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Alan Rusbridger and Nick Davies to receive Media Society award

April 4th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Awards

Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, and Nick Davies, the journalist who uncovered the extent of phone hacking at the News of the World, are to be this year’s recipients of the Media Society award.

In a release, the Media Society, a charity that campaigns for freedom of expression and the encouragement of high standards in journalism, said:

The Guardian’s revelations about phone hacking at the News of the World have not only been the biggest media story of the year, but have also triggered a public debate about the practices of the press, with potentially far-reaching consequences.

Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian since the mid-1990s, has presided over the paper’s development from a broadsheet to its current Berliner format, and its embrace of online journalism. He is an eloquent defender of the importance of journalism for holding power to account.

Nick Davies, meanwhile, has demonstrated the highest qualities of persistence in his following of the biggest media stories in recent years, while his concern for the health and future of his craft is manifest: he is an outstanding advocate of the importance of good reporting as the basis for good journalism.

Last year’s Media Society award went to Michael Grade and the 2010 honour went to Melvin Bragg.

Nick Davies has been handed several awards in the past year, including the Paul Foot Award, journalist of the year at the Foreign Press Association Media Awards 2011 and the Frontline Club award.

In February it was announced that Rusbridger was to receive Harvard University’s Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism.

Rusbridger and Davies will be honoured at a Media Society dinner on 24 May.

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Election 2.0: ‘The internet is not national, it’s not local, it’s everywhere’ says Google’s DJ Collins

As reported elsewhere on Journalism.co.uk, last night we supported City University London’s ‘Will 2010 be the first new media election?’ event, hosted by the Media Society and also supported by the Media Trust.

  • Listen to Evan Davis talking to Journalism.co.uk at this link: the BBC Radio 4 Today journalist posed, rather than answered the ‘how much influence will social media hold’ question, but said both new and media forms have their merits. “What might be quite interesting is the way they interact: the way old media results get amplified through the new media and the way the old media events are interpreted through new media.” Both these events will have more resonance together than they would on their own, he said.

Finally, here’s Rupa Huq, blogger, socialist, Labour supporter talking to City University student Heather Christie (@heatherchristie) about getting carried with the “brave new world of new media”:

Catch up with the other Journalism.co.uk coverage here:

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Event: Will 2010 be the first new media election?

Tonight Journalism.co.uk is pleased to be supporting City University London’s event to mark the launch of its new political journalism MA, ‘Will 2010 be the first new media election?’ The charity the Media Trust is also partnering the event, organised by the Media Society. Chaired by the BBC’s Evan Davis, it also  features:

  • DJ Collins, Google/YouTube’s Director of Communications and Public Affairs, EMEA
  • Prof Ivor Gaber, City University London
  • Rupa Huq, blogger
  • Matthew McGregor, Blue State Digital (Obama’s social media/web advisors)
  • Nick Robinson, BBC Political Editor

For those wanting to follow by Twitter, the tag is #cityvote.

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Half-price student tickets at ‘Will We Have News for You?’ event

November 6th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Broadcasting, Training

We’re informed a few tickets are still going for next Tuesday’s ‘Will We Have News for You?’ a Media Society night at the BBC; details below:

5:00pm, Tuesday 10 November 2009, BBC TV Centre Wood Lane, W12, Full price £10; students £5

  • Nick Pollard (former head of Sky News)
  • Mary Hockaday (head of multimedia newsroom, BBC)
  • Jonathan Munro (ITN)
  • Jonathan Levy (editor, General Election Sky News )
  • Stephen Cole (presenter, Al Jazeera English[tbc])

Contact: Mutesa Sithole – mutesasithole [at] googlemail.com

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Hacks beat Flacks to knockout in Pall Mall debate

May 19th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Events, Journalism

Normally it is very sedate – the Pall Mall world of the Gentlemans’ Clubs. On Monday night it was a bare knuckle fight to the finish as the hacks took on the flacks in a Media Society/CIPR debate at the Foreign Press Association on whether this union was a marriage that would ever work. The Hacks won, for a change, persuading some of the 80 strong audience, mainly PRs, to change their mind between the beginning and the end of the session.

Both sides have been reeling since the runaway success of Nick Davies’ book ‘Flat Earth News’ and its unearthing of acres of ‘churnalism’ – PR disguised as journalism – in the press. The Hacks were ably represented by three Terracotta Tigers: Rosie Millard of the Sunday Times, Roy Greenslade of City University and the Guardian, and Maggie Brown, the distinguished media writer. Up against them Peter Luff MP, once and still a PR man, and Jo Tanner whose PR skills helped elect the Boris Johnson as Mayor of London last year.

The whole match was taking place in a rather significant setting. It was here in January 2004 on the stairs of the Foreign Press Association that Alastair Campbell announced his ‘victory’ over the BBC after his PR ‘triumph’ on the Hutton report.

Sue Macgregor, late of the BBC now of national treasure status, refereed the whole shooting match. Millard played the men from the start accusing Flacks of ‘getting in the way of the truth’ week after week after week in her Sunday Times work. She reserved her especial ire for the PR machine of Buckingham Palace, ‘a venal institution’ whose spinners ‘bamboozled the public’ on Royalty.

Peter Luff, only lightly mired in the recent MPs’ expenses scandal was having no truck with the journalist as saint. “Which journalist ever got the sack for getting it wrong?” he asked. On that current PR Disaster, Jon Stonborough, the former ‘spinner’ for Speaker Michael Martin was in the audience and was called upon to advise him. He was less than warm in his praise and less than generous in a forecast of career longevity for the embattled ‘Gorbals Mick’! [Ed - John submitted this piece this morning, timely given Martin's announcement today that he will step down]

Hacks and Flacks agreed that they were all ‘truth’ tellers and that there was an inverse relationship between the number of PRs now employed and the number of journalists unemployed. That was not a healthy sign.

Greenslade, the sage of the internet and soi-disant conscience of British journalism, was equally punchy, producing a roll call of journos killed in the last two years.

He then very effectively contrasted this with a blank sheet showing the number of PRs killed in action. The opposition was put firmly on the back foot by this low punch.

Jo Tanner pledged, as they all did, to always tell the truth (however they defined it) and delighted in recalling the story of how she had exposed Baroness Jay as not the product of an ‘ordinary grammar’ as she claimed on television but a prize product of Blackheath Girls School. Good journalism for a PR.

Maggie Brown revealed a trick of her trade – a simple device to get round the PRs who controlled access to celebrities and powerful people in the media and elsewhere. She simply ignored them and went round their backs. She cited the example of Jay Hunt, the controller of BBC One whose PR blocked her access. Maggie simply interviewed her proud Professor father instead!

It was left to a super hack Phil Harding, former Today editor and Controller of BBC editorial policy to point out the idea of a marriage between the two was a pure chimera: “We do different jobs.” We do and did. Not a marriage more a friendship of distrust.

After their defeat – smiling as always – it was simply left to the Flacks to buy the drinks for the Hacks…

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Adieu ‘Reporters’ Reporter': John Mair’s memories of Charles Wheeler

January 21st, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Broadcasting, Journalism

John Mair, television producer and associate senior lecturer in journalism at Coventry University, shares his thoughts on Charles Wheeler, the legendary BBC journalist who died in July 2008. A memorial service was held in London yesterday.

Yesterday the great and the good of British broadcasting and journalism gathered at Westminster Abbey to honour Sir Charles Wheeler ‘the reporters’ reporter’ who died, aged 85, last year.

Wheeler devoted 60 plus years to great journalism; we all have our personal and professional memories of him. Mine date back to 2004, when I was asked to produce the Media Society dinner at the Savoy Hotel to give him its award and honour him. How do you salute a God?

I’d grown up with his work from America and elsewhere, been a producer in the BBC where he was treated with huge respect, and seen and heard his work.

I can especially remember a ‘so-so’ story on Newsnight in the 1980s about cops beating up a black man in Notting Hill, which was everyday stuff then, unfortunately. It was transformed to a different plane by Wheeler reporting on it: all of a sudden it had ‘bottom’. Charles sprinkled journalistic experience and gold dust on all he touched. That ‘so-so’ became a significant story. Charles Wheeler was like that.

Back to the Savoy Dinner: Charles was modesty itself and happy to go along with whoever came along. Everybody but everybody I approached to speak readily agreed to do so: Helen Boaden, then controller of BBC Radio 4, said no problem; Steve Anderson, then controller for news and current affairs at ITV and a former Wheeler producer at Newsnight, was gagging to be on the cast list; so too the great Peter Taylor, who said he would be ‘honoured’ to be part of such an event. Charles and his work had that sort of influence with even the very best of our trade.

But the icing on the Savoy cake proved to be one Boris Johnson, then a barely known Tory MP, Spectator columnist and part-time clown. Boris is also Wheeler’s son-in-law, and his speech on the night was a tour de force. Scribbled on the back of a Savoy napkin, it had scores of hardened hacks in stitches.

Wheeler was much more measured and contrite when it was his turn: apologising to his many producers for giving them a hard time (the sign of a good reporter – one who in involved enough to get angry); radiating modesty and sheer professionalism at one and the same time. Charles Wheeler was like that – he cared about every single word and every single picture to the bitter end of the film that he was working on – and his life.

Never mind Westminster Abbey, Sir Charles Wheeler’s (Charlie Wheeler to all) work on tape and on screen is his epitaph. That will be with us all for a long, long time to come. Adieu ‘Reporters’ Reporter’. You probably have your notebook out, finding the great stories and telling them.

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Broadsheet vs Broadband: BBC’s Pete Clifton on citizen journalism

October 31st, 2008 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Events, Multimedia, Newspapers

Speaking at last night’s Media Society event, ‘Broadsheet vs Broadband’, Pete Clifton, the BBC’s head of editorial development for multimedia journalism, shared the corporation’s views on user-generated content (UGC) and citizen journalism.

According to Clifton, asking for and receiving UGC helps the Beeb understand what news items have captured the audience’s attention and what stories out there are not being covered.

“It’s gathering in insights that the audience have that we can make sense of and then making it part of our newsgathering process,” he said.

On moderating the vast amounts of images that get sent to bbc.co.uk, Clifton stressed that verifying these was an enormous and serious task. A team working on the BBC’s UGC ‘hub’ have been trained in Photoshop fakery and verifying contributors for this very purpose, he said.

“The day we just put those up without any questioning of whether that’s right or not is the day we’re in very serious trouble.

“It’s gone through all the filters that our journalism would have gone through. It’s quite labour intensive. We’ve another arm of our newsgathering operation – it can ultimately add to the richness of what we do, but we shouldn’t take it lightly.”

Providing an outlet for this UGC and navigating a path through it is all part of the site’s wider remit as a ‘guide’ to alternative views and content online, said Clifton.

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