Tag Archives: author

Postgrad PR student seeks journalists’ responses to survey

Any journalists working on newdesks feel like sharing their thoughts on PR for a student survey? Iain Fleming, a postgraduate student at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, is seeking help for his research project, part of his diploma in Public Relations, run by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations. His request is as follows:

“As part of my course I am carrying out a research project, looking at the type and volume of material sent to news and picture desks by PR practitioners, and would be grateful if you could take a a few minutes to complete as many questions as you can, or feel are appropriate to your role in the industry, in the online questionnaire here.


All the results will be anonymised, so no one will be able to find out how you answered, however, in order to produce a report which is more than a series of statistics I would be grateful if you could add in as many additional comments as you feel appropriate.

“It would be particularly helpful if some of these comments could be attributed, and if you are willing to allow this please could you indicate this. I will check all comments with their author before publication.

 In order to make the survey as accurate as possible, I would be grateful if you could forward the link on to as many colleagues who you consider may be able to respond.


More from Dacre: The Daily Mail editor on Max Mosley and ‘Flat Earth News’

Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre has made his thoughts about Justice Eady, the Human Rights Act and the Max Mosley privacy case against the News of the World pretty clear since giving his Society of Editors speech last year, but today he was given the chance to follow up on Mosley’s own comments to the commons select committee on press standards, privacy and freedom.

(And have his say he was most definitely going to – reminding the committee several times of the length of time they’d given Mosley to speak, until one member asked whether he felt he was being treated differently?)

“Mr Mosley, when he gave evidence to this committee, I was very surprised at the soft time you gave him,” said Dacre.

“For Max Mosley to present himself as a knight in shining armour, proclaiming (…) sanctimonious, self-righteousness is almost a surreal inversion of the normal values of civilised society.”

It’s ‘a bit like the Yorkshire ripper campaigning against men who batter women’, he added.

The ruling against the News of the World and in favour of Mosley made the government’s stance on brothels and prostitution problematic, he said.

While brothels are seen by the government as ‘unacceptable and totally wrong’ and requiring a law to prosecute the people that run them, ‘Justice Eady has said Mosley’s behaviour is merely unconventional not illegal’, said Dacre.

“One legitimises the other,” he said.

The Daily Mail would not have broken the Mosley story, because it is a family paper, he said, even if it had ‘fallen into the paper’s lap’ as one committee member suggested. However, Dacre said he would defend the NOTW’s right to publish it.

Nick Davies

Today’s hearing was also a chance for Dacre to respond to claims made by journalist and ‘Flat Earth News’ author Nick Davies at a committee session on Tuesday.

Summised by the committee chair, Davies said the Daily Mail was characterised by a level of ruthless aggression and spite far greater than any other newspaper in Fleet Street.

“Davies is one of those people who sees conspiracy in everything. Like many people who write for the Guardian he believes he is the only one who can claim the moral high ground,” said Dacre.

“The book doesn’t do himself or our industry any justice.”

The book, he added, had been written ‘without the basic journalistic courtesy of checking the allegations concerned’.

Dacre accepted that there is some ‘churnalism’ of press releases at a provincial and national level – driven largely by poor finances and lack of resources, but said he refutes the charge of the Daily Mail.

“I’d suggest the Daily Mail is both famous and infamous for taking Whitehall and government press releases and going behind them. Certainly our reporters when they get freelance copy make their own inquiries and take them further,” he said.

“Our spending on journalism today is as great as ever, despite the recession. Mr Davies makes a valid point about some areas of the media. I think strong areas of the media, including some of our competitors, are not guilty of this charge.”

What would a UK-based ProPublica look like?

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.

Another update on the 10 doomed newspapers list

Yesterday Alan Mutter joined the bloggers dismissing the accuracy of the ‘ten most endangered newspapers in America’ list published on TIME.com.

Many interpreted it as coming from Time magazine, but in fact it was a 247WallSt.com post, reproduced on the TIME.com site, under a syndication deal.

Journalism.co.uk asked its author, 24.7 Wall St’s Douglas A. McIntyre, if he defended his selections for which newspapers would next face the chop:

“The list may be viewed as controversial, but that is not its goal. The newspaper industry which was one of the largest employers in America two decades ago is falling apart. Most big cities have not comes to terms with that. This is an accurate list of which papers are at the most [at] risk and why,” McIntyre told Journalism.co.uk

A spokesperson from Time confirmed that TIME.com has been syndicating content from 24/7 Wall St. since January 2009. “This list was not something written by Time.com editors,” the spokesperson said.

How much is too much? Defining the grey areas in attribution and linking

As the mainstream media shifts to writing more online content, its standards and guidelines are up for discussion. Just how much of other people’s work on external sites can/should you use and how should you attribute in articles?

Stephen Hutcheon, of the Sydney Morning Herald, flagged up an issue in a blog post on February 5. He is not happy with the way material from an interview he conducted with GoogleEarth (30/01/09) was used in an article on TimesOnline by Mike Harvey (30/01/09) – the latest version of which is at this link.

Hutcheon’s account can be read at this link with a screen grab of the Times’ original article.

The original Times piece shows the Sydney Morning Herald was named in the third paragraph, and, later in the piece, it again specified ‘Mr Hanke told the newspaper’.

Hutcheon had two complaints:

  • Firstly, that Harvey had not linked to his original article.
  • Secondly, the proportion of the article made up of Hutcheon’s quotes, which Hutcheon feels weren’t adequately labelled as his own work.

According to Hutcheon, Mike Harvey then contacted him with a ‘sincere apology’. “He said it was not his publication’s policy to link back to original articles but said that as a gesture of goodwill, they would do it.”

The TimesOnline article now has a link to the original SMH article, but Hutcheon remains unsatisfied:

“I told him I accepted his apology. However, he made no mention about my central complaint about the amount of material he lifted, nor does he appear to have cut out any from his piece. But that’s about as much as I can do. That, I told him, was an ethical matter between him and his editors.”

Journalism.co.uk asked Hutcheon about his own paper’s linking policy, via email. Hutcheon said:

“My issue is less with the lack of a link. We [SMH] don’t have a hard and fast policy on links. If we quote a par or so, no need to reference where it came from. But if we write a story about this amazing thing someone’s photographed or found, or written and the story is largely based on the other person’s discovery or effort, then yes. It’s a bit like writing about a YouTube video without pointing readers to it. Mike apologised but failed to cut back the almost 500 words – most of them direct quotes from my one-on-one interview with John Hanke. If traditional news organisations are prepared to let their reporters get away with this type of cheap journalism, then it’s a race to the bottom and we’re all doomed. If everyone just copies everyone else, who is left to do the original reporting?”

Journalism.co.uk contacted Tom Whitwell, assistant editor of TimesOnline to clarify the situation.

He said the Times’ linking policy was being worked on and while there ‘was no official linking policy’, journalists could link to other work at the moment.

However, he said, the subbing system and workflow in place – used for online as well as print work – meant links often got omitted. But ‘the general policy would be to link out to things’, he said.

“In terms of the principle I’m extremely firm that [we link] not as courtesy, but as service to the readers.”

In regards to the proportion of quotes used, Whitwell said:

“I think it’s fairly clear that he [Hanke] was talking to the Sydney Morning Herald (…) that particular example is reasonable.

“This isn’t something we do often as a policy. We don’t have a policy to do this regularly – I think in this particular instance it’s fairly clear to the reader what the story is.

“We do need to have a clear written policy at what point we link, and I’m in the process of putting that together. That to me, is interesting, the motivations for linking. To me, it’s purely about providing the service to readers (…) a better way of telling the story. The idea that it’s good manners, legally crediting something, isn’t the key thing for me.

“It is very different for online than print (…) I don’t want to get into the way some other newspapers operate, which is rather different from the way we operate, in terms of using material from other sites. In some sites there is real culture of picking up stories from lots and lots of places, constantly, as a matter of course. That’s not something we usually do,” Whitwell said.

The problem with linking arose in the production system, he said, which “has no way of capturing URLs, a purely manual process – I suspect this piece went through this process. We need to work out how to get the process to work.” Getting more links into place is ‘tricky’, but ‘not impossible’, he added.

Journalism.co.uk also contacted the Times piece’s author Mike Harvey, who did not respond by email.

Here’s an example where a paper did not attribute at all: a case over at Regret The Error, involving the NY Daily News, in which an accusation was made that material had been lifted from the Express-News, ‘without attribution’, for a piece on NYDailyNews.com.

A later amendment at NYDailyNews.com noted that ‘An earlier version of this story should have attributed quotes by certain individuals to reporting by the San Antonio Express-News.’

Hutcheon’s post hasn’t yet received any comments; perhaps this one is up for debate? Just how much is too much?

Online Journalism Scandinavia: Online media play crucial role in Iceland’s fleece revolution

On Monday, Iceland’s coalition government collapsed under the strain of an escalating economic crisis.

However, because of widespread cross-ownership, Icelandic media is not only feeling the impact of the crisis on its advertisement revenues; it’s in the eye of the storm, and angry Icelanders have turned to turn to the web to inform each other, organise anti-government rallies and vent their frustrations.

“It’s a grassroots revolution,” said Andri Sigurðsson, a blogger and web developer.

He explained that Iceland had seen a surge in political blogs in the wake of the financial turmoil, and that people had turned to using web tools such as Facebook and Twitter to organise demonstrations and protests.

With so many people losing their jobs, this year the island is facing the highest unemployment in decades. Some have turned to blogging full time – the blogger behind Newsfrettir, for example, has started translating Icelandic news to English after being made redundant in October.

Since the country’s biggest newspaper, Fréttablaðið, along with a large portion of the rest of Icelandic media, is controlled by Baugur (the ailing investment company that also owns a large stake in Iceland’s and the UK’s retail industry); and the second biggest newspaper, Morgunblaðið, has been controlled by Björgólfur Guðmundsson (owner and chairman of West Ham FC and chairman of Landsbanki, the bank embroiled in the Icesave scandal)… the whole situation gets rather complicated.

“We’re trying to cut all our connections to Baugur. You know, the sugar daddy behind DV and Fréttablaðið was Baugur, but the sugar daddy behind Morgunbladid was Björgólfur Guðmundsson? Every media here has its problem. We had Baugur’s Jon Asgeir Jóhannesson, they have Björgólfur,” said Reynir Traustasson, editor-in-chief of Icelandic tabloid DV, pictured right.

It is against this backdrop that political blogs such as the conservative AMX.is and the socialist-green Smugan.is have grown in popularity. However, Fréttablaðið’s editor-in-chief Jón Kaldal, does not see the surge in independent sites for news and opinion as a threat to mainstream media.

“None of these are doing investigative reporting; they are just repeating what has been written elsewhere. It is an outlet for gossip and rumours. But certain internet sites have worked well to get information out of the government. When gossip breaks out on these sites, the government is forced to come out of hiding,” he said.

Yet Kaldal was not optimistic about the times ahead:

“The whole society of Iceland is in a very strange place at the moment. It’s like we’re engulfed in a thick fog, and we don’t know quite how the world will look like when it lifts. Always in a recession or downturn there is a stronger demand for effect in advertisement. The strong grow stronger during a recession. But the situation here on Iceland is so critical that I don’t know if that’s enough.”

Read more about online journalism and the media in Scandinavia at this link.

Images in this post used with the author’s permission. For more of Kristine’s Iceland images visit Flickr.

Birmingham Post: Eady throws out comments libel case

Mr Justice Eady was called in to rule on a libel case involving the great grandson of author JRR Tolkien.

Royd Tolkien had allegedly left defamatory comments on the website of Christopher Carrie, who claims he was abused by the son of JRR Tolkien.

The case was thrown out after Eady pointed out that Carrie could have removed the allegedly defamatory comments as they were left on his website.

Full story at this link…

Author James Frey sums up his internship at Gawker.com

James Frey, author of a ‘Million Little Pieces’ and ‘Bright Shiny Morning,’ has finished his brief internship at Gawker.com: you can watch the last day part of the day video here, which mainly seems to consist of doughnut shots. The people ‘weren’t as awful’ as he thought they would be, he had a great time – especially doing errands – and he gave back change after doing the Starbucks run.

The comments below the video are worth a read: Journalism.co.uk agrees with @Pope John Peeps II that frothy thing Sheila calls coffee doesn’t look like one to us, and we like @bytememehard’s question: ‘will he [Frey] write a memoir about his experience’?

‘What I’ve learned as a published author’ by Linda Jones

Yesterday Journalism.co.uk posted part one of Maria McCarthy’s guide to getting a book deal. Freelancer Linda Jones has already done just that, and here she shares ten ‘blindingly obvious things’ she has learnt in her first year as an author.

The post was originally posted on her blog at Freelancewritingtips.com. Get in touch with your own stories: judith at journalism.co.uk. Here’s what Linda learnt, following the publication of the Greatest Freelance Writing Tips in the World.

1. A book launch may be more hassle than it’s worth: This time last year, I was feeling pretty pleased with myself. My first book, the modestly titled Greatest Freelance Writing Tips in the World had just been published. Holding some initial copies in my quivering hands, I’d felt a rush of pride. Now here I was, preparing for my very own book launch. Then one by one, more than half the confirmed guests dropped out. My heart sank. Even though local paper reports and reviews followed and those lovely guests who did come along were overwhelmingly positive, I was disappointed. In hindsight I can see my expectations were unrealistic. But I hated feeling like Billy no-mates.

2. Authors don’t always want to discuss sales: Go on; guess how many my book has sold. Bet you can’t. I’d rather not say, if you don’t mind. Of course if you know anything about publishing it won’t surprise you that my figures may not even rival David Blunkett’s. This wasn’t the outcome I was hoping for. I was so naïve. Wary of upsetting a PR team, sacred of jinxing future sales or plain embarrassed, other writers I know also prefer not to join this potentially humiliating ‘show and tell.’ Yet this ‘smoke screen’ allows wannabe authors to cling on to unrealistic dreams – creating a vicious circle of silence followed by dashed hope. Seriously, how many do you expect your book to sell?

3. They don’t always want to talk about rates either: My advance and royalties are modest by any standards. I was paid £1,500 in advance and have royalties of 10 per cent on further UK sales. Finding out how indicative this is of current rates, initially proved as effective as Russell Brand at a True Love Waits meeting.

4. However many positive reviews you get, you should be prepared for the possibility that you’ll care most about the bad one: I was bowled over when one reviewer said my effort was ‘the only book a writer will ever need.’ Then someone slated it. That’s the conclusion that lingers in my mind. I’m not sure why one negative comment is felt so much more keenly. Can anyone explain this phenomenon other than saying it’s basic human nature?

5. On the subject of reviews – they don’t sell books: The resoundingly positive reviews may have given me a warm glow inside but aren’t doing a thing for my bank balance. I’m advised they may help me if I ever go in search of an agent. But that’s a terrifying prospect. (See point number seven) I’ve learned that reviews are only a small part of the post-publication story. Without a prime time chat show or reality TV career, even the most wonderfully received non-fiction books from small publishers may be destined for an underwhelming future.

6. Checking out where you are on Amazon is pointless: It’s depressing to ride the roller coaster ride of Amazon rankings. I can sometimes make it to the top of a list of bestselling books by (ta da!) authors with the same name and some days I manage to hover around the 2,000 mark. I don’t think I’ll crack open the Aldi champagne just yet. But it’s pure vanity, desperation or complete madness anyway. It’s just one bookshop. I’m just glad I’m not alone.

7. Agents are scary: Who’d have thought I could have so much in common with John Prescott, apart from the waistline? Yet I feel bound to flounder as a working class outsider when it comes to understanding agents. I’ve read they prefer young Oxbridge graduates with a media profile. That’s enough to put me off. The one time I got over my nerves and was told a more recent proposal was ‘excellent’, I was later dismissed with ‘Sorry Dahling, I read it too quickly’. I rest my case.

8. Publicity and blogging is a long hard slog: I threw myself into promoting my book. Pieces have popped up in radio shows, newspapers, magazines, websites and blogs. I laughed my head off when a magazine called me a ‘celebrity’. I keep people up to date in a Facebook group. Funnily enough, each time I send an update, coupled with details of new opportunities for writers, someone drops out.

9. That thing in the movies where first time authors go misty-eyed over their book in a shop window, doesn’t happen to everyone: Yes I really did think about that. When a reader emailed me to say she had bought my book from Waterstones in central London, I was cock-a-hoop. When my publisher emailed to explain that really, major retailers weren’t that interested, I was crestfallen. I should’ve listened to Craig who said I should give the book away to create more of a ‘buzz’.

10. I should have known this stuff before my book was published: If you’re an aspiring author, please learn from my mistakes. Look past that joyous moment when you’re told your book has been commissioned and get real – it could be a rocky road ahead. Find out what you can about how book marketing, distribution and sales really work now to help you through the inevitable potholes later.

From the Frontline: Jon Ronson @7pm UK time – watch here

Live stream from the Frontline Club tonight: ‘Insight with Jon Ronson’. Peter Curran will chair tonight’s event.

“Why are Iraqi prisoners of war being forced to listen to Barney the Purple Dinosaur’s theme tune repeatedly, at top volume? Why have 100 de-bleated goats been secretly placed inside the Special Forces command centre at Fort Bragg, North Carolina? Has the US army really enlisted the help of Uri Geller? In The Men Who Stare at Goats, soon to be made into a feature film with an all-star cast, author Jon Ronson searches for answers to these and many other questions, revealing some of the extraordinary beliefs at the core of the War on Terror.”

UPDATE: we have removed the video portion while we search for the right archived footage from the frontline.