Tag Archives: The Sun

News International sites targeted by hackers

Lulzsec's faked Sun website featuring the false story about Rupert Murdoch

Hackers last night (July 18) targeted the Sun’s website and put up a false story announcing the death of Rupert Murdoch.

The group behind the attack, Lulzsec, also redirected all traffic to its Twitter feed.

Visitors to the site were greeted by the headline ‘Media moguls (sic) body discovered’ – a story that alleged Murdoch had ‘ingested a large quantity’ of radioactive palladium, before ‘stumbling into his topiary garden’.

On Twitter, LulzSec also claimed to have hacked into email accounts and began posting what appeared to be passwords to individual email addresses as well as mobile numbers for editorial staff.

People trying to access the Sun website were directed to new-times.co.uk, a News International-owned domain.

The group gloated of their success last night, tweeting: “The Sun’s homepage now redirects to the Murdoch death story on the recently-owned New Times website. Can you spell success, gentlemen?”

The hackers did not explicitly say why they hacked the site, but various tweets suggested it was linked to the phone hacking scandal.

It remains to be seen whether this will be the last of the action after the group tweeted: “…expect the lulz to flow in coming days.”

Reaction round-up on News of the World closure

The morning after the announcement that News International is to scrap the News of the World has predictably spawned a variety of reaction from the blogosphere.

Despite rumours that folding the newspaper in favour of a seven day Sun had been on the cards for a while (TheSunOnSunday.co.uk, TheSunOnSunday.com and SunOnSunday.co.uk were all registered on July 5, albeit by a private individual), a source at News International confirmed today that a Sunday edition of the paper wouldn’t be on the cards for several weeks to come.

This morning Times today led with a story that the collapse in advertising was due to online protest and the final nail in the coffin for the paper.

The withdrawal of advertising appeared to be in response to a public backlash that had been led primarily on the internet. Thousands of people had used Twitter and Facebook to express their outrage at allegations of phone hacking at the paper.

This was after a list of the News of the World’s advertising clients had been published online, encouraging people to send Twitter messages to the companies to express concern at the activities of the paper’s journalists.

You can read the full article here (behind the paywall).

Emily Bell, director of the Tow Centre for Digital Journalism and former director of digital content for Guardian News & Media sees the decision as part of a long line of bold and audacious moves from the Murdochs, from the bid to buy the Times, to the launch of Sky News, and recently the proposed takeover of BSkyB.

James’s Wapping moment sees him making a gesture he hopes will be grand enough to soften the focus of any phone-hacking inquiry, bold enough to allow the company to extricate itself from present trouble and, in the process, allow him to reshape News International around the digital television platforms he feels both more comfortable with and which are undoubtedly more profitable.

But what about the wider implications? Many are agreed that the decision is brutal and the loss of 200 journalists terrible, but Andrew Gilligan, London editor for the Sunday Telegraph, argues that it could also give way to a muzzled British press in the future. As talk turns to how press regulation should be managed, Gilligan says:

For be in no doubt: hateful as the behaviour of some journalists has been, we may now face something even worse. For many in power, or previously in power, the News of the World’s crimes are a God-given opening to diminish one of the greatest checks on that power: the media.

Regulation was also on Alan Rusbridger‘s mind yesterday, when he took part in a live Q & A regarding phone hacking (before NI announced the News of the World’s closure). Rusbridger drew attention to alleged weaknesses of the PCC (the code committee of which Rusbridger quit in November 2009) and the quandary of state v self-regulation. Today the Press Complaints Commission sought to defend its work following calls for it to be scrapped by both Labour leader Ed Miliband and prime minister David Cameron.

This hasn’t been a wonderful advertisement for self-regulation. The short answer is that, no, the PCC can’t go on as it is. Its credibility is hanging by a thread.

We did say this back in November 2009 when the PCC came out with its laughable report into phone-hacking. We said in an editorial that this was a dangerous day for press regulation – and so it’s turned out.

The PCC has this week withdrawn that report and has a team looking at the issues and at the mistakes it’s made in the past.

I don’t know how Ofcom could do the job without falling into the category of statutory regulation. Does anyone else?

On her blog former Channel 4 presenter Samira Ahmed also draws some comparisons with the past, saying that the affair is “only my second major moral outcry against the news media” during her twenty years in journalism, the first being the death of Princess Diana. Hugh Grant has won public approval over the last week or so because of his overt opposition to phonehacking, but Ahmed is wary of putting people like Grant on a pedestal.

Many celebrities understand the privacy trade-off with press coverage, or get their lawyers to settle a payoff. Incidentally we should be wary of deifying celebrities, such as Hugh Grant, who have publicly defended the principle of rich people taking out superinjunctions to cover up their bad behaviour, when there might be a legitimate public interest. But I’ve met ordinary people over the years whose suffering has been deeply compounded by salacious press intrusion.

Telegraph: Lawyers apply for access to Sun journalists’ emails and texts

Lawyers acting for a footballer at the centre of a superinjunction have applied for an order to gain access to emails and text messages sent by former editor of the Sun Kelvin Mackenzie and the paper’s employees, the Telegraph reports.

This follows comments made by Mackenzie on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme in relation to superinjunctions in general, when he said that when he gets texts asking who the people are – “I always reply who it is”, he said.

All the time I get flooded by readers emails every week asking for the name, and sometimes I give it and sometimes I don’t.

At the time he said he responds “despite the fact I’ve been warned by various judges and lawyers that I face the prospect of contempt of court and the prospect of going to jail”.

In the Telegraph’s report Richard Spearman QC, for News Group, is quoted as saying that the application “was disproportionate”.

“It is a very major incursion into (Sun employees’) rights and News Group as a media organisation,” said Mr Spearman. “It is wholly unprecedented to ask for an order in this way, on the basis of such flimsy evidence and to such a large extent.”

News International to rethink ‘iron-curtain’ paywall approach for the Sun

The Sun is to use a mixed model to charge for online content, according to News International head of marketing Katie Vanneck-Smith, although no date has been set for its introduction.

Speaking last night at a panel debate about paywalls and digital journalism models at City University London, Vanneck-Smith’s admission seemed to mark a shift in News International’s ‘iron-curtain’ approach to paywalls on it’s news sites.

She told the audience at the debate:

I think we all said that the models are mixed. So there are no plan at the moment, there’s no date, for when the Sun will have paid as part of its model for it’s digital website in terms of its news access.

When questioned by Media Guardian editor Dan Sabbagh about whether this marked a change in News International thinking, Vanneck-Smith replied: “We will introduce paid for content and services on the Sun in the future, I couldn’t tell you what the date is.” She would not confirm whether this would be in the form of a paywall, but earlier in the event she said that the newspaper was “of the view that mixed models and blended models are right and the best way to pursue, I think, a very vibrant and exciting journalism future for this country”.

Almost a year on from the Times and Sunday Times going behind a paywall, Vanneck-Smith said both were making more money digitally from their 79,000 subscribers than pre-paywall, when they had 20 million browsers.

Dan Sabbagh, the Guardian‘s media editor, revealed the newspaper would pursue a free content model and would move towards becoming an aggregator of news and opinion.

We want to become, as well as a provider of content, a content aggregator. People are very keen on participating with the Guardian, they want to be re-published on our site and they’d like us to sell their advertising.

We think it’s critical that we’re part of the conversation that people are part of.

And while I don’t have any big philosophical rejections to what the Times and Sunday Times are trying to do commercially, it seems like a perfectly proper strategy to pursue, I’m less convinced by the severity of their paywall model. In effect, the Times and Sunday Times journalism is outside the journalistic conversation

Sabbagh also revealed the Guardian site had its best day ever had best ever day when Osama Bin Laden died, resulting in 4.5 million unique hits compared with a daily average of 2.4 million uniques.

According to Geordie Greig, the editor of the Evening Standard, the paper is on course to make a profit by 2012, and would consider a paywall if he saw it worked elsewhere.

I think we will probably be on the verge of profit next year. Now I’m not saying that to say we’re better than them [other newspapers], I’m really it because we’re in a very difficult industry to make money.

I think everyone applauds the attempt by News International to make money, we really, really hope it works. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong in saying, if it does, we’re all going to copy it, that’s what happens in industry where there are leaders.

The Standard has experienced a huge turnaround in fortunes since going free back in 2009. Greig revealed the move had allowed the paper to charge 150 per cent for advertising space compared with old prices. Greig explained:

By changing our economic model, we were able to survive and thrive. Suddenly we become bigger and by bigger meant we could earn bigger sums of money.

We were losing a ton of money, we were losing between 10-20 per cent of our readers every single year and our debt was running into tens of billions potentially a year and this was unsustainable.

We made a decision to go free and the great thing was that made two competing papers in the evening leave the market so that made us in a more dominant.

Grieg also revealed prior to going free, the Evening Standard sold 700 copies at Oxford Circus. Now, it distributes 32,000 copies from that location on a daily basis.

Stevie Spring, chief executive of Future Publishing, suggested the problem with charging for content online was that it involved a change in mindset for users used to not paying for news, likening broadband access to an all-you-can-eat buffet.

The difference in a digital world is fewer and fewer people brought up in a world where everything online is free, there is an expectation of free. Or it’s not an expectation of free, but everybody has grown up believing that once you’ve paid for your broadband access, that’s an all-you-eat-buffet, that’s my library card, everything else is free.

You have a real disincentive to pay once you disaggregate the content from it’s packaging. When you have a physical artifact, a real DVD or real magazine or a real piece of paper, once I disaggregate the content from its pack, people aren’t sure what the value of the content in isolation is.

They expect it to be much cheaper because of course there is a marginal cost of distribution. However, what people aren’t seeing is the increasing cost of creation because actually it costs more to fulfill expectations in a digital world when people want 24/7, up the second with audio visual adapted and amended for every screen. So cost of production goes up.

Dominic Young, former director of strategy and product development for News International, said it was up to media organisations to innovate and find a solution.

The challenge for the industry and for everybody is to identify new models and pursue them with gusto. In that sense, I think what the Times and Sunday Times are doing is really important.

It’s no surprise to me that the companies making the most money out of the internet are companies which invest nothing in content. The companies which make the most money out of journalism directly and companies which tend to be parasitic aggregator, many of them just straightforward feeds.

On suggestion put forward for the Sun by Roy Greenslade in his Guardian column today, in response to last night’s debate, was charging for the newspaper’s popular online bingo games while keeping the rest of the site free of charge.

Media Trust and the Sun launch new Column Idol contest

The Media Trust and The Sun have joined together to launch this year’s Column Idol competition,.

The contest, now in its second year, is open to 18 to 25 year olds. Six shortlisted entrants will have the opportunity to be mentored by journalists from the Sun newspaper and the overall winner will then be given the chance to have their column printed in the tabloid.

Applications are now open and can be submitted until 20 June.

Adam Vincenzini’s year without newspapers is over, but what did he learn?

Last January, Journalism.co.uk blogged about Adam Vincenzini and his bid to survive a year without newspapers. Vincenzini was just 19 days into his experiment at that point. The PR consultant has come to the end of his experiment now and told Journalism.co.uk today that he sees printed news in a new light.

After a year of relying on Twitter, RSS feeds and mobile phone apps, Vincenzini says newspapers “still have such an important role to play”.

There’s the enjoyment part of print journalism, the personality, the humour and the opinion; I stopped enjoying reading news when I only read it online. But also the newspaper is the one thing that can give you a snapshot that you can take away for the day … Newspapers are still the easiest way to get your news.

Which may be why Vincenzini’s main celebration on New Year’s Eve was to hold his first newspaper in over 9000 hours.

I went and bought the Sun and a bottle of Baileys just after the clocks struck 12! I had the biggest smile on my face and the best thing was is that nothing had changed – it was just like picking up a copy 12 months ago. I felt very warm and fuzzy inside.

Vincenzini’s blog tracks his experiment and now includes his conclusions.

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UK publishers dominate top grossing iPhone news apps list

British news publishers are leading the way in the iPhone app download charts, according to rankings displayed in Apple’s iTunes store.

The Guardian (version 1) tops the list, followed by MailOnline in third place. The top five grossing UK news apps are:

  1. The Guardian (version 1)
  2. MailOnline
  3. The Economist
  4. The Sun: Bizarre
  5. The Scotsman

iTunes also lists the top free iPhone news apps but apparently uses an algorithm based on the last four days of sales/downloads. So, bearing in mind this is more of a snapshot (which may also be a bit  skewed because we are currently in holiday season), the top five free UK news apps are currently:

  1. BBC News
  2. Sky News
  3. MailOnline
  4. FT Mobile
  5. The Economist

At the time of writing, they also appeared in the same ranking for worldwide news apps.

The top five paid-for UK news apps are currently:

  1. The Guardian (version 1)
  2. This is Bristol
  3. The Scotsman
  4. Macworld UK
  5. MacUser Magazine

Journalism.co.uk’s own free news app, which features this blog, our main news, editorial job listings and press releases, is currently ranked 72.

Former Sun editor expresses doubt over Andy Coulson’s phone-hacking denials

Former editor of the Sun David Yelland has cast further doubt over the claim by Downing Street director of communications Andy Coulson that he was in the dark about illegal phone-hacking at the News of the World during his time as editor.

Yelland, who was editor of the Sun for five years until 2003 and has edited another of Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers, the New York Post, told an audience of students at last week’s Coventry Conversations: “I can’t believe a fellow editor would not know phone tapping was in action.”

It is understood that Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who was sent to prison last year for his part in the News of the World’s phone-hacking operations, was paid around £100,000 by the newspaper for aiding in hacking celebriti Yelland told the audience he believed that any sum more than £1,000 would have to be signed off by someone “in deep carpet land”.

“It would be impossible for anyone at News International to not know what was going on”, he added.

Yelland’s comments will undoubtedly not be welcomed by Murdoch, who owns News Corporation, parent company of the News of the World. Yelland claimed to hold Murdoch in high esteem, calling him the “best newspaper proprietor of all time” and said that he had a close relationship with him during his time at the Sun and the Post. “He has a genuine interest in newspapers. Murdoch is rooted in newspapers and lives, eats and breathes them”.

Yelland’s talk was surprisingly open and on the record (see a live blog at cutoday.wordpress.com; podcast at www.coventtry.ac.uk/itunesU). He talked in detail about heavy drinking, which had started at Coventry and got worse during his career. He recalled drinking binges followed by sleep and a fourteen hour day in the newsroom as a regular cycle.

Yelland blamed one of his biggest mistakes as editor – allowing a front page headline about Britain being run by a ‘Gay mafia’ – on having been drunk in Dublin that day. Homophobia was not his scene, he said. He was mortified when he sobered up and read that headline and story. He later he checked himself into rehab and stopped drinking 2005 when he found out that his wife, from whom he was divorced, was dying of breast cancer. He is still teetotal now.

A worse mistake than the headline though, he said, was printing a topless picture of the soon-to-be Countess Of Wessex Sophie Rhys Jones. He did not say if it happened under the influence. Printing the picture lost over half a million copies over night, according to Yelland, and prompted an icy call from Murdoch. “It probably cost us ten million pounds.”

After five years as editor Yelland stepped out of the firing line of popular tabloid journalism and moved, via the Harvard Business School, into public relations. Today he is a partner at PR firm Brunswick and has represented the likes of BP during the Gulf oil spill scandal this summer and Lord Browne, the former BP CEO on his recent review into university fees. PR suits David down to the ground, he said. As a commander of information he is in his element being counsel to clients. Personal integrity in both journalism and PR is key, he advised the assemble students. “Once you’ve lost your personal integrity,” says David, “you’re gone.” Ambition and a determination to prove people wrong kept me going says David.

John Mair is a senior lecturer in broadcasting at Coventry University and producer of the Coventry Conversations series. The talks series has just won the Cecil Angel Cup of 2010 for enhancing the reputation of the university.

Sun Online editor called from across the pond for new digital project

Editor of Sun Online Pete Picton has been enlisted to help launch a “new digital project” at News Corporation in New York, according to a paidContent report.

The project is understood to be part of News Corps’ reported plans to develop a new tablet-only newspaper.

News Corp has already enlisted New York Post executive editor Jesse Angelo to head the project, which seems designed to go nationwide with a mass-market U.S. title on iPad in the same way the Sun has been in the smaller UK for decades.

Picton has been editor of the Sun Online for the past 10 years.