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Scott Trust chair calls for bylined leader articles

February 22nd, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Journalism, Newspapers

Dame Liz Forgan, chair of the Scott Trust – the body that owns Guardian Media Group – believes that newspaper leader columns should be bylined.

“I have always thought leaders should be signed,” Forgan, a former leader writer herself, said in a video interview with Editorial Intelligence. “I think that it is a very curious convention that leaders are unsigned. If they were all written by the editor that would be understandable. But they’re not: they’re written by a group of people who are professional leader writers, usually.”

She nearly persuaded the Independent’s founding editor Andreas Whittam Smith to break the trend with his new paper, she said: “I nearly won the argument but he chickened out in the end.”

Watch the clip here:

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Journalism Daily: Custodial sentences for data breaches proposed, ONA awards finalists announced

September 2nd, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Journalism Daily

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Update: Internal memo says Observer closure ‘actively being considered’

August 3rd, 2009 | 3 Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

In an update to this weekend’s reports about a possible change of format for Guardian News & Media Sunday title the Observer, Times Online is reporting on an internal memo from Carolyn McCall, chief executive of Guardian Media Group, suggesting the closure of the title is ‘actively being considered’.

The memo also reminded staff that the ‘core purpose’ of the Scott Trust, which safeguards the future of sister title The Guardian, was to secure the daily’s long-term future – not that of the Observer.

Full post at this link…

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MediaGuardian: Anthony Salz appointed to Scott Trust

May 29th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Journalism

“The former BBC vice-chairman Anthony Salz has been appointed to the Scott Trust, owner of Guardian Media Group,” reports MediaGuardian. Salz, executive vice-chairman of the investment bank Rothschild, and also chair of the Media Standards Trust, will become one of ten directors for the trust.

Full story at this link…

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What would a UK-based ProPublica look like?

April 6th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Journalism, Online Journalism

In today’s MediaGuardian, City University of New York (CUNY) journalism professor Jeff Jarvis writes that that foundations will not take over newspapers, à la Scott Trust / Guardian relationship. He told Journalism.co.uk: “It is an empty hope for white knights to save news from inevitable change and business reality. But he says: “We’ll see foundation and public support able to fund a decent number of investigations.”

Yesterday, Journalism.co.uk published comments from New York University (NYU) professor, Jay Rosen, and ProPublica’s managing editor, Stephen Engelberg, as well as from Jarvis in a feature looking at the sustainability of ‘lump sum’ funded journalism – they all said that the point was not to look at ‘one solution’ but at a hybrid of funding opportunities (an issue picked up by Julie Starr here.)

US-based ProPublica, funded by the Sandler Foundation, for example, employs full-time journalists to conduct investigations which are then supplied to other media bodies. Journalism.co.uk raised the point with some of the NYJournalism interviewees (fuller features forthcoming) that similar foundation funding is a bit trickier to come by in the UK: just what would a UK version of ProPublica look like and could it be funded?

Would the equivalent of ProPublica work over here? Or, for that matter, something in the mould of Spot.Us, New America Media, the Huffington Post Investigative Fund, or the Center for Public Integrity?

Last week the Guardian’s Stephen Moss mentioned Paul Bradshaw’s new project, HelpMeInvestigate.com in his giant G2 feature on the troubled regional newspaper industry. It’s a proposal not quite on the scale of ProPublica, which has an annual operating budget of $10 million, and it’s seen success so far, making it to third stage of the (American) Knight News Challenge 2009 and it awaits news of further progress.

How about existing organisations in the UK? There’s the Centre for Investigative Journalism with its annual summer school, but it doesn’t run and supply investigations in the way ProPublica does. There’s MySociety which can help journalists with stories, but is not designed as a primarily journalistic venture.

Author of Flat Earth News, Nick Davies, has previously told the Press Gazette (which has just announced its last issue) about his idea of models of ‘mini-media’.

“It may be that we are looking at funding mini-media or a foundation that will give money to groups of journalists if they can pass the quality threshold,” Davies said at an National Union of Journalists (NUJ) event in January, as Press Gazette reported.

“The greatest question in journalism today is what will be our ‘third source’ of funding,” Davies told Journalism.co.uk last week.

“If advertising and circulation can no longer pay for our editorial operation, we have to find this third source.

“I suspect that place by place and case by case, the answer to the question will be different, a matter of wrapping up whatever package of cash is possible, using donations or grants or sponsorship or micropayments from foundations, rich individuals, local councils, businesses, NGOs, universities – anybody who can understand that the collapse of newspapers is not just about journalists losing their jobs but about everybody losing an essential source of information.

“And in an ideal world, central government would lead the way by setting up a New Media Fund to provide seed money to help these non-profit mini-media to establish themselves and to find their particular third source.”

So could a third source-funded model work? And what shape would it take? It’s a question Journalism.co.uk will continue to ask. Please share your thoughts below.

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Announcement of pay cut for Rusbridger and no bonus for McCall following NUJ comments

The Guardian News & Media (GNM) editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger, has made his ten per cent pay cut public, following public comments by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) about Guardian executive bonus payments at a time when cuts are being made at regional newspapers within the Guardian Media Group (GMG).

Earlier this week the NUJ published a full page advert in the Guardian which said there were “devastating staff cuts to service the ongoing expansion of the Guardian – which is losing many millions but still paying executive bonuses.”

An article published today on MediaGuardian.co.uk reports that Rusbridger is not part of the GMG bonus scheme and had last year informed the Scott Trust, owners of GNM’s parent company GMG, of his plans to take a pay cut.

The article states that Carolyn McCall, chief executive of GMG, had told the company’s remuneration committee in January that she would not take a bonus for the 2008-9 year.

“”Ordinarily such information would only be made public when GMG’s annual report is published in the summer. However, as the group’s two most senior executives, and in light of recent comments by the NUJ, they felt it was appropriate to inform the [union] chapels,” a GMG spokesman said.”

As part of the pay freeze announcement in February GMG said that it would not pay financial performance bonuses for the financial year 2008-2009, ‘which form the larger part of overall bonuses,’ it continues.

“But its remuneration committee – which consists of independent directors and the chair of the Scott Trust – decided that bonuses based on the achievement of personal objectives could be paid.”

GMG has suspended its bonus scheme for this financial year, the article reports.

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Motions from Manchester: “This chapel declares it has no confidence in the Scott Trust”

March 20th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Job losses, Jobs, Journalism, Newspapers

The Manchester Evening News National Union of Journalists Chapel has passed the following motions at a mandatory meeting held today, and sent this email to GMG Regional chief executive, Mark Dodson.

To: Mark Dodson
Cc: Paul Horrocks; Jim Banham; Carolyn McCall; Liz Forgan
Subject: MEN NUJ chapel resolutions

Dear Mark,

At a very well attended, mandatory meeting earlier today, the MEN NUJ chapel unanimously passed the following resolutions:

  • This chapel extends its thanks to the Guardian/Observer chapels for their declared support;
  • This chapel deplores the company’s refusal to invoke a 90-day consultation period which could have been used usefully to explore other options and urges it to think again;
  • This chapel declares it has no confidence in the Scott Trust or the GMG board;
  • This chapel believes that Dame Liz Forgan, in her role as chair of the Scott Trust, has a moral duty and responsibility to speak to journalists at the MEN and its weekly newspapers and those at Surrey and Berkshire about how these devastating jobs cuts chime with Trust values BEFORE they are implemented;
  • This chapel supports the weekly newspaper chapels in their decisions and pledges to support them;
  • This chapel agrees to ballot for industrial action, up to and including strike action;
  • This chapel reiterates its willingness to meet management at any time to talk with a view to resolving the current problems.
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NUJ Release: Vote of no confidence in Scott Trust after regional cuts

March 16th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Job losses, Jobs, Media releases, Newspapers

Journalists within GMG Regional Media ‘have declared a vote of no confidence in the Scott Trust Ltd over a decision to make sweeping job cuts’.

“Members at the NUJ chapel, which represents six weekly titles in the south of Greater Manchester unanimously passed the motion after the company announced 78 redundancies across GMG’s weekly titles and sister paper the Manchester Evening News,” the National Union of Journalists has announced.

Full release at this link…

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Letter to GMG Regional Media’s Mark Dodson from MEN NUJ chapel

March 11th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Job losses, Jobs, Journalism, Newspapers

A letter from the Manchester Evening News National Union of Journalists chapel to GMG Regional Media chief executive, Mark Dodson, following yesterday’s announcements.

Dear Mark,

At a lengthy and very well-attended MEN NUJ Chapel meeting earlier today, members unanimously passed the following:

“The Chapel utterly condemns this week’s announcements of sweeping job at the MEN, our Greater Manchester weekly newspapers and the
group’s  publications in Surrey and Berkshire and believes they  will have a devastating effect on local democracy and regional journalism.

We also condemn the redundancies inflicted on other sectors of our business.

The Chapel rejects absolutely any compulsory journalistic redundancies, which are especially unpalatable at a time when the organisation is still making a profit. The total number of proposed redundancies is unjustifiable and unsustainable. We demand an early explanation of how you envisage a future MEN/weeklies newsroom will work.

Management should be under no illusion that we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our colleagues. We will be meeting again shortly to discuss our next steps.

However, since it is clear that these executive decisions have been demanded by the GMG board and sanctioned by the Scott Trust, we request that Dame Liz Forgan and her fellow trustees come to Manchester as soon as possible to speak to us.”

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Rusbridger: Major cities in the UK could be ‘without any kind of verifiable source of news’

December 24th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Broadcasting, Newspapers, Online Journalism

Speaking on the Radio 4 Today programme this morning, Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, and the Independent’s first editor Andreas Whittam Smith, expressed their concerns, as well as tentative optimism about the current UK newspaper climate.

“I think we have to face up to the prospect that the first time since the Enlightenment you’re going to have major cities in the UK, in Western democracies, without any kind of verifiable source of news,” said Rusbridger.

“That hasn’t happened for two or three hundred years and I think it is going to have very profound implications,” he said.

Whittam Smith referred to an ‘extremely tough’ environment and said that he was once again being asked on a daily basis whether the Independent will survive.

“The risks to all newspapers are very great,” he said, “[but] the Independent has always been innovative.”

“It has to be innovative again in these circumstances,” he said. Moving into the Daily Mail building ‘is an example of that’ he added. Like other businesses, newspapers will have to ‘share the facilities the customers don’t see’ he said.

He said that people still liked to read print, and that if free newspapers were taken into consideration circulations in the UK are only down by one million: from 14 to 13 million a day.

“People do like the stuff on the printed page – what they don’t like so much any longer is paying for it,” he said.

Rusbridger said that newspaper companies with paternalistic or maternalistic owners would fare better than those ‘with big debt’ and other types of ownership structures.

The Scott Trust [the Guardian's owner], he said, ‘to some extent protected [the Guardian] from immediate effects of the market’.

Both agreed that there would be newspaper casualties in the near future.

Listen to the clip here.

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