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Rupert Murdoch’s first day at #Leveson in his own words

April 25th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Journalism, Newspapers, Politics

Rupert Murdoch’s first day of evidence to the Leveson inquiry covered a wide range of subjects, including his personal and professional interests, his thoughts on politicians and issues of newspaper ethics.

On newspaper ethics:

All of us regret that some of our colleagues fell far short of what is expected of them. I feel great personal regret that we did not respond more quickly or more effectively.

There have been abuses shown. I would say there are many other abuses but we can all go into that in time.

I don’t believe in using hacking. I don’t believe in using private detectives – it’s a lazy way of reporters not doing their job.

Reference to the infamous “It Woz the Sun Wot Won It” front page after the 92 election:

It was tasteless and wrong for us. We don’t have that sort of power.

Response to question on attacks made by the Sun on Neil Kinnock:

It was fair to attack his policies and even sometimes the way he expressed himself. I thought the Sun’s front page on the eve of the election was absolutely brilliant. We would have supported the Labour party if it had a different policy.

On his personal motivations:

I enjoy meeting our leaders, some impress me more than others and I meet them around the world. I could tell you one or two who have particularly impressed me.

If any politician wanted my opinion on major matters they only had to read editorials in the Sun.

It’s a myth that I used the supposed political power of the Sun to get preferable treatment.

If I had been interested in pure business I would have supported the Tory party in every election. They were always more pro-business.

On his relationship with politicians:

I’ve explained that politicians go out of their way to impress the people in the press. I think it’s part of the democratic process, all politicians of all sides like to have their views known by editors in the hopes their views will be put across and they will impress people. That’s the game.

On Thatcher:

I became [a great admirer] after she was elected and I remain a great admirer

On Gordon Brown:

He later, when the hacking scandal broke, made a totally outrageous statement that he had to know was wrong and he called us a criminal organisation, because he said we had hacked into his personal medical records, when he knew very well how the Sun had found out about his son, which was very sad.

On Alex Salmond:

I don’t know much about the SNP, I just find him an attractive person.

He’s an amusing guy and I enjoy his company; I enjoy listening to him.

On the BBC:

It’s a waste of time to speak to politicians about the BBC.

Prime ministers all hated the BBC and all gave it everything it wanted.

On The Hitler Diaries:

When the editor told me very excitedly that they’d bought these British rights to documents from a very reputable German publisher, he got [historian Hugh Trevor-Roper - Lord Dacre] to go to Switzerland to examine those diaries and after some hours with them he declared he thought they were genuine.

Very close to publication, people were debating it and Lord Dacre did show doubts. The majority of us thought we should go ahead. I take full responsibility for it – it was a major mistake I made and one I’ll have to live with for the rest of my life.

For more coverage, read Journalism.co.uk’s liveblog of today’s proceedings and articles on Murdoch’s regret over phone-hacking and meetings with Thatcher about The Times.

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Guido Fawkes: Lobby briefings should be televised

February 8th, 2012 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Journalism

Political blogger Paul Staines has called for parliamentary lobby briefings to be televised – and called the current system “a cartel”.

Giving evidence at the Leveson inquiry this afternoon, Staines, who runs the Guido Fawkes blog, said the current system of accreditation and access for parliamentary journalists was antiquated and “unhealthy” for transparency.

“It’s a cartel,” he told the inquiry.

The authorities in parliament won’t give you access to the parliamentary estate unless you’re on the lobby list. I have to go into parliament as a visitor. It makes it difficult for me to get access to the main players.

I don’t think it’s a very healthy system. Former chairmen of the lobby have said its antiquated.

Staines said the Westminster “lobby terms” – where journalists are briefed anonymously – meant reporters became “complicit in politicians’ lies”.

He added:

Downing Street sources normally means the journalist is in a briefing room, being fed the line. Just put it on TV.

The lobby functions like an obedience school for journalists – play the game and we’ll reward you. If you rock the boat you won’t get access.

During his appearance at at the Leveson inquiry, Staines also repeated a claim he made on his blog that Tina Weaver, editor of the Sunday Mirror, knew about and authorised phone hacking and blagging.

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mySociety publishes analysis reports on its own sites

June 15th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Non-profit, Politics

MySociety, the organisation behind some of the biggest democracy projects in the UK, has today made public two reports which it commissioned to gain greater understanding of two of its sites – TheyWorkForYou and WriteToThem.

As the site itself says: “We think transparency is a good thing for many reasons, but one of its rarely mentioned virtues is how valuable transparency can be for the people within the organisations which are transparent.”

And there have been some interesting discoveries. According to MySociety one of the reasons that both the sites were set up was to make representatives accessible to newcomers to the democratic process. So it was “heartening” to find, for example, that 60 per cent of visitors to TheyWorkForYou had never previously looked up who represents them, and two in five users of WriteToThem have never before contacted one of their political representatives, was a positive sign.

But, as you would expect with any properly neutral evaluation, it’s not all good news. Our sites aim to reach a wide range of people, but compared to the average British internet user, WriteToThem users are twice as likely to have a higher degree and a higher income. It also seems that users are disproportionately male, white, and over 35.

Find the reports here…

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Release of printed Palin emails set to kick off race for stories

The world’s media (well, some of it at least) is eagerly anticipating the release of tens of thousands of emails sent by Sarah Palin while she was governor of Alaska.

The emails, which date from her inauguration as governor in 2006 through to her selection as John McCain’s running mate for the 2008 Republican presidential campaign, will be released at 6pm today.

The release looks set to spark a race between news organisations to dig out stories (or, let’s face it, plain old gossip).

In an affront to everything modern and digital, Palin’s office will release the 24,199 emails in printed form, in six boxes. That means, of course, that journalists will have to visit the courthouse in Juneau, Alaska to collect the documents and trawl through them on paper or scan them in.

The major US nationals will be on the courthouse steps at the appointed time of course. But it looks like there will be at least one UK newspaper represented – with the Guardian’s “crack correspondents” Ewen MacAskill and Ed Pilkington due to be “holed up in a Juneau hotel room combing through thousands of Palin emails as fast as they can read”.

The Guardian will then follow its MPs expenses app model by putting the trove of documents online and asking its readers to help analyse them.

The release comes just ahead of Palin’s visit to the UK and follows her recent bus tour of the east coast of the US. She is currently refusing to be drawn on whether she intends to run for president, and it remains to be seen whether the release of these emails will shed some light on a potential bid, derail it, or reveal no new interesting information at all.

Palin’s email was hacked back in 2008, with Anonymous, the group behind pro-WikiLeaks attacks on Mastercard and Amazon, thought to be responsible.

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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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PR Week: Who’s buying breakfast, lunch, and dinner for coalition special advisers?

November 4th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Newspapers, Politics

PR Week has done some great analysis on figures released by the UK coalition government last week, which give details of hospitality received by special advisers.

According to PR Week’s report, special advisers between 13 May and 31 July received:

  • 11 breakfast, lunch or dinners paid for by the Daily Mail;
  • two lunches with journalists from the Independent;
  • no lunches with journalists from the Daily Express;
  • eight lunches with the Guardian – where all meetings were with special advisers to Clegg and Cameron;
  • 22 hospitality meetings with the BBC;
  • and 22 lunches and dinners provided by News International.

More from PR Week on the figures in this report…

The full data from the Ministry of Justice is available in this pdf.

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Washington Post buys #election hashtag for midterms

The Washington Post sponsored the Twitter hashtag #election as part of its coverage of the US midterm elections this week.

Explains Poynter:

The Post’s sponsorship of the term #Election means that it will appear at the top of the list of Trending Topics on Tuesday. When users click on that topic, one of the Post’s tweets will appear above other tweets with the #Election hashtag – giving the Post prime real estate to promote its coverage and updates.

There were rumours flying around as to how much the Post had spent on the ‘promoted tweet’ service from Twitter, but a spokeswoman for the title said it would not comment on the cost.

Chloe Sladden, Twitter’s director of media partnerships, told Poynter that this was the first time a news organisation had used Twitter in this way.

Using new Twitter, the Post also hosted a live video stream, which it called an Election Day Twittercast, on the @washingtonpost handle.

“The Post will solicit questions from Twitter users as it simultaneously airs on the platform. The Post is among the first news organisations to be able to embed live and taped video on the new Twitter platform,” a release from the Post says.

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Free Speech blog: What the UK government’s cuts mean for British journalism?

October 26th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Politics

Brian Cathcart, professor of journalism at Kingston University London, on what the UK government’s cuts and plans for university fees will mean for journalism:

Of all the professions, journalism is surely among the most vulnerable when it comes to the kind of touch cost-benefit analysis that school leavers and parents will have to do in a world of higher fees. Undeniably, the news industry is in existential crisis: yes, it offers thrilling new possibilities, but it is distinctly short on security.

In this environment, whatever Vince Cable and Nick Clegg may say, poorer students – by which I mean students who are not middle class – are more likely to back away than risk the big debts that will accompany a journalism degree.

The next generation of journalists, therefore, will probably have just the same social profile as the generation currently supplying us with news, even though the country around us will have changed.

Full article on Index on Censorship at this link…

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Nick Robinson: I regret my sign rage

October 22nd, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Broadcasting, Editors' pick, Politics

It was ‘one of the most important political stories in years’ for Nick Robinson, reporting on the government’s comprehensive spending review on the six o’clock news on Wednesday night. So when an anti-war protester continued to hold up a sign behind the BBC political editor it all became too much. Finishing his piece to camera Robinson pauses for a moment before reaching over, grabbing the sign and stamping on it.

“I’m not remotely ashamed”, he is seen saying to the person who caught the incident on camera. But following the release of the video online Robinson posted the following on his blog:

I have a confession. After the news was over, I grabbed the sign and ripped it up – apparently you can watch video of my sign rage in full glorious technicolour on the web. I lost my temper and I regret that. However, as I explained afterwards to the protesters who disrupted my broadcast, there are many opportunities to debate whether the troops should be out of Afghanistan without the need to stick a sign on a long pole and wave it in front of a camera.

I am a great believer in free speech but I also care passionately about being able to do my job reporting and analysing one of the most important political stories for years.

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Covering the cuts: how the media is reacting to the spending review

October 20th, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Online Journalism, Politics

First of all, a gauntlet, laid down by Steve Schifferes, Professor of Financial Journalism at City University London. Says Schifferes:

News coverage of the spending review and Budget has been too focused on presenting the government’s viewpoint that large and rapid reductions in public spending are both inevitable and desirable.

This example of group think has been exacerbated by the lack of an effective opposition, with Labour hobbled by its long-drawn out leadership campaign. The coverage of this spending review will be a test for the media as well as the government, in showing whether they can cut through the rhetoric and the confusing welter of figures to come up with the real story of the cuts and their effects on ordinary people.

So how are the big online news sites in the UK handling the cuts’ coverage?

Going live

BBC News Online editor Steve Herrmann says the site’s main focus will be on live coverage with two video streams: a special Andrew Neill programme and BBC Parliament.

We’ll be aiming to reflect the latest of these live entries on other parts of the site too, including the front page, to give a sense of how the detail of the story is unfolding – a technique we developed and first used for our live election coverage earlier this year. Beyond that we’ll be summarising the key elements of the story with graphics to show the extent of the cuts to various areas, and integrating our correspondents’ expert analysis throughout, all brought together on a Special Report page at www.bbc.co.uk/spendingreview

Channel 4 News will be streaming the statement from Chancellor George Osborne live on its website and offering immediate reactions from its experts via their on-site blogs. But the site is also planning a series of infographics that will be used during the speech to better explain what the cuts mean for the public.

Skynews.com will also carry a livestream of Osborne’s speech.  Shortly after there will be an interactive guide to the cuts, showing how much each department’s spending will be cut over the next four years and highlighting key spending changes by government department.

The Telegraph has a comprehensive liveblog of minute-by-minute news relating to the cuts. What’s great about this liveblog is it’s also linking out to other news coverage, as well as Telegraph.co.uk coverage elsewhere, including a DIY guide for UK households wanting to introduce their own money-saving measures.

Interactive games and putting the public in the picture

The BBC has a simple but effective video wall of short clips from members of the public explaining what they would save and cut.

Top of the graphics is the Guardian’s colourful chart of UK public spending since 1948, where you can see today’s spending as a percentage of GDP.

The BBC, Guardian and Channel 4 have all produced some interactive games allowing you to pick and choose what you would cut and see the impact that this would have on overall savings:

BBC

The Guardian

Channel 4 News

How are you covering the cuts? Let us know in the comments below.

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