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BBC Radio 4 Today: The Drum explains decision to publish Prince Harry images online

August 24th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Online Journalism

Following the Sun newspaper’s decision to print the nude images of Prince Harry today, despite a request from St James’s Palace lawyers earlier this week that they not be published, there has been widespread discussion in the media about the move.

Explaining its decision today, the Sun said “there is a clear public interest in publishing the Harry pictures, in order for the debate around them to be fully informed”.

The Sun adds that “it is absurd that in the internet age newspapers like the Sun could be stopped from publishing stories and pictures already seen by millions on the free-for-all that is the web”.

At the time of writing, the Guardian was reporting that more than 150 complaints have been made to the Press Complaints Commission, but not from the Palace’s lawyers.

A survey of 1000 UK adults today by Usurv who were asked about the Sun’s decision to publish the images, found 21 per cent agreed the photos were in the public interest, while 63 per cent did not agree with the decision.

On BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, editor of marketing and media news site The Drum Gordon Young spoke about their decision to publish the images online alongside a column discussing the fact that British newspapers had not done so, at the time. The Today programme said The Drum had “claimed to be the first UK website” to publish the photos.

What’s very interesting is this was a very logical and easy decision for The Drum. We were surprised at the controversy relative to what an easy decision it was for us.

… It was such an obvious thing to do in the context of the column and the piece, the writer was basically criticising press for not having the backbone to release the pictures in the UK so we couldn’t run that and not had the backbone ourselves to do it.

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Audio: voices of the gentlemen (and ladies) of the press

Next Friday, 8 June 2012, I am going to cycle alone and unsupported 1400km from my home town in Brighton to Oslo Norway to raise money for the Journalists’ Charity. I aim to complete the journey in 11 days.

The Journalists’ Charity used to be called the Newspaper Press Fund. In 2004, the BBC Radio 4 programme The Time of My Life visited one of its care homes and interviewed some of its former Fleet Street residents. The charity kindly lent me a cassette recording of the show and I have converted it to digital for your listening pleasure below.

I think you will agree it’s a delightful piece. And I am hoping it will finally convince you all that this is a worthwhile cause (because frankly raising money so far has been like getting blood out of a stone!)

So, if you haven’t already sponsored me, please do so here. I aim to raise £1,000 and, at the time of writing, I am just under half way with £475 with six days to go before I start.

You can also learn more about the work of the Journalists’ Charity in this video and more about my ride and route here.

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Radio 4: Max Mosley discusses press freedom and privacy

BBC Radio 4 programme On The Ropes has an interview with Max Mosley. The former F1 chief discusses his calls for new privacy laws.

He has now taken his case to the European Court of Human Rights; he wants the British government to be forced to introduce a law which would require journalists to inform people about stories featuring them, before they appear. This would allow time for an injunction to be issued, preventing publication. Journalists are against this proposal, saying it would hamper legitimate investigative journalism.

Listen to the Max Mosley interview at this link.

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James Harding: It’s too early to think about plan B

November 3rd, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Newspapers, Online Journalism

BBC Radio 4’s The Media Show today broadcast an interview with the Times’ editor James Harding following yesterday’s release of figures for the Times and Sunday Times paywalls.

When asked if there is a ‘plan B’, Harding said while it was a reasonable question, he thought it was too early to be asking it.

It’s really early days. We sold newspapers in print for 225 years, we continued to do that, we’ve sold newspapers on screen for four months. What we’ve been encouraged by is the fact that they’re selling, our customers really like them and as a result of that we as the Times are growing. I think it would be a little early for us to start thinking to ourselves about plan Bs and alternatives.

We have to keep on developing and re-developing, inventing and re-inventing what we do because the reality is that the technologies and what they can do are changing around us all the time.

Hear the show in full here…

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Radio 4: Conrad Black on a possible return to media ownership

October 28th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Editors' pick

Speaking on the phone on BBC Radio 4’s The Media Show yesterday, former Daily Telegraph owner Conrad Black, who was released from prison on bail in July, indicated that he may be interested in a return to media ownership.

Asked if he would buy newspapers if he were to return to media as an investor or owner, he answered: “not unless I was operating them myself”.

I think they have been so devalued that some of them are bargains now. Many of these great American newspapers are now in the hands of receiver managers, if they can be had for almost nothing they are a bargain.

He added that newspaper ownership would not be “a chief occupation…but it might happen”.

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BBC Radio 4 Blog: Joshua Rozenberg on photography and the law

A quick link for a lunchtime listen, if you have the time. The first episode of BBC Radio 4’s new series of Law in Action looks at photography in the law: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radio4/2010/06/photography_and_the_law.html.

As an accompaniment, check out a Radio 4 blog post by its presenter, Joshua Rozenberg, in which he describes his own near encounter with section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000. When Rozenberg and his producer (and the photographer they were following) were challenged outside a building, they chose to move away rather than risk being searched.

I have managed to reach the age of 60 without troubling the police over any more than a couple of minor motoring matters. Did I really want my name linked to anti-terrorist searches on a police computer somewhere?

Full post at this link…

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Melvyn Bragg to receive Media Society Award for 2010

February 9th, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Broadcasting, Events

Author, journalist and media personality, Melvyn Bragg, will receive the Media Society Award for 2010 to recognise his long-standing contributions to the industry.

With 20 published novels, 32 years at the helm of The South Bank Show and his present post at BBC Radio 4’s program, Our Time, under his belt – the accolade is a timely nod to Bragg’s influence across the industry.

Annually bestowed upon an individual for outstanding contributions to the media, Bragg finds himself in good company, with those in previous receipt of the award including Sir David Frost, Jon Snow, Sir Michael Parkinson and last year’s winner, Jeremy Paxman.

“Bragg’s contribution is immeasurable; his formidable journalistic skills have engaged our intellect across the broad sweep of all forms of art and culture. He is our chronicler of arts – a cornerstone of cultural programming and thought,” says president of the Media Society, Geraldine Sharpe Newton, in an announcement.

Bragg will receive his award on 3 June.

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What format for the political leaders’ TV debates?

February 8th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Broadcasting, Editors' pick, Journalism

So what format will the first televised leaders’ debates take?

The Guardian today reports that, amid lengthy negotiations, “some of the parties, notably the Liberal Democrats, have been pressing for a BBC Question Time format in which questions are not just asked by an experienced chairman, but also by the audience”.

And it sounds like the BBC host David Dimbleby would prefer something more Question Time, than his Sky News counterpart Adam Boulton.

In an interview with the Independent’s Ian Burrell, Boulton said:

Some of the print comment is seeing this as a bear pit, you will have the leaders and set the audience on them in a kind of Question Time. Certainly my vision is that it will be a very different thing from that.

The problem with those shows is that sometimes you get a common view emerging from the panel – or in the case of Nick Griffin, the panel and the question master and the audience all against one person.

Well, if we get a group thing from the three leaders it will be a disaster. The point is to get them to differentiate themselves from each other in front of the audience rather than circle the wagons against the audience.

But Dimbleby, speaking on BBC Radio 4 Front Row on 26 January, said that he’d like to see an element of Question Time, if not the “whole hog”:

[Listen to interview here]

(…) I would certainly favour – not going the whole hog of Question Time and having a kind of mixed audience asking questions – but the kind of thing you could do – I don’t say it will happen – is to divide the audience into three groups so the viewer knows exactly who they are: Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour and allow those people perhaps to put the occasional question, or applaud (…)  somehow we’ve got to get it beyond the sterility of the American debate, or people will be bored by it and it will be a pity.

Stirring things up a little more, Boulton took the opportunity during the Independent interview to criticise Dimbleby’s handling of the BNP leader’s first appearance on Question Time in 2009:

I have to say that I did feel David Dimbleby got too involved and seemed to be operating as a panellist. I think if I had been doing that I would have tried to move it along so it wasn’t 50 minutes talking about the BNP. I would have tried to have got the BNP talking about law and order, Europe, foreign affairs, whatever.

But Dimbleby, speaking on Front Row last month, defended the style:

[Once it was agreed] it then of course became complicated because if you put the BNP on, people don’t want to talk to him about the post office strike, they want to talk about race, they want to talk about immigration, his views on that. They want to talk about the connections with the Klu Klux Klan, all those things.

We realised the audience would come, as indeed they did – it was a London audience – with a whole load of questions on race so we stuck with that. I did a lot of work with the producers on chapter and verse on everything that Nick Griffin had said.

I thought we did it the right way and I think it worked well.  [The fact that] in the end something like 10 million people saw that programme – either when it went out or afterwards, is the vindication of it.

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BBC Radio 4: Sami al-Hajj on his return from Guantanamo

BBC Radio 4 has produced a programme featuring Al Jazeera journalist Sami al-Hajj who was arrested on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2001. It’s available on iPlayer for another six days and repeated on Radio 4 on Sunday (25/10).

“For more than six years he was held in the infamous Guantanamo Bay detention centre until, in 2008, he was suddenly released. In an exclusive interview, he talks to Gavin Esler about what happened to him, and why.”

Full programme at this link…

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BBC faces attack from both sides

September 17th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Broadcasting, Comment

“At a time when the government’s Digital Britain report has argued that the licence fee should be ‘top-sliced’ and shared with the BBC’s competitors, the corporation finds itself unusually short of friends and increasingly vulnerable,” George Eaton wrote on NewStatesman.com at the beginning of September, following James Murdoch’s attack on the BBC in Edinburgh.

Furthermore, ‘with a Tory party increasingly sceptical of the BBC’s size and scale on the brink of power, the corporation faces the threat of a powerful alliance between Cameron’s Conservatives and Murdoch’s News Corporation,’ he suggested.

But it’s not just the Conservatives it needs to worry about: yesterday the corporation found itself attacked again – this time by the culture secretary (and former BBC reporter) Ben Bradshaw (speech in full at this list) who said the BBC has probably reached its size limit, the licence fee could be reduced, and that the trust model might not be ‘sustainable’.

The chairman of the BBC Trust, Sir Michael Lyons is defensive of the BBC (a position criticised by Bradshaw last night: ‘I know of no other area of public life where (…) the same body is both regulator and cheerleader’) and wants to speak directly to the licence fee payers.

Last week, for example, the chairman chose to issue an ‘open letter’ (or as MediaGuardian accurately pointed out, a press release) on the BBC website with evidence of licence fee payer support for the corporation.

Asked on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning why he bypassed the government with this statement, he said:

“Well how else do I communicate with the people that I am charged by the charter with representing? I am not charged with obeying ministers, I am charged with protecting the independence of the BBC and representing the licence fee payer.”

The chairman issued this statement this morning, defending the Trust:

“The next Charter Review [of the Trust] is many years down the line [2017] and we should be judged on our performance then. In the meantime, we have been set up to be, as the then secretary of state put it in 2006, ‘the voice, eyes and ears of licence fee payers’.

“That means reshaping the BBC; defending its strength and independence; and also protecting the investment licence fee payers have made, and if that means upsetting a minister along the way, it is unfortunate but so be it.”

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