All 11 entries tagged Newspapers

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May 11, 2009

They're not all scum

I think the Telegraph, and others, have gone too far with MP’s expenses now.

Yes, some of them are money-grabbing little sh*ts who deserve the marching orders they’ll be given at the next election.

But some of the MPs who’ve had their expenses splashed across the newspapers really have done nothing wrong.

The Daily Mail have the news that Oliver Letwin claimed £2,000 to replace a leaking pipe under his tennis court. His response that:

I was served a statutory notice by the water company to repair the leaking pipe, which runs underneath the tennis court and garden. No improvements were made to the tennis court or garden.”

seems to have been pretty much ignored – the paper’s still run the story and painted him as an expenses cheat in the process.

Another overblown example is the Prime Minister – yes his cleaner seems to be flipping expensive, but suggesting he was siphoning off public money to line his brother’s pockets is pretty close to an outright lie, and yet it’s the impression most people will now have.

I’m not too worried about individual MPs being slandered though – their electorate will see through the media bluster at the next election.

But I think the general ‘they’re all at it’ mood of the press is going to be really damaging. With a change of government more than likely, you’d expect turnout at the next election to be higher than 2001 and 2005.

But if the public think politicians are universally a breed of tight-fisted, public money-stealing good-for-nothings then it wouldn’t surprise me if turnout actually dropped. What, after all, is the point of voting for anyone if every politician is bent?

Gordon Brown’s claim that the system is at fault is nearly half-right, but it takes a certain kind of person to exploit that system.

However, the media’s completely over-the-top wall-to-wall coverage of the 650+ liars, cheats and bastards will do nothing for the public’s faith in democracy. And if that breaks down, we really are screwed.

January 15, 2009

The wacky world of newspaper ownership

Ordinarily, the news that a Russian billionaire is buying one of Britain’s best-known newspapers, the Evening Standard, would be cause for surprise, and maybe even concern.

But Alexander Lebedev is no ordinary Russian billionaire.

True, he is ex-KGB, as almost any successful Russian seems to need to be nowadays.

But Lebedev also owns Novaya Gazeta – the newspaper that Anna Politkovskaya was reporting for before her assassination in 2006.

Lebedev’s fought back against a suffocating regime in Russia – he should have no problem dealing with City Hall and Westminster.

His bigger challenge will be trying to make money out of the Standard, whose finances apparently resemble a leaky bucket.

December 18, 2008

That RAE analysis in full

Times: “Former polytechnics give Oxbridge a run for its money in rankings”

Guardian: ...”ex-polytechnics have failed to wrest a significant number of the stars awarded for research away from the research giants of the Russell Group of universities including Oxford and Cambridge.”

April 10, 2007

NY Times outdoing the broadcasters at their own game?

In a piece of video-journalism entitled ‘Anatomy of a Firefight’ C.J. Chivers of the New York Times shows up the typical 2007 television news bulletin for what it is: Froth.

Alastair Leithead, the BBC’s correspondent based in Kabul, has occasionally been given free rein to show what the war in Afghanistan is really about, most notably in a brilliant Panorama programme. But not regularly. And not properly within one of the BBC’s main news bulletins. These programmes, with the infrequent exception of the 10 O’clock News, only really treat Afghanistan as a news story when it affects the fortunes of British politicians and troops.

And yet on a daily basis there are fascinating stories coming out of the country, such as this day-in-the-life piece done by a newspaper journalist for the New York Times. I’ve seen C.J. Chivers’ work before, and it’s really good, both as a video and a written feature. It’s the sort of thing which television viewers should see much more often in Britain, but won’t while the bulletins remain so formulaic, nervous and ‘safe’.

By Tyler Hicks of the NY Times. Members of an Afghan squad and a Dutch platoon took fire from the Taliban insurgents in Uruzgan Province, an isolated area of Afghanistan.

November 23, 2006

The real future of newspapers

An old edition of the Newbury Weekly NewsLast week I wrote a slightly controversial article titled You’re Buggered, Deal With It. It was a post aimed at those who deny the reality of the declining newspaper industry.

Well today I heard from Sarah Radford, who seems to be one of those at the forefront of Newspapers 2.0 (to use a very hackneyed phrase). She’s an online journalist at Newbury Today which was recently named the best weekly newspaper website by the Newspaper Society.

What interested me most about the site was that the newspaper behind it – the Newbury Weekly News – is one of the few independents left in the country. Most local newspapers are owned by one of the conglomerates like Trinity Mirror or Newsquest. So it’s refreshing (albeit not surprising) to see that it’s the independents who are being the most forward-looking and innovative.

And why?

Well, probably because they don’t have to worry about shareholders. If the success of Newbury Today proves anything, it’s that newspapers and stock markets should only meet in the business pages, and shouldn’t be the overriding business model.

November 21, 2006

The Insider by Piers Morgan

The Insider by Piers MorganI’ve never read such a hilarious non-fiction book. Piers Morgan’s ramble through his years as editor of the News of the World and the Mirror are full of gossip, intrigue, and not very many cliffhangers. Virtually every morsel he throws at you is followed up by the juicy details.

His dealings with Cherie Blair, George Michael, Jeremy Clarkson, Paul Burrell, Princess Diana, Tony Blair, Peter Mandelson and Alastair Campbell are all fantastically funny. Did you know he introduced Paul McCartney to Heather Mills?

His diary wasn’t written at the time, so there’s an extent to which you wonder if he’s remembering the good bits and leaving out some of the bad, but some of his notes are pretty comprehensive and he relays some great quotes from the rich and famous.

You’ve got to have a fairly unique sense of humour not to laugh at loud at some of the pages, and to be honest some of the more serious stuff gets a little emotional too.

I’d definitely recommend it to anyone with any interest in the world of celebrities, as it’s a fantastic guide to how self-promotion really works.

And if you are feeling generous you can donate to the Chris Doidge Education Fund by buying the book from HERE. It’s only £3.99!

November 19, 2006

Goading them on

I’m getting sick of celebrities. I refuse to take Pete Doherty’s music seriously because he’s such a fraction of a human being. Michael Jackson made a ‘comeback’ performance this week which consisted of someone else singing his songs while he looked on in stony-faced adoration.

Then there’s the bottom of the barrel from which Lindsay Lohan and the like are scraped from. Not getting your face in the papers recently, love? Then why not ‘lose’ your knickers a few times? And there’s the ludicrous Mills-McCartney circus which is Britain’s finest ever example of two bitchy people briefing the same journalists about how spiteful the other one is. Brilliant.

I’m reading Piers Morgan’s book The Insider at the moment, and it’s hilarious how celebrities play up to the media. Princess Diana was apparently one of the few who knew how to play the journalists at their own game. But she was in the unusual position of having the tabloid editors need her. For many of today’s celebs, it’s the other way round.

Lohan is only news if she gets her knickers in a twist or invites some eejit into them. Doherty is never in the news because he has a new album out. And McCartney’s music career isn’t the reason he’s on the front page of papers 40 years after he was any good. They know this, and play up to it. In what was one of the most vomit-inducing pieces of journalism I’ve ever read, I found Richard Madeley using his sex-life to promote the You Say, We Pay DVD Game in today’s Observer. Puh-lease.

The newspapers know what people want. Stick ‘celebs’ on the front page and circulation goes up. Stick ‘news’ on the front and you’ll be collecting your P45.

Which makes you wonder… Why do we want to read this shit about nobodies, who seem only to be famous because our reading habits make them so?

November 18, 2006

You're buggered. Deal with it.

Here at Cardiff (in my world) there are essentially three types of people. Broadcast journalists, magazine journalists and newspaper journalists.

This latter category is in a bit of a bind, but don’t seem to realise it. Most of those in the newspaper industry realise newspapers will cease to exist in the next decade or two, to be replaced by online offerings. At every newspaper group in the country (perhaps barring the Guardian) jobs are being slashed. They’re all gearing up for a brave new world.

But there seems to be a great deal of resistance to this from some (not all!) of the newspaper journalism students. Reading their blogs, and listening to them ask questions in lectures, it’s clear some are very defensive about the societal importance of newspapers.

It’s sort of sweet in a way. Some of their blogs talk about “traditional journalism” in reverential terms while quietly damning online journalism as if it’s a sin. Read between the lines and they can come across as very (small ‘c’) conservative.

But the strange fact is I’d be amazed if, in 20 years time, more than a fifth of them were working in print journalism. I’m not saying they made a mistake in doing newspaper journalism (far from it), but I wonder how many of them relish the fact their job will evolve a great deal over the next few years.

October 09, 2006

Well done Boar

Congrats to the Warwick Boar, who’ve picked up 8 nominations in the 2006 Guardian Student Media Awards.

Student Feature Writer of the Year
Ali Plumb

Student Website of the Year

Student Critic of the Year
Leo Robson

Student Sports Writer of the Year
David O’Kelly
Tom Morris

Student Diversity Writer of the Year
David O’Kelly

Student Travel Writer of the Year
Tanc Newbury

Student Columnist of the Year
Fred Forse

But… is Fred Forse real or a pseudonym? Regardless, well done to all – RaW finds out how badly it’s done this Thursday.

September 12, 2006

Met Police setting a bad example?

While the Metropolitan Police had tried to slip the news out quietly (leaving it until after the newspaper journalists had gone home this evening), it seems the promotion of Commander Cressida Dick to Assistant Commissioner has still caused a considerable stir.

Commander Dick was the officer in charge of the ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy adopted after the July 7th bombings, which resulted in the death of Jean Charles de Menezes, who officers assumed was a suicide bomber. His family have apparently – through a spokesperson – expressed their disgust at the news.

On the Metropolitan Police Authority’s website – where the news was announced – the following paragraph was included into a press release, indicating that the Authority knew the promotion would be controversial:

Clearly there are some sensitive and unprecedented circumstances involved. Candidates were chosen on the basis of their application and ability. The MPA would not prejudice an officer’s fair promotion prospects by making assumptions about future disciplinary action. Officers will not be posted into new posts until outstanding issues are resolved.

Jean Charles de MenezesBBC News Online already has the story as their second headline – Menezes Police Officer Promoted – suggesting that news organisations who decide to take a more explicit line on the issue will have plenty of material to work with.

There’s little that newspapers like more than slagging off the police, and I’m sure many papers will put the boot in tomorrow at what could be seen as a serious misjudgement. The Daily Mail inparticular has never forgiven the Met for letting off the killers of Stephen Lawrence, and has taken on the crusade of bringing about justice all on its own.

Personally I don’t think that giving an order of ‘shoot-to-kill’ – which subsequently resulted in an accidental death – is enough reason to end a police officer’s career, and it certainly isn’t the job of the press to judge whether she is guilty or not. It’s entirely possible that Commander Dick has unrivalled leadership skills – don’t expect the newspapers to mention her specialist training in hostage negotiation, for instance – that make her an asset to the Met.

Sadly much of the media will probably overlook her good qualities and use her as a scapegoat as part of the fractious relationship they have with the police. While the de Menezes family has a right to be angry and ask questions of the police’s actions, there’s a danger that they will throw the blame at everyone, and none of it will stick.

July 27, 2006

Repetition without deviation

Daily Mail Headlines - Spot The Difference

Spot the difference. In February 1997, the Daily Mail declared that five men who were acquitted of the murder of Stephen Lawrence were in fact his killers. They challenged the men to sue them, and they never did.

Today, following a documentary which has raked over the case and uncovered alleged corruption in one of the investigating officers, the Mail has repeated its assertion and its challenge to the men to sue the newspaper.

There's a little more going on here than simply trying to cause a stir. If one of the five men were to sue the Mail, the civil case would almost certainly have to examine the evidence for the Mail's assertion, and would very probably find that the five men did indeed commit the crime. However being a civil case (and under the rules of double jeopardy, which the government has considered scrapping), the men would essentially be found guilty but would not face prosecution. At the moment this would seem to be a best worst option.

But there's a danger in the Mail's use of repetition. Their article notes that at least one of the men has young children and that his neighbours knew nothing of his past until this week's revelations. While it's arguable his neighbours should know who they're living next to, it's very regrettable that his child may face repercussions either at school or in the local community generally. Given the hatred felt towards the five men – probably rightly – it's unwise for their children's identity to be too widely known. Some will argue the men should have thought about that before committing the crime, and realising the effect it would have on their kids, but others will rightly add that their children did nothing wrong and deserve protection.

The Daily Mail is, I'm sure, 100% certain that 1) the men will not sue, and 2) if they did, they'd lose. In which case I wonder if today's headline is a little unnecessary. It will bring unwarranted attention to the men's children while offering practically no chance of a conviction being brought. It's a powerful way to bring the story to people's attention, but by now the court of public opinion knows the men are guilty anyway.

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