Author Archives: Joseph Stashko

Rebekah Brooks ‘won’t resign’ over Milly Dowler phone-hacking claims

Rebekah Brooks “is not planning to resign” as chief executive of News International, according to BBC business editor Robert Peston.

Writing on his blog today, Peston cites a News International executive as having told him that Rupert Murdoch is backing Brooks “100%” over alleged interceptions of Milly Dowler’s voicemail by the News of the World.

She remains in charge of the process of assisting the police in their enquiries, known as Operation Weeting, to determine whether criminal charges should be brought against those journalists implicated in hacking mobile phones and other invasions of individuals’ right to privacy.

“She is committed to find out the truth of what happened here and leading the company through this difficult time” said one of her colleagues.

“Her job is to see this through”.

An update on the post at 9:24 elaborates on the Prime Minister’s reaction to the news:

There is of course an uncomfortable feedback loop from the latest disclosures of alleged hacking to the prime minister – in that the deputy editor of the News of the World in 2002 was Andy Coulson, who became editor of the News of the World in 2003, and who also served as Mr Cameron’s communications director until he resigned in January.


Exciting experiment or nothing new? Bloggers’ take on Huffington Post UK

Arianna Huffington is launching the UK version of her American blog-orientated news site the Huffington Post this week, and the move has sparked debate in the blogosphere.

Huffington launched the Canada arm last month, but Huffington Post UK will be the site’s first foray outside of North America, with a French version set to follow soon.

Speaking to Ian Burrell for the Independent, Paul Bradshaw, professor of online journalism at City University comments about the difference between UK and US media landscapes that may require a different approach.

“It’s going to be hard for The Huffington Post to communicate what they stand for,” says Bradshaw, who is not inclined to blog for the site. “In the UK they are known as the site that sold to AOL. In the US they might have been known as the site that offered an alternative voice but there’s a different media landscape over here.”

In the same piece, Brian Cathcart, who teaches journalism at Kingston University, adds:

“They will need some new ideas, some really inspired appointments, and to discover some talent. It doesn’t seem that the existing model in the US would offer us anything terribly exciting and new over here.”

Paul Bradshaw may not be persuaded to write for the site but blogger and podcaster Neville Hobson is. In a post titled On board with The Huffington Post UK, Hobson writes that he relishes being part of “a grand experiment”.

So what’s in it for me? To a great extent, I see it as being part of a grand experiment, contributing my opinion and commentary on topics that interest me and that will be published in an online medium that has huge scale and reach. It offers an opportunity for such opinion and commentary to reach many people who, frankly, would be unlikely to visit my blog.

It also means that I’ll be writing for a mainstream medium. That traditionally means you need to be a journalist, which I’m not. I don’t know yet who any of the other bloggers are who’ll be writing for the UK edition, but my guess is that a majority will not be journalists.

Overseas expansion does of course mean a clutch of new hires, but Bobbie Johnson of GigaOm views the operation as “low-risk”, and points to several reasons why.

Well, first, that Huffington Post UK is looking — on the surface, at least — more like a reworking of the current AOL UK operation than a brand new entity. That’s a low-risk strategy, but as I’ve previously argued, it might take more to make an impact in a highly competitive media market like Britain.

Secondly, it’s interesting that this team consists almost exclusively of young journalists, with very few of the high-level, experienced hands that Huffington has made a great play of luring over in the United States. There’s no equivalent, for example, to the likes of political heavy-hitter Howard Fineman, brought over from Newsweek, media reporting veteran Michael Calderone from Yahoo or award-winning reporter Trymaine Lee from the New York Times.

I asked my Twitter followers what they thought of the project, and received a variety of responses.

Adam Tinworth, Editorial Business Manager for Reed Business Information pointed out the possible disruption created by the launch.



Graphic designer and student journalist Jonathan Frost was very enthusiastic.



While subeditor Paul Wiggins was rather more succinct.



Finally, if you want to get involved in blogging for the Huffington Post when it hits UK shores, food journalist Andrew Webb has helpfully published the full requirements on his blog.

For now you can follow their progress via the dedicated Twitter account @HuffPostUK, whose first tweet had a distinctly non-UK feel to it.!/HuffPostUK/status/87857781633335296


Image of Arianna Huffington by Knight Foundation on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Disclosure: Joseph Stashko is a blogger for Huffington Post UK.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: ‘It is partly our fault’ response to Ed Miliband interview

By now most of you will have seen Ed Miliband’s interview where he gives almost identikit answers to questions posed by BBC, ITV and Sky News journalists.

Now Channel 4’s Krishnan Guru-Murthy has blogged about the episode, in which he criticises politicians’ tactic of repetitive responses in a post titled Changing the Rules of the TV Interview.

There’s nothing new about it, politicians have been doing it for years and it is partly our fault in the media for letting them get away with it for so long.

I’ve had politicians from every party try a variation of the loop on me. Somebody in political PR training school obviously told them that if you’re doing ‘a clip’ for the news and you want to make sure the media only use what you want them to then only say one thing.

He then goes on to suggest a way in which television interviews can be conducted with more transparency.

So perhaps it is time for a new deal between television and politics. Perhaps an interview should just be an interview without any rules. Or perhaps when politicians only agree to be clipped or pooled we should make it clear, when they repeat themselves they should be challenged on camera and when they refuse to debate with other guests we should say so.

You can read the full post at this link.

ITV’s Damon Green, who was part of the pooled interview, also added his thoughts on Friday, remarking that “if we are not allowed to explore and examine a politician’s views, then politicians cease to be accountable in the most obvious way”. You can read his take on the interview here.


Fox News Twitter account hacked, claims Obama is dead

Fox News has apparently fallen foul of hackers, with its @foxnewspolitics feed being used to spread false rumours about Barack Obama being shot and killed.

Earlier this morning, the account announced: “Just regained full access to our Twitter and email”, before embarking on a series of tweets that announced fake details about Obama’s death.!/foxnewspolitics/status/87766219251388416!/foxnewspolitics/status/87767012222316544!/foxnewspolitics/status/87767953528983555!/foxnewspolitics/status/87768738866266112!/foxnewspolitics/status/87769962151817216


The most recent tweet bids Joe Biden good luck as the “new President of the United States”.

It remains unclear whether Fox News has regained control over the account.

Gizmodo have reported that @TheScriptKiddie and @ScriptKiddi3s (both now suspended) have claimed responsibility for the attack.


Journalism students, put down your pints and get into student media

Joseph Stashko is a journalism student at UCLan and co-editor of hyperlocal news site Blog Preston.

So, you’re studying journalism at university. You’ve paid your fees, bought a copy of McNae’s law, and at the end of three years slogging away at intros, pyramid writing and shorthand, you’ll become a journalist, right?

Obviously it’s a naive and unrealistic view. Getting a job in journalism is more difficult now than ever. And yet the industry saw a 24 per cent surge in applications for journalism courses last year, many of them undergraduate. Clearly people still want to be journalists, and the idea of a vocational degree is still considered attractive.

Considering the uptake in journalism courses, student media offices should be bursting at the seams. So why are so many journalism students unwilling to contribute to student media outlets?

The University of Central Lancashire, home to the first formal journalism course in the UK, currently offers more than 20 undergraduate and postgraduate courses. It has legions of journalism students at various stages in their career, with a wide range of skills and ideas. Yet the student newspaper, Pluto, is run by a skeleton crew.

Pluto’s news editor David Stubbings is hoping to hoping to refresh and improve student media at UCLan by redesigning the fortnightly paper and website and improving the means of communication to students.

“I think a lot of students arrive at university very excited and want to try and do everything. They’ll maybe write a bit but then just lapse and do the bare minimum, especially in first year,” he said.

He pointed out that the blame for a poorly staffed student media also lies with the editors, who should be encouraging more students to participate to avoid an elitist environment.

“Those who are heavily involved must make an effort to attract more contributors and crucially keep them interested. I think there are a lot of students who fail at doing that, so when you see the same writers names appear again and again people start to think that there’s no point trying to get involved.”

The outlook is, admittedly, bleak for nascent journalists. With all that’s written about mass redundancies, newspaper profit going into freefall, and seasoned journalists being laid off, you’d forgive a journalism student for wanting to crawl back into halls and stay there.

But I’d suggest the opposite. Student media, if done well, can offer a forum to throw around ideas (no matter how far-fetched), collaborate with like minded people, and practice journalism that is probably far closer to the romantic ideal of a roving reporter than any entry level job.

Journalism students have a lot to offer in an industry that is constantly in a state of flux. While interning at a national newspaper, I recall pointing out to a senior editor how to integrate his articles into Twitter, engage the readers and help tell a story better with data visualisation and diagrams. Skills which my generation take for granted are still thought of as innovative by many senior journalists, and what students lack in experience they can make up for with imagination and a little creative nous.

Student media can, and should foster this. At worst it can be self indulgent, and have the best interests of its writers, not its readers, at heart. But at its best it can be a melting pot of new ideas, encouraging experimentation and unusual content, all the while in the stable incubation stage of higher education.

In this uncertain time, journalism students can hold the key to unlocking a lot of different possibilities for the future of the profession. So lose your inhibitions, put down your pints, and get involved in your student media.