Benlowndes

a perspective on PR in social housing and regeneration

Tag Archives: tabloid media

Media say old habits remain with ‘new’ PR

It’s beyond doubt that PR has changed massively, and continues to do so, thanks to the opportunities created by digital communications and the diversification of traditional media.

CIPR president-elect Stephen Waddington asked a room full of comms people at the South West Communicators’ Conference in Bristol recently how many had bought a newspaper that morning, and only one confirmed that they had. It’s possible that some people in the room were too busy on their tablets or smart phones to realise he was asking them a question. But he had made the key point; that the media is changing rapidly and communicators must respond to this. Many operators in the South West are rising to this challenge with some great work, as Bristol agency Spirit demonstrated with its support for the Gromit Unleashed campaign in the city.

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Press gets lock in at last chance saloon

For weeks, I’ve listened to arguments about the press ahead of Leveson’s damning report today. It’s depressing, but not surprising, how quick people on all sides of the debate have been to reach judgements about the report, which appears at first glance to be thoughtful, proportionate and measured.

During the hearing, we’ve heard sickening tales of people traduced by media misconduct. It shouldn’t be forgotten how people like the McCanns, the Dowlers and Christopher Jefferies were treated at times when their lives were already under huge strain. Hugh Grant, Steve Coogan and Charlotte Church (who was on Question Time tonight) have sounded at times like they are speaking for the country when calling for independent regulation of the press. It was painful to see experienced tabloid journalists Trevor Kavanagh and Nevile Thurlbeck speak on Channel 4 News tonight about the importance of a free media. Surely noone disagrees with this. But their performance tonight suggested that they don’t get what’s happening around them, or what they need to do to deal with it.

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Leveson hears from old contact

Martin Salter MP

Martin Salter MP (Photo credit: stopaidscampaign)

I was interested to the read latest from the Leveson Inquiry, which touched on how an old contact Martin Salter was treated by the News of the World when he was my MP in Reading. My old paper the Reading Chronicle reported on his written evidence as part of Labour MP Tom Watson’s appearance at the hearing this week.

Mr Salter has said before that he believes he became an ‘enemy’ of the News of the World for publicly refusing to back its controversial ‘Sarah’s Law’ anti-paedophile campaign in 2000. I worked with Martin on a number of stories at around this time, and remember him explaining his reasons for not backing the campaign to name all convicted paedophiles, stating that it could endanger the children it is intended to protect by driving sex offenders underground.

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Daily Mail editor’s speech at media enquiry

The heavyweight appearances at the Leveson inquiry keep coming, with Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre giving a rare and fascinating personal insight this afternoon into the issues facing today’s media.

His defence of self regulation and the Press Complaints Commission may have come too late, but there were some notable concessions in his speech too, including a promise to have a corrections column in a prominent position in his papers. Who would have thought that would have happened a year ago? I will be following this development with some interest.

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Links I like 11.10.9

In praise of the Peak District – Living with rats
Sheffield-based journalist Julian Dobson writes about one of England’s treasures, on the fringes of the Steel City. I got married in the Peak District when we lived in the north and will always have fond memories of the area. I enjoyed reading this piece over the weekend. Must go back soon.

‘They eat horses, don’t they?’ – Tabloid Watch
I love this blog, which looks at outrageous tabloid reporting that has become so commonplace that it barely registers a comment elsewhere. In this post, The Sun’s reporting of a mythical marketing campaign supposedly aimed at stopping travellers from eating horses is, ahem, digested. The truth is slightly duller than the report suggests. I think the story would fail the Corn Flakes test in my house. A spiteful sideswipe, which deserves to be ridiculed.


In defence of (some) blagging

Part of the emerging narrative about journalism appears to criticise all newspapers for recklessly (or ‘illegally’) blagging people’s personal details without justification for doing so. If this is accurate, the public would be right to believe that every journalist who ‘blags’ information (or pays someone to do it for them) is as bad as the rest.

This appears to be the mood amongst many on Twitter, as well as some people with (perhaps) an interest in restricting the press. 

Witness this tweet from the blogger Guido Fawkes – which implies the Guardian Media Group (which publishes The Guardian and The Observer) has broken the law as well as its ethical code.

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Phone hacking is only part of the story

The cover of the last edition of today's NotW

Anyone who’s worked in a newsroom will understand the uncomfortable situations journalists sometimes have to address when pursuing a story. A very good example of this – which I have experienced – is the ‘death knock’, where reporters are sent to interview a family who has just suffered a tragedy. Often, the best stories result from such endeavors – and they have shifted many millions of copies of newspapers over the years. But they can also be painful for all concerned.

I once visited the family of Michael Hodder, who was the train driver involved in the Paddington train crash in October 1999, whilst working on a local paper in his home town of Reading. Six months into the job, I got nowhere that day; Sky and the The Sun were already there – and were greeted by a furious and very upset man who chased them down the street. We had been tipped off about Hodder’s Reading connection by someone who worked in the office who knew his family. It often happens that way. But I also remember the police being bemused at how quickly a posse of tabloid reporters had turned up following the same lead (who had given it to them?).

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Some feelings on phone hacking and journalism

News of the World

Classic front page, featuring F1 boss Max Mosely

I’ve followed the unfolding phone hacking saga with interest over the last couple of years, since The Guardian first broke the story, and with amazement as the crisis escalated to claim The News of the World, which has been culled today.

It’s an amazing story, which everyone has commented on but no-one connected with it – including those of us who buy tabloids without complaint – comes away completely untarnished.

It’s a struggle to think of anything original to say about what’s happened this week; but, hey, here’s a couple of thoughts, based on my own experience and feelings.

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Links I like 11.03.04

Richard Peppiatt’s letter to Daily Star proprietor Richard Desmond – Media Guardian
One of the best resignation letters ever, from a former Daily Star reporter driven to distraction by working on the paper. Most journalists can identify with some of the problems he complains to boss Richard Desmond about. But the main thrust of his letter – that he could not live with the ill-founded stories he was writing – is one that deserves a wider audience than some of his previous efforts. Talk about seeing the light…

Links I like 11.01.30

George Eustice: The dilemma for Coulson’s heir – PR Week
David Cameron’s former press secretary and Camborne and Redruth MP George Eustice gives his take on the Government’s communications challenge in the wake of Andy Coulson’s resignation. He makes the point (which I agree with) that there is a difference between managing the press and obsessing over how they are going to cover the Government’s policies.

John Shewell: Public sector comms needs to make the case for change – PR Week online
Brighton and Hove City Council head of comms John Shewell outlines eight key steps public sector teams should take to deal with the changes local authorities are having to make. His suggestions include unifying public sector communications teams, making greater use of social media and using the function to generate income.

He says: “The message boils down to two key themes: cut or innovate. Frankly, the more people shout about the cuts, the easier it should be to explain the reasons to innovate. As the old saying goes: if we do not change, we die!”

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