Tag Archives: Chris Wheal

Budget details held back by Treasury press office

Finance journalist Chris Wheal reports that the Treasury press office will not provide him with figures showing how much worse off families will be as a result of the budget.

Wheal recorded a conversation with a press officer from the Treasury (and then uploaded this to Audioboo) when he called back to double check that the figures, which apply to a graph within the budget report, would not be released to him.

In the conversation Wheal is told the figures are available, but will not be published for two weeks.

Let’s be clear on this: The Treasury knows it must release the figures under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act. But it knows that a FOI request allows it 20 working days to respond, so it is delaying by less than that. It is using a freedom of information loophole to delay giving taxpayers information it could – and should – publish instantly.

The Treasury press officer has not yet responded to a request for comment.

Death knock blogger Chris Wheal speaks on Today programme

Chris Wheal, a journalist who recently blogged about his family’s experience of the press following the death of his nephew, spoke more about the issue on the Today programme this morning.

Wheal spoke about his personal understanding of the journalists’ need to get their own story, but felt that rules need to be stronger to stop families feeling harassed.

As a journalist I understand the need to get a story and I understand from lots of comments on my blog that journalists have sometimes turned up and been welcomed by families in these circumstances who get a chance to grieve and are pleased that the papers are interested. But that’s not the case with my sister. They’re a very private family, they want to grieve in private. It feels like harassment although it’s not because it’s not the same journalist coming back again and again.

Presenter Evan Davies added that no family will ever be prepared for how to deal with the media in such a situation as nobody can forsee such a thing, but that they will face a “highly competitive industry”. Wheal responded that industry codes of conduct need to be strengthened.

The PCC code of conduct doesn’t really tackle it, “in cases involving personal grief or shock, enquiries and approaches must be made with sympathy and discretion and publication handled sensitively”. I think for someone like my sister who is not a publicity grabbing person and would shy away from the press in normal circumstances, there has to be actually a stronger pressure on the press to not do that.

The NUJ code of conduct is much stronger, stating journalists should “do nothing to intrude into anybody’s private life, grief or distress unless justified by overriding consideration of the public interest”. But even thought this story its interesting to the public, I understand that, it is not in the public interest. I think journalists sometimes harden themselves in order to go make those calls and knock on those doors, but sometimes by hardening ourselves we actually forget the impact of our actions on the poor people we are trying to interview.

Hear the full interview here…

#FollowJourn: @whealie/freelance journalist

#FollowJourn: Chris Wheal

Who? Freelance journalist, editor and trainer.

What? He writes and edits for a range of publishing companies and his company, run with his wife, produces magazines for small professional membership organisations. He’s also an active NUJ member and trainer.

Where? @You can find more on ChrisWheal.com and his blog.

Contact? @whealie on Twitter or via his site.

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.

Comment: The NUJ and new media – ‘bloggers rejoice in lower standards’

It was with some astonishment that I read the following comment from the chair of the UK’s National Union of Journalists (NUJ) professional training committee, Chris Wheal, on Adam Tinworth’s blog:

“The NUJ fails to maintain standards in blogs because bloggers themselves rejoice in having lower standards.”

Tinworth had written about his discovery in his blog’s referrer logs that an email exchange within the NUJ under the subject ‘effing blogs’ had led someone to his website.

Wheal points out some flaws in the original post, as he sees them – in particular an alleged witch hunt surrounding one of the recipients of the email.

Personally I don’t believe a witch hunt was Tinworth’s aim – he was, as Suw Charman points out in the post’s comments, writing about what he observes.

Aside from that it’s hard to engage/respond/take on board what Wheal is saying when the tone gets your back up in the way it does and makes sweeping statements like the above.

He goes on to say that the NUJ is currently looking at Yahoo Pipes and new Webvision CMS – great, talk to your members, many of whom are also bloggers, about it.

But do this in a way that respects the ‘social’ aspect of social media and learn that blogs like Adam Tinworth’s are intended as open conversations.

Wheal says he wants the NUJ training committee to engage with bloggers to raise standards – this is a lesson in how not to do it.

NUJ’s Journalist magazine to launch website?

The April edition of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) magazine the Journalist is available only as a downloadable pdfa decision criticised by some, who argue that a dedicated website for the publication is needed.

However, according to an introduction to a feature in the current issue, there are plans afoot to launch such a site: “The Journalist Editorial Advisory Board is already working on a plan to go online with a site — a proper website, not pdfs — launching later this year. The relationship to the printed magazine — and to the union’s official website — are under discussion.”

In the feature, Chris Wheal, freelance journalist and chair of the NUJ Professional Training Committee, says a multimedia website for the union could demonstrate its ability to do multimedia content ‘in a planned, well thought-out and funded way’. Wheal also suggests that such a site might require a full-time editor’s post with less responsibility for union duties.

Reactions to the PDF version featured alongside this article show little support for an PDF-only Journalist. “This completely undermines our faith in the newspaper and magazine business. Many members will not bother to access the NUJ site,” says one commenter, while another suggests the experiment will ‘damage links with members and decrease their support’.

This month’s trial has certainly provided some food for thought, but what’s the answer: pdf, hybrid or online-only?