Browse > Home /

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.

Tags: , , , ,

Similar posts:

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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Similar posts:

Cutline: Nick Davies to join Guardian US operation

August 10th, 2011 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers, Online Journalism

Nick Davies addresses a parliamentary select committee on phone hacking. Image: PA

Guardian investigative journalist Nick Davies, the driving force behind the recent phone hacking revelations, is to join the paper’s fledgling US operation, Yahoo’s Cutline blog reports.

Davies has been in the US for the past week or so, ostensibly to work on the US dimension of the phone hacking scandal. Earlier this month, the FBI launched an investigation into allegations that the mobile phones of 9/11 victims had been hacked by people working for News Corp.

Davies told the Cutline blog:

“The Guardian have asked me to join a group of journalists who they are sending from London to the U.S. to increase our coverage of U.S. stories. So, apart from looking at the hacking story here, the other purpose of the trip is to make decisions about exactly where I would be based if I were to come here. I’m still exploring that, too.”

“My job here would be to do investigations,” he added.

The Guardian announced the new US operation in April, naming former guardian.co.uk editor Janine Gibson as its editor. It coincides with the Guardian’s shift towards a new “digital first” strategy. According to the Guardian it has an online audience of around eight million unique users in the US, based on statistics from Comscore for February 2011. Recent reports from the Audit Bureau of Circulations suggest that 60 per cent of traffic to the Guardian site is from outside the UK.

Full story on the Cutline blog at this link.

 

Tags: , , ,

Similar posts:

Greenslade: Phone hacking book deals already signed

The Guardian’s Roy Greenslade reports today that book deals relating to the phone-hacking scandal have already been signed.

This includes one for Guardian journalist Nick Davies, of which is said to be “provisionally” titled Hack Attack.

It’s scheduled for release in autumn next year. So it looks as though Labour MP Tom Watson will get in first because his tome, for Penguin Press, is due to be published before the end of this year. It is being co-written with Martin Hickman of the Independent, a former journalist of the year.

Greenslade adds that “there is not the least sense of competition or animosity between Davies and Watson”, with the story big enough for the two of them, if not more.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Similar posts:

Alan Rusbridger on Coulson resignation: ‘This is not the end of the story’

Editor in chief of Guardian News & Media Alan Rusbridger released a statement today following the resignation of former News of the World editor Andy Coulson from his position as director of communications for Downing Street.

Coulson said in his resignation statement the “continued coverage” of the phone-hacking scandal at the News of the World made it difficult for him to give the “110 per cent” needed for the job.

Rusbridger credited Coulson’s resignation to the work of Guardian reporter Nick Davies:

From the moment he revealed the secret pay-out to Gordon Taylor in July 2009 it was obvious that Andy Coulson’s position was untenable. But this is not the end of the story by any means. There are many outstanding legal actions, and uncomfortable questions for others, including the police.”

Tags: , , , ,

Similar posts:

‘We do want journalists to break the rules’, says former prosecutions chief

October 6th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Events, Press freedom and ethics

Society needs journalists who are prepared to break the law in order to serve the public interest, argued the former director of public prosecutions Sir Ken Macdonald last night.

Speaking at a debate at City University on the the News of the World phone-hacking case and the lengths to which reporters can go to get information, MacDonald said: “There are bound to be cases where journalists will want to break the law, and for good reason (…) We do want journalists to break the rules.”

Macdonald did not condone the phone-hacking at NotW, and stressed that it was only under certain public interest circumstances that journalists might be forgiven for breaking the law.

He was joined by key players in the phone hacking scandal: Nick Davies of the Guardian, ex-News of the World journalist Paul McMullan and defamation lawyer Mark Lewis, as well as Max Mosley, Roy Greenslade and libel barrister Caldecott QC.

Mark Lewis, who is currently suing the Metropolitan Police and the Press Complaints Commission for libel, echoed Macdonald, saying that in certain circumstances illegal activity is acceptable.

“If you know something is of public interest then you can use certain methods to corroborate it,” he said. However, he stressed that these methods should not be used to obtain a story.

Macdonald also cautioned against increasing privacy laws, warning it could create a “contagion of caution” among newspapers, and pointed out that a culture of deference has developed in France due to its strict privacy rules.

However, Macdonald conceded that it is nearly impossible to define what is and isn’t in the public interest.

As former Daily Miror editor and journalism professor Greenslade pointed out, “the public interest for the Guardian’s audience is very different to the public interest of the News of the World readers.

“There is no easy way of drafting a public interest definition that would give journalists clear guidance on what they should and shouldn’t publish.”

More from Journalism.co.uk:

Former News of the World journalist defends phone-hacking at lively debate

PCC claimes it did respond to Dispatches with phone-hacking statement

Phone-hacking on Dispatches: a good documentary but not enough new evidence

Tags: , , , , ,

Similar posts:

Former News of the World journalist defends phone-hacking at lively debate

The News of the World phone-hacking scandal was once again in the spotlight last night, this time at City University where reporters, lawyers, a former tabloid editor and a victim of the NotW’s close attention gathered to debate the question: “How far should a reporter go? The lessons of the News of the World phone-hacking story.”

Former News of the World deputy features editor Paul McMullan spoke largely in defence of the newspaper and its practices, revealing that he had been contacted three times by the Metropolitan police following his recent admission of illegally obtaining information while at the newspaper.

McMullan is one of a string of former NotW staff to confess to phone-hacking, both on the record and anonymously, and allege that the practice was widespread at the newspaper. He admitted last night that he had illegally hacked voicemail accounts, bank accounts and medical records for an investigation into cocaine smuggling.

Appearing alongside McMullan were: former Daily Mirror editor Roy Greenslade, who elected to speak on behalf of the NotW in the absence of a senior figure from the newspaper; former director of public prosecutions Sir Ken Macdonald; Guardian reporter Nick Davies, who broke the story initially and has reported on it extensively; former head of the FIA Max Mosley, who won record damages of 60,000 from the newspaper in a privacy action, and defamation lawyer Mark Lewis, who has represented many of those claiming damages from the NotW after the scandal. The debate was chaired by Andrew Caldecott QC.

Guardian reporter Nick Davies began by apologising to the NotW for “saying some beastly things about it” and said they were unlucky to get caught out in an industry-wide practice

I should start off by apologising to the NotW, in a way I feel sorry for them. It’s sheer fluke and bad luck that that particular newspaper is the subject of all this attention. It’s just because one journalist Clive Goodman got caught hacking the voicemail not of an ordinary punter but of the royal family. All of us with our headlights on know very well that this illegal activity was going on in most Fleet Street newsrooms.

Davies even drew attention to the naming of the Guardian’s sister paper the Observer by the Information Commissioner’s report on obtaining of phone records. But despite his apologies he was unequivocal in his distaste for the phone-hackers: “I’ve had enough. Even though I’m a reporter I want a law to protect me from these creatures. These people have no business in our phone calls, they have no business in our bedrooms.”

Davies did however speak out in support of a law which would give reporters additional powers to hack into telephones and voicemail accounts where there was a demonstrable public interest.

What we’ll discover as we go through this evening is that a lot will cluster around two simple words, ‘public interest’ (…) I would go so far as to say I would like to see a change in the law to allow journalists to intercept voicemail messages if it’s in the public interest. The huge problem is that nobody knows where the boundaries of that concept are.

Well, as Roy Greenslade pointed out in his terrifically acted (if somewhat comical) turn defending the NotW, “What is the public interest to the Guardian and the Observer is very different when you reach the celebrity agenda of the Sun and the NotW.”

Paul McMullan clearly has a very different concept of public interest to Nick Davies and especially to Max Mosley, with whom he repeatedly clashed. McMullan said, in answer to “How far should a reporter go?” that “if you want to get ahead in journalism you have to go as far as you possibly can, there is no limit”.

I think privacy is the thing we really have to fight against, privacy is the place where we do bad things. We hide our misdemeanors embarassments and things we wouldn’t want to have to tell our wives and children we were up to and then we say privacy, it’s my private life, I can break my marital contract, I can have a completely false public perception when actually, I’m a grubby little sinner.

Mosley, on the other hand, is clearly more of a fan of the French way of doing things. He claimed throughout that the private lives of public figures have no bearing on their public life, dismissing McMullan’s notion that there was a legitimate public interest in reavealing the private actions of those who presented themselves as family men, or who were said to be role models.

…there is this mad argument ‘oh we should expose Tiger Woods or Mr [John] Terry because they tell the world they are great family men and they’re not. This is the idea that people go to watch John Terry play football or Tiger Woods pay golf, and they say to themselves ‘why am I going to see him, oh because he’s a wonderful family man’. It’s so absurd.

Mosley was very firm in his belief that jounalists should not be able to get away with breaking the law because they decide it serves the public interest. Defamation lawyer Mark Lewis pointed out that if the police want to tap somebody’s phone they have to approach the home secretary first for permission, with prima facie evidence, and not just go on a “fishing expedition” if they so decide.

Sir Ken Macdonald, former director of public prosecutions, countered that their argument was “too simplistic”, arguing that without journalists bending, or perhaps breaking the law, a huge number of important public interest stories would not have been published. Macdonald also expressed concern about allowing public figures to live “entirely parallel lives”, which he said could lead journalists to “an attitude of deference to those in power and to cultural elites”.

His comment prompted an audience member to ask whether a hypothetical story about David Cameron being caught with call girls had legitimate public interest. Given what this information would tell us about the judgement of the country’s prime minister in opening himself up to bribery and coercion, Nick Davies was surprisingly unsure whether he thought this constituted public interest.

Repeatedly mentioned of course was Cameron’s director of communications and former NotW editor Andy Coulson. Last night’s Dispatches documentary featured a former senior NotW journalist claiming, anonymously, that the former editor had listened to hacked voicemail messages. Coulson has continually denied any knowledge of phone-hacking, despite recent accusations in the New York Times that he sanctioned the practice. Roy Greenslade, in his role as the newspaper’s defender, sounded quite convinced in his support of Coulson, inparticular Coulson’s claim that he wouldn’t neccessarily have known or even asked about the provenance of stories. According to Greenslade:

Editors don’t have to know every intimate detail on this occasion I don’t think he did (…) A lot of people here will say ‘of course he knew’, but it seems perfectly feasible to me that you don’t neccessarily know every detail about the methodology.

The panelists debated various possible ways of negotiating the difficult terrain between freedom of the press and privacy, with Max Mosley calling for the law to require prior notification on issues which the subject of the story might not want publicised. Mosley’s strict position was largely dismissed by the journalists present, who saw the extent to which it could compromise a free press. Nick Davies suggested a variation on the idea, in which editors could approach a “council of wise men” who (quite who was never clarified) could arbitrate and advise on publication, with their recommendation taken in to account if the editor was challenged post-publication.

The risk all these possible regulatory measures pose to freedom of the press was articulated of course, leaving the panel not much closer to a workable solution to the problem by the end. But it was a spirited debate which generated decent conversation about some of the issues at the heart of the phone-hacking scandal and well-demonstrated the difficulty of satisfying both the need for freedom of the press and the need for privacy.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Similar posts:

Nick Davies: Data, crowdsourcing and the ‘immeasurable confusion’ around Julian Assange

September 24th, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Data, Events

Investigative journalist Nick Davies chipped in with his thoughts on crowdsourcing data analysis by news organisations at this week’s Frontline Club event. (You can listen to a podcast featuring the panellists at this link)

For Davies, who brokered the Guardian’s involvement in the WikiLeaks Afghanistan War Logs, such stories suggest that asking readers to trawl through data for stories doesn’t work:

I haven’t seen any significant analysis of that raw material (…) There were all sorts of angles that we never got to because there was such much of it. For example, there was a category of material that was recorded by the US military as being likely to create negative publicity. You would think somebody would search all those entries and put them together and compare them with what actually was put out in press releases.

I haven’t seen anyone do anything about the treatment of detainees, which is recorded in there.

We got six or seven good thematic stories out of it. I would think there are dozens of others there. There’s some kind of flaw in the theory that crowdsourcing is a realistic way of converting data into information and stories, because it doesn’t seem to be happening.

And Davies had the following to say about WikiLeaks head Julian Assange:

We warned him that he must not put this material unredacted onto the WikiLeaks website because it was highly likely to get people killed. And he never really got his head around that. But at the last moment he did a kind of word search through these 92,00 documents looking for words like source or human intelligence and withdrew 15,000 docs that had those kind of words in. it’s a very inefficient way of making those documents safe and I’m worried about what’s been put up on there.

He then kind of presented the withholding these 15,000 documents as some kind of super-secret, but it’s already been released (…) The amount of confusion around Julian is just immeasurable. In general terms you could say he’s got other kinds of material coming through WikiLeaks and there’s all sorts of possibilities about who might be get involved in processing it. Personally I feel much happier pursuing the phone hacking, which is a relatively clean story that Julian’s not involved in.

Tags: , , , ,

Similar posts:

The police’s “narrow” approach to phone hacking: not a crime if message had been listened to first

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger raised what he said was a little known fact about phone hacking evidence, in yesterday’s press regulation debate in the House of Lords.

He had been told by Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Yates, he said, that the police only considered the interception of phone messages an offence if they hadn’t been listened to.

Once messages were stored after they were listened to by the recipient, subsequent access by a third party was not considered a criminal offence. The public should be aware of the “narrow definition” of phone hacking, the Guardian editor warned.

As reported in last week’s Culture, Media and Sport select committee report:

“The police also told us that under Section 1 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) it is only a criminal offence to access someone’s voicemail message if they have not already listened to it themselves. This means that to prove a criminal offence has taken place it has to be proved that the intended recipient had not already listened to the message. This means that the hacking of messages that have already been opened is not a criminal offence and the only action the victim can take is to pursue a breach of privacy, which we find a strange position in law.”

The committee recommended that “Section 1 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act is amended to cover all hacking of phone messages”.

“Narrow definition” line is a “convenient PR shelter for Scotland Yard”, argues Davies

The Guardian’s evidence of widespread phone hacking attempts contradicted police reports that only a ‘handful’ of victims had been targeted, so Scotland Yard is trying to “justify its position” by raising the narrow legal definition of the criminal offence, Guardian journalist Nick Davies told Journalism.co.uk.

Davies also challenges the legality of any kind of phone hacking:

“The narrow legal definition is highly contentious. The idea is that it is illegal to listen to somebody’s voicemail only if they have not themselves already heard it. This not written in the law at all; it was clearly not parliament’s intention. It’s an interpretation – not one that has been tested and accepted by a court, simply something that was said during a legal conference at the Crown Prosecution Service while the police were investigating the original case.

“It was said by David Perry, Crown counsel in the case, but he didn’t even produce a written opinion and never mentioned it in court when [Clive] Goodman and [Glenn] Mulcaire came up.” A future court may or may not agree with this definition, Davies added. “At the moment, however, it is a convenient PR shelter for Scotland Yard who are embarrassed by their handling of the case.”

Satchwell claims phone hacking case has ‘grey areas’; challenges Guardian’s proof

The liveliest part of yesterday’s House of Lords debate came when executive director of the Society of Editors, Bob Satchwell, challenged some of the Guardian’s claims and insisted there were “grey areas” in the case.

Journalist Nick Davies vehemently disagrees: the black and white is there, he later told Journalism.co.uk, but newspapers and the Press Complaints Commission don’t want to see it.

“Satchwell says editors don’t know the truth about all the material confiscated by the Information Commissioner’s Office from [private investigator] Steve Whittamore in March 2003 because the ICO didn’t investigate it. That isn’t correct.

“The ICO analysed all the material and produced spreadsheets – one for each newspaper organisation – and the spreadsheets lists all of the journalists who asked Whittamore to find confidential information, all of the targets, all of the information requested, how it was obtained, how much was paid.

“The ICO and police worked together to prepare three court cases: one led to four convictions, the other two collapsed for technical reasons. You really can’t say that there wasn’t an investigation. Furthermore, when the new information commissioner, Christopher Graham, gave evidence to the media select committee, he said he would not publish the spreadsheets, but he clearly indicated his willingness to talk to any editor who got in touch in search of detail.”

No editor has asked for extra information from ICO
“I checked last week with the ICO as to how many editors had now got in touch to ask which of their journalists are named in the spreadsheets and also to ask whether the PCC had approached them and asked for information,” said Davies.

“The answer was that no editor and nobody from the PCC had asked.” Furthermore, Davies said, he had written detailed stories about the contents of the spreadsheets.

“So, if editors are still in a grey area on all this, it’s because they refuse to look at the facts in black and white, even though the facts are there for them.”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Similar posts:

MediaGuardian: Phone records suggest 100 accounts hacked by NOTW

February 2nd, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

Three phone companies – Orange, O2 and Vodafone – have discovered that more than 100 customers had their mobile phone voicemail accounts hacked by Glenn Mulcaire and Clive Goodman, the private investigator and the journalist who are the focus of allegations of phone hacking at the News of the World.

The News of the World and Press Complaints Commission (PCC) have both previously suggested that only a handful of individuals were affected by the phone hacking.

Full story at this link…

Tags: , ,

Similar posts:

© Mousetrap Media Ltd. Theme: modified version of Statement