Exam date

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

Monday, 17 September 2012

Kate/Duchess nude pics: banned in UK

This is clearly going to be a useful case study, with lots of interesting articles already published, and much more yet to come.

Tory Party Chairman Grant Shapps has praised the restraint of the UK press (which refused to carry the pictures published by French and Italian mags/papers and widely circulating online), and has gone so far as to say this will be taken into account when the gov't responds to Leveson in a few months time. That is being interpreted as the strongest signal yet that self-regulation, amazingly, will be given yet another 'final' chance, albeit beefed up with the power to levy fines very likely to be added.

Politically, that poses a problem for Labour - if they condemn this as a cynical ploy to win press support for the Conservatives, or seek to characterise it as the Tories cosying up to their big business/millionaire donors and supporters, then they risk being opposed by the entire press in the next election, and the run-up to it. As we've seen several times before, both major parties have backed off introducing fundamental reform of press regulation due to electoral calculations.

Richard Desmond is seeking to position himself as an unlikely gentleman press proprietor: he part-owns the Irish Daily Star which did publish the pics ... and has threatened to close the paper as a result.

You can follow the developing story on this through several Guardian portals:

(plus Leveson, press regulation etc)

Here's one which might escape attention: an opinion piece by columnist Catherine Bennett, who argues that the royal role is defined by invasion of privacy, and considers the Duchess a grossly objectified woman. She argues that the Uk press' condemnation of the French/Italian publication of the photos is hypocritical when the same grandstanding UK papers are forensically examining Kate's body for signs of pregnancy.

Here's another one flagging up the hypocrisy of the likes of Desmond: fulminating over these pics whilst continuing the page 3 tradition and publishing red-carpet 'wardrobe malfunctions'...

Topless Kate photos enrage UK papers, but don't change their behaviour

The same titles that bemoan a French magazine for publishing long-lens photos of the Duchess of Cambridge continue to print page 3 girls, 'babes' and red-carpet wardrobe malfunctions
Duchess of Cambridge
The Duchess of Cambridge: UK newspapers vocally support her right to privacy. Photograph: Tim Rooke/Rex Features
The British public is up in arms at a young woman's breasts being used to sell magazines. The Duchess of Cambridge's boobs should not be gawped at, commentators point out. Her privacy has been invaded in a shocking manner, everyone agrees. Even Richard Desmond – the former publisher of Asian Babes – says he is so furious the Irish Daily Star dared to use the photos he may shut his whole paper down.

So does this mean breasts will no longer take centre stage in a certain sort of newspaper, magazine or website? Well, not exactly. The UK Daily Star today has a poignant headline about the royal scandal – "Kate's smile hides the pain" – but still fills up page 3 with a picture of a topless 22-year-old. Online it has a whole section devoted to boobs or, at it calls it, babes.

The Sun, too, sees no hypocrisy in supporting the duke and duchess's bid to sue the photographer responsible for snapping Kate's chest in a Sun Says editorial – just a couple of pages after printing a picture of Kelly, 22, from Daventry with her own breasts exposed. Online the newspaper has a host of scantily clad women for readers to pore over, such as Georgia Salpa in a bikini, Maria Fowler "flashing her cleavage", and Kelly Brook posing for a new calender.
The People may not be printing pictures of Kate but they see no reason not to use photos of Helen Mirren, snapped by paparazzi on the beach in a bikini, to illustrate a story about the actor getting a facelift. Their centre spread feature is made up of images of former teenage sex worker Zahia Dehar in see-through lingerie.
The Mirror's website implies it is bored with printing pictures of Emma Watson's "sideboob" but does anyway – just as they published images last week showing part of her nipple, when her dress slipped. While on the front of their site they have a naked Jenny Thompson (who once slept with Wayne Rooney) covering her breasts and genitals with her hands.
The Daily Mail may be shocked at the treatment of Kate but its notorious website sidebar is crammed full of pictures drawing attention to celebrities' breasts – from Nicole Richie in a cleavage-exposing dress, to Halle Berry in a bikini and Amanda Bynes in a low cut top.
The message it seems, is clear – it's fine to print pictures of half naked women, as long as they are not heading for the throne.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Chris Moyles' BBCR1 controversies

Marking the end of his reign as breakfast DJ, the Guardian compiled a useful top 10 of his most controversial incidents, several of which involved OfCom - they're also useful for highlighting the grey area that exists over the regulation of the BBC. Is it self-regulated or externally regulated by the quango OfCom? The answer remains a bit of both, though there is strong desire amongst those who see the BBC as ideologically wrong (as a state-owned media group potentially distorting the free market for commercial media groups) to hand OfCom complete responsibility.
See http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/jul/11/chris-moyles-top-10-controversial-moments.

Crown Prosection Service as regulator: journalists' public interest defence

I'm writing in Sept 2012 when its widely assumed PM Cameron will afford the press yet another extension to 'drinking in the last chance saloon' (David Mellor's famous phrase from the time of Calcutt's Report). However, a review by the CPS establishes its credentials as a regulator of last resort above and beyond the PCC or any successor body. Details of a review of criteria for prosecuting journalists have just been published, which, amongst other things, begin to set out a firmer legal definition of the public interest defense that many of the PCC's code of conduct clauses had as an asterisked exception, or get-out; it also clarifies issues around privacy:

CPS publishes advice on prosecuting journalists over illicit newsgathering

Changes following five-month consultation on draft guidelines include closer scrutiny for so-called 'fishing expeditions'
Keir Starmer
Director of public prosecutions Keir Starmer. Photograph: Linda Nylind for the Guardian

The Crown Prosecution Service has published its final guidelines on the prosecution of journalists over illicit newsgathering methods, with so-called "fishing expeditions" to face closer scrutiny.
Keir Starmer, the director of public prosecutions, said on Thursday that the guidance underlines the need for prosecutors to consider public interest factors before deciding whether to bring criminal charges against journalists.
"The purpose of the guidelines is to strike the right balance between the important public interest in a free press and the need to prosecute serious wrongdoing," said Starmer.
Changes following a five-month consultation on the draft guidelines include fresh guidance on prosecutions in cases involving fishing expeditions, and examples of stories that could be described as raising important matters of public debate.
The guidance advises prosecutors to consider what information was available to a journalist at the start of their investigation into the target of a story. This means that fishing expeditions – where the journalist does not have prima facie evidence of wrongdoing before using illicit newsgathering methods – will face closer scrutiny by prosecutors when deciding whether to launch criminal proceedings.
Another section gives examples for the first time about what prosecutors should consider "important matters of public debate". The guidance says that serious impropriety, significant unethical conduct and significant incompetence should all fall under this category.
The revised guidelines contain more detail about invasions of privacy by journalists. Prosecutors are advised to examine the particular impact of the invasion of privacy – which could include voicemail interception or email hacking – on the victim.
"When considering invasions of privacy, regard must be given to the level of seriousness of the invasion, whether on the facts there was a reasonable expectation of privacy, and whether the conduct in question was proportionate to the public interest claimed to have been served," the CPS guidelines state.
The guidelines come into force immediately and represent the first formal CPS policy involving the prosecution of journalists. They follow an unprecedented spate of arrests of journalists in Scotland Yard's investigation into alleged phone hacking, computer hacking, other breaches of privacy, and payments to police and public officials.
The CPS said it had examined ongoing prosecutions in this area – including the high-profile charges brought against former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks and the former News of the World editor Andy Coulson – and decided they are in line with the formal guidance published on Thursday.
Prosecutors are advised to consider whether the public interest served by journalistic conduct outweighs the overall criminality before bringing criminal proceedings.
The acting chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, Lord Hunt, welcomed the guidance and said he hoped it would "generate a greater understanding and appreciation of the public interest, and also of the need to take it into account in editorial decision-making".

The role of the press is...

Not a source I'll often quote, but in its mea culpa editorial on its publication of lies under the stark front page headline THE TRUTH back in 1989, here's a useful snippet:
The role of a newspaper is to uncover injustice. To forensically examine the claims made by those who are in positions of power.
You can read Roy Greenslade's analysis of the press coverage of the report into the lies and police cover-up of the events around the Hillsborough disaster, when 96 Liverpool football supporters died, at http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greenslade/2012/sep/13/hillsborough-disaster-sun

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Press-ad revenue-digitisation

The central role played by advertiser revenue in the nature and shape of our press is a key point to grasp - as C&S argue, the ad industry (and the corporate giants they represent) form an informal licensing system: without ad revenues a paper will be forced to close.

In the digital age every newspaper faces the issue of losing ad revenue as advertisers switch to online platforms such as Facebook and Google. Newspapers' own online revenues are a poor substitute for what they're losing: a report quoted below (highlighted) in Greenslade's column puts it starkly - for every £25 of print ad revenue lost by papers in 2012 £1 is gained on latest figures from their web publication.

  • Tuesday 11 September 2012
  • We are familiar with the contention that digital pennies cannot compensate for the loss of print pounds. In other words, online advertising revenue will never provide enough to fund traditional newspaper journalism.
    A new survey by the Newspaper Association of America (NAA) has produced new evidence to illustrate that fact. It shows that the US industry suffered $798m (£500m) in print ad losses for the first half of 2012 compared to the same period a year ago.
    That was offset by a $32m (£20m) gain in digital. So the ratio of losses to gains was 25 to 1.
    Rick Edmonds, a writer for the Poynter Institute, sees this as "ominous" and believes it casts a cloud over hopes for journalism funded by digital advertising. Well, he doesn't quite say that merely observing that it "raise(s) the question again of whether the base is so small and progress so slow in dollars that digital first may fail to support much of a news operation."
    He has in mind US companies like Journal Register and Advance. The former is pursuing a digital first strategy but has just filed for bankruptcy (see Michael Wolff here and Jeff Jarvis here for very different views on that).
    Advance is restricting most of its daily papers to three days in newsprint as it seeks to rely eventually on digital advertising.
    But Edmonds quotes Jim Moroney, NAA chairman and publisher of the Dallas Morning News, as confirming the truth of the discouraging digital ad results.
    Faced with that reality, Moroney said most newspapers' strategies have shifted to a broader view of building replacement revenues, meaning the erection of paywalls.
    According to Edmonds, publishers are also "having some success with non-advertising initiatives like offering web design and social media services to businesses." Meanwhile, the biggest companies, such as Gannett and McClatchy, have taken profitable stakes in major classified platforms.
    He goes on to consider the specific problems of attracting digital ad revenue, including low rates - due to the array of choices for advertisers on the net - and the perceived ineffectiveness of banner ads.
    He cites recent studies by the Interactive Advertising Bureau which indicate that one third to a half of web display ads are not even seen because of their placement on a page or because users move off before they load.
    Then there is the competition from the big beasts - Google, Yahoo and Facebook - that continue to grow their advertising.
    So Edmonds believes that cash-strapped newspaper companies will continue to do what they've been doing for the last five years - cutting costs by reducing staffs.
    And he also shows that with fewer people buying papers, the roughly stable circulation revenues have been achieved by raising cover prices - a tactic that stimulates further desertion by readers.
    Cost-cutting and cover price hikes are being pursued here in Britain because the problems we face are similar to those in the United States. But this situation doesn't negate digital missionaries who are trying to build a future without print advertising revenue.
    Surely none of us thought that the disruption caused by the digital revolution was going to be easy. We have to think, to innovate and to experiment in order to discover the journalistic light at the end of the tunnel. To do otherwise is to give up hope altogether.
    Source: Poynter
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Leveson hasnt changed press: Greenslade + privacy cases

Roy Greenslade rather caustically points to the papping of 2 TV journalists as indicating that the red-top press has very swiftly forgotten about Leveson and returned to type, pointing to the printing of the naked Prince Harry pictures as another example of this.

I usually agree with RG, but I'm not completely sure on these examples, Marr/Murnahgan/Harry - what do you think? Have the press once more ignored the PCC code or is there a genuine public interest defence?

  • Monday 10 September 2012
  • I often quote Tom Stoppard's line about the "casual cruelty" of newspapers. Sometimes though, it is far from casual as Dermot Murnaghan and Andrew Marr will testify today.
    They have suffered the embarrassment of being pictured - in the Sunday Mirror and The People - kissing women who are not their wives. And the Daily Mail's website has followed up by publishing both sets of pictures too. (No, I'm not going to link to any of it).
    Why have the pair been papped? Here's the public interest defence. These men, by virtue of appearing on television, are role models. They are married. According to the editors' code of practice, the public interest is served by "preventing the public from being misled by an action or statement of an individual or organisation."
    So Murnaghan and Marr - both of them journalists, incidentally - are "guilty" of misleading the public. Case proved. As for the invasion of their privacy by snatching sneak pictures, that's fine too because the men were snapped while in a public place where all the world could see them.
    The public has a right to know and all that. Editors may say they do it more in sorrow than in anger. It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it. Bah, humbug!
    There are all sorts of questions to be asked about the nature of the tip-offs that led to the photographers stalking their prey. But I guess we can be sure it didn't involve phone hacking this time.
    But what's the point of my bellyaching about these gross invasions of privacy? The tabloids are reverting to type, so my complaints are not going to change anything.
    With the Prince Harry pictures and these two new examples, it is abundantly clear that the so-called Leveson effect is history. Celebrities are fair game again.
    Duck for cover, Hugh Grant. Watch out, Charlotte Church. Stay home, Steve Coogan. The paparazzi are back in play. The tabs are on your tails. And you can't all flee to Afghanistan.

Govs pressure BBC: Iannucci

Iannucci gave a speech in which he criticised successive UK governments (both Labour and Tory/coalition) for constantly seeking to control the way broadcasters operate. This is a useful point to make on how informal regulation takes place beyond the actual, formal regulators. Note the article contains strong language. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/sep/10/armando-iannucci-bbc-fight-critics

Armando Iannucci calls on BBC to fight back against critics

Thick Of It creator said British television suffered from 'consistent cack-handed interference by politicians goaded by the press
Armando Iannucci
Armando Iannucci said 'supine' television executives had failed to fight back – not just at the BBC but across broadcasting. Photograph: Suki Dhanda for the Guardian

The Thick Of It creator Armando Iannucci has called on the BBC to fight back against its critics in parliament and the press.
Iannucci, whose acclaimed Westminster satire returned to BBC2 last Saturday night, said British television felt "disarmed and confused" because of "consistent cack-handed interference by politicians goaded by the press".
He said "supine" television executives had failed to fight back – not just at the BBC but across broadcasting – and said "now is the time to fight back".
Delivering the annual Bafta Lecture in London's Piccadilly, entitled "Fight, fight, fight", Iannucci railed against politicians and press barons trying to influence what we see on the small screen.
"Governments whether right or left have become commissioners in chief, nudging and cajoling networks into preferred business models without the slightest sensitivity or awareness of what the public wants or the TV industry is capable of," said Iannucci.
He said politicians saw television as something to be "badgered or bullied" and the BBC as an easy target.
But he said the Leveson inquiry into press ethics had highlighted public misgivings about the way the press and politicians operated and said viewers would "never forgive anyone who meddles with British television for their own advantage".
With George Entwistle, the new director general of the BBC due to take up his post on Monday next week, Iannucci said there "could not be a better time to reset the board".
He said he wanted all UK broadcasters but especially the BBC to be more gung-ho about promoting themselves overseas.
"I want to encourage us to be more aggressive in promoting what makes British TV so good. Be ambitious, arrogant even, in how we sell it to the world.
"The BBC brand is up there with Apple and Google, I want it to go abroad and prostitute itself to blue buggery in how it sells and makes money from its content."
He added: "It goes back to the old amateur spirit of the Olympics, that it's wrong to make money. There is still an element of the BBC that feels it is somehow wrong, or it will be open to criticism if it makes more money."
In a question and answer session after his lecture, Iannucci said the BBC had to stop being scared of negative headlines in the Daily Mail.
"The great unspoken support of the BBC is the viewing public and the BBC seems to forget that but is continually aware of bad headlines in the Daily Mail. It's a strange dynamic. What's wrong with having criticism in the press?"
Iannucci, who once said the BBC should tell James Murdoch to "fuck off", said the Murdochs were "just not as frightening anymore" in the wake of the Leveson inquiry into press ethics and the phone-hacking scandal.
He criticised the BBC's licence fee settlement two years ago which saw the level of the fee frozen but the corporation take on extra funding responsibilities including the BBC World Service.
"That was a back of the envelope last minute decision which had nothing to do with public spending. It was a loaded gun," he said.
Iannucci said David Cameron's description of the six-year funding freeze as "delicious" showed that the Conservatives still had a BBC agenda. He said the traditional Conservative party still saw the corporation as a radical hotbed which was "determined to bring anarchy to the UK when in fact it put on the Olympics brilliantly".
But Iannucci warned that the changing way in which we watch television meant it was going to be very difficult to justify the licence fee in 10 years' time.
He said British television was once the "most adored, copied and influential in the world" but it had lost that crown over the last five or 10 years to the US and shows such as The Sopranos, The Wire and Breaking Bad.
He used his lecture to call on commissioning executives to give creatives more freedom, and for Sky, which has pledged to double the amount it invests in UK comedy and drama, to invest some of that money in new talent.
He said the Olympics opening ceremony was an example of what can happen when creatives are given the freedom to express themselves. When decisions were taken by committee, he said, you end up with the Millennium Dome.
Iannucci admitted the title of his lecture was "rather aggressive" and joked he had originally thought of calling it "make good programmes".
"Never underestimate the intelligence of the audience, make good programmes and they will come," he added.