Exam date

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

Friday, 13 February 2015

Ownership, Accuracy and Press Power


TASK: In the 5:10 it takes this video to play, make brief notes on examples of a Chomskian concept that this video illustrates and the song lyrics specifically mention...

This is a case where the terminology essentially is the EAA, or at least a starting point for it. Use one of the following to find relevant EXamples (the egI give use the Daily Mail and Ed Miliband; you don't have to use these):
  1. You could try searches such as '2015 daily mail miliband' (the 2015 gets recent results: eg), 'daily mail miliband press regulationetc (what specifically did the Mail do to try to discredit 'Red Ed' Miliband when he was pushing for a tough press regulator?);
  2. You could gamble on a quick browse of the Daily Mail, the most likely source...
  3. You could try the appropriate MediaReg blog tag
Please don't click on 'read more' until asked to


EXAMPLES OF 'FLAK' CAN LEAD US TO CONSIDERING LINKED ISSUES:
  • (concentration of) ownership (Bagdikian, Curran + Seaton)
  • power of proprietor over editorial
  • bias and democracy
  • clause 1
  • effectiveness of regulator
  • what doesn't the regulator regulate


By the end of this lesson we will...
  • briefly consider several issues: the 'right' of the press to be biased; the power of the written code and Clause 1 as an example of its in/effectiveness; initial views on IPSO; the proprietor's influence
  • begin to consider how we might combine these points for a question such as: How well does contemporary media regulation protect the public?

TASK NOTE: Time is limited for each task, but try to combine some precise notes on EX with briefly expressed EAA and relevant T. Do draw upon points/examples you're already familiar with/can make links or connections to.



MURDOCH PRESS = MURDOCH'S VOICE?
Below you will find excerpts from four articles analysing how/giving examples of Murdoch's nearly 200 newspapers worldwide pushing his personal point of view as their editorial line and agenda. The Mail's legendary editor Paul Dacre, a very influential figure within UK politics/democracy, contrasts his freedom with that of Murdoch editors. What he doesn't say is his appointment, and continued employment is contingent on his editorial line somehow mirroring that of his employer, the proprietor. Murdoch effectively got round a supposedly legally-binding agreement to not interfere with The Times/Sunday Times editorial by changing the editor, appointing someone who could be relied upon to reflect his right-wing agenda.

TASK: Make brief notes on the first and last examples below.

Greenslade on every News Corp paper pushing for Iraq invasion:
How lucky can Murdoch get! He hires 175 editors and, by remarkable coincidence, they all seem to love the nation which their boss has chosen as his own
Greenslade - Alistair Campbell's Diaries show Murdoch seeking to influence government policy?
Rupert Murdoch joined in an "over-crude" attempt by US Republicans to force Tony Blair to accelerate British involvement in the Iraq war a week before a crucial House of Commons vote in 2003, according to the final volumes of Alastair Campbell's government diaries.
In another blow to the media mogul, who told the Leveson inquiry that he had never tried to influence any prime minister, Campbell's diary says Murdoch warned Blair in a phone call of the dangers of a delay in Iraq. The disclosure by Campbell, whose diaries are serialised in the Guardian, will pile the pressure on Murdoch in light of his evidence to the Leveson inquiry.
The Cabinet Office released information on Friday that raised doubts about Murdoch's claim that Gordon Brown pledged to "declare war" on News Corporation after the Sun abandoned its support for Labour in September 2009. It supported Brown's claim that he never made such a threat by saying that the only phone call between the two men during the period took place on 10 November 2009 and focused on Afghanistan.
Murdoch tweeted in response: "I stand by every word is aid [sic] at Leveson." But there will be fresh questions about one of Murdoch's most memorable declarations from his appearance before the inquiry in April. The founder of News Corporation said: "I've never asked a prime minister for anything."

NewYorker: From Thatcher to heir Blair...
Murdoch was urging his British papers to promote Margaret Thatcher, the Conservative Party leader, who was Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990. The Sun, a jingoistic News Corp. tabloid that sells more than three million copies a day, praised Thatcher’s proposals to slash income taxes, confront the trade unions, and privatize publicly owned enterprises. “I thought that what she was trying to do was basically right,” Murdoch told me. “Some of the methods she used were wrong. But you have to give her credit for the fact that she was in a minority in the Cabinet for the whole time she was there.”
Without the support of Murdoch’s papers, which relentlessly attacked the opposition Labour Party, the Conservatives would have struggled to remain in power. On the day of the 1992 general election, when Neil Kinnock, who was then Labour’s leader, was challenging Thatcher’s successor, John Major, the Sun printed a picture of a light bulb on its front page next to a headline that read, “IF KINNOCK WINS TODAY WILL THE LAST PERSON TO LEAVE BRITAIN PLEASE TURN OUT THE LIGHTS?” (Major won the election.)
When Tony Blair took over as the head of the Labour Party, in 1994, he was understandably eager to court Murdoch’s favor. According to Andrew Neil, who was then the editor of the Sunday Times, Murdoch and Blair first met in September, 1994, at Mosimann’s, an expensive club in Belgravia. “The dinner went very well,” Neil wrote in his 1996 memoir, “Full Disclosure.” “Blair discovered Rupert was not the ogre his party had painted, and Rupert found what Blair had to say a refreshing change from the usual Labour nostrums. Blair indicated that media ownership rules would not be onerous under Labour, Rupert that his newspapers were not wedded to the Tories.”
Mail's Paul Dacre contrasts his freedom with Murdoch editors; RM led push to war. t:
Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre yesterday said other Fleet Street editors are not given freedom to edit and that Britain could not have invaded Iraq without the support of News International proprietor Rupert Murdoch.
Dacre revealed that he has turned down opportunities to edit The Times and the Telegraph because he believes that other proprietors would not have given him the freedom that Daily Mail and General Trust owner Lord Rothermere has.
He said: "Rupert Murdoch has been a very great proprietor in his time, but I don't think he would have given me the freedom I wished to have as an editor...
"I don't think there's any doubt that he had strong views which he communicated to his editors and expected them to be followed. The classic case is the Iraq War.
"I'm not sure that the Blair government or Tony Blair would have been able to take the British people to war if it hadn't been for the implacable support provided by the Murdoch papers. There's no doubt that came from Mr Murdoch himself."
In written evidence, Dacre expanded on the theme of editorial independence:
(The remainder is an interesting read!)

Greenslade - French owner slams his own editors for publishing HSBC leaks:
AJ Liebling’s famous aphorism – “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one” – cannot be said often enough.

I imagine there are journalists in Paris saying something like this today. But if they are working for Le Monde, they will doubtless be saying it loudly and angrily, because one of the men who owns the newspaper has reminded the journalists that they are not as independent as they might have imagined.

Pierre Bergé, president of Le Monde’s supervisory board and one of the wealthy businessmen responsible for saving the paper from bankruptcy in 2010, has attacked the editorial staff for publishing the names of HSBC clients who opened Swiss accounts, which may have been used to avoid tax.

In a radio interview, he accused the paper of “informing” on the clients, asking rhetorically: “Is it the role of a newspaper to throw the names of people out there?”

And then came the comment that goes to the heart of the unceasing debate about private newspaper ownership:

It wasn’t for this that I allowed them gain their independence.

So what was it for, Monsieur Bergé? What does independence mean if you cannot use it? In what way is your intervention a statement of independence?

The journalists, in condemning Bergé’s “intrusion into editorial content”, told him to stick to commercial strategy and leave the news to them. But that’s somewhat naive.

The reason that people own newspapers, especially loss-making newspapers, is all about having influence over editorial content. And one key part of that influence is to ensure that their mates, the wealthy élite, are protected from scrutiny.

Note that Bergé, 84, and a co-founder of Yves Saint Laurent couture house, was not the only shareholder to protest. He was supported by Matthieu Pigasse, head of Lazard investment bank in Paris, who referred worryingly to the danger of the paper “falling into a form of fiscal McCarthyism and informing”.

Bergé, Pigasse and the telecoms magnate Xavier Niel signed an agreement in 2010 to guarantee Le Monde’s editorial independence.

The paper, in company with the Guardian, has played a leading role in revealing how HSBC’s Swiss private banking arm helped clients to avoid or evade billions of pounds in taxes.

The Guardian, however, is truly independent because it is owned by a trust rather than a group of wealthy men.



CLAUSE 1 and PCC's RECORD: EXPRESS YOURSELF!
We have briefly discussed the PCC's lack of credibility, but need some concrete examples to help evidence any contention that it was, at least in part, ineffective as a regulator. Russell Howard's 'Daily Mail Cancer Song' is one useful piece of evidence - the 40+ things that the Daily Mail reported could cause/prevent cancer in just one month, a clearly contradictory, nonsensical and potentially damaging (certainly alarmist) list.

TASK: Using the Daily Express tag, from which you'll find three links which are dedicated to exposing the inaccuracies of another mid-market red-top, part of Desmond's Northern and Shell group, the Express (now, in the era of his steep staff cutbacks, notorious for its many front pages on Princess Diana ... who can't sue), find and note:
  • at least three specific (note the headline and any other key details) examples of inaccuracy
  • if you can/if there's time...
  1. see if you can find if there was any response from the PCC
  2. have a quick scan of the articles featured; can you spot any common, recurrent themes?

    IPSO FACTO: THE EARLY RECORD
    Have a browse through the list of IPSO's initial rulings (it is still a young organisation). On the surface*, does it appear to be much different to the PCC with regards to enforcing accuracy? [*we'll consider this in more detail in future lessons]



    INITIAL ANALYSIS OF IPSO - A NEW BROOM or TARRED WITH THE SAME BRUSH?
    This short task requires swift skim-reading to pick out some key points; you will be tasked with finding, and writing brief summaries of, 3+ arguments for or against the proposition that IPSO is just another ineffective press regulator. There are many articles criticising it; I've included three that raise positives as well below:
    SOME RESOURCES:
    Roy Greenslade is not a fan, but has flagged up examples of IPSO flexing some muscle.
    Look closely at Peter Preston's third paragraph - how many referrals have IPSO dealt with in just three months?
    Peter Preston also urged Hacked Off to give IPSO a break...
    IPSO has new powers; will they use them?
    Is IPSO just the PCC in new clothing?
    IPSO isn't the only regulator...
    Membership issues continue to dog the press regulator.



    FURTHER READING:











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