Tag Archives: Stephen Fry

Journalisted Weekly: Republicans, Gareth Bale, and university fees

Journalisted is an independent, not-for-profit website built to make it easier for you, the public, to find out more about journalists and what they write about. It is run by the Media Standards Trust, a registered charity set up to foster high standards in news on behalf of the public, and funded by donations from charitable foundations.

Each week Journalisted produces a summary of the most covered news stories, most active journalists and those topics falling off the news agenda, using its database of UK journalists and news sources. From now on we’ll be cross-posting them on Journalism.co.uk.

For the week ending Sunday 7 November

  • The Republicans, who made a strong comeback against Obama in the US mid-terms, were covered lots
  • Gareth Bale’s performance against Internazionale attracted many admiring pieces
  • Though there was little coverage of the mass grave uncovered in Mexico, or of the record ransom claimed by Somali pirates
  • The Media Standards Trust’s latest report ‘Shrinking World: The decline of international reporting in the British press’ is now available to download

For the latest instalment of Tobias Grubbe, journalisted’s 18th century jobbing journalist, go to journalisted.com/tobias-grubbe

Covered lots

  • Republicans, who won enough seats in the US mid-terms to take control of the House of Representatives, 340 articles (with the insurgent ‘Tea Party’ generating 261 articles)
  • Gareth Bale, the architect of Tottenham Hotspur’s victory over Internazionale, 189 articles
  • University fees, rising to £9,000 by 2012 after proposed Coalitian cuts, 122 articles

Covered little

  • Somali pirates, having received a record ransom of £7.6 million for South Korean oil tanker and a Singaporean ship, 12 articles
  • A vision chip, which has restored sight to a blind man following tests in Germany, 10 articles
  • A mass grave uncovered near Acapulco in Mexico, alleged to be a revenge killing between two drug cartel families, 8 articles

Political ups and downs (top ten by number of articles)

David Cameron: 480 articles (-27% on previous week)
George Osborne: 130 articles (-70% on previous week)
Theresa May: 130 articles (+160% on previous week)
Nick Clegg : 118 articles (-20% on previous week)
Vince Cable : 113 articles (+110% on previous week)
Gordon Brown : 100 articles (+19% on previous week)
Tony Blair : 83 articles (+4% on previous week)
Ed Miliband : 75 articles (+19% on previous week)
William Hague : 56 articles (-42% on previous week)
Michael Gove: 53 articles (-15% on previous week)

Celebrity vs serious

Stephen Fry’s remark on women not liking sex, 36 articles vs.Christians threatened in Iraq, after a bomb attack on a Baghdad church killed 58 people and injured 67, 25 articles
Lady Gaga, winning 3 MTV Europe Awards on Sunday, 63 articles vs. Indonesia’s erupting Mount Merapi, killing 130 people and forcing 200,000 to flee their homes, 50 articles
Cheryl Cole, presenter of the X-Factor whose album – Messy little raindrops – went straight to number one, 95 articles vs. Burma’s first general election in two decades, 49 articles

Who wrote a lot about…’India and the US’

James Lamont – 10 articles (Financial Times); James Fontanella-Khan – 6 articles (Financial Times); Jason Burke – 5 articles (The Guardian); Edward Luce – 5 articles (Financial Times)

Long form journalism

4,005 words: ‘Does torture work?’, John Lloyd, Financial Times, 5th November 2010
3,405 words: ‘The Knox watchers: Meet the people who are obsessed with Amanda Knox’s fate’, Peter Popham, The Independent, 6th November 2010
3,255 words: ‘Latin lessons: What can we learn from the world’s most ambitious literacy campaign?’, Nina Lakhani, The Independent, 7th November 2010

BeatBlogging.Org: ‘UK news regulation stands in the way of newsroom convergence’

I’ve provided a guest post for BeatBlogging.org, the US-based site that looks at how to use social networks and other web tools to improve beat reporting. Using examples from various Journalism.co.uk pieces, I argue that it is very difficult to look towards coverged newsroom, under the hybrid regulatory systems with which we operate as UK-based publishers. Thoughts welcomed.

Read it in full over at the site. Here’s an extract:

We talk about converging newsrooms of the future that transcend boundaries between online, print and broadcast, but at a very fundamental level that process is impossible in the United Kingdom.

Martin Belam, information architect for the Guardian, recently emphasized that point in an interview with Journalism.co.uk:

“In a converged media landscape, it seems odd that [BBC’s] Robert Peston’s blog is regulated by the BBC Trust, [Channel 4’s] Jon Snow’s blog is regulated by Ofcom, and [the Guardian’s] Roy Greenslade’s blog is regulated by the PCC.”

Now, Martin was actually wrong on the Jon Snow point: Ofcom does not regulate any television Web sites at all. That is to say, the brands which must adhere to a strict code for television content are completely unregulated online. Ofcom advises consumers to make complaints about online content to their Internet service provider.

The BBC Trust regulates the BBC online; the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) regulates newspapers, magazines and their online content.

And Stephen Fry, who – at the time of writing — is nearing half a million followers on Twitter? Or Guido Fawkes (aka Paul Staines) who has a loyal readership to rival most newspaper commentators? Well, they govern themselves – unless the law gets involved.

When the traditional media sectors go online, they’re regulated by their various bodies, and the ‘online-onlys’ only have the courts to worry about. Press publications have a less strict code than broadcasters, but online, broadcasters have more freedom than the press – though they don’t seem to be exercising it.

In a nutshell, a financial commentator from a newspaper has greater freedom than a financial commentator from a broadcaster, and an independent online-only financial commentator has the greatest freedom of all.

What happens when a bank crashes? Channel 4 and ITV can theoretically report how they like – online. The BBC must always answer to the BBC Trust. The newspapers must comply with the PCC code. Martin Lewis, of the MoneySaving Expert can, if he so chooses, be a law unto himself.

Same news and it’s all online but in very different guises. We might think people know the difference, but do they?

Full post at this link…

For @GuidoFawkes, Twitter is a fad that will disappear; for @MickFealty, it’s a valuable tool

Twitter is a ‘fad that will soon disappear,’ political blogger Paul Staines said yesterday.

Staines, who blogs under the alias Guido Fawkes, told participants at the Voices Online Blogging conference at City University that he has ‘not got the time’ to monitor the 3,000 + followers of @guidofawkes.

“How profound can you be in 140 characters?” he said. “I use Twitter to broadcast, but I go to individual bloggers for information.”

Staines argued that the increasing popularity of the site, boosted by celebrity users such as Stephen Fry and Oprah Winfrey, meant that ‘overload is inevitable’.

However, Mick Fealty (@mickfealty) creator of the Slugger O’Toole blog, agreed that Twitter is a ‘nightmare’ but insisted it remained an ‘important tool’ for journalists.

“I used it on the day of the US elections last November, when I was writing a live blog on the Slugger site,” he explained. “I canvassed for US readers to be mini-bloggers for one day.

He used feeds from people who were watching three or four American television networks, he said. “Within about two minutes I knew what had gone out on ABC, Fox and CNN, and I could give a clear judgement about what was going on.”

Fealty added that the site was an effective tool to generate information about an area where he had ‘no local or native knowledge’.

Twitter’s usefulness was a result of the ‘very smart and intelligent’ contacts he has made using it, he said.

“The value of Twitter is the value of people I follow,” he explained.

Journalism.co.uk reported from the Voices Online Blogging conference 2009. Follow @journalism_live on Twitter for live updates from a wide array of media events.

Second dose of Stephen Fry: transcript from Digital Britain – ‘I don’t need to be re-skilled into anything’

Another dose of Fry this morning, in an earlier post we reproduced yesterday’s comments to the BBC about journalists and expenses.

Courtesy of Malcolm Coles, here is the full transcript [below video] of Stephen Fry’s presentation at Digital Britain on April 17. Fry’s appearance caused a little stir that day, not least for the way he was introduced onto the stage by the BBC’s Nick Higham:

“Stephen is, one of the organisers told me beforehand, the representative at this conference of the ordinary person, frankly: if that’s what someone thinks the ordinary person is like, then someone needs to take them aside and fill them in…”

Some of Fry’s comments relate to technology more broadly, but some interesting points on media, and keeping the web ‘organic’:

“You talk about the BBC doing a digital switchover, as if that’s the same thing as the world-wide web.”

“We’re moving from a world, in which no-one knew or saw the point of, online world, into something [where] everybody has reserved to themselves some special insight into how it’s to affect us.”

Continue reading

@StephenFry on journalists’ own ‘venal and disgusting’ use of expenses

Via @LouiseBolotin: The transcript of comments made by Stephen Fry in an interview on the BBC News site:

“Although, of course, anybody can talk about snouts in troughs, and go on about it, for journalists to do so is almost beyond belief, beyond belief.

I know lots of journalists; I know more journalists than I know politicians.

And I’ve never met a more venal and disgusting crowd of people when it comes to expenses and allowances.

[Interviewer: “Not all of us surely?”]

Not all, but then not all human beings are either. I’ve cheated expenses. I’ve fiddled things. You have. ‘Course you have.

Let’s not confuse what politicians get really wrong. Things like wars, things where people die, with the rather tedious bourgeois obsession with whether or not they’ve charged for their wisteria.

It’s not that important. It really isn’t. It isn’t what we’re fighting for. It isn’t what voting is about.

And the idea that ‘oh we’ve all lost faith in politics, because’… it’s nonsense. It’s a journalistic made-up frenzy.”

Louise Bolotin, a freelance journalist, has written a response on her blog – she says Fry has got it badly wrong. Here’s an extract:

“I have news for Stephen. The expenses culture for journalists ended a long time ago – at least 10 years ago – when the accountants moved in and put an end to it. The scandal at the Houses of Parliament, however, has been going on a long time – only MPs can vote on their expense allowances and they just keep voting to continue.”

Personal comments detract from original MMR / LBC debate

Jeni Barnett, the LBC radio presenter at the centre of the Goldacre/LBC case, has received ‘hundreds of extremely personal and abusive comments,’ her agent, Robert Common, confirmed to Journalism.co.uk today.

“[The comments] do not address the debate about the use of MMR and that is the reason for taking the comments off Jeni’s website,” Common said.

As Journalism.co.uk reported yesterday, support for Goldacre’s complaint against LBC had gathered fast, with high-profile figures such as Stephen Fry lending support to Goldacre. However, as Ben Goldacre has now made clear in a new blog post he does not want people to direct abuse at Jeni Barnett in such a personal manner.

“Do not send Jeni abusive emails, it’s not nice or helpful,” Goldacre wrote on his site, after being contacted by the programme director at LBC.

“I am sorry if people have sent unpleasant emails. I would want no part in that (…),” Goldacre said in a reply to the programme director.

The incident comes after a timely piece published by MediaGuardian on Monday, which looks at what happens when journalists face personal online attack.

Barnett’s agent, Robert Common, told Journalism.co.uk that he has “personally been very shocked at the hurtful level of criticism and and its very personal and threatening nature. LBC have aired the MMR debate several times in the last four weeks on other presenters’ shows where the debate has been continued.

“Jeni would never wish to restrict discussion on this topic or indeed any other, however, when that debate encourages threats and abuse it is impossible to do so and I have advised [her] not to continue to make any further comments,” Common said.

Update to post #1, 12/02/2009: In response to questions and issues raised in comments below this post Journalism.co.uk asked Robert Common what he meant by ‘comments’, since it has been suggested that the original comments on Barnett’s blog were not personal or abusive (e.g Andy / John ED’s comments below). Robert Common, Jeni Barnett’s agent, told Journalism.co.uk: “The comments/emails [to which he previously referred] are the ones that have been unpublished.”

Update #2, 12/02/2009: Journalism.co.uk took the additional questions raised in the comments below this post to Robert Common:

  • Why was it decided to delete inoffensive comments (as re-published by various blogs)? Will there be a way in which people can raise (inoffensive/non-personal) complaints and comments with Barnett, or will she maintain this silence, which could be said to fuelling the outrage further? It has been alleged that you have deleted blog posts as well as comments: is this true? People feel that ‘primary sources’ (such as the originally published comments and blog posts) shouldn’t just be deleted. If they are (legal reasons etc.), it should be explained why. Do you have a comment policy [for Barnett’s blog]?

Robert Common told Journalism.co.uk that he would not be making any further comment. However, he said that if commenters have specific, non-personal and non-abusive, questions or points to raise with Jeni Barnett they could email him via talent at rcmgmt.co.uk.

Update in response to comments, 12/02/2009:

[Judith Townend, comment] Thanks for all your input. I’m extremely disappointed that many commenters think Journalism.co.uk has been unbalanced in its reporting. Perhaps I should have made it clearer in the original post (though content was linked) that since Friday I have run three articles based mainly on two lengthy interviews with Ben Goldacre, which I will provide links for at the bottom of this update, including a 30 minute audio interview, in which Goldacre explains the background of the case, as well as broader issues in science journalism.

Given that Barnett had removed the comment facility on her blog I thought it was important to put the many questions being raised around the web to LBC and Barnett’s agent – for example in the posts and comments at Holford Watch and Quackometer. LBC did not want to make an on-the-record comment. Robert Common eventually agreed to make this statement on the record although said that Jeni Barnett will not make further comment herself. All I have done is report what Common said to me – and that by no means endorses or tries to prove his claim. When I do occasionally provide my own opinion on issues via this blog, or our main site, I try to make that clear. This piece was simply reporting a quote given to me.

I can do my best as a reporter to put questions to the relevant parties but it will be very difficult to find out and clarify how many or what kind of comments were submitted as we don’t have access to any unapproved comments or the emails sent to Barnett. I have contacted Common with your questions about the comments: the challenge that the original comments (now deleted) were not personal and abusive, and to clarify the distinction between emails and blog comments. I will report back here with further information, if received. Any further suggestions please don’t hesitate to leave them below. Also, if you don’t see your comments immediately appear it’s because we have a pre-moderation system, but the majority of comments will be approved as long as they don’t present any legal issues. Also, you can subscribe to new comments on this post by checking the tick box.

LINKS:
10/02/09 – Goldacre’s law: the Bad Science ‘nerd’ talks to Journalism.co.uk (with audio) http://www.journalism.co.uk/5/articles/533461.php

10/02/09 -Online support for Goldacre gathers pace http://blogs.journalism.co.uk/editors/2009/02/10/online-support-for-goldacre-gathers-pace/

06/02/09 – Goldacre on the ‘intellectual property absolutists’ – LBC’s legal warning http://blogs.journalism.co.uk/editors/2009/02/06/goldacre-on-the-intellectual-property/

Online support for Goldacre gathers pace

Ben Goldacre has recorded this interview with Journalism.co.uk, following initial coverage of the LBC/Jeni Barnett row last week.

Read extracts or listen to the full interview at this link for ‘Goldacre’s Law’ explained; the doctor’s view on television (it’s too rude to transcribe); how he thinks newspapers should employ more bloggers as writers; and a bit of background on the MMR debate.

Since last Thursday’s post he has picked up a wide array of support across the web as people share their views on whether Global Radio, owner of LBC, is within its rights to ask Goldacre to remove the LBC clip from his Bad Science blog.

Goldacre has the mainstream media support of David Aaronovitch over at TimesOnline while bloggers have rushed to collect information relating to the ‘story’ and republish the audio elsewhere. Comments express opinion on both the original subject – the anti-MMR campaign – and LBC legal team’s actions. A Facebook group has also been set up.

Stephen Fry has expressed his support via Twitter too and left this comment on Goldacre’s blog:

stephenfry said, February 10, 2009 at 1:29 am

“The fatuity of the Jeni Barnett woman’s manner – her blend of self-righteousness and stupidity, her simply quite staggering inability to grasp, pursue or appreciate a sequence of logical steps – all these are signature characteristics of Britain these days. The lamentable truth is that most of the population wouldn’t really understand why we get so angry at this assault on reason, logic and sense. But we have to keep hammering away at these people and their superstitious inanities. We have to. Well done you and well done all you supporting. I’ve tweeted this site to my followers. I hope they all do their best to support you. Publish and be damned. We’ll fight them and fight them and fight them in the name of empricism, reason, double blind random testing and all that matter

Love

Stephen xxx
http://twitter.com/stephenfry”

Additionally, it is alleged by several blogs, including Quackometer.net that Barnett has removed comments from her own blog.

Journalism.co.uk will now follow up again with Global Radio and Jeni Barnett.

Sea change: did online campaign group force political transparency?

It’s an interesting landmark: a quickly put-together online campaign in the UK may have influenced a political reversal. Gordon Brown has cancelled proposals for MPs to protect the details of their expenses.

The House of Commons leader, Harriet Harman, cited lack of cross-party support as the reason behind the change, according to the BBC report.

Meanwhile, the Guardian reported:

“The decision is a major victory for freedom of information campaigners and follows growing opposition led by the Liberal Democrats to the proposal, and website campaigns urging the public to email their MP objecting to the move.”

Does this show something of a sea change in political influence? Note that the campaigners directly mobilised their supporters, without reliance on mainstream media.

Tom Steinberg, founder of My Society, the organisation behind the campaign, thinks traditional media manipulation tools had little effect.

He comments on the MySociety blog:

“This is a huge victory not just for transparency, it’s a bellweather for a change in the way politics works. There’s no such thing as a good day to bury bad news any more, the internet has seen to that.”

Matthew Cain, over on his BacAtU blog, gives five reasons why he believes the campaign had clout, and points out that Stephen Fry helped the cause too… with a humble re-tweet on Twitter:

But, also today, a reminder of the way media connections have traditionally worked, with the appointment of a new head of political lobby, the Financial Times’ Jean Eaglesham. But how much influence and inside knowledge does the lobby have anymore?

Press Gazette reported:

“Eaglesham dismissed any suggestion that the need for constant ‘rolling’ news has diminished the quality of parliamentary reporting.

“She said: ‘Clearly it’s a risk we’re all aware of, however, now we also have the added value of more analysis and breaking news through blogging and other online content. Things change so fast now, it’s fascinating.'”

The role of the lobby was discussed at the end of last year in the House of Lords. Hazel Blears talked about the influence of the political bloggers in November, in an address to the Hansard Society.

‘Twelve Days of Online Media Christmas…’ Journalism.co.uk’s melodious 2008 list

Well, we could have brought you ‘Flocking Around the Twitmas Tree’, ‘We Three Nings’ or just a straightforward end of the year list (if only to add to our list of lists), but instead we chose this: your sing-along treat to round-up 2008 is the ‘Twelve Days of Online Media Christmas’ (hyperlinked to relevant stories, but bear in mind it’s a selection of picks and not comprehensive…).

On the first day of Christmas my feed read’r brought to me … An editor in a law court

Colin Myler, News of the World

On the second day of Christmas my feed read’r brought to me … Two arrested hacks

Milton Keynes Citizen’s Sally Murrer / ITV’s John Ray (video below)

… And an editor in a law court.

On the third day of Christmas my feed read’r brought to me … Three web gaffes

Steve Jobs and CNN / United Airlines stock collapse / AFP photo ‘altering’

… Two arrested hacks, And an editor in a law court!

On the fourth day of Christmas my feed read’r brought to me … Four journo forums

Wired Journalists / Journalism Research / Visual Editors / Journalism.co.uk forum

… Three web gaffes, Two arrested hacks, And an editor in a law court!

On the fifth day of Christmas my feed read’r brought to me … Five Tweeeeeetin’ friends

Stephen Fry / Paul Carr / John Cleese / Mark Mayhew (Hurricane Gustav) / the Mad Men

… Four journo forums, Three web gaffes, Two arrested hacks, And an editor in a law court!

On the sixth day of Christmas my feed read’r brought to me … Six news sites out-linking

WashingtonPost.com, BBC, NYTimes.com, CNN.com, Drudge Report, Not the AP (they didn’t even want to be linked to)

… Five Tweeeeeetin’ friends, Four journo forums, Three web gaffes, Two arrested hacks, And an editor in a law court!

On the seventh day of Christmas my feed read’r brought to me … Seven feeds a-mashing

Publish2.com, Daylife, Delicious, Digg, Technorati, FriendFeed, Yahoo Pipes

… Six sites out-linking, Five Tweeeeeetin’ friends, Four journo forums, Three web gaffes, Two arrested hacks, And an editor in a law court!

On the eighth day of Christmas my feed read’r brought to me … Eight maps a’plotting

Hurricane Gustav tracker, BBC Beijing Olympics map, PaperCuts newspaper job losses map, Economist pre-election map, NYTimes.com post-election map, Managingnews.com’s newstracker during Chinese earthquake, Interactive maps of Canadian tornado damage, Journalism.co.uk new timeline-maps.

… Seven pipes a-mashing, Six sites out-linking, Five Tweeeeeetin’ friends, Four journo forums, Three web gaffes, Two arrested hacks, And an editor in a law court!

On the ninth day of Christmas my feed read’r brought to me … Nine strikers strikin’

Le Monde, Writers’ Guild of America, Australian Fairfax newspapers, Express Newspapers, Sheffield Star.

(or at least thinking about it…) Trinity Mirror Midlands, Telegraph Media Group, ITV regional, BBC Scotland.

Eight maps a-plotting, Seven pipes a-mashing, Six sites out-linking, Five Tweeeeeetin’ friends, Four journo forums, Three web gaffes, Two arrested hacks, And an editor in a law court!

On the tenth day of Christmas my feed read’r brought to me … Ten blogs a-blooming

10,000words.net, Adrianmonck.comJay Rosen’s PressThink, OnlineJournalismBlog, BBCJournalismLabs, BusinessMediaBlog, RegretTheError.com, Publishing2.com, Spokesman Review’s Daily Briefing, Tomorrow’s News Tomorrow’s Journalists

… Nine strikers strikin’, Eight maps a-plotting, Seven pipes a-mashing, Six sites out-linking, Five Tweeeeeetin’ friends, Four journo forums, Three web gaffes, Two arrested hacks, And an editor in a law court!

On the eleventh day of Christmas my feed read’r brought to me … Eleven papers packing

(up for new offices) The Guardian, the Birmingham Mail, the Independent.

(away their desks forever) NY Sun, Belfast’s La Nua, Kazakhstan’s Law and Justice, Moscow’s The Exile, US Post newspapers, Trinity Mirror weekly titles, Switzerland’s Mittelland, three editions of Spanish Metro.

Ten blogs a-blooming, Nine strikers strikin’, Eight maps a-plotting, Seven pipes a-mashing, Six sites out-linking, Five Tweeeeeetin’ friends, Four journo forums, Three web gaffes, Two arrested hacks, And an editor in a law court!

On the twelfth day of Christmas my feed read’r brought to me … Twelve sites a-starting

Trinity Mirror mobile sites, outside.in UK, Spot.Us, Hubdub.com, Coventry Telegraph, FT’s Alphaville Long Room, Magicalia, DailyPostCymraeg.co.uk, Time Out Kuala Lumpur, the BusinessDesk Northwest, the Daily Beast.

(and re-focusing) CSMonitor.com.

… Eleven papers packing, Ten blogs a-blooming, Nine strikers strikin’, Eight maps a-plotting, Seven pipes a-mashing, Six sites out-linking, Five Tweeeeeetin’ friends, Four journo forums, Three web gaffes, Two arrested hacks and an editor in a law court!

Welcome to a ‘Charlian’ page. Nothing but Charlie Brooker.

The Guardian technology people have made this: a Guardian page of just Charlie Brooker. Nothing else. Just Charlie. It might be a case of widening the door frames in the Guardian buildings now, to aid Brooker’s access. Makes Stephen Fry’s website look pretty modest in comparison.