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The Independent: Regional press challenging bad forecasts

September 30th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Editors' pick, Local media, Newspapers

The Independent has an interesting article by Ian Burrell this morning comparing the current situation for local media – in terms of production levels, revenues and staff – with previous predictions.

The overall picture it paints is that the regional press, despite facing predictions that half of the industry would be closed down by 2013, is proving forecasters wrong.

A year or so later, the picture is somewhat different. Whereas 60 local newspapers did close during 2009, only eight have gone to the wall in 2010. The UK’s local press isn’t quite ready to draft its own obituary.

Early on Burrell discusses the impact of the American press situation on encouraging the bleak outlooks for British media, but adds that action taken by the press such as the increasing use of hyperlocal sites has helped it survive.

The earlier predictions of Armageddon were influenced by events in America, where the regional press has suffered badly. The closure in February last year of the 150-year-old Rocky Mountain News in Denver caused great alarm, as did the demise the following month of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which moved to online-only production after 146 years in print. The company that owns the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times filed for bankruptcy. But the New York Times reported recently that hedge fund “vulture” investors are circling newspaper businesses in anticipation that the worst days are over.

But the article also raises the question of how you should measure the pulse of the local newspaper industry. Therefore as well as looking at the number of titles (and money) still being made, Burrell asks what the wider impact on the journalists within these newsrooms is?

Barry Fitzpatrick, head of publishing at the National Union of Journalists, says not. “Most of our journalists are working multi-platform and they are working long hours to deadlines that are increasingly difficult to meet. I’m fearful of what the long term effect will be on journalism itself and on the health of a lot of people that are trying to earn a living as journalists.”

See the full article here…

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Wanky Balls festival: Wikipedia-reading journalists welcome

August 10th, 2010 | 7 Comments | Posted by in Online Journalism

According to the Independent on Saturday’s print edition:

The Big Chill was founded in 1994 as the Wanky Balls festival in north London.

Always good to be reminded of the perils of lifting from Wikipedia – unfortunately the page has since been updated, but the Google search snippet sheds some light:

(Hat tip to Kat Arney)

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Media faces stong criticism from within over Raoul Moat coverage

Media coverage of the police hunt for Raoul Moat may have come to an end, but the debate over how the press reported on events continues.

From live video coverage of Moat’s stand-off with police, to interactive maps, to timelines of events leading up to his attacks,  – the terrifying story gripped our news headlines.

But the volume and content of some coverage has led to criticisms of sensationalism and glamourising, from outside and within the industry – with some even warning reports could encourage future attacks.

The debate over the media’s responsibility when reporting such events has even prompted a Twitter debate from the BBC, who will hold a debrief tomorrow to discuss the lessons to learn from covering the actions of people like Raoul Moat.

Responding to the debate on Twitter, @julesthejourno illustrated the problem – while some of the real-time footage may have been difficult to watch, it was equally impossible to turn off, for a public with a desire to know the latest developments.

Friday’s live coverage was so raw (especially the phone calls) it felt wrong to watch but even more so to change channels.

This supports Barbara Ellen’s post at the Observer, which claimed that the media are simply “feeding the ‘public interest’ monster”.

It’s too pat to blame the news media. They are merely feeding the “public interest” monster – a ravenous, impatient, rubbernecking creature. In a way, that seems almost too tidy. It seems to be this very part of us that feeds the “death and glory” monster presumably lurking inside poor, deluded sods such as Moat, making all those fantasies about being the centre of attention, the big scary guy with the gun, come true.

But she warns that demand for such coverage could lead to a very dark road.

Homicidal sprees as another form of spectator sport? Just another button on the remote control, perhaps labelled “Homi-tainment”, with a helpful skull and crossbones motif? The whole thing was reminiscent of iconic scenes from the US. “Homi-tainment” was definitely there when OJ went off on his car chase, Waco went under siege, even in those candlelit vigils outside prison executions. Didn’t Brits used to think we were rather above this kind of thing? Well, seemingly not any more.

But is the media to blame for how the news itself plays out?  Freelance journalist Martin Robbins has written a series of “serious questions” which he feels need to be answered by the media, who he claims created a “carnival atmosphere” with their coverage.

His comments have since exploded across Twitter and the blogosphere.

One such question is whether the media understand the nature and extent of their influence on Raoul Moat? Robbins says a quote from Moat proves that media coverage could have directly led to another person being killed:

For every piece of inaccurate information published I will select a member of the public and kill them.

In response, Robbins questions the morality of the press who he accuses of doing just that.

Can they explain why they printed inflammatory details that had no conceivable public interest justification? Can they go to bed tonight safe and sound in the certain knowledge that they did not contribute to his death?

Answering his question, the bloggers at Fleet Street Blues simply replied: “yes”.

Look, it’s not as if the Raoul Moat story was Fleet Street’s finest hour. It showed how the proliferation of online news has only heightened the demands of the 24-hour rolling news cycle, and no one’s saying the televised ending was particularly edifying for anyone concerned.

But the implication that journalists were too intrusive, too inquisitive and too obstructive to police is just inaccurate.

Channel 4’s Alex Thomson, whose real-time Tweeting also came under fire from Robbins as an illustration of the media chase, defended his work on Twitter:

“can’t speak for media but yes, v proud of c4n Moat coverage which I say was informative, factual and not sensational.

But psychologists remain concerned that even though the coverage of Raoul Moat’s run from the police may be over, it had the power to encourage another similar event in the near future.

Reporting for the Independent, Johann Hari asks if the media will now indirectly help others “pull the trigger”.

Suddenly, they are shown a path where their problems won’t be trivial and squalid and pointless. No: they’ll be the talk of the entire country. They’ll be stars.

The way we report these cases can make that man more likely to charge out of his house to kill, or less. The psychologists say that currently we are adopting the most dangerous tactics possible. We put the killer’s face everywhere. We depict him exactly as he wanted, broadcasting his videos and reading out his missives. We make his story famous. We present killing as its logical culmination. We soak him in glamour: look at the endless descriptions of Moat as “having a hulking physique” and being “a notorious hard man”.

We present the killer as larger than life, rather than the truth: that these people are smaller than life, leading pitiful, hate-filled existences.

Feel free to leave your own thoughts below.

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InPublishing.co.uk: Publishers’ anonymous commenter dilemma

In a piece for InPublishing, media journalist and blogger Jon Slattery takes a look at anonymous commenting and its pros and cons for publishers.

Following the Times’ decision to make users use real names; and the Independent’s changes to its commenting system, Slattery asks the Guardian’s Steve Busfield and the Argus’ Jo Wadsworth for their thoughts.

Wadsworth says: “[S]ome of the most valuable comments, news-wise, are left anonymously: tip-offs, personal accounts of traumatic experiences, etc. If I were implementing a real-names policy, I’d definitely want to retain a way for people to post these, even if these were post-moderated.”

Slattery ends:

How do they [publishers] stop the abuse of freedom of speech on their websites while protecting those readers who can expose abuses of power and generate content by being whistleblowers only if their identity is protected.

Full post at this link…

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Will the Independent go free?

Well, we don’t know – and nor, according to the Press Gazette, do the new owners, Lebedev Snr and Jnr:

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Beehive City: Alan Rusbridger on the Times, paywalls and industry in-fighting

March 31st, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Business, Editors' pick, Newspapers

Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, adds some “industry context” to other paper’s reports of the Guardian and its business, in particular the departure of Carolyn McCall, CEO of Guardian Media Group (GMG), last week.

In a memo to staff reproduced by Beehive City, Rusbridger takes on the Times:

The Times’ print circulation is falling at exactly the same rate as the Guardian’s – but the Times’ web traffic is down seven per cent year on year while the Guardian’s rose by 22 per cent.

The Independent:

Having vociferously argued (in 2006) that newspapers were dangerously under-priced and that the future was about boosting cover price rather than hoping for increased advertising revenues, it is now talking about going free.

Paywalls:

What’s right for Murdoch (with Sky as a digital subscription model in the background and infinitely deep corporate cross-subsidies) may well not work for us at GNM, and vice versa. There may be different models within one newspaper. We’ll all make some mistakes along the way. We can all learn from each other.

And why the Guardian and GMG will stick to its plans and be swayed by “the pecking and sniping of outsiders”.

Of all media companies I truly believe we are better placed than the great majority to make the transformative change that will be demanded of us. The editorial future has the potential to be richer than anything any previous generation of journalists could have imagined. We can imagine it – and we are well on the way to achieving it.

Full memo at this link…

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#followjourn: Jane Merrick/political editor

March 9th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Recommended journalists

#followjourn: Jane Merrick

Who? Merrick is political editor at the Independent on Sunday

Where? You can find her writing collected on the Independent’s Open House blog and Independent Minds pages. You can also visit her Journalisted page here.

Contact? Merrick tweets about Politics and more at www.twitter.com/janemerrick23.

Just as we like to supply you with fresh and innovative tips every day, we’re recommending journalists to follow online too. They might be from any sector of the industry: please send suggestions (you can nominate yourself) to judith or laura at journalism.co.uk; or to @journalismnews.

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The disappearance of the Daily Mail Insider blog

On Monday, the Independent’s Ian Burrell mentioned a “cheeky” Daily Mail Insider Blog in his media column. It wasn’t linked, but not difficult to find.

By Wednesday, it had been noted by the FleetStreetBlues blog and three hours later it was no more. Handily enough, Brian Whelan has captured the content of what, as he says, “are apparently the missing blog posts allegedly written by a Daily Mail journo”.


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BJP: The Independent apologises for Flickr ‘errors’

January 18th, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Photography

The Independent newspaper has apologised, “after it was accused of breach of copyright for publishing a Flickr stream of images which included at least one ‘All Rights Reserved’ photo of the snow,” reports the British Journal of Photography.

Full story at this link…

(The photographer, Peter Zabulis, who challenged the Independent has more detail at this link)

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MediaGuardian: O’Brien calls for sale or closure of Independent and IoS

September 2nd, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

Denis O’Brien, the rebel shareholder in Independent News & Media, is demanding a meeting of shareholders ‘to order the immediate sale or closure’ of the group’s UK newspapers – the Independent and Independent on Sunday, reports MediaGuardian.

O’Brien has tabled eight resolutions for the meeting including the above and calls for group chairman Brian Hillery to resign.

Last week it was reported that the group as a whole had fallen into the red.

Full story at this link…

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