A five point plan to reform the media post-Leveson

As investigative theatre goes, the Leveson Inquiry has been top-notch. As a route to embarrassing individuals for their past performance, it has excelled. As a way of unearthing previously secret information, it has been gripping.

But as a route for reforming the media? That’s a rather different story.

Some things have already been achieved. The Press Complaints Commission has already been sent to the retirement home for failed regulators and politicians have already been shamed into distancing themselves from newspaper moguls. It will be a long time before Ed Miliband repeats this sort of photo op, for example.

There is, however, an awful lot left to do, especially as Lord Leveson has not been looking at the underlying causes. As I wrote much earlier in the proceedings:

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How the Guardian makes the news, then reports the news

A nimble two-step from The Guardian:

1. Polly Toynbee sends tweet encouraging all and sundry to take part in an open-access online poll being run by the BMJ.

2. The Guardian reports result of said BMJ poll.

Then only thing missing, alas, is:

3. The Guardian then realises that reporting a voodoo poll which its own staff have been encouraging people to take part on is low grade self-referential journalism and pulls poll report.

 

Hat tip: Anthony Wells

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Why I (still) read the Daily Mail

Four years on, I’m still a Daily Mail reader (even if they think I’m a foreigner). Here’s an updated explanation.

I once rang the Daily Mail to mildly complain about a story I had a connection with. The journalist I spoke to put me on hold while he conferred with a colleague. At least, he thought he put me on hold. But courtesy of him hitting the wrong button, I got to hear what they were saying. And it wasn’t exactly a master class in concern for accuracy. Yet I still read the newspaper regularly.

Why? Because it would be foolish not …

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Missing: the people the Leveson Inquiry won’t be talking to

“Follow the money”. It’s a cliché of investigative journalism for a very good reason. If you want to get to the heart of what is really going on, knowing who has paid what to whom frequently exposes the real action being hidden away behind warm words, evasive statements and muttered “no comments”.

It is also at the heart of many a public inquiry. Want to know why something happened? Who pays whom is again right at the centre of the story. Whether it is understanding drugs policy and the economics of the illegal market or looking at problems of rail safety, …

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Murdoch faces rough ride from shareholders

So reports the BBC:

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Opinion: Why is the BBC so bad at putting links in science stories?

The BBC’s failure to link properly to the original sources of its stories, especially those relating to developments in science and healthcare, may be just be a personal bugbear, and you may well be blissfully unaware of or affected by it, but do indulge me as I think this matters!

For some time now the likes of medic and writer Ben Goldacre have expressed real concern at the underwhelming way the BBC uses hyperlinks on its website. Specifically, when the BBC website carries a story based on papers published in academic journals, clicking their ‘related internet links’ sends the …

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Media spin, 1966 vintage

Hello again to an old story which I came across in the archives whilst looking for something else. Trust me, it’s more interesting than the Something Else which, even with the use of capital letters and ominous music, turned out to be a damper squib than the empty chocolate wrapper left in the work kitchen last week.

So instead… it’s back to 1966, again.

During the 1966 general election campaign, Prime Minister Harold Wilson visited the Birmingham Rag Market for a public meeting (scene of a famous* public meeting in the 1964 campaign when the then Prime Minister Alec Douglas-Home got shouted …

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Daily Mail sued by Carina Trimingham

The Press Gazette reports:

MP Chris Huhne’s partner Carina Trimingham today brought a High Court damages action over a “cataclysmic interference” with her private life.

The PR adviser, whose adulterous affair with the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change became public in June 2010 – with Huhne leaving his wife of 26 years – is suing Associated Newspapers for misuse of private information.

Her counsel, William Bennett, told Mr Justice Tugendhat in London that – in eight newspaper articles and on its website Mail Online – the Daily Mail had exercised its expertise and determination to dig into 44-year-old Trimingham’s private life and

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Why Ivan Lewis isn’t completely wrong about journalists

The fiasco over Shadow Culture Secretary Ivan Lewis’s call for journalists to be registered has rather obscured what should be a good point of debate: the degree to which journalists or editors should be held personally responsible for what they do.

As I wrote earlier in the year about media regulation:

There needs to be a much greater sense of individual, personal responsibility by journalists and editors for how they behave. This is best illustrated by the classic doorstepping exercise trawling for a story that many newspapers carry out. That sort of exercise can be justified – it is, after all,

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Did journalists really not misuse one of the UK’s largest databases of personal contact details?

Here’s a little conundrum for you.

Imagine you are a journalist working on one of the  many titles that the Information Commissioner found was involved in dubious practices to get hold of personal information about people.

Don’t you think it’s quite likely you would now and again have wanted to get hold of someone’s home address? Perhaps to track down someone to doorstep them. Or maybe to trawl round the relatives of someone famous to find if anyone is willing to give you an interview.

Now imagine there is a database of people in Britain which is so comprehensive and has been built …

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Opinion: Privacy and investigative journalism – a balancing act

The recent phone hacking scandal has thrown into sharp relief a corrupt nexus: between media organisations (I use the plural advisedly) that consider themselves above the law; a craven police culture that makes it effectively so; and a body politic so in thrall to that same media power it’s unable to distance itself from those responsible for illegal activity, much less hold the press to account. As enquiry after enquiry ensues, we seek the reform of the press, of the police and of politics, the need for which has rarely been clearer; we must also seek to strike a balance …

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Media reform: the debates elsewhere

As we said on Monday, Lib Dem Voice over the next few weeks is taking part in a cross-blog debate on some of the most pressing issues regarding the UK media.

Earlier this week here on The Voice Mark took a look at what the Liberal Democrats have historically said on the topic and why the flaws in Ed Miliband’s policy are no cause for rejoicing.

Elsewhere on the blogosphere, David Elstein looked at those Ed Miliband policies in detail and Dan Hind put the case for ensuring greater plurality of ownership.

Next week we will be looking …

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The flaws in Ed Miliband’s media policy are no cause for rejoicing

It isn’t often that the members of one party should be worried about a proposed policy from a rival party’s leader collapsing under examination. However, David Elstein’s demolition of Ed Miliband’s proposal to limit ownership of newspapers by circulation should not provide more than a passing smile to Liberal Democrats, for it highlights the difficult of coming up with any meaningful change in the rules over newspaper ownership.

As David Elstein puts it:

Ed Miliband has proposed a 20% limit on ownership of national newspapers, measured by circulation. As the Sun’s circulation is more than 20% of all national newspaper sales, that would require News International to close The Times and either sell the Sunday Times or reposition it as a non-national newspaper (by ceasing to publish in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland, where would-be readers would have to subscribe digitally). Even then the Sun’s circulation would need to be forced down, perhaps by restricting access to newsprint. In all likelihood any such measure would result in the combined circulation of the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday rising above 20%, so requiring similar measures to be targeted at them.

Banning a newspaper from appearing in parts of the UK? Making it illegal for a newspaper group to buy ‘too much’ paper? There are just too few newspaper titles with a mass audience for restriction on ownership by circulation to be practical.

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Media ownership: what have Liberal Democrats said?

Flicking through old general election manifestos of the Liberal Democrats and our predecessor parties at the weekend, I was surprised to find how recent references to concerns over the pattern of media ownership in the UK are. It really is only with the 1997 general election manifesto that explicit policies about protecting or improving the diversity of media ownership feature.

Given the number of technological innovations over the years, it is no surprise that some of the manifesto policies now read as very dated – 1983’s concerns over the impact of video tapes in particular. Yet the actual or feared power …

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Media reform in the UK

Anthony Barnett (Our Kingdom), Sunny Hundal (Liberal Conspiracy), Mark Pack (Lib Dem Voice) & Will Straw (IPPR) write…

July 2011 will be remembered as one of those rare moments where the nation came together in shared outrage and disgust. The hacking of Milly Dowler shocked the country and led to a series of unprecedented events which would have seemed inconceivable just weeks before. The drama culminated in the resignation and arrest of several News International executives and senior police officers; the termination of a 168-year old national newspaper; and the appearance of a humbled Rupert Murdoch before a public hearing.

The various …

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Could you edit The Guardian? Take a simple test

Here’s a simple test to see if you too have what it takes to edit The Guardian.

a. You have an interview lined up with a Treasury minister.

b. You have a journalist who happily admits they don’t understand the difference between a cyclical and structural deficit.

Do you say:

1. “Pah, so what? It’s not like we need an interviewer who can understand the basics of economics to interview an economics minister”, or

2. “Err, could we get a different interviewer?”

If your answer is #1: well done, you’re made it (as the third paragraph of this new interview with Danny Alexander demonstrates).

If your …

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Newspaper headlines, the Evening Standard way

Story:

Lord Judge said … “The problem therefore is not the internet”

Headline:

Judge: Internet threatens justice

(From Thursday’s Evening Standard, page 7)

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David Laws: questions for him, questions for political journalists

The advanced leaking of a supposedly highly confidential Parliamentary report is just the sort of tip that political journalists love and we all often enjoy reading or hearing about.

But there are leaks and there are leaks, as the widespread leaking of the Parliamentary Commissioner’s report into David Laws demonstrates with the three questions it raises.

First, it’s not news that the Parliamentary Commission has found David Laws broke rules – he himself previously said he had and reported himself to the Parliamentary Commissioner. What will be new news, when it comes out, is what the Commissioner has found as a result of …

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PCC rules against Daily Telegraph’s sting operation

Via the BBC:

A newspaper’s decision to secretly tape Liberal Democrat MPs breached press rules on “subterfuge”, a watchdog says.

The Press Complaints Commission said the Daily Telegraph had produced material “in the public interest”.

But it said the paper had not had enough evidence to justify what it called “a fishing expedition”.

Among those taped by reporters posing as constituents was Business Secretary Vince Cable, who was recorded saying he had “declared war” on Rupert Murdoch…

The PCC ruled the newspaper launched the “disproportionately intrusive attention” without sufficient reasons and said it would issue fresh guidance over the acceptable use of subterfuge.

Liberal Democrat …

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My letter to The Guardian, unpublished

Sir,

I noticed that around half the recent stories about phone hacking on the Guardian website with photos feature a photograph of Sienna Miller. Does she make up around half of all the people whose phones were hacked?

Yours etc.

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How Twitter makes news consumption more diverse

Back in the internet boom at the turn of the century, one of the popular debates was whether the internet would provide exciting new access to a diverse range of information or whether the internet’s ability to give you far more power over what information you see or read would result in a narrowing of horizons as people just go for what they already know and what they already agree with.

Cass Sunstein in particular made the case for that latter pessimistic view very forcefully in his Republic.com book and it’s a pattern you see often in, for example, choices over political blog readership where supporters of different parties particularly congregate on blogs that take similar lines.

Now, however, researchers have taken a close look at how news is shared on Twitter and come up with a rather more positive finding:

Indirect media exposure increases the diversity of political opinions seen by users: between 60-98% of the users who directly followed media sources with only a single political leaning (left, right, or center) are indirectly exposedto media sources with a different political leaning. In orderto reach this conclusion, we use public classification of news sources and infer the political preference of every audience member. One can only speculate about the effect of political diversity, because users do not necessarily read the complete Twitter timeline nor do they always prefer receiving diverse political opinions (Munson and Resnick 2010). Nonetheless our results show the power of social media, in that users are exposed to information they did not know they were interested in, serendipitously.

One of their other findings is that for all Twitter’s newness, the sources of information are mainly fairly traditional:

There is much about the media landscape in Twitter that is ‘old media’. Established media outlets retain the role of publishing news and stories without much interaction with readers. However, the features of the ‘new media’ age are reflected in the way journalists and audience engage in new communication patterns, communicating with each other directly, and tapping into breaking news.

Media Landscaipe in Twitter – A World of New Conventions and Political Diversity

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So you want to be a political journalist?

A sister title to Shane Greer’s So you want to be a politician?, Sheila Gunn’s So you want to be a political journalist? is a collection of thrity-two lively short chapters giving an insight into the life of a political journalist.

With an impressive cast of contributors, including Peter Riddell, Carolyn Quinn and Michael White, the book has plenty of insider information, presented usually in the style of lively anecdotal chats. This is not a tedious career advice book nor a studious academic tone but rather something that gives a flavour of what it is like to be a political journalist and how to get there.

MP Adam Holloway’s contribution is the one that turns sour on political journalism, explaining how he became so disillusioned with coverage of himself that he not only ceased writing a column for the local newspaper but also stopped sending out local news releases.

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