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Guardian: ‘This was not a redundancy announcement’

June 17th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Job losses, Newspapers

Predictably, speculation about potential job cuts at Guardian News and Media (GMG) has been rife since yesterday’s announcement that the company was seeking to make £25 million in savings over the next five years.

The Telegraph reported this morning that a cull could go as high as 175 staff, and both the Independent and Evening Standard reported certain job cuts.

A spokesperson for GMG flatly refuted the number in the Telegraph article and told Journalism.co.uk today that yesterday’s statement “was not a redundancy announcement”. He refused to rule out job cuts, however.

“Yesterday’s briefing was not a redundancy announcement. We shared with staff our current position and a strategy to transform the organisation, and said we would work with staff and unions to achieve it. Of course no media company can rule out redundancies in the current climate, but we will talk to staff about issues like that first.”

Yesterday’s statement from GMG confirmed that the company suffered operating losses of £33 million in the last financial year and announced its newspaper titles the Guardian and the Observer would be switching to a “digital-first” strategy.

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Observer: Readers’ editor defends paper’s use of private investigator

Earlier this month, Journalism.co.uk reported that the Observer would be seeking to distinguish between the case of ‘Operation Motorman’ and the phone-hacking scandal, after ‘confusion in the media’.

Operation Motorman was an investigation launched by the Information Commissioner’s Office in 2003 into the use of private investigators to obtain personal information, claiming that evidence documented “literally thousands of section 55 offences” (Data Protection Act) with more than 300 journalists identified.

At the time the Observer released a statement to say that 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 editor Roger Alton said action was taken to ensure “no inquiries will be made through outside agencies unless I believe that there is a compelling public interest to do so”.

However, following recent events in the separate phone-hacking investigation and speculation surrounding this, the Observer this weekend published a piece from its readers’ editor Stephen Pritchard, reinforcing its position that there “has never been any suggestion, let alone evidence, that the Observer has undertaken, commissioned or in any way been involved,” in phone hacking.

In relation to the issues surrounding Operation Motorman, current editor John Mulholland is said to have confirmed that Alton’s previous instruction “stands today”. Pritchard also outlines the sorts of stories journalists were using the services in relation to:

Former reporters told me they were working to uncover illegal arms deals, drugs trafficking, Islamic terrorism and political intrigue; stories they believed to be in the public interest that went on to appear in the paper. They said that the names that turn up in [Steve] Whittamore‘s register were people who would be, in the main, hard to find; individuals who would not make themselves available for interview. They felt it was right that they should attempt to find those people and put allegations to them. Sometimes, they would be up against tight deadlines and would use Whittamore because he was quicker at finding phone numbers or converting numbers into subscriber addresses.

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Observer: How the phone-hacking scandal fits together

As the CPS begins a fresh assessment of Met police evidence in the News of the World phone-hacking case, and coverage of the convoluted scandal is once again on the rise, the Observer has produced a graphic for the confused, showing how the major players fit together.

See the full graphic at this link [PDF].

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Guardian.co.uk: Should commenters be forced to use their real names?

A short debate appeared in yesterday’s Observer, over whether newspaper site commenters should be allowed to remain anonymous or not.

(It’s particularly timely given historian Orlando Figes’ Amazon review confessions, and also – as I’ve just posted – the Telegraph writer Cristina Odone’s outrage over internet pests’ challenging her facts)

Journalist and academic Aleks Krotoski argues for the right to anonymity (an extract):

The anti-anonymity brigade assumes that the cloak of the keyboard brings out the very worst in people because there’s no accountability in an identity vacuum. This belief, however, is purely anecdotal and is completely empirically unfounded. Really, what happens online is just the opposite: research shows that people are more willing to be open and honest and to help one another than to try to break down the virtual social order.

The Observer’s Rachel Cooke, meanwhile, argues for unmasking the users (an extract):

As for cowardice, yes, of course anonymous posters are cowards. It’s pathetic. The honourable thing to do is to put your name to bad reviews and all the other stuff, and if this makes your social life awkward – as it sometimes does for me – the upside is that, in future, you will think rather harder before you begin typing.

Full post at this link…

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How did readers react to the Observer relaunch?

February 22nd, 2010 | 3 Comments | Posted by in Journalism, Newspapers

It was goodbye to the horoscopes and hello to the New Review, but did the Observer readers like the newly relaunched and redesigned Sunday paper? You can see around 200 comments (at the time of writing) under editor John Mulholland’s introductory piece here. Guardian.co.uk editor Janine Gibson thanks users for feedback and assures them that all comments will be read. Stephen Pritchard, the readers’ editor also jumped straight in with some responses.

Here is some other Observer reaction as seen on Twitter:

“New observer is amazing – fashion, recipes, Chat articles, what polly vernon bought + a news section” (Robin Ince, comedian)

“It nearly achieved the impossible. selling a smaller product for same price. but very crowded esp review and the mag a mess..” (John Mair, Journalism lecturer)

“@nickcohen2 there’s no room for me! what’ll go in the pages that were full of AR this week btw? is it ≈ long columns by you?” (former Observer political editor, Gaby Hinsliff)

“The Observer have lost me as a reader, I have been buying this paper for as long as I can remember, but what they did yesterday was shameless” (LindaMarric, Labour supporter, student – and former reader)

“It’s interesting how the Observer‘s Brown story is snowballing when the relaunch seems designed to pave way for The New Review viewspaper” (Laura Slattery, journalist)

“The new Observer seemed to be almost entirely back to front. What were they thinking? Desperate Times indeed.” (Richard Cree, editor of Director Magazine)

I liked the new Observer – can they keep up the content though? (Andrew Howell)

First thing they teach you in editing school: mess with the horoscope at your peril. Do The Observer know something we don’t? (David Hepworth)

What did you think? Please leave your own thoughts below, or tweet to @journalismnews.
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Guardian.co.uk: John Mulholland on the Observer’s relaunch

February 15th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

Writing in the Guardian, Observer editor John Mulholland introduces his relaunched four-section newspaper, out next Sunday. The television listings, dropped last year, will return.

Arts, literature and cultural affairs will be at the centre of our New Review – with additional pages, improved newsprint and an elegant new design – which will further enhance the Observer’s reputation as the premier Sunday destination for discursive and thoughtful analysis of cultural, philosophical and artistic issues. The New Review will also include a new section devoted to ­science and technology, increased space for critics and the return of seven-day TV listings.

Full story at this list…

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Plans afoot for new management journalism service

Last August, amidst all the speculation over the Observer’s future, we reported how academics and business figures were threatening to cancel their subscriptions to the Sunday newspaper, following the decision to axe Simon Caulkin’s Observer Management column. Guardian News and Media never re-instated Caulkin and a letter of complaint from nearly 100 leading authors and academics went unpublished.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Observer did not later report how the Work Foundation had named Caulkin columnist of the year at the end of January. As noted by Private Eye in its latest issue (1255): “Newspapers usually trumpet awards their writers win. But the Observer and the Guardian were strangely silent…”

Philip Whiteley, management author, blogger and editor of the Human Capital Forum, who spearheaded the Caulkin complaint, has now launched a new campaign: for more effective coverage of management in UK media.

“It is also a reaction to the feeble coverage of the Kraft-Cadbury merger in mainstream newspapers in which business journalists repeatedly refused to put any tough questions to the Kraft or Cadbury leadership on the very high risks and integration costs that mega-mergers involve,” he said.

Whiteley believes that in reporting the Kraft-Cadbury merger, journalists focused on finances and the offer price rather than management challenges.

“The error common to the banks and the Kraft-Cadbury affair is to imagine that the management task, even though it is responsible for delivering the vast bulk of the returns from investment strategies of banking employees, or take-over activity respectively, is still bizarrely regarded as a junior matter, not front-page material,” Whiteley argued in a recent blog post, criticising both the Financial Times’ and the Telegraph’s coverage.

The new management project will collect blogs and other web news sections and launch a ‘blog of blogs’ – “a summary from the management blogosphere”.

Whiteley will circulate this to the Human Capital Forum’s database (16,000 subscribers) on a monthly basis, with the possibility of extending that to the databases of all participants.

“The aim is to provide more critical coverage of governance and management in the public and private sectors,” Whiteley said.

He cited a comment left on his blog, as another prompt for the new network:

“There was a time when papers like the FT and others had the expertise and inclination to dispel the myths of uttered corporate statements. Alas, no longer. The institutions that were supposed to be ever vigilant and fearless are now content to simply cover the passing parade. One has to read the right blogs and the right books to get any sense of objective insight into what’s going on. A real shame.”

Human Capital Forum has listed some online management resources here: http://www.humancapitalforum.com/links/index.php

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Peaches Geldof’s respect for broadsheets

January 7th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick

PopBitch’s quote of 2009, taken from the Observer’s interview with Peaches Geldof in January last year:

“I have respect for broadsheet journalists because they haven’t succumbed to degrading themselves, to writing pidgin English with all these terrible colloquialisms, the phrasing of which is just, like, embarrassing.”

Latest PopBitch at this link…

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New local site and verticals for HuffPo

September 17th, 2009 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Online Journalism

The Huffington Post has launched its third local site, as expected, for Denver, Colorado.

An introduction from Ethan Axelrod, HuffPo’s Denver editor, explains the thinking behind launch in Denver and not another US city – namely the political importance of the state and Denver’s position as a destination for young professionals and businesses, he says.

The site is also planning launches of new technology, sport (end of October) and books (October 5) verticals – a move examined by the New York Observer:

“The advantage to adding verticals ad infinitum to general-interest websites is simple: they make it easy for web designers to mimic that familiar feeling of pulling out the business pages or flipping to the top sports story in traditional print newspapers. Drilling down on one topic at a time and carefully tailoring content by subject makes it easier for visitors to read what they want to and for advertisers to reach a specific, targeted audience,” the Observer reports.

Being able to roll-out new sections and topic pages quickly may suggest a landgrab approach towards attracting users.

As usability expert Jakob Nielsen tells the Observer, these sections allow sites to ‘scoop up’ users with specific interests and perhaps attract them to other parts of the site. To do this however, the content these sections offer must be more than just a filtering of the broader site.

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EnvironmentGuardian.co.uk’s makeover

A new look for  Guardian.co.uk’s environment pages was unveiled today, with the promise of more editorial content from its six correspondents.

“The Guardian has built this unrivalled team in the belief that environmental issues, and in particular global warming, is the defining issue of our age, combining politics, economics and social justice,” said James Randerson, editor of EnvironmentGuardian.co.uk, in a release from Guardian News & Media.

“We hope that all of the new features on the site – together with the enthusiastic participation of our visitors – will serve as an invaluable resource for anyone wanting to understand the context behind the headlines.”

Expert correspondents now include one in Washington DC, one in China and one dedicated to green technology, the release said.

Also announced:

  • A new video series featuring the Observer columnist Lucy Siegle
  • To mark the UN climate talks in Copenhagen in December, the foreign secretary David Miliband will answer users’ questions in a live online Q&A at lunchtime on Tuesday (September 8, 2009) – time to be confirmed.

Randerson is asking for user feedback at this link.

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