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Alan Rusbridger: The Guardian, the Scott Trust, and the thorny issue of tax

February 23rd, 2011 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Business, Editors' pick

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger has penned a long piece for the Inside Guardian.co.uk blog about the newspaper’s tax status and its relationship with funding bodies the Scott Trust and Guardian Media Group.

It makes for interesting reading for anyone curious about the tax issues facing large, loss-making media organisations, or the affiliate revenue streams that keep them running, or the measures in place for making sure editorial content is not unduly influenced by the business dealings that provide for it.

Individual columnists – and even leader writers – may well disagree with some aspects of how the parent company has run itself over the years. Commercial colleagues may likewise fundamentally disagree with the views of the paper and its writers. The point of the trust is to allow each to operate independently. It seems an odd argument that individual Guardian journalists, who have no part in business decisions, should refrain from covering tax avoidance, or should feel inhibited in expressing their views.

Full post on Guardian.co.uk at this link.

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Guardian asks readers who it should back for the UK election

April 23rd, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

The Guardian is using Comment is Free to ask its readers which political party the paper should back in its election editorial. Comments have to be submitted before 1pm today.

Beyond this, however, there’s a great table showing UK national newspapers’ support for different parties since 1945 – the data can be sorted by individual title, year and election winner:


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New Guardian.co.uk homepage adds multimedia and flexible storytelling to design

March 30th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

The Guardian has today launched a new homepage for its website, Guardian.co.uk.

While the design is similar to other pages on the site, it has been revamped to give more prominence to long-running stories and to allow more flexibility for incorporating multimedia and breaking news coverage.

Explaining the changes in a blog post, Guardian.co.uk editor Janine Gibson also makes a dig at News International’s recently announced paywall plan for the Times and Sunday Times online:

We wanted to be able to convey the importance of stories using different methods of presentation and we’re aware that sometimes it’s been hard to find our coverage of a long-running story if nothing new has happened today so we’ve introduced spaces to keep important subjects alive. We also wanted to be able to embed live stats in the front page as we inch towards a UK election and, perhaps most importantly, we need the front page to be a more flexible space so we can change what we’re doing in response to events. In a way that seems incredibly symbolic in today’s context, but didn’t at all when we started thinking about the front page many months ago, we wanted it to be very open, and to change shape to reflect stories, communities and what the wider web is up to. The opposite of putting it behind a wall.

New features include a “trending” section, directing users to content on the key topics of the day, and a “campaigns and investigations” box towards the top of the page. The “latest multimedia” section gives audio and video content pride of place, while a “what you’re saying” panel further down the page gives users more prominence, says Gibson.

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Users commission Guardian’s Comment is Free for the day

The Guardian’s online discussion site, Comment is Free, has turned four, and to celebrate the occasion it has opened up its commissioning process to the users, the results of which can be seen at this link.

CiF editor Matt Seaton writes today:

It seems a good moment then, this fourth birthday, to mark the evolution of Cif in this direction by having thrown open the commissioning of articles to you, our users. Obviously, it’s our selection of your ideas – not easy, as there were multitudes to pick from – and depending on what happens news-wise today, we may feel compelled to add a few pieces of our own devising. But essentially, we’re celebrating today by having you guys guest-edit the site. It’s a way of saying thank you, as the commissioning we do based on suggestions in the You tell us threads is really helping Cif- bringing a freshness and diversity to the site.

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Round-up: Reaction to GMG Regionals sale to Trinity Mirror

February 10th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Jobs, Newspapers

Trinity Mirror’s acquisition of Guardian Media Group’s regional businesses, including Manchester Evening News publisher MEN Media, and plans to relocate MEN Media staff to Oldham has stirred mass discussion amongst media commentators online. Below are links breaking down the fundamental aspects of the story:

The Guardian’s Steve Busfield covers the imminent MEN move, reporting claims by Carolyn McCall, the chief executive of Guardian Media Groups, that the £44.8m sale of GMG is in the best interests of GMG Regional Media.

Holdthefrontpage.co.uk has a statement from Bethan Dorsett, organiser of the NUJ chapel at MEN Media Weeklies, and Judith Gordon, director of the MEN chapel, describing their concerns for MEN staff.

The Drum covers the various reactions produced by the deal, questioning whether Trinity got a good deal or gained a dying media group, including comments from analyst Jim Chisholm, who told the Drum it was “a great deal for Trinity Mirror” though “not such a great reflection of the way the regional print industry is today viewed”.

On Press Gazette, the financial benefits of the deal to GMG and Trinity Mirror – pointing towards the FT’s analysis of the sale, which considers the issue of consolidation, but comes down in favour of TM saying it was a bargain for the group.

Crain’s Manchester business takes notice of the exclusion of Channel M in the GMG sale to Trinity Mirror. Channel M lost GMG a significant amount of money since it’s launch and its segregation has left questions being asked about the channels future.

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Audio: Alan Rusbridger on pay walls

The audio is now available for Alan Rusbridger’s appearance at Coventry University last week. It’s a little patchy in quality but worth a listen for his comments in full: http://podcasting.services.coventry.ac.uk/podcasting/index.php?id=298

As reported by Marc Johnson for Journalism.co.uk, the Guardian editor expressed optimism about the future of the newspaper last Friday, despite reported losses of up to £100,000 per day late last year:

Speaking at this year’s second Coventry Conversation talk, run by the Coventry University journalism department, Rusbridger said that despite significant losses the Guardian had no plans to put up pay walls.

Discussing Rupert Murdoch’s plans to charge for News International’s online content, Rusbridger said: “It would be crazy if we were to all jump behind a pay wall and imagine that would solve things.” He conceded that, whilst pay walls are unlikely to be erected around Guardian.co.uk, it was good that journalism was “trying different things.”

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Monbiot, the Spectator and the ‘spiked’ debate

September 23rd, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Online Journalism

Environmental campaigner and journalist George Monbiot vents his anger with the Spectator on Guardian.co.uk today. It’s the latest update to a saga in which the Spectator and the Guardian columnist dispute the facts over a proposed debate between climate change denier Ian Plimer and Monbiot.

It has never taken place but both sides disagree as to why. Spectator editor Fraser Nelson declares the publication of Monbiot’s correspondence with the Spectator on Monbiot.com ‘an act of desperation’. Today Monbiot retorts that he is glad he did publish the emails in full:

“Among other accusations, he [Fraser] maintains that I spiked the debate the magazine was hoping to organise between myself and Ian Plimer. This is the opposite of the truth. It was the Spectator that spiked the debate.”

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Possibility of more redundancies at the Guardian; GNM losing £100,000 a day

September 16th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Job losses, Jobs, Newspapers

Fifty editorial jobs needed to be cut at Guardian News&Media as part of an attempt to reduce costs by £10 million, it was announced in May this year. Now it looks like there could be more jobs at risk, as the managing director of Guardian News & Media, Tim Brooks, told staff in a memo posted on the Guardian’s intranet.

“We are looking at everything – literally everything – that we do, to see how we can economise, and we will do whatever we can to keep the impact on staff to a minimum. However, because the biggest portion of our costs is people’s salaries, we have to review staffing levels,” he said.

GNM was losing £100,000 a day – a rate that cannot be afforded by its parent company, Guardian Media Group, Brooks said.

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Stephen Farrell’s kidnap raises the ‘media blackout’ question: it’s time for a debate in the UK

September 10th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Comment, Newspapers, Press freedom and ethics

This week’s operation in Afghanistan to rescue New York Times journalist Stephen Farrell, during which a British soldier, Farrell’s Afghan translator (Sultan Munadi) and two civilians were killed, has provoked national debate in the UK:

“One senior Army source told the Daily Telegraph “When you look at the number of warnings this person had it makes you really wonder whether he was worth rescuing, whether it was worth the cost of a soldier’s life.” (Telegraph.co.uk)

Many of the commenters on news stories feel very strongly that it was wrong for a journalist’s actions to lead to such tragic consequences, as Jon Slattery noted on his blog yesterday. Further still: “Members of the Armed Forces have expressed anger that he [Farrell] ignored warnings not to visit the site of an air strike on two hijacked fuel tankers that killed scores of Taliban and innocent villagers,” the Telegraph reported. Others defend the role of journalists in Afghanistan: for example, the Committee to Protect Journalists and the International Federation of Journalists.

This tragic incident also raised another issue, that of media silence. Today a special report by Joe Strupp on Editor&Publisher questions whether media blackouts are appropriate when reporters are kidnapped in war zones. It’s an excellent overview of recent events, that looks back at the case of another New York Times journalist, David Rohde – the paper managed to keep news of his kidnap off Wikipedia until his escape seven months later.

The question of media blackout is one Journalism.co.uk has raised in the past. In January, we reported on the silence surrounding the kidnap of the Telegraph’s Colin Freeman and José Cendon in Somalia. We had been asked not to report on the case by the Telegraph and the UK Foreign Office when the pair went missing at the end of 2008. The ban was lifted when they were released.

However, as we reported, some information was published before the blackout request was made clear: the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) released information relating to the journalists’ kidnap on November 26 2008 and Roy Greenslade subsequently blogged about it at Guardian.co.uk – the post was removed but it was still captured in the RSS feed.

It’s a complex issue that Strupp raises in his E&P article:

“With Rohde’s escape, a major debate ignited in and out of the journalism community about how responsible the coordinated secret had been. Was this a breach of journalistic ethics, sitting on a story for so long mainly because a colleague was involved?”

Strupp quotes Edward Wasserman, a journalism professor at Washington & Lee University in Virginia, who echoed claims of other critics, that the Times and similar news outlets would not do the same for a non-journalist: “Some people are in a position to implore the press for restraint better than others”.

It is a debate we need to have in the UK too: the London-based Frontline Club would be an ideal venue in which to hold a discussion with representatives from the UK foreign office, press freedom and safety organisations and news organisations raising the reasons for and against media blackouts. The practicalities of enforcement also need to be discussed. We understand that such an idea is in the pipeline, so we’ll keep you posted.

Please do share links to existing debate online.

In the meantime, here is a link to an item on this morning’s BBC Radio 4 Today programme, featuring Frontline Club founder and cameraman (and former soldier) Vaughan Smith and the BBC’s Jeremy Bowen discussing the Stephen Farrell case.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8247000/8247681.stm

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Journalism Daily: More on online sub-editing and public interest journalism

September 7th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Journalism Daily

A daily round-up of all the content published on the Journalism.co.uk site. You can also sign up to our e-newsletter and subscribe to the feed for the Journalism Daily here.

News and features:

Ed’s Picks:

Tip of the Day:

#FollowJourn:

On the Editors’ Blog:

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