Forget about the politicians and their wives, which journalist has done it for you during the general election? In this completely unofficial set of polls, let us know whose coverage you’ve enjoyed the most. If you’ve got notable mentions to add, drop us a line [judith at journalism.co.uk], tweet [@journalismnews] or comment below. Nominations were compiled using our readers’ suggestions – but add your own to the poll too!
So, as Matt Wardman noted on this blog today, bloggers are soon to be allowed into parliament. But who will be the first?
Mark Pack says he hears that passes are “on their way” to the Guy News TV team: “It’s an off-shoot of the Guido Fawkes blog though, unlike the blog, the online TV show becoming legally based in the UK. Even so, given its very irreverent attitude to politics, this is a move that isn’t being met with universal adulation from the existing lobby members.”
Journalism.co.uk dropped a line to Guido himself: “I have not applied for a pass,” is the quick response.
As noted a short while ago, the Press Complaints Commission ruled that it had found a Daily Mail diary piece about potential Conservative candidate Iain Dale not to be in breach of the PCC code. “I still think it was a clear breach of Section 12 [discrimination] of the PCC code. I quite agree with what they say about the right to offend, but this was gratuitous and it was the second time it had happened,” Iain Dale told Journalism.co.uk.
“I have no idea if it affected my chances in Bracknell [constituency where Dale was competing for the Conservative candidacy], but it certainly wouldn’t have helped. It seems clear to me now that the PCC will reach the same judgment in the Jan Moir case.”
Meanwhile, Guardian blogger Roy Greenslade, who agrees with the PCC ruling on this occasion, ‘imagine[s] that the commission will take the same view about Jan Moir’s column, which was far more offensive than Ephraim’s remarks about Dale’.
The Press Complaints Commission has ruled that the Daily Mail was not in breach of clause 12 (discrimination) with a diary piece that described blogger and aspiring Conservative candidate Iain Dale ‘overtly gay’. Commenting on Dale’s bid for the parliamentary constituency of Bracknell, the piece said it was ‘charming how homosexuals rally like-minded chaps to their cause’. Dale lodged a complaint, claiming that the references were pejorative and the article homophobic, the PCC noted.
Today the PCC reported:
“The Commission could understand why the complainant found the comments to be snide and objectionable. However, it did not rule that there had been a breach of Clause 12 (Discrimination) of the Code. It noted that the item had used no pejorative term for the complainant, nor had it ‘outed’ him. In the Commission’s view, the piece was uncharitable, but – in the context of a diary column, known to poke fun at public figures – was not an arbitrary attack on him on the basis of his sexuality.
“The Commission said that: ‘where it is debatable – as in this case – about whether remarks can be regarded solely as pejorative and gratuitous, the Commission should be slow to restrict the right to express an opinion, however snippy it might be. While people may occasionally be insulted or upset by what is said about them in newspapers, the right to freedom of expression that journalists enjoy also includes the right – within the law – to give offence.'”
In the wake of the Jan Moir episode at the end of last month, a petition to Gordon Brown was launched, questioning the impartiality of the PCC and calling for its replacement by a public body. The PCC’s deputy director (and soon-to-be director) Stephen Abell subsequently defended the position of Daily Mail editor, Paul Dacre, as head of its code committee.
Iain Dale reports that Total Politics’ political editor, Ben Duckworth, will replace Sarah MacKinlay as editor.
MacKinlay, who edited the magazine – which brands itself as non-partisan – for 18 months, plans to start up a new PR company called Journalista. Dale writes:
“I know what a challenge it is to start up a new business in a recession. Journalista, among other things, will be doing PR for politicians and other participants in the world of politics.”
Dale shares the traditional departing gift given to MacKinlay on his blog.
Last night Journalism.co.uk picked up its laptop and notepad, and sat on the fence. Sitting in the audience of the Editorial Intelligence/Edelman/Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism ‘Commentariat vs Bloggertariat, Who is winning?’ event typing away definitely had me branded as a ‘blogger’ by some of the established comment writers in the row in front, who seemed to throw a glance every time liveblogging was mentioned.
Blogger/reporter/observer – it was a night of arbitrary definitions – some of which were fortunately challenged by the panel of:
Martin Bright, New Deal of the Mind founder and Spectator blogger
Mick Fealty, political blogger at Slugger O’Toole and the Telegraph’s Brassneck blog
Iain Dale, Iain Dale’s diary
David Aaronovitch, comment writer for The Times
Anne Spackman, comment editor for The Times
Before attending the event I had some reservations about setting up bloggers/blogs vs comment writers/comment – so it was good to see this artificial opposition challenged by both panel and audience.
“They are part of the same thing – it is part of the same continuum. I think it’s an artificial distinction,” said Bright.
But there are new rules and etiquette that blogging, and the technology which powers it, have introduced, which are shaping the future of comment.
“Bloggers have been able to hold traditional commentariat to account. That gets an instant reaction from the commentariat because they’re not used to be held to accountable in this way,” explained Dale.
“When you do comment quickly you do make mistakes and you have to hold your hands up.”
And if the future of journalism and the business of publishing is online, bloggers are the pathfinders, added Fealty:
“We’ve changed the behaviour of a commentariat. It isn’t bloggers that have ripped the revenue out of the big newsgatherers – it’s Google,” he said.
“Online bloggers have started a party that is irresistible to the commentariat. Spreadability is the new currency. To do that you need a personal audience as a blogger.
“They [the commentariat] are better writers, but there are many more of us than there are of them (…) We’re getting stories from the little people, not the big people that the commentariat are. The people we talk to aren’t always the best behaved witnesses.
“We’re not obliged to fit in with someone else’s brand. Bloggers are brand builders, the new brand online (…) is us speaking directly from the gut.”
Anonymity and NightJack
Last night’s event was timely given the debate over the Times decision to out anonymous policeman blogger NightJack – despite a punchy start from Iain Dale, neither Spackman nor Aaronovitch would be drawn on the issue.
However, Spackman did say she agreed with Jeff Jarvis that social media sites were breaking down anonymity.
Aaronovitch went further saying he could see previously ‘anonymous’ political sources in comment writing being unmasked and suggested that this was a necessary development.
Bright agreed and said he hoped this would happen ‘organically’: “It is changing, but at the moment it isn’t changing fast enough.”
For journalists using social and new media sources, transparency is needed, added Aaronovitch: “There are synergies there (…) I use bloggers as sources of information I wouldn’t otherwise get. There’s a form of democratisation there. It’s unreliable democratisation – I don’t really know what I’m getting or who I’m getting it from.”
Twitter challenge and shaping the future
The commentariat has been with us for 25 years, but how the shape of the ‘bloggertariat’ will shift in the same time is almost unpredictable, he added.
“I absolutely love what the new media has created (…) the possibilities it has created for me and everyone else.
“We couldn’t even imagine two years ago that there’d be a form of 140 characters and we had no idea how it would apply itself to situations like Iran.
“‘Commentariat vs bloggertariat’ suggests a settled contention that we know where everybody is and everybody’s going.”
Indeed the rise of Twitter was agreed to be a somewhat unforeseen challenge to the dominance of blogging over traditional comment.
“I’ve yet to read a great classic blog post. I think it’s getting close with Twitter. Every now and then you do read a fantastic tweet,” said Bright.
But, commenting on yesterday’s launch of the UK Investigations Fund, Bright said he was concerned that developments and the future of neither the bloggertariat or commentariat would accommodate investigative journalism.
UPDATE – you can now download Editorial Intelligence’s podcast of the event.
Tom Watson MP has published a release from law firm Carter Ruck in full on his blog, after false allegations were made against the politician in a Mail on Sunday article by political blogger Iain Dale.
Dale’s piece alleged that Watson had been copied into ‘smear’ emails sent by former Downing Street aide Damian McBride.
Associated Newspapers, owners of the MoS, has accepted the allegations were untrue, apologised to Watson and paid him ‘substantial damages’ and costs.
Nick Jones, former BBC political correspondent, joined panellists Iain Dale and Paul Staines (aka Guido Fawkes) at the Foregin Press Association yesterday, where the impact of new media on newsgathering and reporting was discussed.
Further to Dale’s comments on blogging and political journalism, Jones added that audio and video material appearing on newspaper websites is ‘stretching journalism in the way it should be stretched’.
“Newspapers are making money out of video and audio. They are buying up exclusive material obtained in dubious circumstances – but it is getting good ratings,” said Jones.
“The Guardian was prepared to take risks the BBC would not have contemplated,” said Jones, who claimed the BBC would have had to apply a ‘whole host’ of tests to the video evidence.
The code for newspapers is much simpler, he suggested: “They just need to ask, is it in the public interest?”
Total Politics, political blogger Iain Dale’s recently launched magazine, tomorrow publishes its list of top political journalists, as voted for by over 100 MPs, the magazine’s Facebook group of 500, and 130 lobby journalists. It can be viewed online, after registering, on the e-zine site.
Iain Dale told Journalism.co.uk that it’s “surprising that the BBC seems more loved by Conservative MPs and Labour MPs, but few will be surprised that Labour MPs rate Andrew Marr and James Naughtie highly.
“The surprise is that Andrew Neil doesn’t figure in the Top 20 of either party. Conservative MPs have shown a masochistic tendency by voting Jeremy Paxman at eight, but Labour MPs don’t include him in their Top 20 at all.”
Topping the overall list:
1. Evan Davis
2. Jeremy Paxman
3. Matthew Parris
4. Nick Robinson
5. John Humphrys
So who do the Tories like…?
1. Evan Davis
2. Jonathan Oliver
3. Jeremy Vine
4. Carolyn Quinn
5. Martha Kearney
And who do Labour like….?
1. Andrew Marr
2. Michael White
3. David Aaronovitch
4. Polly Toynbee
5. Evan Davis
And journalists themselves…?
1. Nick Robinson
2. Jeremy Paxman
3. Evan Davis
4. David Dimbleby
5. John Humphrys
TotalPolitics, the website published by former 18DoughtyStreet blogger Iain Dale, has gone live today.
The site and magazine, which are described as ‘a lifestyle magazine dedicated to all things political’, will report on all that’s positive within the UK’s political scene.
Three group blogs feature on the site in addition to political blog listings and a database of political speeches and quotations
The majority of the content from the print edition will feature online alongside these new features, Dale wrote in a blog post on his personal blog.