Monday, 30 November 2009

IFJ launches global solidarity campaign over massacre of journalists in the Philippines

The International Federation of Journalists is calling for a global solidarity campaign in support of the journalists massacred in the Philippines last Monday.
It is now thought that as many as 30 journalists were killed - which the IFJ says is "the world’s biggest single atrocity against journalists".
The IFJ is sending an international mission to Manila from December 7 to 10. The mission, co-ordinated by the IFJ Asia office, will support the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, provide solidarity to journalists and their families, and lobby the government "that this is an outrage that they will not be allowed to forget".
The NUJP has asked the IFJ to request all colleagues, affiliates - which include the NUJ, partners and interested parties to join a global solidarity campaign. The first phase of the campaign will culminate on December 9, 2009 (ahead of International Human Rights Day on December 10).
A joint press conference will be held by the NUJP and the IFJ-led international mission to release the initial findings of NUJP investigations into the massacre.
The IFJ is also calling on affiliates and partners to meet Philippine Ambassadors and Consulates in their home countries to demand "that the killers of our colleagues are brought to justice".

United Arab Emirates blocks Sunday Times

The Sunday Times was removed by authorities from shelves in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday following its reporting of Dubai's debt problems, the Wall Street Journal has reported.
The National Media Council ordered the paper blocked by distributors without providing a reason, an executive at the paper in Dubai said.
The Sunday Times' Business section featured a double-page spread graphic illustrating Dubai's ruler Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum sinking in a sea of debt. The Sunday Times wasn't given a reason for the block, or a timeframe when it will be lifted, the executive said.
A government official in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the U.A.E., said that the picture of Sheik Mohammed, which accompanied a story entitled: The sinking of Dubai's dream, was "offensive."
The Wall Street Journal says under the U.A.E.'s media code, publications are prohibited from criticising the sheikdom's rulers.

New London free planned

A website has been launched for a new paper called the London Weekly. It contains few details and says it will "go live"on 20 December.
MediaGuardian has seen a media pack for the new paper and says it is a free that plans to distribute 250,000 copies of the title twice weekly, on Fridays and Saturdays, outside rail and tube stations.
It says the company behind the launch is called Global Publishing Group which claims to have raised more then £5.5m to launch the title, along with a website and online radio station and TV channel.
There is speculation the London Weekly could launch in February.

Credit agencies where credit is due

Agency journalists are used to seeing their stories appearing under other reporters' by-lines in the national press even if their copy has been unchanged.
They will welcome the view of Guardian readers' editor Siobhain Butterworth, who writes in her Open Door column today that the paper's journalists should follow its editorial code on attributing stories.
She says: "The editorial code seems workable and fair, and I see no reason to depart from it. A story that includes material from another publication should say so. If it contains a significant amount of agency copy, the journalist's name should be followed by "and agencies". Slightly rewritten wire copy should say "staff and agencies". Only if the story is nearly all the journalist's own work should he or she take credit."
Butterworth says she became aware that the Sport site of the Guardian "routinely publishes stories without attribution" when mistakes in stories needed to be corrected.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Don't tell Mark Watts but...

Actress Natascha McElhone writes affectionately about her step-dad Roy Greenslade in the Guardian Family section on Saturday:
"Mum married again – Roy Greenslade, who used to edit the Daily Mirror, and I am so glad and grateful he came along. He was a tremendous influence on me. Roy was a great activist; I have lots of memories of going on marches on his shoulders, and playing in our sitting room, next to Socialist Worker placards, during meetings of the Brighton Marxists."

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Photographer dedicates his prize to 'fixers'

AP photographer Emilio Morenatii last night dedicated his Frontline Club award to journalists killed reporting from the world's trouble spots as well as the local "fixers" without whom, he said, they could not do their work.
Morenatii accepted the prize in a speech recorded on video, broadcast at the Frontline Club's annual party and awards in London, as he is still being treated for injuries sustained in a bomb blast in Afghanistan.

Friday, 27 November 2009

YEP apology to Roman Abramovich

I wonder how much this cost. From today's Yorkshire Evening Post under the heading:
Roman Abramovich: An Apology
"In the Yorkshire Evening Post of June 11th, we reported that a court had been told that Roman Abramovich had threatened to kill Ken Bates.
The allegations were repeated in our online articles.
We now accept that such threats were not made and should not have been published in this manner.
We wish to set the record straight.
We apologise for any distress caused to Mr Abramovich and his family and as a mark of our regret, we have agreed to pay Mr Abramovich substantial damages which he will be donating to charity, as well as his legal costs."

Irish Times 'punished' for protecting sources

NUJ Irish Secretary Séamus Dooley has said that the judgment yesterday by the Supreme Court to order the Irish Times to pay legal costs, estimated at more than €600,000, was a "punishment" for the way editor Geraldine Kennedy had successfully protected the paper's sources.
The order on costs follows the Mahon tribunal’s failed bid for a court order compelling Kennedy and public affairs correspondent Colm Keena to answer questions on the source of an article about payments to former taoiseach Bertie Ahern.
Dooley said: “The Supreme Court clearly recognised the right of The Irish Times to protect their sources. This decision may be perceived as a punishment for the manner in which the editor decided to protect the newspaper’s sources despite the vindication by the Supreme Court of the right of journalists to do so. In that sense the judgment has profound implications for Irish journalism.”
The Supreme Court ruled there were “exceptional circumstances” in the case – namely the journalists’ destruction of documents related to the source – which justified departure from the normal rule that costs go to the winning side in litigation.

Miles Barter quits NUJ campaigns post

NUJ campaigns officer Miles Barter has resigned from the union after a year in the post.
Barter told me: "I've done a year in the job and that's enough. I want to go back to freelancing."
He denied claims by defeated Journalist candidate Mark Watts that he had been "forced out" because of his links to NUJ Left.
Barter said: "Watts couldn't have got it more wrong if he was entering a 'getting it wrong' contest. I think Mark Watts is best ignored."
It is understood Barter sent a letter of resignation and has already stopped working for the NUJ. He is the union's former Northern organiser and was recruited to the London HQ of the NUJ last year to work in the campaigns and communications department.

Quotes of the Week

Reporters Without Borders on the massacre of journalists in the Philippines: "Never in the history of journalism have the news media suffered such a heavy loss of life in one day.”

Ian Burrell in the Independent on the great pay wall debate: "The British newspaper industry is on the verge of an historic schism, a fundamental split in beliefs that will set one part of the business on a collision course with the other. Far greater than the ideological differences that have traditionally set apart the great national titles, this divergence in opinion – over whether the written word should be a free commodity or one that is charged for – will set the news industry at each other’s throats."

Andrew Neil, also in the Independent: “As an industry we took a huge wrong turn. It was a new technology and we didn’t quite understand it. We had been told that if we got the eyeballs – in the usual digital dotcom jargon – the money would follow. Well, we got the eyeballs and the money hasn’t followed.”

Jeff Jarvis on his Buzz Machine blog: "News Corp. leaving Google would be a mosquito bite on an elephant’s ass. Unnoticed by Google or by the audience. For there will always be – as Murdoch laments – free competitors: the BBC and Australian Broadcasting Corp, which he and his son complain about, not to mention the Guardian, the Telegraph, NPR, CBC, and any sensible news organization worldwide."

Justice Secretary Jack Straw in the Sunday Times: “The very high levels of remuneration for defamation lawyers in Britain seem to be incentivising libel tourism."

Jo Glanville on the Index on Censorship website on libel law reform: "Cosmetic surgery will not be sufficient. What’s required now is reform that addresses the chilling effect of libel on every level."

Thursday, 26 November 2009

29 journalists now feared dead in massacre

Local reporters have told press freedom group Reporters Without Borders that the number of journalists killed in the massacre in the Phillipines has risen to 29.
RWB quotes a reporter based in the nearby city of Koronadal saying: "All the bodies have been located and identification is almost complete. According to the local media’s tally, we lost 29 colleagues in this tragedy.”
RWB notes that the authorities have finally arrested Andal Ampatuan Jr, a suspect in the massacre in which 57 people were killed in Maguindanao province on Monday.

Attack on Sunday World editor condemned

The NUJ has strongly condemned an attack on Sunday World Northern editor Jim McDowell in Belfast.
McDowell was beaten to the ground and kicked about the head in an assault by four men in the middle of the busy Continental Market.
The assault happened less than a fortnight after supporters of four loyalists accused of murdering Sunday World journalist Martin O'Hagan smashed up McDowell's car. The vandalism happened while McDowell was inside Craigavon Court House attending a bail hearing for the men facing charges connected to the O'Hagan murder.
NUJ Irish Secretary Séamus Dooley said: "Jim McDowell is a brave editor of exceptional courage and he has never been afraid to take a strong stand. Neither Jim McDowell nor the staff of the Sunday World will be intimidated by this type of behaviour - from whatever quarter it has come.”

Online is lifeline for flood-hit Cumbria

Regional newspaper the News & Star used its online news service, video, blogs and Twitter to provide vital news and information to the communities of flood-hit Cumbria and to cover the disaster.
The News & Star website has attracted around 85,000 unique visitors and more than 630,000 page impressions for its coverage of the floods, which included a live blog. The blog ran between last Thursday lunchtime and Friday evening, engaging over 5,300 unique users who tuned in to read up to the minute flood reports from the paper. The News & Star published 2,130 reader comments on the blog and provided answers to 332 questions during its duration.
News & Star staff continue to post videos, news stories and images to the site, and have been updating their 500-plus Twitter followers with a continuous stream of news links.
Ian Brogden, online editor for Cumbria Newspapers, said: “The live blog was intended to act as a means for people to interact with the paper, ask questions and get the information they needed back in real time. Information was gathered from the police very quickly by our team of reporters, and we then wrote stories off the back of this for publication online and in print.
“One of the great benefits of the live blog was that it turned the website into something of a self-help site. Advice was being passed between readers to help one another."
Via the Newspaper Society

New editor for Telegraph as Lewis moves on

Tony Gallagher has been promoted from deputy to editor of the Daily Telegraph as Will Lewis moves on to launch and manage a new digital division at the company.
Lewis, who will remain editor-in-chief of the Telegraph newspapers and website, will set up and run the new "entrepreneurial" digital division which will have a staff of 50 and be based in Euston away from the company's main office in Victoria.
As managing director, digital, he will also oversee the Telegraph Media Group's existing digital businesses. Lewis was appointed Daily Telegraph editor in October 2006 and the paper is a clear favourite to be named Newspaper of the Year for its scoop on MPs' expenses.
Gallagher has been deputy editor of the paper since September 2007; he was previously executive head of news and edited the paper this autumn while Lewis was at the Harvard Business School. Gallagher was previously news editor of the Daily Mail.
Telegraph assistant editor and chief political commentator Benedict Brogan has been promoted to deputy editor of the Daily Telegraph. Executive head of news Chris Evans is now number three on the paper.
More at MediaGuardian and Press Gazette

Coma man story a hoax says Huff Post

Has the media been taken in? The feel-good story of Rom Houben, the Belgian man who allegedly "woke up" from a 23-year long coma is a hoax, according to an article on the Huffington Post.
Michael Shermer writes: "Houben's communications," his "statements" about how he's been aware all along of his condition, his "talking" to reporters (all descriptive terms used by hardened journalists softened into bleeding heart jelly) is nothing more than the "ideomotor" effect, where the brain subtly and subconsciously guides the hands and fingers over a keyboard, or a Ouija board, or directs the movements of dowsing rods in search of underground water. You think it, the hand will move there."
He adds: "Watch the video again here and here and note what the reporters say about how Houben was speaking, saying, talking, etc. For example: "described his real-life nightmare"
"'I screamed, but there was nothing to hear,' said Mr Houben" "tells of 23 lonely years".
Shermer says: "He's doing no such thing. These reporters are watching these same videos are reporting something that did not happen. He did not say anything, nor did he describe or tell. Houben is just sitting there in a chair looking like he's in a coma, with the facilitator standing next to him, his hand firmed gripped by hers, guiding his hand over the keyboard. And yet the reporters report that he is guiding her hand! Watch it again. It's as clear as can be!"

Suspect held over massacre in Philippines

A prominent member of a powerful clan suspected of involvement in the killing of 57 people, including up to 26 journalists, in the Philippines has been taken into custody.
Andal Ampatuan Jr, a local mayor, surrendered to the authorities but denied organising the killings, the BBC reports.
Press freedom group Reporters Without Borders has estimated that 26 journalists were killed in the massacre. The first estimate was 12.
RWB says: "The journalists worked for local or national newspapers, radio stations and TV stations. The murdered journalists include Alejandro “Bong” Reblando of Manila Bulletin, Henry Araneta of radio DZRH, Bart Maravilla of Bombo Radyo Koronadal, Nap Salaysay of DZRO, Ian Subang of Pilipino Star Ngayon and Dadiangas Times, and freelance reporters Humberto Mumay, Ranie Razon, Noel Decena, John Caniba, Joel Parcon, Marife Montano, Art Belia and Jun Legarta.
"The fatalities could include four UNTV reporters – Joy Duhay, Victor Nuñez, Macario Ariola and Jimmy Cabillo. Philippine news media have also named Leah Dalmacio of Mindanao Focus, Gina de la Cruz and Marites Cablitas of Today, Andy Teodoro of the Mindanao Inquirer, Bienvenido Lagarte of the Sierra News, Neneng Montaño of the weekly Saksi and Rey Merescon of MindaNews.

Northcliffe profits down by £45 million

Northcliffe's portfolio of titles were badly affected by weak advertising markets and operating profits were down £45 million, parent company Daily Mail and General Trust reported today in its preliminary results for 2009.
All categories of advertising were "under pressure" but particularly recruitment, property and motors. DMGT said the company has responded by initiating a range of significant restructuring activities.
Overall, Northcliffe's underlying operating profit was down £45 million, with revenues down £98 million, offset by cost reductions of £53 million. Total revenue fall 22% to£328m with operating profit down 65% to £24m.
DMGT said Northcliffe's advertising revenues have been stable since February/March and reducing costs has lead to improved profits and margins.
Group revenue for the year was £2,118 million compared with £2,312 million for the prior year, a fall of 8%. Operating profit was 12% lower at £278million. Adjusted profits before tax were £201 million, down 23% on the equivalent figure for last year, with all divisions, except Northcliffe Media, maintaining or increasing operating margins.

Journalists freed in Somalia after 15 months

Reuters has reported that two freelance journalists, Canadian Amanda Lindhout and Australian Nigel Brennan, kidnapped in Somalia in August 2008 have been freed.
The agency said that the freed journalists are in a hotel in the capital Mogadishu, according to a Somali member of parliament and hotel sources.
"We have now brought both foreign journalists to the Sahafi hotel. We have been working for eight days on their release, but finally succeeded," MP Ahmed Diiriye told Reuters. "I don't want to comment on how we released them now."
Lindhout and Brennan were taken hostage by an armed group as they were returning to Mogadishu from Afgoye refugee camp, 20 km west of the Somali capital, on 23 August 2008.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Aid pledge for families of massacred journalists

The Committee to Protect Journalists says it is working with local and international media support groups to extend assistance to the families of the journalists killed on Monday in a brutal election-related massacre in the Philippine province of Maguindanao.
Most news reports put the death toll at 46, with at least 12 of the victims preliminarily identified as journalists. Among the press corps victims, most appeared to be reporters for local media or stringers for national outlets.
CPJ says it is heartened by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s strong response, which included pledges for full investigation and prosecution of the apparently politically motivated killings. But CPJ also said that the state of emergency declared in the province must not interfere with journalists seeking access and information to report on the killings.
“The Philippines has a long history of impunity in the case of the deaths of journalists — a history it had started to work to reverse in recent years. Now the country needs its press corps to fully cover this story of wanton political violence, which took so many lives, including those of journalists,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator.
“The president might not be able to reverse the culture of violence that surrounds so much of political life in the Philippines, but she can certainly use this terrible incident to fight the impunity that surrounds journalists’ deaths,” he said.

NUJ threatens strike at Trinity in Brum

NUJ members at Trinity Mirror’s BPM Media, which publishes the Birmingham Post and Birmingham Mail, have voted to strike in the next three weeks unless the company’s threat of compulsory redundancies is lifted.
A ballot of union members at the Birmingham centre concluded on Monday with a 75 per cent majority in favour of strike action, the NUJ said today.
The NUJ chapel at BPM Media, has passed a resolution to say that the “chapel would be taking strike action in the next three weeks, at a date to be decided, unless the threat of compulsory redundancy was lifted by the company.”
Trinity Mirror is looking to make cuts to the papers after deciding to switch the Birmingham Mail to overnight printing and take the Birmingham Post weekly.
In October the company said it was looking to cut 40 editorial jobs across its Midlands operations, having already announced 70 job cuts at the end of 2008.
NUJ Northern regional organiser Chris Morley said: "It is clear that the chapel are in no mood to accept colleagues being thrown out of work into the worst recession in living memory - and for them to absorb the work on their already overburdened shoulders."
NUJ members at Trinity Mirror in Coventry are meeting on Friday.
The NUJ is preparing to purchase small quantities of shares in major media companies, like Trinity Mirror, to enable the union to put questions direct to members of the companies’ boards.

Johnston Press in pay wall experiment

Johnston Press is to introduce paid-for access to some of its local websites from next week in an experiment that could change the face of the industry, HoldtheFrontPage reports today.
HoldtheFrontPage says it has has learned that pay walls are to be introduced on a selection of Johnston Press-owned weekly newspaper websites from Monday.
It adds:"Managers have told staff that JP intends to roll-out the paid-for model across the company in line with what they are calling 'industry moves in this area to find a sustainable business model going forward'."
The initiative being launched next week will restrict users of selected JP sites from viewing content beyond the homepage without payment of a £5 three-month subscription - the equivalent of 40p per week. The subscription system will be the same as that already being used by the Scotsman to view "premium content" on its website.
An internal memo circulated by senior managers in one JP division that has been seen by HTFP stated: "Customers are used to paying for content in-paper and we are simply transferring this thinking online."
Johnston Press has declined to comment publicly on the plan.

Mark Watts hits back at NUJ general secretary

Defeated Journalist candidate Mark Watts is continuing his campaign against the NUJ Left with a new broadside today in which he calls on NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear to "make clear his own postion" on the group.
Watts writing on his FOIA website says: "Many tricky issues about the state of journalism in Britain today need to be addressed by the National Union of Journalists. But before the NUJ can tackle these urgent problems with credibility, its general secretary, Jeremy Dear, has to deal with the far-left faction seeking to take over the union."
Watts claims "Most journalists have shared my astonishment at the threat to the union posed by this faction, “NUJ Left”. However, the “NUJ Left” gang deployed a version of the scientologists’ “fair-game” strategy in which anyone who dares to criticise them are treated with an array of hysterical smears."
Watts has also taken the opportunity to hit back at NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear who in a post-Journalist election comment on his blog criticised Watts for his attack on rival candidate Rich Simcox, who was supported by NUJ Left.
Dear wrote: "I am angry at the way Richard Simcox was attacked and the union's reputation rubbished by Mark Watts. Richard didn't deserve that.”
But Watts says of Dear: "He is simply wrong to say that I attacked Simcox and rubbished the union’s reputation. I did attack “NUJ Left” for fielding candidates in this and other NUJ elections without their declaring political affiliations."
He adds: "Dear said nothing about the outrageous smear campaigns mounted against me by several “NUJ Left” members and cheerleaders."
Watts concludes: “I call on our general secretary and deputy general secretary to condemn publicly the stated aims of ‘NUJ Left’. I understand that Dear is in a tricky spot. He needs to make clear his own position on “NUJ Left”. And then perhaps he will be able to focus on leading the NUJ to tackle the serious issues that arise from the parlous state of journalism in Britain."

Washington Post to close three bureaux

The Washington Post will close its bureaux in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles at the end of 2009, Editor & Publisher reports.
Reporters in the bureaux are being offered new positions in Washington, according to a memo to staff from executive editor Marcus Brauchli that was obtained by Politico. “At a time of limited resources and increased competitive pressure, it's necessary to concentrate our journalistic firepower on our central mission of covering Washington and the news, trends and ideas that shape both the region and the country’s politics, policies and government,” Brauchli says in the memo.

Big regional press groups launch new way of measuring reach of print and online combined

The Newspaper Society has launched Locally Connected, a new way of measuring integrated print and online audiences, and is claiming that it reveals that local media websites increase the unduplicated reach of regional and local newspapers within their circulation areas by 14%, particularly among upmarket and core middle age groups.
Seven of the largest local media groups, representing 70% of the industry, are part of Locally Connected. The groups are: Trinity Mirror, Northcliffe Media, Johnston Press, Newsquest, Guardian Media Group, Midland News Association and Iliffe News & Media.
NS president David Fordham, told agency planners, MDs, digital heads, clients, research experts and publishers at the launch event tonight: “More than 80% of adults read a local newspaper in print and ironically, at a time when our revenues have been under such challenge, local media audiences have been growing across multimedia platforms.”
He said people spend more than half their time within a five-mile radius of home and are increasingly interested in local news. “The local paper is still the first place they turn to – in print and online.”
Fordham added: “The development of a robust and reliable system of multimedia audience measurement has been one of the biggest challenges facing all media today. Locally Connected now gives advertisers a unique cross-media planning system, allowing them to effectively target local communities across the UK in print as well as online.”
NS communications director Lynne Anderson, who led the project, said “Both buyers and sellers were agreed on the need to move away from the historic focus on a newspaper’s paid circulation and towards a more meaningful measurement of total reach. Agency planners told us their clients were increasingly looking for multimedia solutions at a local level but that it was hard to convince them to invest without hard data to back it up.”

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Denver and Dallas papers may block Google

Publishers of both the Denver Post and the Dallas Morning News may pull some of their stories from Google’s news site, in a move that would emulate Rupert Murdoch and News Corp which is considering blocking Google’s search engine from displaying its news articles and is talking to Microsoft about displaying stories on its Bing site.
MediaNews Group Inc., the Post’s publisher, will block Google News when it starts charging readers in Pennsylvania and California for online content next year. It is also reported that the owner of the Dallas Morning News may introduce online subscription fees and also block Google.

Political agenda award for Heather Brooke

Campaigning FoI journalist Heather Brooke has won a Political Studies Association "Influencing the Political Agenda" award.
The judges said they chose Heather Brooke for her "tireless and inspiring" campaign to bring details of MPs’ expenses to light.
They noted: "With a background in American journalism, she pursued a 5-year legal battle using the new Freedom of Information Act. Her actions paved the way for the flood of recent revelations and she has provided a role model for investigative journalism."
The PSA said: "The parliamentary expenses scandal that has dominated the news since the Daily Telegraph began its exposés in May might never have come to light if it had not been for the work of Heather Brooke. "
The Daily Telegraph was named Political Publication of the Year because of its key role in exposing details of MPs’ expenses.
BBC business editor Robert Peston was the PSA Political Journalist of the Year. The judges pointed to the outstanding significance of his contribution to the understanding of the current financial crisis.
Cartoonist Gerald Scarfe won the Best Political Satire award "in recognition of his extraordinary images, which have influenced the way that we see politics." His career has spanned nearly 50 years, 42 of them as a cartoonist for the Sunday Times.
A satire award also went to Jon Stewart for the Daily Show in the US. The jury said the show has consistently combined satirical humour with trenchant coverage of such topical developments as the 2008 Presidential election campaigns and the emerging financial crisis.
BBC 2's Newsnight was Political Programme of the Year and commended by the judges for the consistently high quality of its reporting and range of stories.
Heather Brooke has already been named Reformer of the Year by the Reform think tank.

Quote of the Day

Jeff Jarvis on his Buzz Machine blog: "News Corp. leaving Google would be a mosquito bite on an elephant’s ass. Unnoticed by Google or by the audience. For there will always be – as Murdoch laments – free competitors: the BBC and Australian Broadcasting Corp, which he and his son complain about, not to mention the Guardian, the Telegraph, NPR, CBC, and any sensible news organization worldwide."

IFJ calls for international action following the massacre of journalists in Philippines

The International Federation of Journalists has called for the international community to intervene to demand a full investigation to bring to justice those responsible for yesterday's massacre of 12 journalists in the Philippines.
The IFJ call came after the journalists were murdered when a political convoy of over 36 people was ambushed and slaughtered by gunmen in the Maguindanao province of Southern Philippines.
“This is an event which shocks journalists around the world to the core,’ said Aidan White, IFJ general secretary. “We need a strong and urgent response from the Philippine government and the international community.”
The political convoy was led by Genalyn Tiamzon-Mangudadatu, who was on her way to file her husband’s nomination as a candidate for the forthcoming election for governor of Maguindanao province. Journalists were part of the convoy along with several members of her family.
The convoy was ambushed Monday morning by around 100 armed men, who took them to a remote location before massacring them all. Most were shot; some were beheaded and driven over by vehicles.
According to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) among the victims were at least 12 journalists who were accompanying the political convoy.
The IFJ said; "This is the darkest day in the history of journalism in the Philippines, which, outside of Iraq, has topped the tables of countries where journalists are most at risk in recent years."
BBC News has reported that the death toll in the attack has risen to 46 and could go higher.

'Libel reform needs more than cosmetic surgery'

Index on Censorship has welcomed Justice Secretary Jack Straw's pledge in the Sunday Times to reform the libel laws but says the changes must be more than just "cosmetic surgery".
Straw's commitment to change follows the joint investigation into the libel laws by Index and English Pen which produced the report Free Speech is Not For Sale.
Among the reports recommendations are: Capping libel damages at £10,000 and making an apology the chief remedy; Shifting the burden of proof so claimants have to demonstrate damage; Preventing cases from being heard in London unless 10% of copies of the offending publication are circulated in England.
Responding to Straw, Jo Glanville writing on the Index on Censorship website had warned: "Cosmetic surgery will not be sufficient. What’s required now is reform that addresses the chilling effect of libel on every level. English libel law is based on a 19th century model of communication.
"It predates the revolution in mass communication, never mind the advent of the internet. It therefore needs to catch up fast. As things stand, libel law hampers the free flow of information. American publishers have already begun to stop circulating their publications in the UK. It is also slowing down communication online.
"All it takes right now is a letter threatening legal action for a service provider to remove a blog or post, or for a publisher or editor to withdraw a book or spike an article. Reform will not create a press out of control (as many seem to fear), it will liberate us all — bloggers, NGOs, writers and publishers — from an unnecessary tyranny.
"The government has already shown that it can set the agenda when it recently repealed seditious libel and criminal defamation. Let us hope it can be similarly enlightened on this question too."

Monday, 23 November 2009

12 journalists killed in Philippines' massacre

At least 12 journalists were killed today in Maguindanao province, on the southern island of Mindanao in the Philippines, by armed men. More than 30 other people were believed to be murdered.
“Never in the history of journalism have the news media suffered such a heavy loss of life in one day,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We convey our condolences and sympathy to all journalists in the Philippines, who are in state of shock after this appalling massacre.”
The press freedom organisation added: “We have often condemned the culture of impunity and violence in the Philippines, especially Mindanao. This time, the frenzied violence of thugs working for corrupt politicians has resulted in an incomprehensible bloodbath. We call for a strong reaction from the local and national authorities.”
RWB said the massacre took place a few hours after around 50 gunmen led by Andal Ampatuan Jr., the mayor of Shariff Aguak, a municipality in Maguindanao province, and a police inspector identified solely by the name of Dicay kidnapped members of a large convoy of supporters of Esmael Mangudadatu, an Ampatuan clan opponent who wants to run for governor.
BBC News puts the death toll at 21 but adds: "The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said 12 of the 21 killed were reporters, and called for justice for the victims."
"This is a direct challenge to our efforts to strengthen democracy in this country," AFP news agency quoted NUJP spokesman Jaime Espina as saying.

The great British newspaper pay wall split

Ian Burrell in the Independent today predicts: "The British newspaper industry is on the verge of an historic schism, a fundamental split in beliefs that will set one part of the business on a collision course with the other.
"Far greater than the ideological differences that have traditionally set apart the great national titles, this divergence in opinion – over whether the written word should be a free commodity or one that is charged for – will set the news industry at each other’s throats."
He says he battle lines became clearer last week following the speech by James Harding, editor of The Times, to the Society of Editors conference, in which he said that his site would begin charging in the spring, with subscription offers that included access for a single 24-hour period.
Burrell quotes Spectator publisher Andrew Neil saying: “As an industry we took a huge wrong turn. It was a new technology and we didn’t quite understand it. We had been told that if we got the eyeballs – in the usual digital dotcom jargon – the money would follow. Well, we got the eyeballs and the money hasn’t followed.”
Mike Anderson, a former senior executive at both News Corp and Associated Newspapers, says in the article: “The first truth that we have to come to terms with is that the existing model does not work and cannot continue. The internet is no longer a new media, it has matured and is well understood. It is a real world. So what are we doing in that real space? We are spending millions and millions providing fuel for somebody else’s engine – crazy!”
Emily Bell, director of digital content for Guardian News & Media, says: “It’s about whether you think your web presence should be closed or open. We’ve probably been unique in being ultra-open.”
Simon Kelner, the managing director and editor-in-chief of the Independent, takes the view that online users will not pay for news, but may pay for “unique” elements of a newspaper’s output. “The idea that payment could be levied for a generalised news service is clearly out of date. Why would anyone pay for a service that the BBC offers for free? However, publications with a niche following have found a market for their offering, which is why The Financial Times, for instance, can be bullish about their subscription model. Newspapers may be able to follow this example to a limited degree by charging for the content that makes their publication unique – commentators, specialist correspondents, even something like horseracing tips.”

Tim Crook launches new media law blog

Court reporting specialist Tim Crook, senior lecturer in Media Law & Ethics at Goldsmiths, University of London, has started a monthly media law blog.
It is on the companion web-site for his forthcoming text Comparative Media Law & Ethics that compares the media law of the UK and USA. The web-site will be open access and is being constructed to assist media law students and anyone else interested in the subject. It will include summaries of new and past case-histories.
Tim, a journalist of 34 years standing; ran his own news agency covering Central Criminal Court and Royal Courts of Justice from 1981-1997; was the first UK specialist broadcast legal affairs correspondent; and has campaigned for media freedom and open justice.
He says on his blog: "Students of media law in Britain, and certainly the country’s professional media communicators, can be forgiven for thinking that there is a bewildering state of confusion in the situation of the country's media law rights.
It would be fair to say uncertainty, insecurity and constant change on a week by week basis seems to be a fair description of the state of affairs."

SLP has lost £500,000 in ads to council paper

Sir Ray Tindle has claimed that the South London Press , acquired by Tindle Newspapers in August 2007, has lost more than £500,000 in advertising since the launch of council paper Lambeth Life.
Sir Ray's claim came during Friday's edition of ITV's London Tonight, which dealt with the subject of council-run newspapers.
Many ads that used to appear in SLP are now being carried instead by the fortnightly council-published Lambeth Life, which is distributed free to residents.
SLP editor-in-chief, Hannah Walker, told the programme that Life carried propaganda for Lambeth Council.
Lambeth council leader Steve Reed told London Tonight that the SLP was "a paper for bad news... it would help if they could be a little bit more positive about the area." He claimed Life was "giving residents information on how we spend their money."
You cans see the London Tonight segment on the SLP and Lambeth Life here.
Update: Sir Ray Tindle quotes as used by London Tonight did not make it clear that the £500,000 loss related only to advertising and not the paper itself.
He has since sent out a clarification stating that the SLP and Tindle Newspapers are in profit.
Sir Ray says: "What I said in an ITV interview was that as the result of the launch of a council newspaper in its area, the South London Press had lost over £500,000 in advertisement revenue. South London Press and Tindle Newspapers, its owner, are both in profit."
4:35 pm:I have updated this story following Sir Ray's statement.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Police PR does reporting job for tv news

I know cash is tight in commercial television news but I couldn't believe this story I was told by a broadcasting journalist working in the regions.
They told me that when journalists were invited by police to cover a major drugs raid, their local commercial tv station sent along one cameraman. For the story, the tv station got the police PR to interview the police chief in charge of the operation.
One can hardly expect the PR to do a Jeremy Paxman on someone senior they work for.

NUJ ADM: turkeys finally vote for Christmas

When I used to cover the NUJ ADM there were always motions aimed at saving the union money which called for the frequency of the conference to be held less often than once a year.
Getting delegates to back such a motion, even at times when the union's finances were in a parlous state, proved impossible.
Delegates like going to ADM so getting them to agree to hold the conference less often was likened to trying to persuade turkeys to vote for Christmas.
But now the turkeys have voted for change after Motion 1 was passed at the conference in Southport which will make the ADM be held every 18 months - saving the union £195,000.
The move hasn't been welcomed in all quarters. I received an email about the decision which was tagged "NUJ democracy being destroyed in Southport".
Chris Wheal and his team of 25 students are doing a great job covering the conference with words, video clips and superb pictures - even if some of the delegates objected to having their pictures taken after one of the student's shots of Socialist Worker being sold outside the conference hall was lifted and used by the far right website Redwatch.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Grenade victim Guy Smallman wins case

Photojournalist Guy Smallman has won his six-year fight for justice, according to fellow photographer Marc Vallee on Twitter, after being seriously injured by a stun grenade thrown by a Geneva police officer while covering protests outside a G8 summit in June 2003.
Smallman appealed today against a Swiss court ruling that police were not to blame for the injuries he suffered. The earlier ruling meant he could not claim compensation for his injuries.
In a graphic video released by the NUJ - which is here on YouTube - Smallman is seen running from a group of police officers throwing the grenades.

NUJ Left accused of trying to take control of union's new London Photographers' Branch

Photographer David Hoffman, who has been active in the NUJ for more than 30 years, has accused the NUJ Left of trying to take over the union's newly formed London Photographers' Branch.
Hoffman is one of the photographers who has campaigned for the new branch which was only approved this summer and is in the process of being set-up.
Now in a posting on an NUJ photographers' discussion site, he claims he has been "a useful patsy to disguise the real underlying aim of building a power base for NUJ Left"
Hoffman says in his post: "Over the last year the London Photographers' Branch (LPB) has become a reality. We've talked of a branch run "by photographers for photographers". I was proud to be building that with Jess Hurd, Marc Vallée, Jonathan Warren and other colleagues. I believed that we could accomplish a great deal that the NUJ has failed to do and that the time was right for a bold venture uniting photographers under the NUJ banner.
"I now need to make it clear why I am no longer a part of this initiative. The discovery last month that most of the people who would be central to LPB are committed to an NUJ Left agenda took me by surprise.
"I had thought that I had assurances to the contrary. Political pressure groups are entirely normal within a trade union. But NUJ Left is not just any old political force pushing their line within atrade union. The power and reach of the NUJ Left has ensured that their candidates have won every high profile election for many years.
"With members of NUJ Left including the General Secretary, the Deputy General Secretary, the Vice President,the (outgoing) magazine editor, the Campaigns Officer and many members of NEC as well as other influential committees, it's clear that this low profile self-selected group has considerable power within and control of the NUJ.
"I'd thought we were a group of colleagues working together to build a power base for photographers. In reality I was kept in the dark, and have been left feeling that I have been a useful patsy to disguise the real underlying aim of building a power base for NUJ Left. Not so much a branch "by photographers for photographers" but rather "by photographers for NUJ Left".
"Why does it matter? The aims of NUJ Left are not the same as the aims of LPB and at times are very likely to be quite opposed to those of LPB. Imagine an LPB committee planning a campaign for a Photographers' Organiser. A majority of the committee will have already discussed this on NUJ Left. The timing, the best way to get a NUJ Left candidate into the post, whether to support this faction or that plan - this will all have been decided by the NUJ Left membership.
"The Photographers' Branch discussion will be meaningless, fake. Whatever the views of the LPB membership the committee vote will be preordained by loyalty to NUJ Left discussions and decisions. The NUJ Left bloc will always prevail. I cannot present myself as a candidate to the new branch on the basis that I am putting forward and working for the interests of the membership when I know that in many important matters I will be powerless.
"The branch will in reality be directed by the demands of an entirely separate unelected group with its own very different aims and plans. I won't stand for a position on a committee where I can only fight and lose. Where my role is that of a shoe tied behind a wedding car - I get to be at the wedding and even to go to the honeymoon - but in a merely decorative role and only ending up battered .
"We could have built a branch incandescent with energy and bursting with achievement, but without a genuinely independent voice for photographers then I cannot have a part in it."
Hoffman has told me he has not resigned from the branch but will not take any post within it.

Quote of the Day

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear in his speech to ADM today slams deregulation and corporate greed: "Trinity Mirror were not the only pigs caught with their snouts in the media trough, their heads in the sand and their arses exposed."

Follow NUJ ADM without going to Southport

You can follow the NUJ's ADM in Southport at this link
It includes live coverage of general secretary Jeremy Dear's speech at
Coverage is being organised by Chris Wheal, chair of the union's professional training committee, using 25 students from the UK and Ireland.
Chris tells me: " We are using twitter, Facebook, Wordpress, Live Blogger Flickr and Youtube."
See if you can spot the Trots!

Heather Brooke is 'Reformer of the Year'

In October, I mentioned that campaigning FoI journalist Heather Brooke was up for "Reformer of the Year" in the Reform think tank awards, and was being backed by blogger Guido Fawkes. Well, she's won. Not only that, she did it by a landslide.
According to a Reform press release: "Heather Brooke, the Freedom of Information campaigner, has won a poll to find the Reformer of the Year for 2009. Ms Brooke, who was a pivotal figure in unveiling the MPs’ expenses scandal, won the title in a landslide, securing over a thousand of the 1,157 votes."
Reform’s director, Andrew Haldenby, said: “Heather has shown how transparency can reform Parliament. Now the whole public sector needs to be opened up in the same way, to tackle the real waste that lies at the heart of government.”

Sun pumps up Rompuy headline

The Sun couldn't wait for some pumpy before getting "Rompuy pumpy" into a headline about new EU President Herman Van Rompuy today.

Goodwin defends Watts against Dear

Bill Goodwin, an NUJ hero for risking jail rather than reveal his sources, has defended Journalist editor candidate Mark Watts.
Watts was criticised by NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear on his blog for "rubbishing the union" and making attacks on rival Rich Simcox, over his backing by the NUJ Left, during his campaign to be elected editor of the Journalist.
But Goodwin, in a posting on this blog, says: "Its not true to suggest that Mark Watts rubbished the union. That sounds to me like a case of shooting the messenger. The issue Mark highlighted – that a political group within the NUJ is, behind the scenes, trying to place its own candidates in elected positions– is something that NUJ members clearly need to know about.
"Mark came in from a lot of very personal flack from members of the NUJ Left, including some very bizarre allegations from its members, for raising this issue. The focus of Mark’s criticism was always the lack of transparency in the behaviour of the NUJ Left. He certainly hasn’t attacked Richard Simcox, or any other individual on a personal level."

Quotes of the Week

Times editor James Harding announcing at the Society of Editors' conference how the paper will charge users of its website: "We are involved in the fight of our lives to make sure we can put independent reporting on an economically sustainable footing."

Nick Ferrari on Question Time about new EU president Herman van Rompuy: "If he does some some pumpy it will be a tabloid headline writer's dream."

Grey Cardigan on tabloid coverage of the 'Night Stalker' suspect case: "I know that the red-tops play fancy-free with Contempt of Court, but The Sun’s coverage of the Delroy Grant case doesn’t so much as drive a coach and horses through the 1981 Act but makes a complete fucking mockery of it."

Press Complaints Commission chairman Baroness Peta Buscombe agrees with Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger's claim that the PCC does not have investigatory powers:"He's right...We are not a police force. We must not tread on the toes of the criminal justice system. We are more of a moderator."

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear on the election campaign for the new editor of the Journalist: "I've kept as quiet as possible during the campaign about the relative merits of candidates but I am angry at the way Richard Simcox was attacked and the union's reputation rubbished by Mark Watts. Richard didn't deserve that."

Thursday, 19 November 2009

News:Rewired aims to switch on journalists is marking its 10th birthday by organising a one day conference, under the heading news:rewired, in London in January which will bring together leading multimedia journalists and digital news editors. says news:rewired is an event for working journalists, trainees, journalism students and academics to learn new multimedia, social media and online skills from those with first-hand experience. It promises the event will be informal – with plenty of time for questions, networking and forming new partnerships.
"It's always been our goal to educate as well as observe at, and news:rewired represents the culmination of our accumulated efforts in that direction over the past decade," said founder John Thompson.
News:rewired takes place on 14 January 2010 at London's City University from 10am – 5:15pm. tickets are £80+ VAT.

BBC's Nick Robinson tops Total Politics poll

BBC political editor Nick Robinson tops Total Politics magazine's annual poll for the most influential political journalist, moving up four places from last year.
Second place is taken by BBC Radio 4 Today programme presenter Evan Davis, last year’s number one. Newsnight's inquisitor-in-chief Jeremy Paxman is third. Adam Boulton of Sky News is fourth and Eddie Mair of BBC Radio 4's PM is fifth.
The highest ranked political print journalist is Quentin Letts, the Daily Mail's Parliamentary sketch writer who comes in eighth.
BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg is voted the favourite among Tory MPs, while Labour MPs favour Michael White from the Guardian.
Paul Waugh from the Evening Standard was the biggest mover – not appearing in the top 100 last year but ranked 32 this year
Mayor of London Boris Johnson dropped 31 places, despite still penning his Daily Telegraph column.
The list of the top 100 political journalists appears in the latest issue of Total Politics out this week.

Injured AP photograher wins Frontline award

The Frontline Club today announced the winners of its annual awards for excellence in journalism, which will be presented on Friday November 27.
The media club, which champions independent journalism, will give its annual Frontline Club Award to AP photographer Emilio Morenatii who was injured in a bomb blast in Afghanistan.
This year, the Frontline Memorial Tribute award, given occasionally, will be presented to Lasantha Wickramatunga, the former editor of the Sunday Leader in Sri Lanka who was assassinated in January.
The award was given in recognition of Wickramatunga’s commitment to his work and his refusal to bow to pressure despite continuing threats to his life.
The awards recognise exceptional journalistic integrity, courage and the independence of spirit, regardless of nationality or media discipline and include the work of freelances.
The winners were chosen by a panel of judges including the New Yorker's Jon Lee Anderson, Anthony Loyd from the Times, Carlotta Gall from the New York Times, Jeremy Bowen and Allan Little from the BBC and Frontline Club founder Vaughan Smith.
All the funds raised at the awards ceremony go to the Fixers Fund, a charity set up by the Frontline Club to promote responsibility in the news industry for the welfare of fixers and translators.

Council shelves £300,000 plan for own paper

Plans for a council-run fortnightly newspaper in Thurrock have been shelved after the leader of the council admitted there is “no business case” for the publication which would have cost an estimated £300,000, the Thurrock Gazette reports.
Thurrock Council’s performance and improvement overview and scrutiny committee met this week to discuss the authority’s new communication strategy, which was called in by Labour group chairman Coun. Carl Morris.
Tory leader Coun. Garry Hague defended the strategy as “fundamental for moving forward”, but conceded that the cost of a newspaper was too high."
He said: “We are looking to save money on communications, so anything we do will have to be done within our budget. I don’t think we can make a case for a fortnightly publication, its not something we will be pursuing.”
The report given to the committee on the cost of the newspaper said: “If the council produced a stand alone fortnightly newspaper, the likely costs would be in the region of £300,000. The concept would only be proposed on the basis of these costs being substantially or totally met by redirecting external advertising spend, ensuring we produce at nil or low cost to the council.”
The original council report for the proposal, which was leaked in June, estimated that the paper would cost £100,000 a year to produce.
The report also talked of spending £115,000 a year on the salaries of an editor, a designer, and an advertising manager.
Labour estimated that the costs would be nearer to £600,000.
Coun. Morris welcomed the decision to drop the newspaper from the strategy, he said: “Councils don’t do newspapers very well, whether Labour or Tory authorities, all they are is just propaganda sheets, they go straight in the bin."

Body in Lebanon could be abducted journalist

A body recovered from the Bekaa Valley could be the remains of Alec Collett, a British journalist who was executed by a Palestinian group in 1986 during Lebanon’s civil war, Timesonline reports today.
Collett, a journalist based in New York, was on a writing assignment for the UN Relief and Works Agency, which handles the welfare of Palestinian refugees, when he was abducted in March 1985.
The Revolutionary Organisation of Socialist Muslims claimed responsibility. The group was part of Abu Nidal’s Fatah. A month later a videotape was delivered to his home in New York, showing the 64-year-old reporter alive. He next appeared on a videotape in December 1985 in which he asked Margaret Thatcher, then the Prime Minister, to release Muslim prisoners in Britain.
Four months later a videotape was released purporting to show a hooded Collett hanging in reprisal for the US air raid on Tripoli, the Libyan capital.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Journalist ballot turnout was 17.7 per cent

Figures released by the Electoral Reform Services show that the turnout in the ballot to elect a new editor for the NUJ magazine the Journalist was 17.7 per cent.
The NUJ's National Executive Council today confirmed former Times industrial editor Christine Buckley as the elected candidate to succeed Tim Gopsill as editor.
The number of NUJ members eligible to vote was 27,712. The total number of vote cast were 4,912. The number of votes found to be invalid were 103. Total number of votes counted were 4,809.
Official election report - including turnout. Votes for each candidate - including redistribution of preferences.
When Michelle Stanistreet was elected deputy general secretary of the NUJ last year the turnout was 17.6 per cent.

Sunday World apologises over suicide pic

The Northern Ireland edition of the Sunday World has apologised for printing a photograph of a man hanging from a bridge after he had taken his own life.
It has also offered £100,000 of free advertising to suicide prevention groups.
The paper was heavily criticised for using the photo in its November 1 edition. More than 50 complaints were received by the Press Complaints Commission.
Sunday World northern editor Jim McDowell at first justified using the picture as being in the public interest, but in a special editorial on 8 November, said that his apology was "unequivocal and unreserved, to anyone to whom we caused hurt or distress, and to anyone to whom we may have caused offence by publishing the picture."
He said the offer of free advertising was a genuine attempt to provide redress for the error.
"This is not a sop. It is not a stunt. Just like our apology, it is a genuine attempt to help," he said.
"In that regard, we hope to be sitting down with representatives of the Samaritans, Public Initiative for the Prevention of Suicide (PIPS), Forum for Action on Suicide Awareness (FASA), and any similar organisations who wish to talk to us and avail of the opportunity to promote their message or publish their help-line contact details."
Source: BBC Northern Ireland

PCC chair: 'We are not a police force'

New Press Complaints Commission chairman Baroness Peta Buscombe has conceded that the PCC does not have serious investigatory powers, claiming "we are not a police force".
Speaking on the BBC Radio 4's The Media Show today, she said of it was "a shame" and "unfortunate" that Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger had decided to quit the Editors' Code Committee after a Commission report rejected his paper's phone-hacking allegations against the News of the World.
The Guardian has accused the PCC of being "complacent" and having no powers to properly investigate its allegations.
Baroness Buscombe told The Media Show presenter Steve Hewlett that the PCC could find no new evidence to support the allegations against the News of the World and accepted Rusbridger's claim that the Commission had no real investigatory powers.
She said: "He's right. We don't have serious powers to investigate. We are not a police force. We must not tread on the toes of the criminal justice system. We are more of a moderator."
Baroness Buscombe added that the PCC must not be used by organisations as "a political football" or allow itself to be "bullied".
She said the PCC had intervened to help Simon Cowell get the paparazzi off his doorstep and contacted the family of pop star Stephen Gately to see if they needed help keeping the "press at bay" following his death.

IFJ to investigate PCC phone-hacking report

The International Federation of Journalists, which includes the NUJ among its members, is to "investigate the actions" of the Press Complaints Commission over its handling of an inquiry into the Guardian's phone-hacking allegations against the News of the World.
This PCC inquiry rejected the Guardian's claims. The Guardian has condemned the PCC's as "complacent" and its editor Alan Rusbridger yesterday resigned from the Editors Code Committee which underpins the work of the PCC.
The IFJ, which says is carrying out a review of media accountability systems as part of a global campaign to strengthen ethical journalism, has commissioned Jean-Paul Marthoz, an international journalist and writer, to review the actions of the PCC. His report is expected by the end of January.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the IFJ international Executive Committee which met in London at the weekend.
"This case raises serious questions about the role and responsibility of a press complaints body to be fair and honest in its dealings with the press," said Aidan White, IFJ general secretary. "If journalists and media cannot trust a self-regulator to be fair, the whole system of self-rule in media loses credibility."
The IFJ review will focus on the conduct of the PCC and its handling of the two inquiries into phone-hacking, the procedures it followed in reaching its conclusions and the wider implications for self-regulation for news media.
In December the IFJ will host an international conference in Indonesia on the future of press councils and media accountability systems in a changed communications environment. It is also an issue under scrutiny as part of an inquiry into the future of journalistic work which is being prepared for the IFJ world conference in Spain next year.
Story tip via Judith Townend of

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Do contempt reporting restrictions still exist?

In the wake of the coverage of the 'Night Stalker' suspect arrest, Press Gazette's Grey Cardigan is asking: "So when did we abandon reporting restrictions?"
Grey writes: "I know that the red-tops play fancy-free with Contempt of Court, but The Sun’s coverage today of the Delroy Grant case doesn’t so much as drive a coach and horses through the 1981 Act but makes a complete fucking mockery of it.
"Am I just out of touch? Do the reporting restrictions that were hammered into us by news editors past matter any more?"
The Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer was tackled about the Night Stalker coverage when he was a speaker at the Society of Editors annual conference on Monday. He was asked if in the age of the internet, when reporting restrictions are routinely ignored on the web, the contempt of court laws were now "no longer fit for purpose?".
Starmer said he "would not go that far" and pointed out juries could be directed by a judge to ignore the way a case had been reported before it came to a trial.

BBC appoints first social media editor

BBC News has appointed Alex Gubbay its first social media editor. Gubbay, currently news editor for BBC Sport Interactive, will take on the new role in January, co-ordinating the work of correspondents and reporters using social media tools.
He will manage the existing user generated content hub within BBC Newswire, including news stories suggested by users, as well as their case studies, photographs, videos and comments, across the BBC website, and on TV and radio.
Newswire editor Sam Taylor, writing on the BBC editors' blog, says: "Audiences have always contributed directly to the BBC's newsgathering, especially on breaking stories. But the technology allowing people to share and send photos, video, and eyewitness accounts is developing all the time.
"Important developments in Iran, China, and even New York, have been reported for the first time using services such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. BBC News is always working to keep across new sources of information, assessing and verifying them as it would any other potential source of news-making content, and this new role will help to develop that."

Guardian editor quits PCC Code Committee

Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, has resigned from the Editors' Code Committee which oversees the voluntary code of journalists' ethics that underpins the work of the Press Complaints Commission.
This move follows last week's report by the PCC that the Guardian's allegations about phone-hacking at the News of the World had produced no evidence that the Commission was "materially misled" by the NoW or that the practice was "ongoing".
The Guardian said of the PCC in a statement: "This complacent report shows that the PCC does not have the ability, the budget or the procedures to conduct its own investigations."
The PCC's Code Committee has 13 members, made up of newspaper and magazine editors, and is chaired by the Daily Mail editor-in-chief, Paul Dacre.