Tag Archives: Managing Editor

Nick Davies told Commons committee in April that PCC phone hacking inquiry flawed

You may recall that back in April Nick Davies gave evidence to the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport select committee, for its review into press standards, privacy and libel.

In the course of that session he claimed there was ‘a real will on the part of the PCC [Press Complaints Commission] to avoid uncovering the truth about phone hacking’ and that newspapers still used private investigators: “It is wrong but they are not doing anything about it and that continues despite Motorman [investigation undertaken by the Information Commissioner’s Office into alleged offences under data protection legislation.] All that has happened is that they have got a little bit more careful about it. I actually got to know that network of private investigators who were exposed in Motorman. Years after that I was in the office of one of them and he was taking phone calls from newspapers while I was there.”

The committee chairman, John Whittingdale, said: “We did do an investigation both into Motorman and into Goodman so I do not want to revisit old ground too much”.

The same committee which today announced it will open a new inquiry ‘into the Guardian revelations about the use of illegal surveillance techniques by News International newspapers’ (Guardian.co.uk).

Yesterday Nick Davies’ Guardian exclusive – which reported Murdoch papers paid £1m to silence victims of phone hacking – alleged that the evidence posed difficult questions for the PCC: it has ‘claimed to have conducted an investigation, but failed to uncover any evidence of illegal activity,’ it was reported.

Davies is no friend of the Press Complaints Commission – as reported on Journalism.co.uk before – and used his appearance in front of the committee in April to argue that the ‘PCC’s performance is so weak that it threatens the concept of self-regulation.’

The PCC has stated today, in light of the new reports, that ‘any suggestion that further transgressions have occurred since its report was published in 2007 will be investigated without delay.’

Now, let’s look back at Davies’ comments in the Commons in April (from uncorrected evidence on House of Commons site). Davies laid the bait for us all, but it would seem only he pursued his allegations against News of the World, to secure yesterday’s scoop:

Mr Davies: It is that word that Roy [Greenslade] has just used that is the important one, their independence. They [PCC] are not sufficiently independent to do their job properly; they are not functioning as an independent referee. You could see it, for example, in the way they handled the Clive Goodwin [sic] story. There are newspapers publishing stories all over Fleet Street; there is a whole lot of hacking going on, hacking into mobile phones. They conducted an inquiry which was set up in such a way that it could not possibly disclose the truth about that illegal activity. Why? Why did they not conduct a proper, independent inquiry? It was the same with the information commissioner after Operation Motorman. We used the Freedom of Information Act on the information commissioner and got hold if the e-mails and letters between the commissioner and the Press Complaints Commission. You can see there the information commissioner saying, “Look, we have just busted this private eye. It is horrifying what newspapers are doing. Will you put out a clear warning to these journalists that they must obey the law?” The short answer was, “No, not if we can help it”. You may be familiar with all this —–

Q435 Chairman: We had an inquiry into Motorman.

Mr Davies: Did you have the e-mails and so on?

Q436 Chairman: We had representatives of News International and so on.

(…)

Mr Davies: Also, when he [Paul Dacre] goes into hospital to have operations on his heart, there is always a message sent round Fleet Street saying, “Mr Dacre’s in hospital, please do not report it”. Medical records are supposed to be plundered by Harry Hack with beer on his breath and egg on his tie. It is wrong but they are not doing anything about it and that continues despite Motorman. All that has happened is that they have got a little bit more careful about it. I actually got to know that network of private investigators who were exposed in Motorman. Years after that I was in the office of one of them and he was taking phone calls from newspapers while I was there. It has not stopped; it has just got a bit more careful. It had got so casual that every reporter in the newsroom was allowed to ring up and commission illegal access to confidential information, now they have pulled it back so that you have to get the news editor to do it or the news desk’s permission. It is still going on and it is against the law.

Q446 Paul Farrelly: Do you think the PCC missed a trick with its own standing reputation in not summoning Mr Coulson?

Mr Greenslade: I wrote at the time and have maintained ever since that the Goodman affair was a very, very black moment in the history of the PCC. This man was jailed for breaking the law. His editor immediately resigned but there were huge questions to ask about the culture of the News of the World newsroom which only the man in charge of that newsroom could answer. When I challenged the PCC about why they had failed to call Mr Coulson they said that he was no longer a member of the press. That seems to me to be a complete abnegation of the responsibilities of the PCC for the public good. In other words, to use a phrase Nick has already used, it was getting off with a technicality.

Mr Davies: If you say to Coulson, “Come and give evidence even though you are no longer an editor” and if he says, “No” then that is an interesting tactical failure on his part. It is not just the editor of the paper; what about the managing editor? Why not call Stuart Kuttner, the managing editor of the News of the World, who has been there for years and who has a special responsibility for contracts and money? Why not call him to give evidence? There was a real will on the part of the PCC to avoid uncovering the truth about phone hacking.

Q447 Chairman: We did do an investigation both into Motorman and into Goodman so I do not want to revisit old ground too much.

Mr Davies: It is what it tells you about the PCC.

New America Media: LA Watts Times managing editor on why his paper covers the black community better than the MSM

New America Media (NAM) reports on the LA Watts Times, a newspaper in Los Angeles, focusing on the black community. It is part of NAM’s LA Beez network, a collective of hyperlocal ethnic media.

“We try to look at positive stories that don’t portray blacks in a negative light, as we see in mainstream media,” managing editor Sam Richard says in the piece. “L.A. Watts Times has just been better in reporting deep down in the trenches.”

Full story at this link…

Blogging for a cause leads to first prize for Global Voices in Zemanta competition

Last week Global Voices Advocacy won first prize in a ‘Blogging for a cause’ competition run by Zemanta, a platform which aims to ‘accelerate on-line content production for any web user’. More than 60 different websites were nominated; the top 5 to receive the most votes from bloggers won US $1200.

Solana Larsen, managing editor of the GV site, sums the project up like this:

“A project of Global Voices to build a global anti-censorship network of bloggers and online activists. Its director is Sami ben Gharbia, a Tunisian free speech advocate and blogger.”

Larsen shared a few more thoughts with Journalism.co.uk: “The Zemanta win was fun because it was an opportunity for bloggers in our community to work collectively to raise some funds for Global Voices Advocacy in a simple way. So much of the time, we’re writing posts to draw attention to censorship, arrested bloggers, or different injustices around the world, that it’s nice with a little positive reinforcement.

“Global Voices Advocacy is working on developing more tools and resources for free speech activists online. A lot of the bloggers in this community are individuals who are working on their own or in small networks in different parts of the world, and we are connecting them with others and trying to develop a sense of unity across borders.

“When somebody discovers that their blog is blocked, or receives threats from authorities, it’s good to have someone to talk to about the risks and possibilities. Internet censorship is extremely common, but there are also many brave people who insist on making their voices heard. Sami ben Gharbia is one of them.”

Local media: A stimulating discussion? Your ideas needed

Last week the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) sent an eight-point plan to new culture secretary Ben Bradshaw as an economic stimulus package for the UK’s local media.

In summary:

  1. Reform of cross-media ownership rules with a strengthened public interest test;
  2. Hard and fast commitment to ring-fence licence fee funding for the BBC;
  3. A levy introduced on commercial operators who benefit from quality public service content – including local news – but do not contribute to its production;
  4. Tax breaks for local media who meet clearly defined public purposes;
  5. Tax credits for individuals who buy quality media;
  6. Direct support to help establish new genuinely local media organisations;
  7. Strategic use of central and local government advertising;
  8. Support for training opportunities that open access to journalism

The proposals come ahead of the long-awaited Digital Britain report, part of which will make new suggestions for local media ownership models and provision.

Both, of course, come on top of a select committee inquiry into local media, countless pontifications from media commentators (ourselves included) and lobbying by industry groups of Bradshaw’s predecessor Andy Burnham.

Reactions to the NUJ’s suggestions from a range of industry representatives are featured below – Journalism.co.uk wanted to gauge the feeling on the ground, so to speak (feel free to leave more comments below or email laura at journalism.co.uk).

Having spoken to Society of Editors executive director Bob Satchwell as part of this process, one thing is clear: new ideas are needed to support newsgathering at a local level, whatever shape or platform it takes.

But with the current level of pressure on existing local news providers, it is short-term answers that are needed, says Satchwell:

“While we’re waiting to create new models to deal with new media landscape the existing reality may be so seriously damaged that it may be too late to apply those complex solutions.”

Here are some reactions to the NUJ’s proposals – what’s the next step?

Firstly starting with a comment left on our original post by James Goffin on levies for aggregators:
Presumably ‘A levy introduced on commercial operators who benefit from quality public service content – including local news – but do not contribute to its production’ is aimed at people like Google, but why leave it there – and why only in one direction?

If this is genuinely aimed at supporting local media (and not just shoring up the BBC, which tends to be the NUJ line nationally) then why shouldn’t the corporation be charged when it ‘benefits’ from stories it has followed up from the local press? (Or blogs for that matter).

And much as I enjoy the idea of claiming back my Private Eye subs against tax, I can see it being as effective in stimulating the economy as the VAT cut.

Give them some credit for at least trying; pity most of it is nonsense.

Tom Calver, a communications officer for Blackburn with Darwen County Council, on defining ‘quality’ and a plan for mutually owned local newspapers:
Point 7 calls for us to consider ‘quality journalism’ when we place ads, which puts those of us in council comms in the unenviable position of having to decide what constitutes ‘quality’. Does the NUJ really think we should be doing that? In any case, there is only one local paper here, so I don’t have any choice in which title to use anyway.

What guarantee is there that ad spend would really support quality journalism, rather than just boosting profits while the newsroom is still run down?

I’m also slightly confused as to what’s meant by “identifying appropriate targets”. Generally speaking, my targets are groups of local people. If a local paper is a good way to reach them, I’ll use it. If it’s not, then I’d be wasting taxpayers money, and failing to get the message to the right people. So is the suggestion that only people who read the local paper are appropriate targets for any campaign?

Or is the suggestion that ‘appropriate targets’ are ‘deserving’ newspapers which should be supported in some sort of charitable way? I’d understand that if local papers were not-for-profit with a clear commitment to good journalism and informing local people, but they’re owned by large groups who will look after the bottom line long before they look after quality journalism.

The NUJ just has not gone far enough. It is asking for more money to be chucked at the same failing model, albeit with some loose guarantees about quality from the same groups that have cut back in newsrooms. That might slow the decline, but it won’t turn things around.

How about mutual ownership for local papers? Newspaper staff, local people and those who support quality journalism could all be members. A constitution could guarantee day to day editorial independence, but the editor would answer to a board elected from the membership, which would set parameters for coverage, monitor quality and ensure investment in training.

That sort of organisation could then benefit from tax breaks and have access to funds supporting community development. With a clear duty to improve local coverage, it would probably get back some of the lost readers (and so make itself a more appealing advertising channel for public services!).

Rick Waghorn, ex-regional newspaper journalist and founder of MyFootballWriter.com on practical problems:
I think it’s all very well intentioned, but as ever the devil will be in the detail and the ‘how’ any of this is likely to work…

Or, indeed, who is going to have the political will/leverage to ensure any of this is adhered to.

Tax credits? Who adjudicates on the ‘quality’ assessment panel?

Direct support for ‘genuinely’ local media organisations? How? When? Via whom? Ofcom?

Strategic use of local and central government advertising is spot on – but that can start happening now. But again who is charged with making the ‘assessment’ that it is ‘quality’ journalism?

With Tom Watson out of government, Ben Bradshaw presumably given 10 days to master his new ‘brief’ before the publication of Digital Britain, I don’t see anyone with the drive or the will to oversee this – not whilst the Brown government is so fatally weakened.

Alas, I fear it’s going to be every man, woman and under-fire journalist for themselves for the foreseeable future – and the only people that are ever going to come to our rescue are ourselves.

Former editorial director for a UK regional newspaper group on media ownership problems:
My own concerns would be about possible loss of independence that could come with subsidy.

The cut backs in the industry are already leaving gaps. It might be better to see who and what steps in to fill the vacuum. [More emphasis on new media models – Ed]

On cross media ownership, take a look at Guardian Media in Manchester where it has already happened with TV, radio, web and newspapers under one roof. It has not been a success.

Comment from Dan Mason, director of Dan Mason Associates and former newspaper group managing editor, on journalism enterprise:

Full marks to the NUJ for keeping the ball rolling after the departure of Andy Burnham. I’m delighted to see the appalling lack of support for media innovation and enterprise included (this would top my list), as well as the need to focus on better media training.

My big concern is that trying to define something as subjective as ‘quality journalism’ as a cornerstone of any plan renders it impotent from the start, especially when the suggested criteria includes demands on media companies that are impossible to regulate, like maintaining paginations.

If this keeps the dialogue going and pressure on this government to act, great. But, if Lord Sugar has anything to say about it, ministers will need to focus on what can be achieved, by when, for what cost.

Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum – how to follow the event

This week’s Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum (happening in Bonn from today till June 5) focuses on ‘conflict prevention in the multimedia age’.

Speakers including freelance journalists and representatives from Deutsche Welle and international media organisations will discuss the impact of new media on conflict reporting, the shift from traditional to multimedia coverage and the role of the media in peace and conflict reporting.

There’s a decent amount of coverage on the event’s own page – incorporating images from the event with a Flickr slideshow, a stream of Twitter updates and blog posts.

View the video message from conference host Erik Bettermann, director general of Deutsche Welle, below:

The event has its own Twitter channel (@DW_GMF updating in German) and you can follow delegates Guy Degen, broadcast journalist, Kevin Anderson, Guardian.co.uk blogs editor, and Yelena Jetpyspayeva, managing editor of Eurasia.net.

Alternatively take a look at the tweetstream for the hashtag #dwgmf at this link.

Sportsbeat agency puts content online

National press agency Sportsbeat, which provides more than 20,000 stories a year to over 150 newspaper clients in Great Britain, has made its sports news available online for the first time.

New website www.morethanthegames.com will provide articles and blogs covering over 40 sports, excluding football, cricket and rugby union.

“The prospect of the 2012 Olympics has already seen an increase in appetite for content from the editors we supply,” said managing editor James Toney, in a press release.

“We are dedicated to providing coverage of these Olympics sports all year round – and not just the big international events but competitions at national, regional and local level.”

Bill Grueskin: ‘What would Google do about newspapers?’

Guest blogging on Reflections of a Newsosaur, Bill Grueskin, the academic dean of the School of Journalism at Columbia University and former managing editor of WSJ.Com, offers his translation of comments by the Google’s vice-president of search products and user experience, Marissa Mayer, to the Senate commerce subcommittee hearing.

“Her elliptical comments at a congressional hearing on the sorry state of the newspaper industry revolved around a message that seemed to add up to: ‘Lotsa luck, fellas.'”

Full post at this link…

Bill Grueskin: A tale of two journalism start-ups

Former WSJ.com managing editor Bill Grueskin looks at ‘link journalism’ venture Publish2 and the recently launched Journalism Online, whose founders include an ex-WSJ publisher and the founder of American Lawyer.

Can Journalism Online’s founder translate their wealth of ‘traditional media’ experience online?

“One new firm seeks to generate much-needed revenue by building a platform for subscription services, another seeks to generate new forms of journalism with a platform to share and distribute content. It’s hard to reconcile those two visions of journalism’s future,” writes Grueskin.

Full post at this link…

Dan Mason: The ‘pathetic tirade’ over council newspapers

An alternative perspective on the council publication debate from Dan Mason, a former managing editor for 12 London weeklies. He is fed up with the ‘pathetic tirade’ over local council publications, and argues that time should be spent talking, rather than warring.

(…) “[T]he fact is, if we’d [regional newspapers] done our job right and maintained a constructive, consistent, high-level relationship with council chiefs in years gone by, Cllr LGA chairman Margaret Eaton wouldn’t have been in a position to make this astonishing remark to the OFT: ‘The local media cannot provide the same amount of information about how to access services as a dedicated council publication can.'”

Full post at this link…

Digital editors on Twitter – a list for networking and problem-solving

Since I started using Twitter I’ve always been amazed (and grateful) at how quickly calls for technological help and assistance with ideas and projects are answered. It’s one of the main reasons I’m a fan of Twitter.

There are plenty of media/journalist Twitter databases out there, but below are the beginnings of a list of digital editors on Twitter.

What do I mean by digital editor? In this instance, a journalist working primarily online, on web projects or co-ordinating multimedia output. The web editor of a newspaper site or magazine site, for example. It’s in no particular order, except for being divided by ‘traditional’ industry sectors at the moment, but if this isn’t useful, just let us know – would be great to get more international representatives too.

But the criteria for inclusion on the list are intentionally loose – this is aimed at networking, problem-solving and idea sharing between journalists working in the same space and similar roles. (Feel free to nominate any additions or drop us a tweet @journalismnews)

UPDATE April 16please read blog post two on how to message the group via Twitter

Newspapers

Alison Gow (@alisongow) – executive editor, digital, Liverpool Daily Post & Liverpool Echo

Kevin Matthews (@kmatt) – head of web and data, Liverpool Daily Post

Neil MacDonald (@xxnapoleonsolo) – deputy head of web and data, Liverpool Daily Post

Jo Wadsworth (@jowadsworth) – web editor, Brighton Argus

Tom Pegg (@tomatthechad) – digital content manager, Mansfield Chad

James Goffin (@jamesgoffin) – regional web producer, Archant

Sarah Booker (@sarah_booker) – web editor, Worthing Herald

Gustav Svensson (@gustavsvensson) – web editor, entertainment and arts, Sydsvenskan.se

Stephen Emerson (@stephen_emerson) – deputy online editor, Scotsman.com

Sam Shepherd (@SamShepherd) – online journalist, Bournemouth Daily Echo

Joanna Geary (@timesjoanna) – web development editor, business, Times Online

Sarah Hartley (@foodiesarah) – head of online editorial, MEN Media

Iain Hepburn (@iainmhepburn) – online editor, DailyRecord.co.uk

Lucia Adams (@luciatimes) – web development editor, Times Online

Carmen Boles (@carmenb) – online news editor, Gazette.com

Marcus Warren (@MarcusWa) – editor, Telegraph.co.uk

Dan Owen (@danowen) – executive editor online, Trinity Mirror

Steve Nicholls (@steve_nicholls) – multimedia editor, Birmingham Post

Anna Jeys (@ajeys) – multimedia editor, Birmingham Mail

Steve Wollaston (@stevewollaston) – multimedia editor, BPM Media and Sunday Mercury

Julie Martin (@jules_27) – Teesside Evening Gazette

Helen Dalby (@helendalby) – regional multimedia manager, NCJ Media

Nick Turner (@nickincumbria) – head of digital content, CN Group

Christian Dunn (@christiandunn) – digital news editor, NWN Media

Hugh Dixon (@hugh_d) – web editor and production editor, thisisbath/Bath Chronicle

Paul Cockerton (@paulcockerton) – web editor, Lancashire Telegraph

Dan Owens (@hornetdan1979) – deputy news editor, Northampton Chronicle and Echo

Dan Kerins (@dankerins) – web journalist, Southern Daily Echo

Broadcast

Marsha Graham (@marshagoldcoast) – multimedia manager for 102.9FM Hot Tomato, Australia

Rob Winder (@robwinder) – news editor, Al Jazeera website, Washington DC

Tom Thorogood (@TomThorogood) – digital news editor, MTV

Magazines

Martin Stabe (@martinstabe) – online editor, Retail Week

Victoria Thompson (@VicThompson) – assistant online editor, Nursing Times

Neil Durham (@NeilDurham) – deputy editor, GP and Independent Nurse

John Robinson (@PulseToday) – digital content manager, Pulse Today

Peter Houston (@p_houston) – editorial director for Advanstar Communications, Europe

Alex Smith (@alexsmith68) – web editor, Building.co.uk

Keira Daley (@daleyrant) – web editor, Australian print magazine

Lara McNamee (@lovelylara33) – assistant intelligence editor, ICIS

Gabriel Fleming (@gabefleming) – online editor, Nursing Times

Janie Stamford (@janiestamford) – contract catering editor, Caterer & Hotelkeeper

Robin Latchem (@lgcplus) – online editor, Local Government Chronicle

Keely Stocker (@keelystocker) – digital content manager, Drapers Online

Scott Matthewman (@scottm) – assistant manager, The Stage

Specialist website

Michael Hubbard (@michaelomh) – founder and music editor, MusicOmh

Krystal Sim (@krystalsim) – web editor for sustainability magazine BSD – bsdlive.co.uk

Arun Marsh (@ArunMarsh) – content producer/editor, Local Gov

Rick Waghorn (@MrRickWaghorn) – publisher, MyFootbalWriter

Emma Waddingham (@emmawad) online editor, Legal-Medical.co.uk

Michael McCarthy (@HealthGuide) online editor, LocalHealthGuide

Steve Gooding (@rmtimestech)- Romney Marsh Times

Manoj Solanki (@ManojSolanki) – SeekBroadband.com

Graham Holliday (@noodlepie) – digital editor, Frontline Club

Craig McGinty (@craigmcginty) – publisher, ThisFrenchLife

Mark Crail (@markcrail) – managing editor, XpertHR

Freelance

Adam Oxford (@adamoxford)

Rachel Colling (@rachcolling)

Ashanti Omkar (@ashantiomkar)