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Is World Journalism in Crisis? Speaker update: Nick Davies confirmed

As previously reported on Journalism.co.uk, we are supporting an event at Coventry University on October 28 that will ask ‘Is World Journalism in Crisis?’ with participants contributing via video-link from around the globe.

It already had an exciting line-up: chaired by the BBC College of Journalism’s Kevin Marsh, speakers include Fackson Banda, SAB-UNESCO Chair of Media & Democracy at Rhodes University, South Africa; Jeff Jarvis, BuzzMachine blogger and journalism professor at City University New York (CUNY), and Professor Adrian Monck, World Economic Forum, former head of journalism at City University, London.

Now Nick Davies, author of Flat Earth News and special correspondent for the Guardian, is also confirmed – live from Brighton. And, we’re permitted to hint, it looks very likely that the BBC’s Jeremy Paxman will be joining the conversation from London.

‘Is World Journalism in Crisis?’ Wednesday October 28, 2-5 pm. Entry will be free. For further information please contact John Mair at Coventry University, johnmair100 at hotmail.com or Judith Townend: judith at journalism.co.uk.

NB: The event will follow the annual conference of the Institute of Communication Ethics, ‘I’m an ethicist… get me out of here: Communication, celebrity and conscience in a global media age,’ also in Coventry, from 10am to 12:30. For further details contact Katherine Hill: K.Hill [at] leedstrinity.ac.uk.

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Academics threaten Observer boycott: the letters in full

August 21st, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Job losses, Jobs, Newspapers

As reported on the main site, a number of high profile figures in business and academia have already, or are threatening to, cancel their subscriptions to the Observer, after the paper – the threatened closure of which has been widely reported – cut the weekly column by management expert Simon Caulkin. Below:

(1) Original letter to editors of the Guardian and Observer protesting the decision from over 60 signatories, never published.

(2) Follow-up letter from a key figure in the campaign, Philip Whiteley on behalf of over 80 signatories, questioning the lack of response, never published.

(3) Email reply from Observer editor, John Mullholland.

Hat-tip: Private Eye Issue 1243, August 21 – September 3, page 7, for a story that alerted us to the protest.

Letters in full:

(1) Original letter to editors of the Guardian and Observer

15 June 2009

The Editor
The Observer

Dear Sir

We are astonished and appalled by your decision to drop the Simon Caulkin column just at the point when the ideas he has covered over the years have become more relevant than ever.

We are living through one of the biggest crises of governance in history. September 2008 saw not just the end of Lehman Brothers but the end of 30 years’ dominance of neo-liberalism as the guiding ideology in running major private and public sector institutions. The notion that ‘maximising shareholder value’ can be considered in isolation from society was exposed as a pretence – bad for business as well as for society. The mechanistic strictures of the dominant management orthodoxy, with its dehumanising notion of people as a ‘resource’, its target culture and its opaque lexicon of competences, outputs and so on, have wrought terrible damage in social care, the NHS and education, as well as in the private sector.

Over the past 16 years, one journalist alone has been consistent in exposing the shallowness and limitations of these approaches. Simon Caulkin has set out a coherent alternative, rather than merely channelling protest. The unifying theme of the thinkers that he has championed – W Edwards Deming, Jeffrey Pfeffer, John Seddon, Gary Hamel and others – has been that organisations and economies are best managed by understanding the inter-dependence of different stakeholders.

Your decision, therefore, is ill-judged and ill-timed. A wiser choice would be to elevate Simon’s column to the main section of the paper. There is huge potential in the ideas he has promoted to assist ideological renewal of political parties, as well as to help governance generally.

We hope that you will see this as not just a letter of protest, but as sincere advice to recommend urgently that you reconsider your decision, and retain a vital element of your paper that could continue make a major contribution to policy debate.

Yours sincerely

Ricardo Semler, entrepreneur and author
Andrew Campbell, Director, Ashridge Business School
Philip Whiteley, chair Human Capital Forum
Dennis Tourish, Professor of Leadership and Management, Aberdeen Business School, Robert Gordon University
Susan White, Professor of Social Work, Department of Applied Social Science, Lancaster University
Petra Wilton, Director of Policy and Research, Chartered Management Institute
Joe Lamb, Emeritus Professor St Andrews University
Professor Jonathan Michie, President, Kellogg College, University of Oxford
Susan Scott-Parker OBE, chief executive of the Employers’ Forum on Disability
Professor Chris Brady, Dean, BPP Business School
H. Thomas Johnson, Professor of Business Administration Portland State University, USA
Mark Goyder, Director Tomorrow’s Company
Alistair Mant, Chairman, Socio-technical Strategy Group, Adjunct Professor, Swinburne University of Technology (Melbourne)
Ismail Erturk, Senior Lecturer in Banking, The University of Manchester
Su Maddock, Director Whitehall Innovation Hub
Dave Wastell, Professor of Information Systems, Nottingham University Business School
Gary Kirwan, Senior Employment Relations Adviser, Royal College of Nursing
Howard Clark, The Systems Thinking Review
Jim Standen, Director, Lignum Quality Services
Professor Bob Galliers, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Bentley University, Massachusetts, USA
Nigel Nicholson, Professor of Organisational Behaviour, University of London
Clive Bone, Chairman, Institute of Value Management
GD Cox
Keith Reader
Professor Anthony Hopwood, Said Business School
Alison Widdup, Managing Director, Better for Everyone
Fred John, Estates Officer, NHS.
Roy Madron, political scientist, UK/Brazil
Dr Richard Howells, Director, Centre for Cultural, Media and Creative Industries Research School of Arts and Humanities King’s College London
Margaret McCartney (Dr) GP and writer
Max Mckeown, Strategist and Leadership Innovation Expert
Sally Garratt, Director Garratt Learning Systems
Bob Garratt, Visiting Professor Cass Business School, London
Andrew Sturdy, Professor of Organisational Behaviour and Associate Dean, Warwick Business School, University of Warwick
Dr Martin Parker Professor of Culture and Organization, Director of Research and Deputy Head of School Editor-in-Chief of ‘Organization’ University of Leicester School of Management Leicester
Dr Gordon Pearson, Keele University
Jan Gillett, Chairman PMI
Dr. Mihaela Kelemen, Professor of Management Studies
Ian Christie, Associate, Green Alliance, Visiting professor, Centre for Environmental Strategy, University of Surrey
John Carlisle, Visiting Professor Sheffield Hallam University, Founder, Cooperation Works Ltd and the Intlizyo AIDS Trust, South Africa
Morice Mendoza, editor and writer
Dr Olivier Sykes, Department of Civic Design, University of Liverpool
Ron Glatter, Emeritus Professor of Educational Administration and Management, The Open University
Bob Bischhof, Chairman – Vitalize Health Products, Non Executive Director – Henderson Eurotrust Plc, Member of Board – German British Chamber of Industry and Commerce
Dr Paul Hodgkin, Chief Executive, Patient Opinion
Alastair Mitchell-Baker, Director Tricordant Ltd
Adam Hogg, Managing Director, (Retired) Conquest Inns
Simon Hollington, Director, Leading Edge Personal Development Ltd
Dr Philip McGovern, Programme Leader – Technology Management Programmes ITT
Neela Bettridge, Founding Partner, Article 13
John Orsmond, Chairman Data Vantage Group
Peter Medway
Paul H Ray, sociologist, USA
Tim Pidsley, director Tricordant, New Zealand
Dr Timothy Wadsworth, NHS
Dr Bruce Tofield, University of East Anglia
Warwick Mansell, freelance journalist and author Education by Numbers: the Tyranny of Testing
Professor Tom Keenoy, The University of Leicester School of Management
Bill Cooke, Professor of Management and Society, Lancaster University Management School
Dr Leslie Budd AcSS MCIT MCILT, Reader in Social Enterprise, Open University
Ken Starkey, Professor of Management and Organisational Learning, Nottingham University Business School

(2) Follow-up letter from a key figure in the campaign, Philip Whiteley, on behalf of 80 signatories

29 June 09

Dear Mr Rusbridger, Mr Mulholland

We write to register a double protest over the unjustified decision to drop the Simon Caulkin column, and your refusal to acknowledge the wave of anger that this decision has provoked.

Some 60 distinguished figures, including some of the most influential people in the world of business and management education, jointly signed a letter condemning your decision. You did not publish this, nor even give any of us the courtesy of an acknowledgment. In addition to this jointly signed correspondence, we know that over 200 people have individually registered their protest. The only letter to appear was mildly expressed. In short, you have seriously misled your readers over both the nature and extent of the protest, and of the support that Simon commands.

The Guardian/Observer has a strong tradition of respecting and upholding the principle of freedom of speech and dissent, so we find it shocking to be denied a space for an entirely legitimate argument, made by some of your (previously) most loyal and long-standing subscribers.

Doubtless you have made this move on business grounds; but you appear to have made no calculation of the business consequences of this decision. The supporters of this campaign are not just any readers, but long-standing subscribers who have passed on the habit of reading the Guardian/Observer to friends, colleagues, children and (given the number of professors and authors co-signing) to students and readers also, but who are now reconsidering their loyalty.

Questions of governance and management do not constitute a side issue to those of economics and politics: quite the reverse. It is the culture of management that has led to chronic waste in the public sector and the banking crisis in the private sector. Simon Caulkin possesses a deep understanding of the underlying causal factors of these crises.

Since we began this campaign, the extent of the protest has grown, as can be seen by the extended list of signatories to this letter.

If there is a necessity to drop pages, we urge you to move Simon’s weekly contribution to the main section of the paper.

Yours

Philip Whiteley
On behalf of over 80 signatories (see list below)

Cc
Will Hutton
Polly Toynbee
Dan Roberts
Liz Forgan

Signed by:
Ricardo Semler, entrepreneur and author
Andrew Campbell, Director, Ashridge Business School
Philip Whiteley, chair Human Capital Forum
Dennis Tourish, Professor of Leadership and Management, Aberdeen Business School, Robert Gordon University
Susan White, Professor of Social Work, Department of Applied Social Science, Lancaster University
Su Maddock, Director Whitehall Innovation Hub
Petra Wilton, Director of Policy and Research, Chartered Management Institute
Joe Lamb, Emeritus Professor St Andrews University
Professor Jonathan Michie, President, Kellogg College, University of Oxford
Susan Scott-Parker OBE, chief executive of the Employers’ Forum on Disability
Professor Chris Brady, Dean, BPP Business School
H. Thomas Johnson, Professor of Business Administration Portland State University, USA
Professor Christopher Grey, Head of Industrial Relations and Organizational Behaviour Group, Warwick Business School
Mark Goyder, Director Tomorrow’s Company
Alistair Mant, Chairman, Socio-technical Strategy Group, Adjunct Professor, Swinburne University of Technology (Melbourne)
Hilary Wainwright, Co-editor Red Pepper magazine, Fellow Centre for Participation Studies, Bradford University
Ismail Erturk, Senior Lecturer in Banking, The University of Manchester
Charlie Hedges, Chartered Geologist
Dave Wastell, Professor of Information Systems, Nottingham University Business School
Professor Martin Parker, University of Leicester
Gary Kirwan, Senior Employment Relations Adviser, Royal College of Nursing
Howard Clark, The Systems Thinking Review
Jim Standen, Director, Lignum Quality Services
Professor Bob Galliers, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Bentley University, Massachusetts, USA
David Davies, Director Didero Ltd
Nigel Nicholson, Professor of Organisational Behaviour, University of London
Clive Bone, Chairman, Institute of Value Management
GD Cox
Professor Anthony Hopwood, Said Business School
Alison Widdup, Managing Director, Better for Everyone
Fred John, Estates Officer, NHS.
Roy Madron, political scientist, UK/Brazil
Dr Richard Howells, Director, Centre for Cultural, Media and Creative Industries Research School of Arts and Humanities King’s College London
Max Mckeown, Strategist and Leadership Innovation Expert
Sally Garratt, Director Garratt Learning Systems
Bob Garratt, Visiting Professor Cass Business School, London
Andrew Sturdy, Professor of Organisational Behaviour and Associate Dean, Warwick Business School, University of Warwick
Dr Martin Parker Professor of Culture and Organization, Director of Research and Deputy Head of School Editor-in-Chief of ‘Organization’ University of Leicester School of Management Leicester
Dr Gordon Pearson, Keele University
Jan Gillett, Chairman PMI
Dr. Mihaela Kelemen, Professor of Management Studies
Ian Christie, Associate, Green Alliance, Visiting professor, Centre for Environmental Strategy, University of Surrey
John Carlisle, Visiting Professor Sheffield Hallam University, Founder, Cooperation Works Ltd and the Intlizyo AIDS Trust, South Africa
Morice Mendoza, editor and writer
Dr Olivier Sykes, Department of Civic Design, University of Liverpool
Ron Glatter, Emeritus Professor of Educational Administration and Management, The Open University
Bob Bischhof, Chairman – Vitalize Health Products, Non Executive Director – Henderson Eurotrust Plc, Member of Board – German British Chamber of Industry and Commerce
Dr Paul Hodgkin, Chief Executive, Patient Opinion
Alastair Mitchell-Baker, Director Tricordant Ltd
Adam Hogg, Managing Director, (Retired) Conquest Inns
Simon Hollington, Director, Leading Edge Personal Development Ltd
Dr Philip McGovern, Programme Leader, Technology Management Programmes, Institute of Technology, Tallaght, Dublin, Republic of Ireland
Neela Bettridge, Founding Partner, Article 13
John Orsmond, Chairman Data Vantage Group
Peter Medway
Paul H Ray, sociologist, USA
Tim Pidsley, director Tricordant, New Zealand
Dr Timothy Wadsworth, NHS
Dr Bruce Tofield, University of East Anglia
Professor Tom Keenoy, The University of Leicester School of Management
Bill Cooke, Professor of Management and Society, Lancaster University Management School
Dr Leslie Budd AcSS MCIT MCILT, Reader in Social Enterprise, Open University
Ken Starkey, Professor of Management and Organisational Learning, Nottingham University Business School
Kieran Doyle, General Manager Production at Sulzer Pumps UK Ltd
Dr Luke Mitcheson, Consultant Clinical Psychologist
Paul Buxton, Policy Officer, Crawley Borough Council
Roger Evans
Martin Meteyard (former Chair, Cafedirect plc)
Christopher Bird Owner, IT U Consulting Group
Laurence Barrett Associate Management Consultant
Paul Hodgkin Chief Executive at Patient Opinion
Bob Birtwell Tutor at University of Surrey
Andrew Campbell Director at Ashridge
Kathy Sheehy Williams Programme Manager at WEA
Rob Worth
Natascha Wolf, self-employed writer
Paul Summers, Corporate Programme Manager, Portsmouth City Council
David Kauders, Partner, Kauders Portfolio Management
Dave Kerr, Business Improvement Manager, Atkins
Paul Barratt, PMBprod
Kate Gott, PhD Student, Brunel Business School
Kevin Cryan, Analyst at DHL
Donal Carroll Associate at Open University Business School & Director at Critical Difference
Tim Casserley, Discovery Alliance & Edge Equilibrium & Author
Emma Langman, Head of Business Improvement at E Squared Thinking Ltd and Visiting Fellow in Systems at University of Bristol

(3) Reply from Observer editor, John Mullholland (by email)

1 July 2009 [by email]

Dear Phil Whiteley

Thank you for your letter and I must apologise for the delay in responding.

Simon Caulkin is a tremendous writer and his column has added enormously to our understanding of British business and management. For these reasons, the decision to lose the column was not taken lightly. It followed much discussion and only after exploring many different options did we reluctantly conclude that we had to take this course of action.

As you will doubtlessly appreciate, this was just one of a host of difficult decisions we have had to make in order to reduce costs across the newspapers at Guardian News and Media.

Newspapers and media groups are experiencing the most difficult trading conditions imaginable. Not only are we suffering, like everyone else, from the catastrophic fallout from the credit crunch in terms of severely reduced advertising revenues but, additionally, our industry is under structural assault from digital media which is causing enormous disruption to our business models.

In these circumstances, we are having to make extremely difficult decisions many of which have caused real anguish as we seek to cut costs. I do hope that Simon can continue to have a relationship with the paper and that we can continue to publish his writing from time to time. Should the economic climate change, then perhaps we can revisit the issue.

Thank you for taking the trouble to write and I completely understand your sense of loss but hope you can appreciate the dilemmas we are facing.

Yours sincerely
John Mulholland
Editor
The Observer

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Pulse: Press Complaints Commission to investigate Daily Mail over GP pay claims

Pulse, the leading publication for the UK medical profession, has learnt that the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) is formally investigating a Daily Mail story that claimed GPs are earning as much as £380,000 a year.

“A spokesman for the commission told Pulse it had received ‘seven or eight’ complaints from doctors regarding the accuracy of the Mail’s front-page story on Tuesday.

“The story, based on figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from 22 PCTs, claimed to have ‘found one GP earning £380,000 a year and a number pocketing more than £300,000’ – although it admitted that ‘in some cases the figures include cash GPs have to pay out for staff salaries and rents’.”

The British Medical Association (BMA) said that General Practitioners Committe (GPC) chair, Dr Laurence Buckman, had written a formal letter of complaint to the Daily Mail editor, but had not yet complained to the PCC, Pulse reports.

A Daily Mail spokesperson defended its report, in response to complaints about accuracy.

Full story at this link…

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#Digital Britain: Ten good links

June 17th, 2009 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Events, Journalism

Yesterday it arrived: the final version of the Digital Britain report. Landline users among us will have to sacrifice around three lattes a year to meet the 50p a month levy for the Next Generation Fund.

Director of digital content for Guardian News & Media, Emily Bell, asked, via Twitter, for two words to sum it up other than ‘colossal disappointment’. An advanced Twitter search showed these responses from her followers: ‘as expected,’  ‘damp squib,’ ‘disappointingly colossal,’ ‘wasted chance’ and ‘too cautious’. However, Bell is now worried she might have been ‘too negative’ in her reaction – but that could just be her going soft, she says.

Ten good links*:

  • 2. ThinkBroadband’s summary. It’s clear and rectifies misunderstandings that might arise from second-hand summaries of the report.
  • 5. PageFlakes page with related links for Digital Britain content: including video, Twitter and blog searches.
  • 7. The BBC opposes top-slicing of the licence fee for independent news consortia, stated by the Trust’s chair Michael Lyons in a BBC press release.

*with an extra two, for luck.


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Independent.co.uk: Is Martin Newland stepping down as the National’s editor already?

June 8th, 2009 | 3 Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

Update 2 9/07/09: Jen Gerson’s update: Newland is ‘up’ not ‘out’ she says. Here’s the National’s report on the changes. Newland ‘has left the editorship for a more business-focused role overseeing the newspaper as its editorial director,’ it said.

Update 8/07/09: (via @SpotonPR) AdNation Middle East reports, following speculation, (see example below) that ‘Martin Newland has stepped aside as editor of The National, he officially announced today at a newsroom meeting at the Abu Dhabi paper, according to posts on Twitter by journalists at the paper’. The article states:

“The former Telegraph editor will remain at the paper as editorial director. Hassan Fattah, currently deputy editor, will take on the Big Chair, and Bob Cowan will become deputy in his place.”

Jen Gerson (@jengerson), a tourism reporter at the paper, tweeted one hour ago:

“Newland standing aside as editor in ‘worst kept secret in Abu Dhabi.’ Wants to move into business side.”

Speculation from the ‘Feral Beast’ column in yesterday’s Independent on Sunday:

“Just a year after the launch of The National in Abu Dhabi, rumours swirl that Martin Newland is to step down. The former Daily Telegraph editor set up the English-language paper, recruiting several ex-Telegraph hacks to join him.

“(…) My mole says Newland will continue to work for the paper but not as editor. I’m told his replacement will need to be pro the Emirates government and royal family, its proprietors. Newland did not return my calls.”

Full column at this link… (Hat tip: @PaulMcNally for Press Gazette)

What appeared to be details of the National’s salaries, including Martin Newland’s, were leaked earlier this year, as reported by the Guardian’s Media Monkey. Monkey suggested that, if ‘figures are believed’, Newland took home ‘a cool tax-free annual take home of about £320,000 a year’.

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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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Sir Michael Lyons on the BBC Trust, the licence fee and how it’s spent

May 20th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Broadcasting, Editors' pick

Below a Wordle of last night’s speech from Sir Michael Lyons, chair of the BBC Trust, to the Royal Television Society, in which Lyons defended the Trust’s role as a guardian of the BBC licence fee:

“In my book, ‘guardianship of the public interest in the BBC’ includes seeing off opportunistic attempts to spend the licence fee on things that have nothing to do with the BBC’s public purposes. Any proposal to spend any of the licence fee has to be judged against the public value it delivers. That’s the acid test.

“Let’s not forget whose money we are talking about here. Not the government’s, not political parties’, not other regulators’ and ultimately not the BBC’s. It’s the public’s money. It’s licence-fee payers’ money. People would do well to remember that licence fee payers give us their money in good faith, believing it will be spent on BBC services and content.”

Wordle of Michael Lyons' speech on the BBC licence fee

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

April 23rd, 2009 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Journalism, Legal

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.”

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Why the PCC didn’t appear at Frontline event and Steve Hewlett’s take on UK press regulation

April 3rd, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Events, Journalism, Newspapers

The increasingly heated UK press regulation debate continued this week. Yesterday saw former PCC chair, Sir Christopher Meyer, appear on BBC Two’s Daily Politics Show, to defend the body, with criticisms offered by Roy Greenslade.

And here’s an update from an event a few weeks ago during which the Independent’s editor, Roger Alton – a former PCC member – defended the body at a debate hosted at the Frontline Club (reported at this link by Press Gazette). The event is still well worth a watch if you have the time, with a mixed line-up led by Radio Four Media Show’s Steve Hewlett.

Alton, along with Steven Barnett, special advisor for the Media Standards Trust report  ‘A More Accountable Press, Part One’, and Albert Scardino, the broadcaster and commentator, hotly debated the current state of affairs.

Alton: “I don’t want to be the only person live on the web speaking up for the PCC.”

Debate host Steve Hewlett said that the PCC had been invited to participate but had chosen not to. Following the claim up, Journalism.co.uk asked PCC director Tim Toulmin why not. He said it was for a couple of reasons:

“First, we are focusing on the select committee inquiry at the moment, and think that the time to debate these big issues is within the context of their report, which of course is a more serious enterprise than the Media Standards Trust’s effort. Secondly, our dealings so far with the MST have shown them to be rude and not particularly well informed – which may sound harsh, but is a reason for not wanting to spend a precious evening being further exposed to their nonsense.”

That’s straight from the press regulation horse’s mouth.

Alton had also been particularly candid and, erm, descriptive in his language during the event – especially before he realised it was going out live. For example:

Alton: “The McCanns was a thing of such astonishing ghastliness by the press, you do indeed feel like viscerating your own bladder with it. I mean, it’s absolutely awful. But you can’t say the whole industry is fucked (…) What’s the basis for this conversation? It’s fairly confidential?”

Hewlett: “It’s being confidentially live broadcast…”

Alton’s face as he looks up to the camera, shown below:

rogeralton

Broadcaster and writer Steve Hewlett offered his take on the debate to Journalism.co.uk at the end of the Frontline event. For Hewlett, the issue is maintaining freedom of expression. “I think the press has always been disliked and it’s always been held in low regard (…) journalists may just be bottom feeders, but democracy is needed. You wouldn’t expect the press to be popular and well-thought of and I’m not surprised by that.”

“Multiplicity of regulation is one of the things that guarantees freedom of expression in a country that is prone to regulating everything out of existence if it can,” he told Journalism.co.uk.

“The last thing you’d want is everyone regulated in the same way,” he added.

Robert Peston is able to have freedom in his BBC blog, but he also has quite a lot of restrictions on what he can say, Hewlett added. “For example, the level of proof the BBC will insist is at a higher level than many of their City [correspondent] counterparts [in newspapers].

“Traditional media that don’t deliver value are going to go out of business,” Hewlett said, adding that there are ‘probably one too many papers’ in the UK.

Hewlett said that the Media Standards Trust had ‘opened the door’ to criticism by the PCC in its review of UK press regulation, for which it consulted an independent peer review group for part one of the ‘A More Accountable Press’ report.

“If you look at the statistics [cited in the report] it’s so easy to question,” Hewlett said, referring to specific examples in the report – for example, that ‘only 0.7 per cent of complaints are adjudicated on’. But, Hewlett said, that omits complaints dealt with by mediation rather than adjudication and complaints that are on the same issue.

While saying that he ‘held no candle’ for the PCC at all, Hewlett said the fact the MST’s authors had been ‘partial’ in the way they presented their data, and that they didn’t raise issues with the PCC prior to publication led to an ‘open goal’ for Sir Christopher Meyer and the PCC, who were able to say the report was partial, misleading and that the PCC hadn’t been appropriately consulted.

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AllMediaScotland: Charles Fletcher is new chair of MediaWise

Charles Fletcher, “a former Sky News correspondent, involved in the setting up of a radio station in South Queensferry, has been appointed chair of the media ethics charity, MediaWise,” AllMediaScotland.com reports.

Full story at this link…

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