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Financial Times: Sunday version of the Sun on hold due to arrests

January 31st, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Newspapers

Sean Dempsey/PA

The Financial Times is reporting that the launch of a Sunday newspaper “to replace the News of the World” has been delayed due to the arrests of News International journalists at the weekend.

On Saturday (28 January), four current and former Sun journalists were arrested by officers working on Operation Elveden, the Met team looking into illegal payments to police.

The FT reports that a launch date of 29 April had “been set in stone”. Journalism.co.uk heard late on Friday, the day before the arrests, that the launch date had been brought forward.

The insiders said that managers of News International had decided that the adverse publicity surrounding the arrests and the suspension of the four journalists while police inquiries were going on would hamper any possible launch of a new title, which earlier reports said would be called the Sun on Sunday.

The article includes a comment from anonymous insiders, plus an interview with former chief reporter at the News of the World Neville Thurlbeck.

Mr Thurlbeck said that an internal group, the management and standards committee, set up at the direction of Rupert Murdoch to co-operate with a police investigation into phone hacking at the News of the World, had handed over so much material that it had lost control of the situation.

“The staff [of the Sun] have lost trust in their own management because they [the MSC] don’t believe that they know what is contained in the material that the police now have.”

The FT adds that News International declined to comment.

The full Financial Times article is at this link [part-paywall].

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2012 – a year of irony for the media industry?

December 29th, 2011 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Comment, Funny, Journalism

By Matt Buck, currently engaged as engraver to @tobiasgrubbe

If…

1. Rupert Murdoch revives the News of the World, but online-only.

2. Nick Davies loses his job at the Guardian, but joins the revived News of the World as part of its investigative team.

3. The Guardian poaches the “fake sheikh” Mazher Mahmood from the Sunday Times.

4. A trend develops for floundering local newspapers to be bought out by local entrepreneurs, returning control and vested interest to their communities.

5. The Leveson inquiry into the culture, practice and ethics of the UK press concludes nothing needs to be done about unethical and/or illegal media practices, as they are redundant because everyone is publicly revealing everything about themselves on social media sites like Facebook anyway.

6. Journalists are officially declared to be bloggers, thereby ending a perennial (and very tedious) debate.

7. The Guardian launches a paywall.

8. Richard Desmond, founder of Northern & Shell and owner of Express Newspapers is knighted in the New Year Honour list and becomes chair of the Press Complaints Commission (PCC).

9. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and is appointed National Security Adviser to the Obama administration.

10. Facebook buys the Daily Mail, as part of a number of strategic acquisitions of ‘accordant’ news outlets throughout the world.

Thanks to Matt Buck for permission to use his excellent cartoon.

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#news2011: ‘Public responsiblity’ of journalists under spotlight in ethics debate

November 29th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Events, Journalism

The phone-hacking scandal at the News of the World has prompted numerous debates about ethical practices in newsrooms in the UK and abroad, as well as a public inquiry in Britain and calls for a new regulatory framework in Britain.

So it was under the frame of the News of the World closure that the Global Editors Network news summit today held a session on ethical journalism.

But board member of the Stiching Democracie en Media in the Netherlands Adriaan Stoop warned that governments “feeling the need to regulate media” given “developments in technology” is a “big threat”.

The problem is if we do not decide to do it ourselves, then somebody else is going to do it and that’s the last thing you want.

Interestingly in opening the session Francois Dufour, editor-in-chief of Play Bac Presse in France had already taken a first step in the DIY approach, by proposing 10 “world journalism principles”.

These included keeping certain things separate, such as the roles of editor and publisher, journalism and advertising and facts and opinion.

Other points include double checking of facts, respecting privacy and where “people are presumed innocent it is respected”.

Other panelists also shared their ideas on good and ethical journalism and their views of best practice in the media.

Bambang Harymurti, CEO of Tempo Indonesia, and also a member of Indonesia’s press council, said the question is whether mistakes are made with “malicious intent”.

It’s very important that society has that understanding … A good journalist is not a journalist that never makes a mistake, but when they make a mistake, before anyone complains, they make a correction and tell the public.

He said that journalists should say to themselves: “When I write something I truly believe it is the truth and if later I find I made a mistake I will quickly correct it and tell the public”.

The issue of standards and ethics also moved to the online environment, with standards editor of the Associated Press Tom Kent asked to comment on the fact journalists who tweeted about the arrest of fellow reporters covering the Occupy Wall Street protests were told to stop doing so.

He said this was not considered “a competitive news situation”.

It was about the welfare of journalists. We told them to cut it out and I feel comfortable with that.

He added that when it comes to reporting generally on Twitter, the news agency has “an obligation to people who support AP” to preserve exclusives for the wire.

As for reporting online generally, the rules are “largely” the same, he said.

Do not have different standards. I think that one thing that has changed in the landscape is the existence of bloggers and they do play very important role in press coverage in lot of countries. We are very interested in helping to protect bloggers and not in providing tools that can be used against them.

Summing up, GEN consultant Aidan White said the question to be asked is:

How do we in journalism try to make sure the person producing the information, editing the information and putting it out has got a sense that they’re doing something as a part of public responsibility. That is the challenge.

As a result, he announced that GEN will launch a coalition for ethical journalism which will “bring in partners from the online industry, print, broadcast etc” and another debate on the topic has already been scheduled for GEN’s next summit in Paris next year.

He also shared the following links as useful resources on the topic of ethics and standards in journalism:

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Press Gazette: Neville Thurlbeck tells his part in ‘Jacobean revenge drama’ of hacking

Neville Thurlbeck, the former chief reporter at the News of the World, has penned a first person account of his part in the phone-hacking saga.

The eloquent Thurlbeck certainly doesn’t hold back in the dramatic stakes:

After years of sitting silently in the wings while a bloody Jacobean revenge tragedy played out on the stage, you probably wonder why I have finally decided to cast myself in a speaking role and stroll briefly onto the stage that bears the corpse of my former newspaper.

As he did in his short statement to the cameras last week, Thurlbeck backs the assertion by News International executives that the evidence was kept from them, claiming there was a “pattern of withholding information”.

Well worth a read, do so on Press Gazette here.

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Guardian: Number of possible phone hacking victims close to 5,800, say police

The number of possible phone hacking victims is now close to 5,800, the Met police have confirmed.

This is 2,000 more than previously stated by the force.

A spokesman for Scotland Yard said:

It is not possible to give a precise figure about the number of people whose phones have actually been hacked but we can confirm that as of today’s date, 3 November 2011, the current number of potentially identifiable persons who appear in the material, and who may therefore be victims, where names are noted, is 5,795. This figure is very likely to be revised in the future as a result of further analysis.

See the full story on Guardian.co.uk at this link.

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Milly Dowler phone hacking settlement reaches more than £1m, say reports

September 19th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Legal, Newspapers

It is being reported this afternoon (19 September) that the family of Milly Dowler has been offered a settlement of more than £1 million by News International in ongoing negotiations.

The Guardian is reporting that it understands News International has made an offer which has been “estimated by sources” at being more than £2 million, which includes a charity donation.

Sky News is reporting that the settlement is “likely to top £1 million”. The BBC has tweeted that News International is “close to agreeing seven-figure financial settlement”.

The company closed the News of the World following allegations that the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler was hacked while she was missing in 2002.

The lawyer Mark Lewis, who is acting for the family, had no comment. News International had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing.

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Independent: January launch ‘highly probable’ for Sun on Sunday

September 19th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

It is “highly probable” that the Sun on Sunday will launch in January, media commentator Stephen Glover predicted in the Independent today.

In his article on the rumoured new Sunday paper, Glover also explains why he thinks a Sun on Sunday makes better business sense than the News of the World, which “despite selling some 2.8 million copies a week, was barely breaking even”.

Glover argues that the Sun will need to recruit a fraction of the 160 News of the World journalists in order to “produce a seventh-day edition of the newspaper”.

If it sells at 50p (half the price of the News of the World, and cheaper than Sunday red-top rivals) it would probably be profitable with a circulation of a million. In the event, it may well sell many more copies than that.

Glover describes the axing of the News of the World and anticipated creation of the seven-day Sun as a “cynical charade” by the Murdochs.

In other words, far from being a sacrifice, shutting down the Sunday red-top and launching a seventh-day edition of The Sun carries a significant economic benefit. The Murdochs were able to represent themselves as acting decisively and almost altruistically – rather as a farmer might regretfully shoot a rabid dog that has been a cherished family pet. Now it turns out that the dog was old, unloved and expensive to keep, and there is a young puppy waiting in the wings which will be a much better proposition. The whole process has been a cynical charade.

He also argues the case against the launch of a red-top title from Associated Newspapers, publishers of the Daily Mail. After an initial boost for the Mail on Sunday, sales have now slowed, according to August circulation figures, and Glover suggests “Associated would probably be wise to stay away”.

Glover’s full post is at this link.

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‘I knew they’d never get the lid back on’: Tom Watson talks to the Guardian about phone hacking

August 3rd, 2011 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick

Labour MP Tom Watson has spoken to the Guardian’s John Harris about his part in bringing the phone-hacking scandal to light, and the mountains of paperwork and lack of sleep that followed the news that Milly Dowler’s phone had been hacked.

Despite the sleep deprivation, Watson said, there has was “a great sense of relief” as revelations tumbled out over the past month.

At some points over the last two years, I thought it might blow. But I’ve also thought that the lid could be welded back on. But when Nick Davies broke the Milly Dowler story, that was the point where I knew they’d never get the lid back on.

The full article is at this link.

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Guardian: Police files investigated and News International to lose exclusive Olympic access

The Guardian reports today (21 July), that Scotland Yard has been asked to look at “thousands of files” to investigate whether officers unlawfully obtained mobile phone-tracking data for journalists.

There were half a million requests by public authorities for communications data in the UK last year – of which almost 144,000 were demands for “traffic” data, which includes location.

In other phone-hacking related news, newspapers under the News International umbrella are to lose exclusive access to British athletes in the lead up to the Olympics next year, also according to the Guardian. This is due to the closure of the News of the World and the impact of this on the partnership contract, according to the report.

Team 2012, the Visa-backed project supporting potential British Olympians, had signed up News International as its official partner.

But Team 2012 has said in a statement, that “as a result of the closure of News of the World the contract can no longer be fulfilled as originally envisaged”.

According to the Guardian Team 2012 “is now looking for potential new media partners”.

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Phone hacking: Harbottle & Lewis authorised to respond to MPs and police questions

News Corporation has confirmed that law firm Harbottle & Lewis has been authorised to respond to questions from the Metropolitan police and select committees on the phone-hacking case.

The firm was featured in a number of questions from MPs during the culture, media and sport select committee on Tuesday, when News Corporation boss Rupert Murdoch, his son James and former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks were asked about a file of emails, said to form part of the Harbottle & Lewis review, and the contents of which were said by Brooks to “put a new light” on information in the case later on.

Giving evidence, James Murdoch, chairman of News International, said the company engaged a law firm to review a number of emails and that it offered its opinion on those.

What I do know is that the company rested on that, rested on the fact that the police told us that there was no new evidence and no reason for a new investigation, and rested on the opinion of the PCC that there was no new information and no reason to carry it further.

It was not until new evidence emerged from the civil litigations that were going on that the company immediately went to the police, restarted this, and the company has done the right thing in that respect.

Yesterday (20 July) the law firm said it was restricted from responding to some of the comments because of client confidentiality, but News Corporation’s management and standards committee (MSC) has since announced that News International has decided to authorise the law firm to answer questions from the Metropolitan police and select committees.

The MSC is authorised to co-operate fully with all relevant investigations and inquiries in the News of the World phone hacking case, police payments and all other related issues across News International, as well as conducting its own inquiries where appropriate

According to a report by the Financial Times the firm is now reviewing what can be said.

While lawmakers questioned why the e-mails Harbottle reviewed were not handed to police, the solicitors’ regulatory code says that a duty to report criminality can be overridden by client confidentiality, except where lawyers suspect that clients may go on to cause violent crime.

The law firm has not responded to a request for comment by Journalism.co.uk.

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