Tag Archives: observer

New £2,000 prize on offer for talented arts journalists

The Observer and the Anthony Burgess Foundation are offering a £2,000 prize for promising new arts journalists, in memory of the prolific novelist and composer who was writing arts reviews for the New York Times, Independent, Times Literary Supplement and Observer right up until his death in 1993.

The prize will be for the best writing on brand new work in the arts which has not previously been published, whether in print or on the internet.

The winning essay might take the form of an interview or profile of a writer, artist or musician; a piece on a new artistic movement or venture; or a review of a book, film, a concert, a ballet or a stage play.

The Observer says:

“When choosing the winner, the judges will be looking for imaginative, original, and thought-provoking arts journalism that would be suitable for publication in the Observer.

“They will be looking for emerging talent, innovative approaches and writing from outside the mainstream, and they are especially keen to read entries from those who have not previously had work published by major media organisations.”

As well as earning a £2,000 prize, the winning entry will be published in the Observer and on the International Anthony Burgess Foundation website.

There is a 1,500 word limit, a £10 entry fee and the closing date is 15 September.

More details can be found on the foundation’s website – and there is more info about Burgess’s work here.

Observer seeks to distinguish ‘Operation Motorman’ from the phone-hacking scandal

In 2006 the Information Commissioner’s Office published a report, ‘What price privacy”, which along with other cases shone a light on the ‘Operation Motorman’ investigation into the use of a private investigator by the media to obtain personal information, which according to the report was often through a deception process referred to as ‘blagging’.

Journalists have a voracious demand for personal information, especially at the popular end of the market. The more information they reveal about celebrities or anyone remotely in the public eye, the more newspapers they can sell. The primary documentation seized at the premises of the Hampshire private detective consisted largely of correspondence (reports, invoices, settlement of bills etc) between the detective and many of the better-known national newspapers – tabloid and broadsheet – and magazines. In almost every case, the individual journalist seeking the information was named, and invoices and payment slips identified leading media groups. Some of these even referred explicitly to ‘confidential information’.

The report, which also includes extracts from a ‘blaggers’ training manual, claimed that the evidence documented “literally thousands of section 55 offences” (Data Protection Act) with more than 300 journalists identified.

Later that year, in a follow-up entitled ‘What price privacy now’, the Commissioner reported on the response of various national organisations to the earlier publication. In the report he also decided, in the public interest, to list the publications identified from documentation seized during the Operation Motorman investigation, the number of transactions they were positively identified as being involved in and how many of their journalists (or clients acting on their behalf) were using these services.

It should be noted that while the table is dominated by tabloid publications they are far from being alone. Certain magazines feature prominently and some broadsheets are also represented. The Commissioner recognises that some of these cases may have raised public interest or similar issues, but also notes that no such defences were raised by any of those interviewed and prosecuted in Operation Motorman.

Top of the list was the Daily Mail, with a reported 952 transactions and 58 journalists/clients, closely followed by the Sunday People with 802 transactions and 50 journalists/clients. Broadsheets also appeared, the Observer with 103 transactions and 4 journalists/clients and the Sunday Times with 52 transactions and seven journalists/clients. No newspaper was ever prosecuted, according to reports.

At the time the Observer, owned by the Guardian Media Group, issued a statement from its editor Roger Alton, citing a defence in most cases.

Yes, the Observer has used the services of an outside agency in the past, and while there were strong public interest defences for most of those cases, it is possible that some of the inquiries did not sufficiently fit that criteria. As a result, I have now taken steps to ensure that no inquiries will be made through outside agencies unless I believe that there is a compelling public interest to do so.

This week, Journalism.co.uk learned that the Observer is now seeking to clarify the distinction between this case and the phone-hacking scandal which saw a News of the World journalist and private investigator jailed in 2007. According to the paper, there has been some “confusion” within the media between the two cases and the involvement of the Observer.

As a result the Observer’s readers’ editor Stephen Pritchard is now preparing a piece for the paper looking back at the Operation Motorman events and explaining the steps taken by the Observer following the report. This week a spokesman for the Observer told Journalism.co.uk:

The ICO report did not concern hacking (a criminal offence without any public interest defence in law), but instead concentrated on potential offences under the data protection act to which there is a public interest defence.

Given the confusion the readers’ editor of the Observer is preparing a piece to clarify this distinction, recap what happened at the time, and explain the steps taken by the Observer following the ICO report.

None of the many newspapers and magazines named in the report were prosecuted. However, Roger Alton, editor of the Observer at the time, issued a public statement making clear that it was not acceptable to use external agencies unless there was ‘a compelling public interest to do so’. The company also subsequently launched a series of training sessions for staff on the implications of the Data Protection Act.

There are many questions related to Operation Motorman and the Observer that people still want answered. This letter from one concerned reader, sent to the readers’ editor last week, raises some of those, such as were the journalists involved suspended or are they still employed by the Observer or the Guardian?

It’s now a case of waiting to see if these will be answered in the Observer’s column, expected in the next couple of weeks.

Greenslade: Change of direction for Guardian Media Group?

Roy Greenslade reports on the Sunday Times’ coverage of a new direction for Guardian Media Group. According to the Times’ print edition yesterday, GMG is planning to separate its newspapers and their website from the rest of its multimedia assets.

The report follows previous claims by the paper that Andrew Miller, new GMG chief executive, is looking at a sale or stock market listing for its Trader division.

Full post on Roy Greenslade’s blog…

The Observer’s London 2010 – as imagined in 1989

Will Wiles, writer and senior editor at Icon, a monthly architecture and design magazine, has saved an Observer supplement from 1989, titled London 2010. Twenty years later he has uploaded images of its pages onto Flickr.

2010Obs“I was 11 in December 1989 (…) That New Year, the Observer devoted its colour supplement to speculation about what London might be like in 20 years – in 2010. I was mad for cityscapes, sci-fi and futurology, and I really liked the pictures and some of the ideas in this colour supplement, so I kept it. About seven years ago, when my parents moved house, I found the magazine while clearing out my old room – I refrained from throwing it out, thinking it would be interesting to see how it held up in 2010. And here we are. How did they do?”

UPDATE: Guardian to cut 100 jobs; GNM running at £100,000-a-day loss

Following news that the Observer is to cut sections and drop monthly supplements, there were reports yesterday of more than 100 job cuts at owners Guardian News & Media.

The cuts will be made to offset losses as GNM is currently running at a loss of £100,000 a day, according to Brand Republic, and were announced following a strategic review of the group’s papers.

A voluntary redundancy scheme has been introduced and cuts will affect staff across commerical and editorial departments.

The Guardian’s print technology supplement, published on a Thursday, will also be cut and moved online-only, as part of the changes.

Observer to drop to four sections staff told

The Observer will be cut to four sections and drop several monthly supplements, staff at the paper were reportedly told yesterday.

According to a National Union of Journalists (NUJ) release, the new Observer will consist of news, sport and a review section, alongside a magazine.

The title’s monthly sport, music and women’s supplements will be closed.

Staff were informed of the changes by owners Guardian News & Media following months of speculation about the title’s future.

No mention of redundancy plans was made in the NUJ’s statement.

But the union’s head of publishing, Barry Fitzpatrick, said the changes would make the paper less competitive in ‘an already exceedingly tough marketplace’.

“It will do nothing to improve circulation and can only result in a lower quality product. We know that Guardian Media Group is looking to save costs, but they need to ensure that any steps don’t result in the running down of its titles,” he said in the release.

Staff to be briefed on Observer’s future tomorrow, says Sunday Times

Buried in a report on Trinity Mirror’s decision to close its final pension schemes is news that staff at the Observer will be told which sections of the paper are staying and which are for the chop.

As part of this staff will be briefed on potential job cuts, the Sunday Times reports.

After growing speculation about the title’s future, owners Guardian News & Media announced in September that the Observer would live on, but with a new look and closer integration with the Guardian.

In July, readers’ editor for the Observer, Stephen Pritchard, explained that the title was having to make ‘painful decisions about what it can afford to print’, after the title dropped its weekly, full television guide.

Journalism Daily: Changing business models for photographers and branding for journalists

Journalism.co.uk is trialling a new service via the Editors’ Blog: a daily round-up of all the content published on the Journalism.co.uk site.

We hope you’ll find it useful as a quick digest of what’s gone on during the day (similar to our e-newsletter) and to check that you haven’t missed a posting.

We’ll be testing it out for a couple of weeks, so you can subscribe to the feed for the Journalism Daily here.

Let us know what you think – all feedback much appreciated.

News and features:

Ed’s picks:

Tip of the Day:


On the Editors’ Blog:

Journalism Daily: Collaborative journalism, freelancers’ rights and Observer/Shiny updates

Journalism.co.uk is trialling a new service via the Editors’ Blog: a daily round-up of all the content published on the Journalism.co.uk site.

We hope you’ll find it useful as a quick digest of what’s gone on during the day (similar to our e-newsletter) and to check that you haven’t missed a posting.

We’ll be testing it out for a couple of weeks, so you can subscribe to the feed for the Journalism Daily here.

Let us know what you think – all feedback much appreciated.

News and features:

Ed’s picks:

Tip of the day:


On the Editors’ Blog:

City A.M.: Capital Ideas group makes bid for Observer

Following recent speculation about the future of Guardian News and Media’s Sunday title, the Observer, City A.M. reports that Capital Ideas, an investment group, has put in a bid for the paper.

The move to buy the Observer for a ‘nominal sum’ would see the title turned into a weekly news magazine and website, with fewer staff, if successful.

Capital Ideas already owns trade titles Compliance and Investing for Growth.

Full story at this link…