Exam date

When's the 2016 exam? Wednesday 8th June, am.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Select Committee Report on PCC

You can find it at http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmcumeds/362/36209.htm
It is largely critical of the PCC, BUT cautious about suggesting staturory recommendation. It focusses on ways the PCC can operate better, not least by ceasing to trot out the 'third party' excuse to refuse to rule on often clearcut violations of the Code.

Above the PCC... [draft]

Parliamentary privilege (MPs can speak on issues the media have been barred from through court injunctions, so long as they make their statement inside the Houses of Parliament)...
Superinjunctions (see this eg), where the media are barred from even reporting on the court case applying for the injunction...
Libel and slander (actually quite distinct...); going straight to court...
For the privileged few, travelling in the same circles as the press elite...
The press barons largely observe a truce on each other; papers rarely feature negtaive reportage on other owners unless they're clearly on their way out (eg Conrad Black)

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

PCC's third party policy

This remains an area of great controversy. See http://blogs.journalism.co.uk/editors/2009/10/19/pcc-and-the-third-party-issue/ for example. They frequently refuse to rule on cases if the person/people directly effected do not complain.
OfCom and the ASA have no such rule, though OfCom in particular will not automatically rule on any complaint, and have followed in the steps of its predecessor, the ITC, in condemning press-organised write-in campaigns such as that over Jerry Springer the Opera (the ITC condemned the Daily Mail's gross hypocrisy in its reportage of the Brass Eye 'Paedogeddon Special'). The June 2004 ASA ruling on a Rihanna perfume (Rogue) ad was prompted by a single third party complaint, for example.
Its questionable whether the person involved is always aware or even competent to complain, but this remains the assumption
They fear being inundated as an organisation with just £2m annual budget.
The PCC don't want to be automatically forced by pressure groups to get into dialogue/judgements 

The PCC publish a list of FAQs, including this:

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Future of newspapers

See http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/pda/2010/jun/21/middletown-press-thunderdome for an example of how a US paper is embracing digitisation

Anti-green flak

Useful article from a highly unimpressed Greenslade; a Murdoch paper has had to admit fabricating a story about how climate change is a myth and a conspiracy. That hostile stance fits well with the right-wing ideology of the paper and its proprietor. Green policies require intervention in business, new regulations, higher taxes etc - all fairly acceptable to a stereotypical lef-wing point of view, or ideology, but flatly contradictory of the free market philosophy that is associated with right-wing thinking. See http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greenslade/2010/jun/21/sundaytimes-scienceofclimatechange
Greenslade also wrote on Desmond, the pornographer owner of the Express and Star titles, betraying his intense loathing of the media mogul: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greenslade/2010/jun/21/richard-desmond-channelfive

Chomsky Gramsci Baudrillard

(to be adapted)

We're going to critically examine a number of media theories as we work through both parts of the A2 exam (you will also have to apply these to your own coursework).
Three fairly familiar names to kick off:

Chomsky, a linguist, has contributed a lifetime's analysis of how the media functions, but his key contribution remains the 'propaganda model' formulated with Edward Herman (forgive me if I say Bernard Herrmann occasionally, thinking of the great movie composer behind the Psycho score and many, many others).
First presented in their 1988 book Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, the "Propaganda model" views the private media as businesses interested in the sale of a product — readers and audiences — to other businesses (advertisers) rather than that of quality news to the public.
The theory postulates five general classes of "filters" that determine the type of news that is presented in news media. These five classes are:
  1. Ownership of the medium
  2. Medium's funding sources
  3. Sourcing
  4. Flak
  5. Anti-communist ideology*
The first three are generally regarded by the authors as being the most important.
Although the model was based mainly on the characterization of United States media, Chomsky and Herman believe the theory is equally applicable to any country that shares the basic economic structure and organizing principles which the model postulates as the cause of media biases.
 [Source: wiki]    *DB note: the theory was created at the height of the Cold War, with 'the West' in a conflict with the Russian-dominated USSR (most of Eastern Europe, plus some other nations such as China); this was essentially two competing ideologies: capitalism (right-wing) v communism (left-wing). The 5th filter today really means anti-left-wing, not necessarily anti-communist

You should be able to see how ownership (specifically concentration of ownership) shapes British cinema from the AS unit. Ken Loach's films Hidden Agenda and The Wind That Shakes the Barley are useful to demonstrate the operation of flak (a metaphor based on bullets shot at aircraft over a wide area, known as flak - in this case its radical, typically left-wing, ideas which are effectively shot down through hostile media coverage).

Could you put a name to the following three folks?

Bloody Sunday flak flies

[cross-posted from another DB blog]

Perfect article from Roy Greenslade (whose work is worth browsing through for more great examples of analysis of the national press) to illustrate not only how events such as the Bloody Sunday killings, and the wider 'Troubles', have undermined positive representations of the Army upon which much of our collective British identity had been built, but also flak...
Before reading the article, ask yourselves which papers you might expect to be hostile to calls for British soldiers to be prosecuted for what is now legally recognised as murder of unarmed civilians; which, if any, might be supportive of this call? (If you want to get really sophisticated, one of the two most likely, as a left-wing leaning paper, to support calls for prosecution gave little coverage to the story - perhaps ever since they took the brave decision to campaign against the invasion of Iraq, and got incessant flak from much of the media, they no longer have the will to take up controversial causes? Clue: Piers Morgan was their editor, sacked as sales fell and for the scandal around a doctored photo they used on the front page)
Chomsky's propaganda model says that you can predict how the media will react to certain types of stories, with five filters dredging out the content that might be critical of our ruling elites (reflecting Marxist theory). Switching to film, remember Hennebelle's argument that even when we do get seemingly counter-hegemonic political films, they don't actually really critique the system, but rather argue that it will be fine if we just weed out the 'bad apples'.
Anyway, back to Roy...

Bloody Sunday: How the press greeted Saville's report

Daily Mail - 16 June 2010
The Daily Mail front page

The prime minister said sorry for Bloody Sunday yesterday. Through gritted teeth the former head of the army, General Mike Jackson, also apologised.
Unsurprisingly, given its content, the story of Lord Saville's report exonerating the 13 victims of 1 Para on that terrible day in 1972 dominated the television news throughout the day.
But how have today's newspapers reacted? All the serious papers have given it big front-page treatment with plenty of coverage inside.
The Times (splash: Cameron seeks closure as he says sorry for Bloody Sunday) carries five full pages plus an opinion piece by Danny Finkelstein, a leader and a clever Peter Brookes cartoon.
The Daily Telegraph (front: Cameron apology for Bloody Sunday) gives it four pages inside, a comment by former chief of general staff Sir Richard Dannatt, a leader and cartoon.
The Independent (front: Truth and reconciliation) carries 10 pages, which includes commentaries by Robert Fisk and the Irish actor James Nesbitt. In its Viewspaper section, there is an article by Henry Patterson,a leader and cartoon.
The Guardian (front: 38 years on, justice at last) devotes six pages inside plus an opinion piece by Jonathan Freedland, a leader and a cartoon.
The Financial Times carries a page one picture with a cross-ref to a page inside plus a piece by John Lloyd and a leader.
In terms of quantity - and I'll come back to the content in a moment - this was to be expected. The papers' treatment reflects the seriousness of the topic and therefore fulfil a public interest.
Now let's look at the populars, starting with the Daily Mail. Its page one (True face of our soldiers) is a rather convoluted "take" on Saville, seeing it through the prism of deaths of troops in Afghanisation. There are six further pages inside, which include a Max Hastings comment. There's also a leader.
The Daily Express has front page room only for a blurb and a mere two pages inside plus a short leader.
The Sun manages a couple of front page paragraphs turning inside to just one page, plus a leader. The Daily Mirror doesn't even think it merits page one treatment, giving it two inside pages and a leader. Mind you, that's a great deal more than the Daily Star, which carries only page two story.
OK, what do the papers think? There is a clear theme in most of the leading articles. Though accepting of Saville's findings and sympathetic to David Cameron's response to them, they wish to draw a line under the affair. There should be no legal action against the soldiers who murdered 13 unarmed innocents.
The Times, acknowledging the lack of justification for the murders, concludes: "To prosecute individual soldiers would only compound injustice."
The Telegraph's leader headline is unequivocal: Prosecutions would be in no one's interest. It says: "Without diminishing the suffering of the bereaved or seeking to exonerate any of those criticised, it cannot be in the interests of the victims, their relatives, the people of Northern Ireland or of the United Kingdom to pursue this through the courts. This tragic chapter should now be closed."
The Independent agrees, arguing that "it would be best" if the Northern Ireland DPP "let matters rest, and avoids wearisome legal proceedings which might well not result in convictions. The Saville report cleared the dead of Bloody Sunday and said that what the Paras did was unjustified.
"It should suffice if dignified expressions of regret are voiced, healing efforts made and perhaps compensation offered... Since these are finally on offer, a start can be made to consigning Bloody Sunday to history."
The FT, in its leader, Truth at last about Bloody Sunday, agrees about compensation. Contending that Saville's inquiry "elided an inquest with a prosecution", it says: "The lapse of 38 years, make prosecutions problematic... For now, the UK state has apologised. The Parachute Regiment should follow, as should compensation for these unlawful killings."
But The Guardian alone, in Derry's moment of truth, urges prosecutions.
If it kills its citizens, the state and its servants must answer for their actions. Saville's findings are part of that process. But the cases must also be properly examined by the prosecution authorities.
If the evidence permits, which at this distance it may not, those who killed the innocent in Derry in 1972 should be prosecuted. No amount of political convenience should be permitted to stand in the way of justice.
The Sun takes a polar opposite view: "Nothing will be achieved... by dragging soldiers into court 38 years on. We emptied the prisons of IRA murderers as the price of reconciliation after the Good Friday Agreement. How could we jail squaddies after freeing IRA killers?"
The Express is also against legal action: "British soldiers must always expect to be held to higher standards than terrorists. But it is difficult to see how bringing criminal prosecutions against the retired paratroopers involved could possibly be in the public interest."
Surprisingly, the Mirror is agnostic on this key question. It restricts itself to saying that "the atrocity is a horror story which had to be told.
The Mail is the most critical of the report, saying "we are slightly mystified" as to how Saville can be so certain that the Paras shot first, without warning or provocation.
It complains about the cost of the inquiry and its longevity but it does not deal with the rightness or otherwise of prosecuting the soldiers.
Its columnist, Max Hastings, is even more critical in his polemic, This grossly misguided excavation of the past. "Only Britain," he writes, "could have been so foolish as to allow an inquiry into 14 selected deaths during the Troubles which killed 3,526 people to become a 12-year black comic saga which has cost almost £200m."
He continues: "It may be true that this report offers an approximation of the truth, but it would be absurd to place unlimited faith in findings based on evidence gathered so long after the event."
And he concludes: "If there is now any hint of prosecutions, there will be just public outrage, when hundreds of Republican and Protestant killers walk free, and some indeed draw pay as MPs.
"David Cameron has responded to Saville with a fine combination of honesty, dignity and regret. We should all hope that this tragic fragment of history now gets decent burial."

Murdoch the hegemon

Steve Hewlett, a Media Guardian columnist who specialises in business, highlights the growing grip of Murdoch and his family over our media - see http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/jun/18/steve-hewlett-rupert-murdoch-bskyb (especially the last paragraph)

Future of the press?

Doesn't look bright in Britain: only the US has a press industry in deeper crisis, losing revenue and circulation faster than ours. See http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/jun/20/japan-readers-fleet-street

Murdoch and monarchy

When Murdoch first arrived in Britain it was still largely the practice for newspaper owners to be Lords or minor aristocrats; seen as a crude, vulgar Australian, his appalled rivals gave him the nickname of 'the dirty digger'. This has relevance for this exam Q given the way he has systematically undermined another key pillar of Britishness.
If WW2, and the pride that the endeavours of the British Army (and airforce and navy) created, were key to the cementing of a common British identity in the last century, then so too was the popular support for the Royal Family. Seen (and certainly marketed as by the state) as a symbol of nationhood, the monarch and her family had achieved a hegemonic status as unquestionable icons of Britishness.
The Australian Murdoch brought with him an intense dislike for the privilege and elitism of monarchy, and personally loathed the idea that a British monarch was his head of state. This republicanism is one rare exception to Murdoch, and his paper's, thoroughly right-wing ideology (left-wingers are more commonly associated with hostility to monarchy).
As the Sarah Ferguson sting in his NoTW recently showed, Murdoch's papers are prepared to be brutally ruthless in their pursuit of sensational, paper-selling scoops, no matter how much damage this does to the whole system of monarchy. Before he came, anything like this would have been utterly unthinkable.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011


(from last week)
Make notes from Newspaper handbook copy on the 3 Royal Commissions - when set up, why, and what were the outcomes
Then add in notes from the Curran + Seaton chapter, which reviews and critiques these 3 commissions, and also outlines some key theories

(for this week)
Make notes on the Calcutt committe/report into press privacy, what led to this, and the outcomes. Make brief notes on whether YOU thinkthis report made any difference to the way the UK press operate

Monday, 4 April 2011

WestYorks Indie Film Network

These guys are holding their monthly open meeting on Tuesday 5th April - see http://www.wyifn.co.uk/events/
WEST YORKSHIRE INDEPENDENT FILM NETWORK hold a monthly networking event at The Roast, 1 Whitehall (riverside), Leeds, LS1 4BN. We are there on the first Tuesday of every month from 6:00pm for filmmakers and anyone who wants to be involved in the film world to come along and network with their peers . Then from 7:30pm we beggin the screenings. For this element of the evening we are open to filmmakers and film lovers alike.

Argument against BBC-style balanced reporting

Robert Fisk (a legendary journalist for his writing on foreign affairs, rather disliked by most on the right for his critical reportage of Western military (mis)adventures) puts forward an argument here that the PSB broadcasters, tied by the doctrine (regulatory regime) of being balanced in their reportage, often actually fail to report the news accurately - that there needs to be freedom to present a reasoned interpretation of events.
I doubt he'd welcome this description, but what in fact he is doing is presenting a case which could be used to support the ferociously partisan press we have, partially through its 'self-regulation' (which equates to absolute minimal regulation in effect).
He also makes some good points, reflecting those often raised by satirists such as Chris Morris (The Day Today and Brass Eye) and Charlie Brooker (Guardian column, Newswipe, Screenwipe, How Television Ruined the World etc), about the absurdity of many of the presentational conventions of our TV news. (Another Indie feature tracks a common press ploy: raising a question in a headline to which the answer is blatantly 'no': see http://blogs.independent.co.uk/tag/headline/ which has collected over 500 examples so far)

Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-let-the-images-of-war-speak-for-themselves-2260019.html
Robert Fisk: Let the images of war speak for themselves

Saturday, 2 April 2011

I hate being called a war reporter. Firstly, because there is an unhappy flavour of the junkie about it. Secondly, because you cannot report a war without knowing the politics behind it.
Could Ed Murrow or Richard Dimbleby have covered the Second World War without understanding Chamberlain's policy of appeasement or Hitler's Anschluss? Could James Cameron – whose reporting on Korea was spectacular – have recorded the live test-firing of an atom bomb without knowledge of the Cold War?
I always say that reporters should be neutral and unbiased on the side of those who suffer. If you were covering the 18th-century slave trade, you would not give equal space to the slave-ship captain. At the liberation of an extermination camp, you do not give equal time to the SS. When the Palestinian Islamic Jihad blew up a pizzeria full of Israeli children in Jerusalem in 2001, I did not give equal space to the Islamic Jihad spokesman. At the Sabra and Chatila massacre in Beirut in 1982, I did not give equal time to the Israeli army who watched the killings and whose Lebanese allies committed the atrocity.
But television has different priorities. "Al Jazeera English" – as opposed to the Arabic version – manages to get it about right. Yes, I occasionally make an appearance on Al Jazeera and its reporters are good friends of mine. But it does say who the bad guys are; it does speak out, and it puts the usually pusillanimous BBC to shame. What I am most struck by, however, is the quality of the reporting. Not the actual words. But the pictures.
In Tunisia and in Bahrain, I often shared a car with James Bays of Al Jazeera (and yes, he is a mate of mine, and yes, I was travelling at his expense, of course!), but I was fascinated by the way he would step aside from the camera with the words "I'll just let you see the scene here for a moment", and then he would disappear and let us watch the tens of thousands of Egyptian refugees on the Tunisian border or the tens of thousands of Shia demonstrators with their Bahraini flags on the Pearl roundabout (the "pearl" having now been destroyed by the king like a ritual book-burning). The pictures spoke instead of words. The reporter took a back seat (watch the BBC's boys and girls, for ever gesticulating with their silly hands, for the opposite) and the picture told the story.
Bays himself is now covering the rebel advance and constant retreat from western Libya – more retreating, I suspect, than Generals Wavell and Klopper (yes, James, look him up) – did in the Libyan desert in the 1940s, but again, he steps aside from the picture and lets us watch the chaos of panic and fear on the road from Ajdabiya. "I'll just let you see this with your own eyes," he says. And by God, he does. I'm not sure this is how war should be reported. Can you report on the 1945 fall of Berlin without General Zhukov? Or June of 1940 without Churchill? But at least we are left to make up our own minds.
When Dimbleby reported on the Hamburg firestorm – "All I can see before me is a great white basin of light in the sky", still haunts me – we needed his words. Just as we needed Ed Murrow's comment that he would move his cable "just a bit" to allow Londoners to flock for cover outside St Martin-in-the-Fields during the Blitz. But there is something indelibly moving about a straight camera report without a reporter. Eurovision often does this – "without words", it calls the tapes – and I wonder if it does not presage a new kind of journalism.
John Simpson tried to do this on the BBC before the fall of Kabul in 2001, but he used a different method. He allowed viewers to see his second camera crew. They became part of the dispatches as he moved from scene to scene, and slowly we got used to the idea that there was a four-man crew with him, to the point that they became natural participants in the story, as obvious as the reporter himself. I'm all for this. The idea that we still have to do "noddies" – where the reporter, long after an interview, nods meaningfully in front of the camera as if he were still listening to his long-departed interviewee – is ridiculous. And to go back for a moment, please, please, will television reporters STOP playing with their hands as if they are some Shakespearean extra, trying to explain themselves in front of bored theatre audiences.
Bays still uses his hands a bit – I noticed that I did on Al Jazeera the other day – but more often than not, it's to invite the audience to look at something he has seen. I once wrote that you cannot describe a massacre in print without using the language of a medical report, and I fear that television (even Al Jazeera) does not yet give us the full horror of atrocities. The claim that the dead cannot be shown – when we journos have to see them in all their horror – always seems to me dissembling. If governments go to war (how many saw pictures of the Libyan dead after coalition raids this week? Answer: zero), then we should be allowed the see the true face of war.
For the moment, however, watch Al Jazeera, have a look at my good friend James Bays – and pray that he doesn't have to retreat any more. Also, after this column, that he still lets me travel in his crews' cars.