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Vince Cable versus Rupert Murdoch – the animation!

December 27th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Multimedia, Newspapers, Politics

Another classic animation from Next Media Animation .tv, this one illustrating the Daily Telegraph’s sting operation on Liberal Democrat MP Vince Cable, who is currently the secretary of state for business innovation and skills in the UK’s Liberal Democrats/Conservatives coalition government.

Two undercover reporters from the Telegraph, posing as constituents, managed to record Cable stating in reference to Rupert Murdoch‘s attempted takeover of BSkyB: “I have declared war on Mr Murdoch and I think we are going to win.”

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Cameron’s personal photographer taken off public payroll

November 16th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Photography, Politics

David Cameron has performed something of a U-turn on the controversial employment of a personal photographer and videographer. It was announced today that Andrew Parsons and Nicky Woodhouse will now be paid from Conservative Party Funds and not from the public payroll.

Parsons was Cameron’s personal photographer during the election campaign, while Woodhouse produced the WebCameron videos for the party. Cameron defended Parsons appointment to the payroll, claiming he would work across departments.

Full story on the Evening Standard’s website at this link…

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Follow Free Speech Hustings online; kicks off 6:30pm

If like us, you can’t make it to tonight’s Free Speech Hustings at London’s Free Word Centre, you will be able to follow online.

The Libel Reform Campaign event, featuring Dominic Grieve from the Conservative party; Dr Evan Harris from the Liberal Democrats and a Labour representative (TBC), will be live-streamed online.

Questions can be sent via Twitter using the #libelreform tag, or by email to news [at] libelreform.og.

Audio will be available at this link, or below:

Watch below, or at this link.

There will also be satellite events at another London location, and in Liverpool and Nottingham. Details at this link…

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Charlie Beckett: PoliticsHome resignations – the story so far

Numerous contributors to PoliticsHome, including editor-in-chief, Andrew Rawnsley, have resigned from the news aggregator and polling website in a row over its new owner – Michael Ashcroft, the deputy chairman of the Conservative Party.

Charlie Beckett’s post on the POLIS blog tells the story so far, with some comment thrown in:

“It’s interesting because of what it says about political journalism ethics. It is also interesting because of what it implies about the profitability of quality ‘balanced’ online political media.”

Full post at this link…

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Phone hacking liveblog: Coulson and Kuttner’s evidence

Journalism.co.uk will be reporting today’s culture, media and sport select committee meeting at this post, using CoverItLive. We’ll also send out occasional updates via our event Twitter account, @journalism_live.

Background: following reports by the Guardian newspaper that there were further allegations and evidence, previously unreported, indicating that News International journalists had repeated involvement in the use of criminal methods to get stories, the House of Commons culture select committee has begun taking new evidence. Last week it heard evidence from Nick Davies, the Guardian journalist who reported the allegations, Alan Rusbridger, editor in chief of Guardian News & Media and Tim Toulmin, director of the Press Complaints Commission.

Today the committee will hear evidence from Andy Coulson, former News of the World editor (and currently director of communications for the Conservative Party), and Stuart Kuttner, former NOTW managing editor.

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Who will the PCC question at NOTW if it re-opens investigation into phone hacking?

July 9th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Journalism, Legal

Will the PCC question News of the World’s Stuart Kuttner, who yesterday stepped down as the paper’s managing director, if it re-opens the investigation into phone hacking?

[Update 10.07.09: News International said the 'departure of managing editor Stuart Kuttner has no connection whatsoever' with events referred to in a statement]

In evidence given to the House of Commons culture select committee in April, Nick Davies criticised the PCC for failing to hold the News of the World to account on charges of phone hacking:

Mr Davies: If you say to [Andy] Coulson, “Come and give evidence even though you are no longer an editor” and if he says, “No” then that is an interesting tactical failure on his part. It is not just the editor of the paper; what about the managing editor? Why not call Stuart Kuttner, the managing editor of the News of the World, who has been there for years and who has a special responsibility for contracts and money? Why not call him to give evidence? There was a real will on the part of the PCC to avoid uncovering the truth about phone hacking.”

The PCC is now looking at the case again in light of Nick Davies’ exclusive report for the Guardian and could re-open the investigation. So who will they question?

Stuart Kuttner, as Davies suggested? “Kuttner will remain at the News of the World part time to work on special projects for the tabloid, including its Sarah’s Law campaign,” the Guardian reported yesterday.

The PCC decided not to question former News of the World editor Andy Coulson (as we write, he is still the Conservative Party’s communications director) for its 2007 inquiry, citing that he was not longer ‘answerable to the PCC’.  But would they question Kuttner, in his new part-time role?

In 2007 the PCC stated in its report on subterfuge and newsgathering:

“Despite Mr Myler’s [new News of the World editor] appointment, the question arose whether the PCC should ask Mr Coulson to give an account of what had gone wrong. The PCC decided not to do so. Given that the PCC does not – and should not – have statutory powers of investigation and prosecution, there could be no question of trying to duplicate the lengthy police investigation. Furthermore, Mr Coulson was, following his resignation, no longer answerable to the PCC, whose jurisdiction covers journalists working for publications that subscribe to the self-regulatory system through the Press Standards Board of Finance.

“As a result, that part of the investigation involving the News of the World was conducted by the Director of the PCC with Mr Myler.  The Chairman of the Commission also discussed the matter on a number of occasions with the Chief Executive of News International, Mr Les Hinton.”

The PCC stated today:

“Any suggestion that further transgressions have occurred since its report was published in 2007 will be investigated without delay. In the meantime, the PCC is contacting the Guardian newspaper and the Information Commissioner for any further specific information in relation to the claims, published today about the older cases, which suggest the Commission has been misled at any stage of its inquiries into these matters.”

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Last night’s Question Time: should Will Lewis get a knighthood?

Last night’s BBC Question Time got a lot of people talking, not least in regards to the heckling of MP Margaret Beckett. The Twitter comments were interesting to follow too, some of which Paul Canning has reproduced here on his blog

But here was the other story, as reported on the main Journalism.co.uk site: The Telegraph’s assistant editor, Benedict Brogan, on his newspaper’s handling of MPs’ expenses case. It started with a question from the audience: should the Daily Telegraph’s editor, Will Lewis, get a knighthood?

Is it surprising that 25 journalists have been working on the story? Was it a courageous act by the Telegraph to publish? Should they be forced to disclose details about how they obtained information?

Here is a transcript with a few of the repetitions removed for clarity:

George Park, member of audience:

“Should the editor of the Daily Telegraph be knighted for services to journalism and the British electorate?”

[Presenter David Dimbleby asks Beckett if she approves of Telegraph's publication of the information]

Margaret Beckett, MP:

“I think I’m going to find myself on dodgy territory, again. Because one of the things that is not quite clear about this riveting story is exactly what the Telegraph has done.

“And one of the things that I think is causing considerable anxiety. Well, I know, because every member of Parliament, yesterday, was sent a formal letter from the fees office to tell us that the information which is now circulating, which it would appear the Telegraph has perhaps bought, I don’t know, contains not only details of the personal financial circumstances, account numbers, credit card numbers of every MP but also of all of our staff (…) Our staff, who are merely employees of members, whose details were all on file, of course, because they are paid through the fees office; they’re paid on their contract and all of that has been stolen, and that, I think, is not a good thing.

“I’m not suggesting the editor of the Telegraph stole it, but what I am saying is it would appear he is profiting from someone else’s theft.”

David Dimbleby, presenter:

“If he didn’t steal it, he might be accused by you of being a receiver of stolen goods, which is almost as bad, isn’t it?”

Margaret Beckett:

“Well, I’m no lawyer, ask the lawyer.”

David Dimbleby:

“Well ask Ben Brogan: is it theft to have all this information that was going to be published by the House of Commons, on a disc? In your offices? Is it theft?”

Benedict Brogan, assistant editor, the Telegraph:

“You can speculate as much as you like…”

David Dimbleby:

“Well, it doesn’t just land… It doesn’t fly through the sky and land. Someone comes along to you with a little disc and says ‘here you are do you want this?’ and you say yes. and presumably you pay for it?”

Benedict Brogan:

“David, you’ve been a journalist for even longer than I have and the fact is the first rule of journalism – you don’t discuss your sources, or how you got things.

“The fact is that the Telegraph has been working on this story for weeks: we’ve got 25 journalists working on it, lawyers, all sorts of experts looking at it, and I can assure you that a newspaper like the Telegraph, which is a serious newspaper, has not entered into this exercise lightly.

“The things we satisfied ourselves about, were one, that the information is genuine; and two, that it is in the public interest that we publish it.

“The fact is that if the Telegraph hadn’t published, it hadn’t taken what I would describe as fairly courageous action to put this out into the public domain (…)”

David Dimbleby:

“Why’s it courageous? Your circulation has gone up. You’ve had a story a day for seven days and from what one gathers another one tomorrow. And more the days after. What’s courageous about it?”

Benedict Brogan:

“You only have to look at the reaction of the political classes, and the hostility expressed towards the Telegraph to suggest that (…)”

David Dimbleby:

“Are you scared of the political class? What’s so brave about it? I don’t understand.”

Benedict Brogan:

“Not at all. When you heard that people were prepared to contemplate the possibility of legal action to prevent the Telegraph from publishing – this is something we had to consider. The fact is we considered it and we pressed ahead, and as a result the electorate, the British public,  are aware of something the MP’s did not want released and now people can see it for themselves and draw their own conclusions about their MPs.”

David Dimbleby:

“Ming Campbell, you’re a lawyer…”

Ming Campbell, MP:

“It used to be that the editor of the Daily Telegraph did get a knighthood because in those days it was essentially the house magazine of the Conservative party (…) Those days have long gone.

“I’m rather more sympathetic to Ben Brogan than you might expect, for this reason: just a little while ago in the House of Commons we had an incident involving Mr Damian Green. And what was Mr Damian Green doing? He was leaking information which had been supplied to him… And what seems to me to be very difficult is to take a high and mighty moral attitude about the leak of this information.

“What I do think though, and I understand why Ben Brogan might like to protect his sources, is that perhaps to demonstrate the commercial ability of the Daily Telegraph, and its auditor! Its editor! Freudian slip there you may have noticed (…) tell us precisely how much they paid.”

Benedict Brogan:

“As I said earlier, the key thing earlier is to not discuss sources, so I’m not going to get into that. You may try but I’m not going to get into that.”

Ming Campbell:

“Transparency, transparency, transparency!”

David Dimbleby:

“Do you know the answer for the question I’m asking you, even if you won’t give it?”

Benedict Brogan:

“I probably shouldn’t even tell you if I know the answer (…)  the politicians can try to distract us from the matter at hand by talking about the processes as to how the Telegraph got hold of it (…) what is important is what we now know about our MPs (…)”

David Dimbleby:

“The lady [up there] made a point that the newspapers had some responsibility to report positive things as well as negative things (…) What do you make of that?”

Steve Easterbrook, CEO of McDonald’s UK:

“I don’t hand out many knighthoods… To me there are aspects of cheque book journalism, if that’s what it is, which are pretty unsavoury and pretty sordid, particularly when they’re invasive and they disrupt people people’s lives and I certainly don’t approve of that. But on this case I am pretty comfortable that this is in the public’s best interest. Or in the tax payers’ best interest, to be honest with you.

“But it does require balance: I think we’d all like to see some good news, some balance put to this  (…)  How many MPs out there do play the game straight, give us hope and can give us some positive belief?

“(…) Perhaps we [the panel] haven’t gauged the mood of the country. I spend a lot of time in restaurants, that’s my job, chatting to staff, chatting to customers.

“Not one of them has ever made the comment ‘wasn’t the newspaper wrong to print it’. All the conversations is about the actual detail of course, and we shouldn’t fly against the mood of the country on this one.”

Member of the audience:

“I think the Daily Telegraph have actually done a very good job; they’ve made something transparent that should have already been transparent, and that’s what our money’s been spent on.”

George Park, member of the audience:

“Surely the main reason why the Telegraph had to do this, was because the Speaker, and people like him, were trying to suppress this information. And it gave the Telegraph so much credibility because of all of these people were dragged screaming and kicking to make all this information known…”

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Reuters.co.uk: Put your questions to David Cameron via Twitter now

Reuters is hosting an interview with David Cameron via Twitter. This morning (Monday), from 10am, the Conservative party leader David Cameron is talking about the economy and the credit crunch at Thomson Reuters’ Canary Wharf office and his speech will be followed by a question and answer session. Users of Twitter can use the tag #askDC to put questions to Cameron, and Reuters will monitor all the responses. The questions are already coming in. The Reuters Newsmaker can be used to track all proceedings.

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Cameron calls for restraints on BBC’s commercial operations, supports local media

At the Annual Newspaper Conference Lunch on Tuesday David Cameron, leader of the Conservative party was quick to criticise the ‘crushing’ power of the BBC.

The comments were made at the annual Newspaper Conference lunch, reported on the Newspaper Society’s website.

Addressing members of the Newspaper Conference, a body administrated by the Newspaper Society, made up of 20 regional press journalists and based in Westminster, Cameron insisted further restraints should be put on the BBC’s commercial operations.

“They [the BBC] have got to bear in mind that when they enter new markets, they are often in danger of crushing with the great big foot of the BBC enterprise, entrepreneurship and risk and capital that other organisations have put into those areas,” he said.

“Things like what they have been doing in education, some of the things they’ve been doing [sic] online, their plans for video on demand, and some of what they’ve been doing in competition with local newspapers, those are the things where they should be restrained,” said the Conservative leader

The BBC’s regulatory body, the BBC Trust also came under fire:

“I’d also like to see them [the BBC] regulated more in the way of other commercial television companies. I know the BBC Trust is an improvement on the old form of government but to me independent regulation has got to be independent.

“I still don’t really understand how you can partly be regulated by the BBC Trust, which is you, and partly by Ofcom. It doesn’t make sense.”

Speaking to the Newspaper Conference members, Cameron praised regional newspapers referring to them as being ‘valuable in terms of the health of a combative democracy’.

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BBC’s Nick Robinson admits he toed government line on Iraq too strongly

October 9th, 2008 | 3 Comments | Posted by in Events

Yesterday saw the BBC’s economic editor Robert Peston taken to task for his influence on the UK’s economy and his cosy relationship with the government:

The Guardian’s Matthew Weaver is worried that his blog might have too much influence, and the Daily Mash joked that Peston had reached a state of transcendence.

Meanwhile the House of Lords Communications Committee asked a panel of leading political journalists if they thought Peston was setting the reporting agenda.

Another BBC editor whose influence has been much discussed is the corporation’s political editor, Nick Robinson, who last night admitted he had toed the government line too strongly during his reportage of the Iraq War, and admitted that he didn’t ‘do enough’ to seek out dissenting views.

Participating in a debate entitled ‘Political campaigners and reporters: partners in democracy or rats in a sack?’ at City University, Robinson said: “The biggest self criticism I have was I got too close to government in the reporting of the Iraq war.

“I didn’t do enough to go away and say ‘well hold on, what about the other side?’

“It is the one moment in my recent career where I have thought I didn’t push hard enough, I didn’t question enough and I should have been more careful,” he said.

“I don’t think the government did set out to lie about weapons of mass destruction. I do think they systematically and cumulatively misled people. What’s the distinction?

“It was clear to me that Alastair Campbell knew how what he was saying was being reported, knew that that was a long way from the truth and was content for it so to be,” Robinson said.

“They knew it was wrong, they wanted it to be wrong – they haven’t actually lied.”

Politicians ‘actively want to avoid a debate the public wants to have’, he said.

For example, he said, Labour was reluctant to debate the implications of a single European currency.

“[The government] wanted to limit the debate to being the five tests. It wanted to avoid divisions, it simply did not want to enter a political debate,” he said.

The Conservative Party are now doing the ‘exact same thing’, Robinson said.

“They don’t want a debate on whether they will tear up the Lisbon EU treaty, they don’t really want a debate about if they will put taxes up or down, or in what way.

“These are active decisions by politicians to keep you ill-informed, and it is our job as journalists to try to fight against that.”

It isn’t the job of a journalist to ‘pick a constant fight with people in power’, he said.

“I don’t see it as a badge of pride to have endless arguments with politicians, although with Peter Mandelson they usually are.”

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