Watch the Frontline’s event on the media and anti-terrorism legislation here, at 7pm tonight:
An ‘On The Media’ discussion in association with the BBC College of Journalism
How concerned should photographers and journalists be about anti-terrorism legislation that came into force earlier this year making people taking pictures of the police potentially subject to fines or even arrest? A mass picture-taking event outside Scotland Yard organised by the National Union of Journalists earlier this year reflected widespread concerns that section 76 of the Counter Terrorism Act would extend powers already being used to harass photographers.
Under the Act eliciting, publishing or communicating information on members of the armed forces, intelligence services and police officers ‘likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism’ is subject to a 10 year maximum sentence.
The Home Office has insisted that the Act does not target the press but the number of photographers and camera crews who claim they have been prevented from taking pictures has increased.
On the other side of the lens there is growing evidence that Forward Intelligence Teams (FIT) are not only collating information on protestors and campaigners but also photographers and journalists who report on demonstrations.
The emergence of video footage following the death of Ian Tomlinson during the G20 protests in April demonstrates how significant images can be.
Claims by Val Swain and Emily Apple that they were unlawfully arrested during the Kingsnorth Climate Camp has again put the spotlight on the issue of police surveillance at demonstrations. And also raises questions about the status of citizen journalists in the eyes of the police.
How much of a challenge to the freedom of the press photographers, freelances of citizen journalists – to bear witness during protests could Section 76 become?
Panel: Peter Clarke, former head of counter terrorism for Scotland Yard
Marc Vallée is a London based photojournalist who is currently working on a long-term project to document political protest and dissent in modern Britain
Turi Munthe, CEO of Demotix, a citizen-journalism website and freelance photo agency
Angus Walker, UK editor, ITV News
Moderator: Margaret Gilmore is a freelance writer and broadcaster and senior research fellow with the leading independent think tank, RUSI, where she specialises in homeland security, covering terrorism and Olympic security
A quick update on the work of pro-am photo agency and news site, Demotix, during this week’s election protests in Iran.
- Around two dozen contributors have been participating in Demotix’s Iran ‘newshub:’ follow the link to see images.
- On Wednesday Demotix reported that one of its contributors had been arrested. Andy Heath, the site’s commissioning editor, told Journalism.co.uk it is believed the contributor will appear in front of a judge tomorrow [Saturday] and that Demotix is currently seeking more information.
Turi Munthe, its CEO and founder, has made numerous media appearances in which he talked about the use of citizen media during these protests, including the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, BBC News, and the World Service. Reuters are also featuring Demotix content.
Munthe said: “In terms of sales, we have also hit a milestone. Reuters is syndicating our content all over the world. Yesterday [Wednesday] we were the lead image on the front page of the Wall Street Journal’s website (see below).”
“Iran is experiencing events not seen since the 1979 Revolution. Demotix was set up precisely to cover and report this kind of event, and we have been at the very centre of the storm.”
“Like the Good Housekeeping seal, newspapers have become the assumed guarantee of credible news and information, by other media, businesses and consumers as well. Leveraging this brand trust, the entire public relations industry is interested in earning newspaper coverage for companies that seek to improve their public identity,” argues Andy Ellenthal in this piece.
According to Ellenthal, who, it should be pointed out, is CEO of ad network quadrantONE, public trust in newspapers’ brands has been boosted by their ability to capture audiences on and offline.
Backed up with stats from a recent Online Publishers Association (OPA) study, Ellenthal says this trust drives readers to make purchases based on ads carried by these titles.
“Carrying over from their print-based parents, the public has formed a trusted bond with the newspaper websites of their community, more so than with other media,” he adds.
Outside of the OPA research – is this the case in the US and beyond? As regional newspaper resources are cut is it still true to suggest that these are the most trusted brands on/offline?
Perhaps in terms of advertising they still are, as the ad industry remains largely conservative in its choice of medium and advertising models for niche and independent information websites are still being tinkered with.
Regional journalists – what are your experiences? Is there more newspapers could be doing (or you are already doing) to build trust with audiences online?
Since its launch in March, Audioboo, the service which allows users to record and upload short audio recordings, has notched up 30,000 registered users and been taken up by both hyperlocal and international news media.
This Saturday ITV.com is planning to use the tool as part of its FA Cup Final coverage: fans using the Audioboo iPhone app will be able to submit their audio reactions to the site.
Significantly this seems to be the first foray into running a paid-for version of an Audioboo account.
As CEO Mark Rock explains in this blog post, there will always be a free version of the tool, but the firm is developing a range of paid-for options intended for media organisations.
Audioboo Pro will be the version used by ITV tomorrow, ‘which will contain a series of web tools which make it easy for companies, particularly media companies, to manage content coming from their audiences’.
Key to these tools are ‘magic tags’ – a private tag that the account use can apply to any Audioboo content creating a specific feed for use in a player on their site. ITV are using this system to help moderate the ‘boos’ left by fans.
The use of Audioboo by ITV marks a focus by the broadcaster on capturing the online buzz about the match alongside the roar of the crowd within Wembley Stadium. As such, the site will use Twitter aggregator Twitterfall to stream relevant updates to the microblogging site.
In addition, using a tool developed by thruSITES:
“The players’ names and faces will appear alongside bars which will move up and down to reflect the buzz around players during the game. The tool will be available after the match so that fans can scrub along a timeline to see which players caused a buzz at crucial moments.”
Contributors to Helium, the citizen-journalism/amateur writing site, have broken the $1 million mark for total earnings.
The site has 150,000 members earn cash from upfront payments and as part of a revenue share.
“We have about 10,000 who have proven to be talented writers. This is the group that are earning on our site,” Mark Ranalli, CEO of Helium, told Journalism.co.uk.
“Some of our best writers are making $5,000 per year already, and these sums continue to climb as the site continues to grow.
“This milestone represents definitive proof that there is a real market for writers to be compensated for their work online. In the midst of increasing volatility in the traditional media industry, Helium is attracting thousands of publishers and connecting them with high quality subject matter experts on a regular basis,” added Ranalli in a press release.
Last night’s BBC Question Time got a lot of people talking, not least in regards to the heckling of MP Margaret Beckett. The Twitter comments were interesting to follow too, some of which Paul Canning has reproduced here on his blog.
But here was the other story, as reported on the main Journalism.co.uk site: The Telegraph’s assistant editor, Benedict Brogan, on his newspaper’s handling of MPs’ expenses case. It started with a question from the audience: should the Daily Telegraph’s editor, Will Lewis, get a knighthood?
Is it surprising that 25 journalists have been working on the story? Was it a courageous act by the Telegraph to publish? Should they be forced to disclose details about how they obtained information?
Here is a transcript with a few of the repetitions removed for clarity:
George Park, member of audience:
“Should the editor of the Daily Telegraph be knighted for services to journalism and the British electorate?”
[Presenter David Dimbleby asks Beckett if she approves of Telegraph’s publication of the information]
Margaret Beckett, MP:
“I think I’m going to find myself on dodgy territory, again. Because one of the things that is not quite clear about this riveting story is exactly what the Telegraph has done.
“And one of the things that I think is causing considerable anxiety. Well, I know, because every member of Parliament, yesterday, was sent a formal letter from the fees office to tell us that the information which is now circulating, which it would appear the Telegraph has perhaps bought, I don’t know, contains not only details of the personal financial circumstances, account numbers, credit card numbers of every MP but also of all of our staff (…) Our staff, who are merely employees of members, whose details were all on file, of course, because they are paid through the fees office; they’re paid on their contract and all of that has been stolen, and that, I think, is not a good thing.
“I’m not suggesting the editor of the Telegraph stole it, but what I am saying is it would appear he is profiting from someone else’s theft.”
David Dimbleby, presenter:
“If he didn’t steal it, he might be accused by you of being a receiver of stolen goods, which is almost as bad, isn’t it?”
“Well, I’m no lawyer, ask the lawyer.”
“Well ask Ben Brogan: is it theft to have all this information that was going to be published by the House of Commons, on a disc? In your offices? Is it theft?”
Benedict Brogan, assistant editor, the Telegraph:
“You can speculate as much as you like…”
“Well, it doesn’t just land… It doesn’t fly through the sky and land. Someone comes along to you with a little disc and says ‘here you are do you want this?’ and you say yes. and presumably you pay for it?”
“David, you’ve been a journalist for even longer than I have and the fact is the first rule of journalism – you don’t discuss your sources, or how you got things.
“The fact is that the Telegraph has been working on this story for weeks: we’ve got 25 journalists working on it, lawyers, all sorts of experts looking at it, and I can assure you that a newspaper like the Telegraph, which is a serious newspaper, has not entered into this exercise lightly.
“The things we satisfied ourselves about, were one, that the information is genuine; and two, that it is in the public interest that we publish it.
“The fact is that if the Telegraph hadn’t published, it hadn’t taken what I would describe as fairly courageous action to put this out into the public domain (…)”
“Why’s it courageous? Your circulation has gone up. You’ve had a story a day for seven days and from what one gathers another one tomorrow. And more the days after. What’s courageous about it?”
“You only have to look at the reaction of the political classes, and the hostility expressed towards the Telegraph to suggest that (…)”
“Are you scared of the political class? What’s so brave about it? I don’t understand.”
“Not at all. When you heard that people were prepared to contemplate the possibility of legal action to prevent the Telegraph from publishing – this is something we had to consider. The fact is we considered it and we pressed ahead, and as a result the electorate, the British public, are aware of something the MP’s did not want released and now people can see it for themselves and draw their own conclusions about their MPs.”
“Ming Campbell, you’re a lawyer…”
Ming Campbell, MP:
“It used to be that the editor of the Daily Telegraph did get a knighthood because in those days it was essentially the house magazine of the Conservative party (…) Those days have long gone.
“I’m rather more sympathetic to Ben Brogan than you might expect, for this reason: just a little while ago in the House of Commons we had an incident involving Mr Damian Green. And what was Mr Damian Green doing? He was leaking information which had been supplied to him… And what seems to me to be very difficult is to take a high and mighty moral attitude about the leak of this information.
“What I do think though, and I understand why Ben Brogan might like to protect his sources, is that perhaps to demonstrate the commercial ability of the Daily Telegraph, and its auditor! Its editor! Freudian slip there you may have noticed (…) tell us precisely how much they paid.”
“As I said earlier, the key thing earlier is to not discuss sources, so I’m not going to get into that. You may try but I’m not going to get into that.”
“Transparency, transparency, transparency!”
“Do you know the answer for the question I’m asking you, even if you won’t give it?”
“I probably shouldn’t even tell you if I know the answer (…) the politicians can try to distract us from the matter at hand by talking about the processes as to how the Telegraph got hold of it (…) what is important is what we now know about our MPs (…)”
“The lady [up there] made a point that the newspapers had some responsibility to report positive things as well as negative things (…) What do you make of that?”
Steve Easterbrook, CEO of McDonald’s UK:
“I don’t hand out many knighthoods… To me there are aspects of cheque book journalism, if that’s what it is, which are pretty unsavoury and pretty sordid, particularly when they’re invasive and they disrupt people people’s lives and I certainly don’t approve of that. But on this case I am pretty comfortable that this is in the public’s best interest. Or in the tax payers’ best interest, to be honest with you.
“But it does require balance: I think we’d all like to see some good news, some balance put to this (…) How many MPs out there do play the game straight, give us hope and can give us some positive belief?
“(…) Perhaps we [the panel] haven’t gauged the mood of the country. I spend a lot of time in restaurants, that’s my job, chatting to staff, chatting to customers.
“Not one of them has ever made the comment ‘wasn’t the newspaper wrong to print it’. All the conversations is about the actual detail of course, and we shouldn’t fly against the mood of the country on this one.”
Member of the audience:
“I think the Daily Telegraph have actually done a very good job; they’ve made something transparent that should have already been transparent, and that’s what our money’s been spent on.”
George Park, member of the audience:
“Surely the main reason why the Telegraph had to do this, was because the Speaker, and people like him, were trying to suppress this information. And it gave the Telegraph so much credibility because of all of these people were dragged screaming and kicking to make all this information known…”
Turi Munthe, CEO and founder of the citizen journalism site, Demotix, shared an interesting thought with participants of the Voices Online Blogging Conference on Monday. The young Demotix interns consume news differently from the way he does. He elaborated to Journalism.co.uk after the panel.
“There is a generational split, but not in the way everyone imagines. It’s much more recent than that,” he said. People only ten years younger – he is in his 30s – consume news differently from the way he does, Munthe told Journalism.co.uk.
The interns in the office (‘who play a hugely important role: they’re regional editors and they get properly stuck into what we do’) read slightly differently, he said.
“They are getting the Twitter feeds, and the blog posts, and the Facebook messaging and the free papers, and everything else, and are very happy with it. Much more happy with it than I am.”
“Essentially, they process information differently. It’s a ‘meta-reading’. It’s not about individual brands. They are fully aware of all the back-stories of all the stories they’re getting,” he says.
It’s a ‘degree of sophistication,’ he said, ‘which reads the interests behind the news as an integral part of the news’.
“This is something I had to learn. They’re constantly reading two things: what the information is, and who’s saying it – and it’s completely part of the story. Just as when I was doing history A-Level [you were taught to ask] ‘which is the source, who’s the source, why are they saying it?'”
“They get it. I think they are learning it as they are consuming it.”
Entering an era of ‘social knowledge’:
Munthe also believes that we are moving into an era of ‘social knowledge’.
For a long time, he said, theorists grappled with the dilemmas of post-structuralism and post-modernism, where the absolutes of the earlier part of the 20th century were abandoned. But they were not sure how to answer questions about society and ‘truth’, without returning to those absolutes, he said.
Now, with the advent of the web, a ‘social knowledge’ is emerging, via the spread of online information and idea-sharing, which Munthe believes is ‘the real founding for how we understand ideas,’ he explained.
“People read as sophisticatedly as they do because they’re know they’re getting their news from George, or from Johnny, or from Jack Lean or whoever it is.”
But, Journalism.co.uk asked, doesn’t that exclude a huge number of people who aren’t participating online? Munthe maintained not.
“I have a feeling that this meta-reading is not elitist,” Munthe answered. His real concern, he said, is the ‘radicalisation’ of online news. “If you’re the kind of person who is only ever going to watch Fox News, who is ‘properly rightist’, there’s no need for you to encounter any view but your own,” he says.
Conde Nast International’s CEO gave a rallying call to magazine publishers congregated at todays FIPP conference.
Newhouse said ‘the future is golden’ and dismissed ‘naysayers’ fortelling the end of the print industry.
Listen to Newhouse’s full speech below:[audio:http://www.journalism.co.uk/sounds/newhouse.mp3]
Metro International shares have plummeted on news of increased losses and a prospective bid falling through, but CEO, Per Mikael Jensen, remains optimistic.
“It was not a good quarter, but we could have done much worse,” Jensen told me, after the company posted grim financial news this morning.
Its net losses for the first quarter (Q1) of 2009 more than doubled compared to the same period last year, from 6.4 million euros to 15.3 million euros, and year-on-year net revenues decreased 24 per cent to 55.6 million euros from 73.4 million euros in Q1 2008.
The freesheet giant also announced that a mystery bid, which led the company to postpone seeking a rights issue to raise more capital earlier this year, had been stranded on the bidder’s inadequate financing arrangements.
The news caused Metro shares to fall sharply, but when I talked to Jensen, he professed to take comfort in the share doing better than before the bid emerged in February.
“I think people were calculating on a divestment,” he said, adding that he was not sure if the timing of the rights issue, which will now go ahead, would be any worse than two or three months ago.
In January, Metro shocked the market by closing its fully owned operation in Spain, which published the free daily newspaper Metro in seven Spanish cities, with immediate effect. However, in the last few months the company, which has 81 editions in 22 countries, has launched titles in Moscow and Mexico’s second city, Monterrey.
“It’s been our expressed strategy to grow in Russia, Asia and Latin America, markets that are not as mature as the European, for some time now,” Jensen said.
Read more about the consequences of the recession for free newspapers here.
Trinity Mirror CEO Sly Bailey reiterated her thoughts about Google and newspapers at Friday’s Digital Britain summit in the UK.
“[U]nique users don’t pay wages,” stressed Bailey.
“We’ve been playing in to the hands of the very businesses that play so fast and loose with our content in the first place. We’ve become dependent on pats on the back from new kids on the block who tell us what the rules are.”