Tag Archives: jon gaunt

‘Perfect timing’ for HuffPo UK, says Alastair Campbell

The Huffington Post is launching in the UK at the perfect time, says Alastair Campbell.

Speaking at Millbank Tower on a panel for the official launch event, Campbell said the British public are facing up to what newspapers have become – positioning Arianna Huffington’s news website in the perfect place to cause disruption.

Newspapers in this country are going further and further down the barrel until they reach the bottom, like the Sun. We’ll still have newspapers in future, there’ll just be fewer of them.

The panel (moderated by Richard Bacon) comprised of HuffPost founder Arianna Huffington, Kelly Osbourne, Jon Gaunt, Celia Walden and Shami Chakrabarti. Key themes that emerged throughout the debate were phone hacking, superinjunctions, the public perception of journalism and the issue of trust.

Huffington responded to claims from Toby Young that the launch was ill-timed by saying the website has “a phenomenal reach”, and its social nature would set it apart from other more well established UK sites.

Huffington Post is a combination of constant updates. It’s not about sitting on the couch and passively consuming, it’s about constantly passing on information, sharing and liking.

We employ 1,300 journalists, editors and reporters, but ulimately Huffington Post is a platform for our 9,000 bloggers. We promote linking, original reporting and making information available, people blog for us because they can use our huge audience and because they have something to say.

Jon Gaunt agreed with this, saying Huffington endeared herself to her bloggers by making her website very open. But he also criticised many newspapers’ forays into digital journalism.

Lots of newspaper websites are useless, because they’re made and look like newspapers. They’re created by people who’ve worked in newspapers their whole lives, and look terrible.

One thing the panel agreed on was the issue of trust and the role it would play in the future development of journalism. Summing up, Campbell said:

The single most important piece of communication regarding the death of Osama Bin Laden was still Barack Obama’s words, despite the thousands of articles written about the event.

Politicians still have ability to set the agenda, but people don’t trust politicians, journalists or economists – we still trust each other.

That’s why social news works – we talk to people we trust.

High court ruling ‘not a complete loss’ for Jon Gaunt, says Liberty

Legal office for human rights group Liberty, who backed Jon Gaunt’s high court appeal against an Ofcom ruling that said he breached the broadcasting code, argues on Index on Censorship that the high court’s decision was not a complete loss for the “shock jock”.

Gaunt lost his appeal against the industry regulator, which censured him last year for calling local councillor Michael Stark a “health nazi” in an interview about children in care.

Corrina Ferguson from Liberty says the high court has laid down some important principles with regards to freedom of expression, but failed to follow its own rules:

It is difficult to understand why calling someone a Nazi once (and in a measured tone) could be deserving of the highest protection as political speech, but saying it again with more force is not protected at all. There are of course limits on free speech and it would be nonsensical to protect absolutely one person’s right to speak freely when it would have a grave impact on the rights of others – incitement to murder being an obvious example. But there is no right not to be offended.

It is very much hoped that this aspect of the judgment will be improved upon in the Court of Appeal. There is a real danger that allowing the regulator to intervene in this type of case will have chilling effect on robust political interviews. The Human Rights Act protects shock jocks as much as flagship political commentators and free speech is no more worthy with extra syllables.

Full post on Index on Censorship…

Jon Gaunt wins permission for high court challenge

Shock jock Jon Gaunt has won permission to bring a high court challenge against Ofcom’s decision to uphold complaints about an interview in which he called a councillor a “ignorant pig” and “health nazi”.

In May 2009, Gaunt – who had been sacked by radio station TalkSPORT in November 2008 – was censured by Ofcom for the comments made to Michael Stark in an interview about children in care.

Gaunt, backed by the human rights charity Liberty, argues that his right to freedom of expression was infringed by the Ofcom decision.

A written application for judicial review was earlier refused, a decision Gaunt’s lawyers believe was an “error”. Ofcom said it was the “correct” decision.

Following today’s court decision that Gaunt could take the challenge to the high court, a spokesperson from Ofcom said:

“The judge made it clear he was not making a decision on the case but simply referring it to a full hearing because it met the low threshold of arguability.”

Martin Howe, Jon Gaunt’s solicitor, said that the case was “ground breaking”.

“The outcome of this case will determine our understanding of the right to freedom of speech for a generation. The outcome of this case will determine if Britain’s airwaves will be allowed to remain a free and exciting medium able to engage in open and honest debate or will become a grey and timid desert.”

Background story at this link…

BroadcastNow.co.uk: Jon Gaunt launches High Court challenge

SunTalk’s Jon Gaunt, the former Talksport radio show presenter sacked after calling a Tory councillor a “Nazi” and an “ignorant pig” has launched a High Court appeal against an Ofcom ruling, claiming that his right to free speech had been infringed, reports Broadcast.

Full story at this link…

Related on Journalism.co.uk: SunTalk’s Jon Gaunt at Coventry University.