Tumblelog by Soup.io
Newer posts are loading.
You are at the newest post.
Click here to check if anything new just came in.

January 17 2012

17:05

Daily Must Reads, Jan. 17, 2012

The best stories across the web on media and technology, curated by Lily Leung.


1. If Twitter is anti-SOPA, should it blackout like Wikipedia? (gov20.govfresh)

2. Phone hacking possible at Daily Mirror during Piers Morgan's tenure (Huffington Post)

3. Beta testing part of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's web makeover (Poynter)

4. Will original, web-only shows win over TV viewers? (ReadWriteWeb)


Subscribe to our daily Must Reads email newsletter and get the links in your in-box every weekday!



Subscribe to Daily Must Reads newsletter

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

January 11 2012

15:20

3 Laws for Journalists in a Data-Saturated World

At the Cyberspace Conference in London in November, Igor Shchegolev, the Russian minister of communications and mass media, referred to sci-fi writer Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics:

robot_byra1000_flickrcc.jpg

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2. A robot must obey any orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Earlier in 2011, after the phone-hacking scandal erupted in the U.K. and the level of criticism of the journalism profession soared, I started thinking about these three laws. Meanwhile, there is a daily deluge of excitement about data journalism - from Owni.eu to the Guardian, Telegraph and New York Times - and about hacking (enthusiasm for the white hat variety and frequent warnings about the black hat flavor).

Some sections of the media want, at least it may seem to some of us, a witch hunt against the rest for practices that have been long present in journalism, and British journalism in particular. Just this week, former editor of the Sun newspaper in Britain Kelvin McKenzie was giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry about events 20 years ago. Others want to drive so far toward data and ceaseless online information that some of us wonder what happened to the people we used to interview. And if you question either of those, you will be denounced as being part of the problem.

Obsess too much about the technology and you risk forgetting the human beings we report on, and the fact they can easily be trampled under the feet of hoards of reporters surging in their lust for immediate "information" without pause for second thought.

In an age in which "hacks and hackers" are merged into a confused space focused more on data than the people behind it, I want to see Asimov's laws rewritten.

Let me propose Three Laws for Journalists in the Digital World:

1. Digital systems must be designed to protect and ensure, to the fullest extent possible, personal data and its exchange and communication.

2. Journalists must pursue all stories deemed to be in the public interest, even where that may require challenging the security of digital systems.

3. Journalists must protect their sources as well as the innocent public to the same extent as the digital systems of the First Law, where it would otherwise render the impossibility of the Second Law.

The First Law

So-called "black hat" hackers, such as criminal gangs who attack companies for data on customers, obviously fall afoul of the First Law above. But the First Law also accommodates those hackers who deliberately challenge a system to ultimately make it safer.

The Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario published in 2009 "The 7 Foundational Principles" of Privacy by Design, which included as No. 2: "Privacy as the Default Setting ... by ensuring that personal data are automatically protected in any given IT system or business practice. If an individual does nothing, their privacy still remains intact."

While it might be relatively straightforward for companies to protect private information, it is less so for society at large.

Michelle Govan, a lecturer in ethical hacking at Glasgow Caledonian University, teaches a course focusing on attacking systems to find the holes and then patching them. She explained that the key element of legal hacking is having the permission of the system owner or operator. For the rest of us, any information online is not private.

"Everybody has a responsibility for their own privacy," she said. "Where does privacy start? You create your own digital footprint online -- anything you put online is open to people using it maliciously.

"I always provide students with the understanding and experience of the application of legal aspects so they know they have to use these skills for good. It's all about the permission and knowledge of what limits the law sets," she added. "We have legal laws [and some] ethical laws -- it's down to a person's own values. You have to make people respect what they're doing."

There have been plenty of examples of going further with once private information as companies battle for control of as much data as possible.

Such was the recent case of Klout, which was accused of automatically creating profiles and assigning scores to minors. Klout argued that much of a user's information, such as name, sex and profile photo, is already public.

Newspaper or other media companies and their systems would also be governed by this First Law, either in protecting their own systems from criminal hacking, or their users who might be exposed to viruses or other online threats via news stories, etc.

The First Law does not exclude examples such as hackers diverting Internet connections when states crack down on civil liberties, such as in Syria. Because those hackers are ultimately aiming to protect individuals and not expose them to harm as they fight for greater democratic freedoms, they meet the requirements of the First Law.

The Second Law

One of the many flaws in the hacking of telephone voice-mail in the U.K. was that the actions were not in the public interest. There are legal precedents in the U.K. for how public interest is defined, but the behavior of celebrities would rarely fall within those categories, and certainly not when the press goes on a "fishing expedition" for scandal on any high-profile figure imaginable.

Hacking into the voice-mail of a murdered schoolgirl was not legal or ethical. But you could imagine a hypothetical case where if the police were not making adequate efforts to find the killer, or where Milly Dowler had been alive and police were not acting to help trace her; AND at the invitation of her parents, the press got involved and accessed her phone. But that is highly theoretical and was not the case.

If journalists must do investigations -- and there's a recognition we must, even if nobody knows how to pay for it -- then there will be instances where they do breach the security of digital systems.

They might need to prove, as an ethical hacker might, that a government or corporate system did not have sufficient protections of citizens' data.

The Second Law is relatively straightforward if you need to meet the standard of public interest first. There might still be legal challenges after publication, broadcast or posting online, but if you have to justify it internally first, that's a good start. Most reporters know and follow the Second Law intuitively.

The Third Law

The point of merger for these laws, and for the worlds of "hacks and hackers" is the Third Law.

Even if the hacking of telephone voice-mail wasn't illegal already in the U.K., a handful of reporters at the News of the World and potentially elsewhere were clearly not ethically protecting their sources. In that world, everyone is potentially fair game for worldwide exposure, on anything, however trivial.

Clare Harris, former editor of the Big Issue in Scotland magazine and now media and communications officer with the Scottish Refugee Council, said journalists and editors don't always think about the potential consequences to interviewees of their stories going online. While a refugee might be safe in the U.K., their family could still be at risk in the country of origin, where stories about human rights abuses could be easily accessed by government forces.

clare_harris_2_5914.jpg

"We have to be really clear if we are putting someone forward for interview that it is likely to go on the web and go worldwide, because we are dealing with people who are very vulnerable," she explained.

"In some cases, people would be more happy to speak to newspapers about their situation if they knew their stories won't be online. No journalist has ever asked us if it is safe to put the story online," she said.

But for Harris, bigger questions still have to be asked: about the nature of sources and the boundaries for "private" and "public."

"What is a source now? Is it someone who has tweeted something? Is everything online fair game?" she asked.

Harris' comments are echoed in the Wall Street Journal coverage last year of a Supreme Court case involving questions of how GPS technology is used by police.

During oral arguments, Justice Samuel Alito said: "Maybe 10 years from now, 90% of the population will be using social networking sites, and they will have on average 500 friends, and they will have allowed their friends to monitor their location 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, through the use of their cell phones. What would the expectation of privacy be then?"

How technically difficult is it to protect sources in the digital age? Very.

Govan in Glasgow said information is so easy to extract now, that it can be eyebrow-raising for her students initially.

"If a reporter is trying to protect their sources online, it's limited when you can get Google to locate information for you," she said. "Google caches anything online so once online, it's essentially public. It becomes public data."

The need to look beyond data

Stephen Janis is an investigative reporter for Fox 45 in Baltimore and co-author of the book, "Why Do We Kill?" While data has become more important in journalism, Janis said he always tries to find the people at the heart of stories.

But the people you find also sometimes need protection. He said it is relatively easy to find people on Facebook, and the connections they have, which can expose who you're speaking to as a reporter.

"I've dealt with a lot of sources inside agencies who could get fired for speaking to me. We are all secretive about who our sources are. But my online social relationships could be used to ferret out some sources," he said.

So if it is so easy to get information about sources, what should reporters do?

Was WikiLeaks better at protecting its sources through military grade encryption on its "drop box"? Did they fail in protecting information of individuals contained within released documents when they published everything sans redaction?

Attempts by the Wall Street Journal and Al Jazeera to entice whistleblowers to traditional media instead of WikiLeaks have been criticized for failing to ensure anonymity or guarantee information would not be handed to law enforcement agencies.

If Twitter has been compelled to release information by the courts on its accounts, how should media organizations encourage the flow of information via social media? Does it require, at the very least, warnings in advance so individuals make an informed choice to contact media companies that can't protect them?

Or would the media be better to advise their readers and users to apply Tor software to protect their systems from tracking before sending information?

In the pursuit of faster information and more readers/consumers, we may have forgotten the need to protect our sources, and how easily we leave trails exposing them to risk.

Does retweeting a comment from the "Arab Spring" expose the originator, however anonymous, to risk? Do the images we take from Twitter accounts include GPS tags?

Quite apart from the immorality and illegality of hacking the voice-mail of a murdered schoolgirl in the U.K., how are we using technology as reporters?

If we can't protect our sources, how can our work possibly be in the public interest? If you fail to do the Third Law, you make the Second Law impossible.

Why Three Laws and Why Now?

These questions matter. In obsessing about all the journalism practices used in the U.K. for the past 20 or 30 years, and in the rush for immediacy and intimacy with the digital world, there needs to be an underpinning of something for journalism. Every reporter knows they must protect their sources, even if we have not articulated that well to our citizen counterparts.

T. S. Eliot wrote in "The Rock," Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information? Data is fine. It can be beautiful and elegant and informative. But some data must be protected, and other data must be investigated. The drive to inform must have an ethical underpinning of some kind.

These three laws could be part of better guiding the professionals and those sources -- human or numeric -- with whom we interact.

Robot photo by Flickr user ra1000 and used here with Creative Commons license.

Tristan Stewart-Robertson is a Canadian freelance reporter based in Glasgow, Scotland, operating as the W5 Press Agency.

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

December 28 2011

15:20

Top 10 Media Stories of 2011: Arab Spring; R.I.P. Steve Jobs; Phone Hacking

Yes, 2011 was another year of massive change in the American media landscape, with newspapers struggling, radio and TV trying to sharpen digital strategies, and magazines prettying themselves for tablets. But more often than expected, we turned our eyes overseas, to the role of social media in organizing protests and revolutions in the Arab world. To the spread of Facebook and freer speech in places like Egypt and Libya. And to the shocking phone-hacking scandal that brought the News Corp. empire to its knees, shuttering its most popular tabloid, the News of the World (published since 1843).

2011 year small.jpg

As smartphones and tablets proliferated, the reality of mobile news (and advertising) finally came into focus after years of failed promises. News orgs big and small tried to cash in on mobile editions, with mixed success. While Apple and its dominant iPad platform demanded a 30% cut of digital subscriptions -- and the customer data -- publishers fought back with "web apps" that went around the App Store and its restrictions. As more Android tablets, including the popular Kindle Fire, got into the hands of consumers, the chance that more people would ditch print editions for digital grew.

So here's our annual list of the Top 10 media stories that mattered most in 2011, and some predictions of where those stories are headed in 2012.

Top 10 Media Stories of 2011

1. The Arab Spring and the "Facebook revolutions."

What started as protests in December 2010 in Tunisia, after a college graduate set himself on fire, turned into a Middle East-wide revolution of people rising up against totalitarian regimes. In Tunisia and Egypt, the ruling governments fell, and in Libya a long civil war led to a rebel victory (aided by NATO). What many of these revolutions had in common was organizing done with social networks, especially Facebook, and news spreading virally over Twitter and YouTube. And that formula was repeated in protest movements outside of the Middle East, including in the Occupy Wall Street protests here in the U.S.

While social media played a crucial role in organizing protests and spreading the word to people in the outside world, the revolutions were not dependent upon them. When the Egyptian authorities shut down Internet access, that didn't stop people from human networking and organizing person-to-person to keep protests alive. As Miller-McCune's Philip Howard wrote:

Overemphasizing the role of information technology diminishes the personal risks that individual protesters took in heading out onto the streets to face tear gas and rubber bullets. While it is true that the dynamics of collective action are different in a digital world, we need to move beyond punditry about digital media, simple claims that technology is good or bad for democracy, and a few favored examples of how this can be so.

Prediction: Social media will continue to be vital cogs in any protest movement around the world, even as the targets of those protests learn to become more savvy in using social media in response to them. The days of closing off society to the outside world are numbered as more people use online platforms to communicate with the rest of the world.

jobs day of dead.jpg

2. Steve Jobs dies, and the tech world mourns.

Love him or hate him, Apple co-founder and visionary Steve Jobs did make a dent in the universe. He was there at the birth of so many innovations, from the personal computer, desktop publishing, the iPod, iPhone and iPad (the holy trinity of gadgets). But one thing he couldn't conquer was cancer, and he finally succumbed and died in October at the age of 56. Not long after that, an in-depth biography of Jobs was published, written by Walter Isaacson, detailing his many triumphs as well as his hard-driving, caustic personality.

While Jobs made a huge contribution to helping salvage the music business with iTunes (while taking his cut), he has had mixed success in helping the news business with mobile subscriptions. And his take on revolutionizing the TV business had yet to be realized at his death. One quote that stands out from Jobs is this one from his Stanford commencement address in 2005:

"Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."

Prediction: The legend of Steve Jobs and what he accomplished will only grow bigger over the coming years, as his legacy as a media visionary is cemented and the rougher parts of his personality are downplayed.

3. The phone-hacking scandal shutters the News of the World.

Tabloid journalists have always gone to great lengths to get scoops, but nothing compares to the breathtaking deceit at the U.K.'s News of the World, which hacked into the voice-mail messages of celebrities, politicians and even a murdered schoolgirl, Milly Dowler. What was originally deemed to be a few bad apples turned out to be widespread misdeeds that led to numerous arrests, resignations and firings at News International, the parent company of the tabloid. Even more surprising was the decision by News Corp. honcho Rupert Murdoch to close down the News of the World after 168 years of publication.

The "hackgate" scandal has led to resignations in the British government, at Scotland Yard and at various News Corp. publications (including Dow Jones publisher Les Hinton). Here's how MediaShift correspondent Tristan Stewart-Robertson summed it up:

Ultimately, we have a clash of what my retired philosophy professor father refers to as the "social duty to provide as much information as possible," and the duty of "non-injury to others." So which trumps which? ... The conflicting appetites for information and privacy are not going anywhere anytime soon.

Prediction: The scandal will continue to unearth more villains as government inquiries and lawsuits continue into the new year. More people will use stronger passwords for their voice-mail, and tabloid journalists will need to ratchet back their "black ops" to get scoops.

4. Bubbly IPOs return for a few startups.

groupon-ceo.jpg

No one would mistake 2011 for 1999, the last year of the dot-com bubble, when IPOs were popping like champagne corks. The initial public offering was the most conspicuous way that investors and startup employees with stock options could cash in on their around-the-clock hard work. But still, some echoes of the late '90s seeped in this year, with successful IPOs for startups such as LinkedIn, Groupon and Zynga. In May, LinkedIn was priced at $45 per share, and jumped 109% to close at $94.25. As a Reuters story explained, the IPO was "evoking memories of the investor love affair with Internet stocks during the dot-com boom of the late 1990s."

The hottest startups of 2011 fell into the SoLoMo category: social, local and mobile. And Groupon was right at the sweet spot of SoLoMo, as the biggest player in the hot "daily deals" market. Despite the fact that Groupon was not profitable and its growth was slowing down, the company's IPO raised $700 million, the biggest public offering since Google. While social gaming startup Zynga raised even more money, $1 billion, its IPO actually ended its first day of trading below its initial price of $10 per share. While a few Internet companies did well going public, most are still waiting in the wings. As USA Today put it, overall IPOs have had a dismal 2011.

Prediction: With so much stock market instability, it will be tough for many companies to go public in the coming months. More likely, the exit for startups will be to get acquired, except for the big fish like Facebook and Twitter, which could have huge IPOs next year.

5. New York Times finds success with metered pay wall; others try their luck.

Why won't people pay a fair price for news content online? So many news orgs simply put up their content for free online that this is what most people expect to pay: nothing. But some exceptions like WSJ.com (leaky wall) and FT.com (metered wall) found success with a mix of free and paid content. Then came the biggest experiment of them all, the metered pay wall at NYTimes.com, where you get 20 free articles per month (or via Google search or social media) and then you have to pay anywhere from $15 per month to $35 per month for full access on the web and with mobile apps. The price seemed steep and the Times was targeting the people who use its content the most. And yet there were exceptions: Car maker Lincoln subsidized free access for many users, and a recent "special offer" gave full digital access for just 99 cents for 8 weeks.

The metered wall has been a smashing success so far for NYTimes.com, garnering 324,000 paying subscribers by the end of the third quarter, just six months after the start of the wall. Plus, the Times has 1.2 million users with full digital access. (Many have print subscriptions that give them digital access.) But where does that leave the other, smaller papers that are trying out pay walls? Gannett newspapers, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Boston Globe all have begun testing pay strategies and it's unclear if they will be as successful as the Times. But as PaidContent's Staci Kramer wrote in a year-end review, "2011 is the hands-down winner when it comes to people paying for digital content. The numbers aren't all in yet and some of it will be hard to quantify given the lack of complete transparency but it's clear that more people are willing to pay for digital access to music, news, movies, TV, games, books and magazines."

Prediction: More online newspapers will try to charge for their content with mixed success. Not everyone has the strong brand (and followers) of the New York Times, and many folks are happy to try out other free sites for news if they are forced to pay too much.

6. The battle over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in Congress.

No one likes piracy, but the two bills in Congress to fight online piracy, SOPA and PIPA, are seen as flawed and overreaching by various tech companies and online pundits. The two bills are supported by most big media companies, music publishers and Hollywood, and are opposed by big tech and online companies and organizations.

While Congress expected to pass some version of these two bills into law with little friction, online organizers have wreaked havoc with political protests that haven't been seen at this depth before. Tumblr created a slick "Call Congress" tool that popped up on its home page, and 6,000 websites participated in an online protest against what they considered to be possible censorship under the new law, with 1 million emails sent to members of Congress. As Congress adjourns for its holiday recess, the fight continues, with so many people pulling their domains from Go Daddy (a supporter of SOPA), that the domain company changed course and withdrew support for the bill.

Prediction: The bills will still likely make it through Congress in some form, but if the online protests continue apace, there might well be amendments to make the bills less overreaching when it comes to piracy enforcement.

7. Kindle Fire tablet is an affordable alternative to iPad.

Here come the low-cost Android tablets. While Apple has done such a good job with its iPad tablet in dominating the market, there was still an opening for a lower-cost, smaller tablet to steal away market share. And this Christmas season, Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet ($199) and to a lesser extent the Nook Tablet ($250) have stolen Apple's thunder with cheaper alternatives. Some leaked data to Cult of Android showed that the Fire was racking up 50,000 pre-orders per day, which could mean 2.5 million sales before it even went on sale Nov. 15!

Those are impressive numbers for Amazon, which has created quite the backlash for its bullying in the book industry, becoming a book publisher on its own and sending people as spies into bookstores to compare prices. And yet, Apple will still continue to dominate tablet sales this holiday season, according to researchers at IDC, with the Kindle and Nook tablet sales coming at the expense of higher-priced Android tablets. "I fully expect Apple to have its best-ever quarter in 4Q11," IDC's Tom Mainelli told the Washington Post, "and in 2012 I think we'll see Apple's product begin to gain more traction outside of the consumer market, specifically with enterprise and education markets."

Prediction: Apple will have to work harder at keeping its dominant lead in tablets, and will need to consider selling a cheaper, smaller tablet to compete on the low end. While the Kindle Fire will be popular as a cheap alternative, it will need to offer more than a closed Amazon environment to satisfy gadget geeks.

8. Netflix stumbles with huge price hike, poor Qwikster idea.

2011 was another strong year for people cutting the cord to cable and satellite TV. The cable industry finally acknowledged there was a slight drop-off in subscriptions, and for the first time U.S. households with TV sets declined. But one reason people were willing to cut the cord was the proliferation of "over the top" streaming TV services such as Netflix and Hulu. But after years of growth and profits, Netflix stumbled badly in 2011. The company announced it was unbundling its DVD-by-mail service and charging higher rates for DVDs and for streaming, with a spin-off company for DVDs called Qwikster.

Those moves were largely panned by pundits, and Netflix started bleeding customers, with 800,000 of them leaving the service by the end of the third quarter. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings had to apologize to customers in a blog post and in a video address:

Prediction: Netflix will need a two-pronged strategy to gain back customers: aggressive pricing and promotions; better selection of streaming content. It might be tough to pull it off, but without doing anything, Netflix will find a very difficult road ahead.

9. Publishers rebel against Apple with HTML5 web apps.

Apple could only push publishers so far. While the tech giant came hat in hand to media companies promising to prop up the news business with digital subscriptions for the iPad, its terms were onerous: a 30% cut of all revenues; Apple keeps the data on customers; no links to subscriptions outside of Apple's App Store from within apps. Some publishers decided that enough was enough, and created "web apps" that worked on the iPad without going through Apple and its App Store. The most prominent web app came from FT.com, which decided to create its own HTML5 app to go around Apple's control.

When I spoke to FT.com's managing director, Rob Grimshaw, he shared these figures about their success:

> 20% of all page views for FT.com come from mobile devices
> 30% of all page views seen by paid subscribers to FT.com are on mobile devices

> More than 1 million downloads for the FT apps for iPhone and iPad

> More than 500,000 visits to the web app over the past 3 months

> 15% to 20% of new paid subscribers come from mobile devices

Apple eventually blinked and set better terms for publishers, allowing them to sell subscriptions at discounted prices. However, Apple still gets a huge 30% cut and keeps the customer data.

Prediction: More publishers will watch FT.com and others' web apps very closely, and will consider ways to get around Apple's walled garden.

10. Rise of Google+ as an alternative to Facebook, Twitter.

After several false starts (including Google Buzz, Orkut, Wave), Google finally got social networking right with its Google+ network launch in 2011. While the service quickly brought on millions of new users and was integrated tightly into Google search results and Gmail, some folks were unimpressed and felt like it was a ghost town because their friends remained entrenched on Facebook.

So what was the big deal with Google+? The service let people set up "Circles" so that status updates could be sent to discrete groups, and the "Hangouts" let you do group video chat like never before. One enterprising TV station in Columbia, Mo., even started putting Google+ Hangouts on the air. My experience was typical for the more plugged-in tech media crowd: Within a couple months on Google+, I had more people following me there than on Twitter, where I'd been active since 2008.

Prediction: Google+ will continue to be an attractive option for interactivity and higher level conversations among the more tech-insider crowd, but most people will continue their presence on Twitter and Facebook.

Honorable Mentions

Here are some other stories that didn't quite make the cut but are worth mentioning:

> Digital First takes over newspapers at the Journal Register Co. and Media News, and launches an investment company for digital news innovation.

> AOL buys Huffington Post and TechCrunch, and TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington is eventually pushed out after trying to run both TechCrunch and a new VC fund.

> #OccupyWallStreet organizes hundreds of protests around the U.S. and world to demand that money is removed from politics.

> News aggregators proliferate, with the rise of Flipboard, Zite (bought by CNN), Trove, Livestand, News.me and many more.

What do you think? What media stories were the biggest ones this year? Did we miss any key ones? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit. and Circle him on Google+

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

July 26 2011

19:25

Your Guide to the U.K. Phone-Hacking Scandal (or 'Hackgate')

From time to time, we provide an overview of one broad MediaShift topic, annotated with online resources and plenty of tips. The idea is to help you understand the topic, learn the jargon, and take action. We've previously covered Twitter, local watchdog news sites, and Net neutrality, among other topics. This week MediaShift U.K. correspondent Tristan Stewart-Robertson looks at the phone-hacking scandal.

Background

To still use the terms "phone hacking" or "News of the World" to describe the scandal engulfing the British media is now somewhat insufficient.

"Hackgate," as it's often called on Twitter, has really been going on since 2002, but didn't explode until July 4, 2011 and has since dominated the news in the U.K. and increasingly abroad.

Without question, The Guardian has been the leader on the phone-hacking story from day one, and reporter Nick Davies will most certainly be the runaway candidate for "reporter of the year" at next year's British Press Awards. The paper's multimedia coverage and interactive features on a continually moving and expanding story are second to none.

The New York Times has also been a leader on the story, particularly with its September 2010 investigation into the subject.

Glossary of Terms

"Blagging": It might sound like a quaint English term, but it, too, is illegal. As the BBC summarizes, the Data Protection Act 1998 prevents someone from pretending to be another person for the purposes of gaining access to private data, such as medical records.

Phone hacking: The technical term for what private investigators, and some reporters, were doing for the News of the World is actually "illicit voice message interception." It's illegal to access someone else's cell phone messages, usually by having one person call the phone, and while it is engaged, a second person calls and gets access to the messages. Most people wouldn't think to change the standard manufacturer's code, such as 9999 or 0000, to protect voicemail, and so it's usually quite easy to access.

"Pinging" or phone tracking: Police can track a suspect's cell phone by triangulation from nearby cell phone towers. But as the Guardian exposed, the News of the World allegedly paid police to access such tracking. If proven, both the bribery and obtaining of private data would be punishable.

Public Interest: When the British media talks about what is in "the public interest," this is quite broad but has a specific legal backing which is referred to as The Reynolds Defense. The full case is here, but Wikipedia has a summary of it.

Regulation: Many commentators, when talking about possible statutory regulation of the press, cite the flaws of self-regulation, which currently takes the form of the Press Complaints Council and its code of practice. But regulation could mimic the Broadcasting Act 1996 which dictates fairness and balance in television news, and can invoke large fines for breaches.

Main Cast of characters

Andy Coulson: Editor of the News of the World. He resigned in 2007 when phone hacking was first exposed with the criminal convictions of former royal correspondent Clive Goodman and private detective Glenn Mulcaire. Coulson later was appointed as chief of communications for Prime Minister David Cameron before resigning again this year.

james murdoch.jpg

James Murdoch: Chairman and chief executive of News Corp., Europe, and son of Rupert, he authorized out-of-court settlements for phone hacking, which he later said he regretted because he did not have all the information about the extent of the criminality. His evidence in front of a House of Commons select committee has now been questioned.

Rupert Murdoch: Chairman and CEO of News Corp. Political leaders considered he was essential to have on their side to be able to win British elections.

Rebekah Wade: Editor of the News of the World, then its sister paper The Sun, and then chief executive of News International until her resignation during the hacking scandal. She was editor at the time of the alleged hacking of the phone of murdered 13-year-old school girl Milly Dowler, which turned the public against News International.

Timeline

In 2005, a story about medical treatment of Prince William led Buckingham Palace to suspect interference with his voicemail.

Goodman, the News of the World royal reporter, was jailed in 2007 as was private investigator Mulcaire. Coulson resigned as editor, and everyone claimed it was just a few bad apples.

In 2009, the Guardian returned to the story and exposed out-of-court settlements to public figures, suggesting there were thousands more potential victims, including celebrities and politicians.

On July 4, 2011, the Guardian revealed the hacking of Milly Dowler's phone, which turned public attention dramatically to the story.

After an outcry from the public and a campaign on Twitter and Facebook to get advertisers
to drop the News of the World, News International announced that the July 10 issue of the News of the World would be the last after 168 years.

The next week, News Corp. announced it would stop its attempt to take over all of BSkyB.
And in the ultimate climax, the following week, James and Rupert Murdoch and Wade gave evidence to a House of Commons select committee.

The dominant digital coverage

20110721.GU.hackingtimelinegraphicwb.jpg

The phone-hacking story traditionally would have started in print on July 5. Instead, the Guardian released it online first on July 4, giving other media a chance to pick up the story for the next day and hitting the social media sphere much earlier than Tuesday morning.

That very much fits into the strategy announced by the Guardian last month of digital first. Most, if not all, of the revelations from the phone-hacking scandal were broken online before print editions hit the streets in a battle for the public attention -- and frequently mid-afternoon so ideally placed to catch the 6 p.m. TV newscasts and an American audience five or more hours behind.

Online coverage has also allowed for detailed timelines and data visualizations in the Guardian, as well as crowdsourcing from the Guardian and Telegraph (see below).

Digital reaction

When news of the hacking of Milly Dowler's phone first broke, outrage ensued on social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Although the public did not initially have papers in front of them to target particular advertisers with the News of the World, a campaign soon started.

Parenting forum Mumsnet helped drive the online campaign and pulled its own campaign from Sky television, which at the time News Corp. was trying to acquire.

Again, the Guardian was at the forefront of providing information, publishing the Twitter addresses of the top 50 News of the World advertisers.

Twitters users became perhaps the most active during the James and Rupert Murdoch testimony in front of Britain's Select Committee on July 19, showing the speed of social media reaction. Within minutes of a protestor throwing a shaving-cream pie at Murdoch senior and the right-hook reaction from wife Wendi Deng, #piegate shot onto the Twitter trending list, only to be overtaken minutes later with #wendi.

Crowdsourcing and Data Visualization

The Guardian and Telegraph have both invited readers and users to get involved in sorting through data. The Telegraph released articles from the past decade in the News of the World that mention phone calls, voicemails and emails. The Guardian's crowdsourced list of potential victims is currently offline to check accuracy. The Atlantic has also praised such efforts to tackle the volume of potential phone-hacking victims and associated data.

Investigations

  • The Leveson Inquiry will be the formal and broad investigation into the media's practices and ethics, as well as publishers' involvement with politics and the police.
  • Operation Weeting is the formal inquiry by the Metropolitan Police into phone hacking and more, and is a follow-up to the previous failed police inquiries. A total of 60 officers are now on the case.
  • The Serious Fraud Office in the U.K. is said to be considering an investigation.

In Numbers

Deaths: 1 [Sean Hoare]

Arrests: 9 [Neville Thurlbeck, Ian Edmondson, James Weatherup, Terenia Taras, Coulson, Goodman, an unidentified 63-year-old man, Neil Wallis and Brooks]

Charges: 0

Allegations dropped: 1 [Press Association reporter Laura Elston]

Convictions: 2 [Goodman, Mulcaire]

Resignations: 4 [Brooks (News Int), Coulson (technically well before the scandal blew up, and twice, from News Int and Conservative Party), Sir Paul Stephenson (police), John Yates (police), Les Hinton (Dow Jones)]

Fired: 1 [Matt Nixson, features editor at The Sun and former NOTW employee]

Laid Off: 200 [News of the World staff, according to its former political editor]

Tristan Stewart-Robertson is a Canadian freelance reporter based in Glasgow, Scotland, operating as the W5 Press Agency.

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

July 07 2011

19:53

Nick Davies on phone hacking, Murdoch and News of the World: it is a story about the power elite

Guardian :: The News of the World, or NOTW, is to close, James Murdoch has announced.  It follows a series of revelations that the paper illegally hacked into phones, and amid calls for Rebekah Brooks to resign. In this video from The Guardian the investigative journalist Nick Davies talks on how the phone-hacking scandal has escalated, leading to News of the World's announced closure.

[Nick Davies at 09:19, video below] To me it is not a story about a journalist behaving badly. It is a story about the power elite. It is about the most powerful news organization in the world. It is about the most powerful police force in the country. It is about the most powerful party in the country and for good measure it is about the press complaints commission. And about they all spontaneously colluded together, to make everybody's life easier. About the way the casually assumed that the law didn't apply to them ...

Nick Davies is a British investigative journalist, writer and documentary maker. He has written extensively as a freelancer, as well as for The Guardian and The Observer, and been named Journalist of the Year, Reporter of the Year and Feature Writer of the Year at the British Press Awards.[Source: Wikipedia]

Published on Thursday 7 July 2011

Original post - video here Cameron Robertson and Anne Backhaus, www.guardian.co.uk

16:38

The death of the News Of The World

What an incredible few days. The PCC’s statement yesterday was extraordinary – even if it turns out to be merely a cosmetic exercise. Today’s announcement that the News of the World will end as a brand is, as its mooted replacement would say, a “stunner”.

It took almost exactly 3 days – 72 hours – to kill off a 168-year-old brand. Yes, there were other allegations and two years in the lead up to The Guardian’s revelation that Milly Dowler was targeted by the newspaper. But Milly Dowler and the various other ordinary people who happened to be caught up in newsworthy events (kidnappings, victims of terrorist attacks, families of dead soldiers), were what turned the whole affair.

That story was published at 16.29 on Monday. Incredible.

We talk a lot about the disintermediation of the press – the fact that companies, governments and celebrities can communicate directly with the public. The targeting of the News Of The World’s advertisers, and the rapid mobilisation of thousands of signatures supporting an inquiry, demonstrated that that disintermediation works the other way too. Where once the media could have acted as a dampener on how public protest appeared to advertisers and Parliament, their powers to do so now are more limited.

So while The Sun may be moving to 7-day production, that doesn’t make this a rebranding or a relaunch. As of Monday, The News of the World brand is dead, 168 years of journalistic history (not to mention 200 jobs) offered up as a sacrifice.

Whether that sacrifice is accepted, and to what extent, is yet to be seen. In the meantime, the significance of this shouldn’t be underestimated.

This post originally appeared on the blog Facebook page

PrintFriendly

July 06 2011

21:17

On BBC News - Hugh Grant: How I exposed phone hacking by the media

BBC News :: The actor Hugh Grant has been speaking about how he recorded a conversation between himself and Paul McMullen, a former Deputy Features editor at the News of the World 1994-2001, in which the journalist revealed details of phone hacking by the media. Details of the exchange were then revealed by Mr Grant in the New Statesman. Here an excerpt:

[Hugh Grant, in New Statesman, 06 Apr 2011, 22:11:] ... he was Paul McMullan, one of two ex-NoW hacks who had blown the whistle ... on the full extent of phone-hacking at the paper, particularly under its former editor Andy Coulson. This was interesting, as I had been a victim – a fact he confirmed as we drove along. He also had an unusual defence of the practice: that phone-hacking was a price you had to pay for living in a free society. I asked how that worked exactly, but we ran out of time ...

Mr McMullen joined Mr Grant on the BBC's News Channel to debate the issue.

[Hugh Grant addressing Paul McMullen, at 04:21 in the video]: Your only motive is profit. You are no journalists. You have no interests in journalism. It's just money, money, money ...

Update: For further details of the phone hacking practice you should also watch the interview: Jeremy Paxman asks Paul McMullan, what he thinks about the allegations that voicemails on murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's mobile phone were allegedly intercepted by the newspaper (second link below).

Hugh Grant vs Paul McMullan on BBC News video online - watch it here www.bbc.co.uk

Jeremy Paxman asks Paul McMullan on BBC News - watch it here news.bbc.co.uk

October 06 2010

14:46

‘We do want journalists to break the rules’, says former prosecutions chief

Society needs journalists who are prepared to break the law in order to serve the public interest, argued the former director of public prosecutions Sir Ken Macdonald last night.

Speaking at a debate at City University on the the News of the World phone-hacking case and the lengths to which reporters can go to get information, MacDonald said: “There are bound to be cases where journalists will want to break the law, and for good reason (…) We do want journalists to break the rules.”

Macdonald did not condone the phone-hacking at NotW, and stressed that it was only under certain public interest circumstances that journalists might be forgiven for breaking the law.

He was joined by key players in the phone hacking scandal: Nick Davies of the Guardian, ex-News of the World journalist Paul McMullan and defamation lawyer Mark Lewis, as well as Max Mosley, Roy Greenslade and libel barrister Caldecott QC.

Mark Lewis, who is currently suing the Metropolitan Police and the Press Complaints Commission for libel, echoed Macdonald, saying that in certain circumstances illegal activity is acceptable.

“If you know something is of public interest then you can use certain methods to corroborate it,” he said. However, he stressed that these methods should not be used to obtain a story.

Macdonald also cautioned against increasing privacy laws, warning it could create a “contagion of caution” among newspapers, and pointed out that a culture of deference has developed in France due to its strict privacy rules.

However, Macdonald conceded that it is nearly impossible to define what is and isn’t in the public interest.

As former Daily Miror editor and journalism professor Greenslade pointed out, “the public interest for the Guardian’s audience is very different to the public interest of the News of the World readers.

“There is no easy way of drafting a public interest definition that would give journalists clear guidance on what they should and shouldn’t publish.”

More from Journalism.co.uk:

Former News of the World journalist defends phone-hacking at lively debate

PCC claimes it did respond to Dispatches with phone-hacking statement

Phone-hacking on Dispatches: a good documentary but not enough new evidenceSimilar Posts:



10:45

Former News of the World features editor defends phone-hacking at lively debate

The News of the World phone-hacking scandal was once again in the spotlight last night, this time at City University where reporters, lawyers, a former tabloid editor and a victim of the NotW’s close attention gathered to debate the question: “How far should a reporter go? The lessons of the News of the World phone-hacking story.”

Former News of the World features editor Paul McMullan spoke largely in defence of the newspaper and its practices, revealing that he had been contacted three times by the Metropolitan police following his recent admission of illegally obtaining information while at the newspaper.

McMullan is one of a string of former NotW staff to confess to phone-hacking, both on the record and anonymously, and allege that the practice was widespread at the newspaper. He admitted last night that he had illegally hacked voicemail accounts, bank accounts and medical records in an investigation of cocaine dealers.

Appearing alongside McMullan were: former Daily Mirror editor Roy Greenslade, who elected to speak on behalf of the NotW in the absence of a senior figure from the newspaper; former director of public prosecutions Ken MacDonald; Guardian reporter Nick Davies, who broke the story initially and has reported on it extensively; former head of the FIA Max Mosley, who won record damages of 60,000 from the newspaper in a privacy action, and defamation lawyer Mark Lewis, who has represented many of those claiming damages from the NotW after the scandal.

Guardian reporter Nick Davies began by apologising to the NotW for “saying some beastly things about it” and said they were unlucky to get caught out in an industry-wide practice

I should start off by apologising to the NotW, in a way I feel sorry for them. It’s sheer fluke and bad luck that that particular newspaper is the subject of all this attention. It’s just because one journalist Clive Goodman got caught hacking the voicemail not of an ordinary punter but of the royal family. All of us with our headlights on know very well that this illegal activity was going on in most Fleet Street newsrooms.

Davies even drew attention to the naming of the Guardian’s sister paper the Observer by the Information Commissioner’s report on obtaining of phone records. But despite his apologies he was unequivocal in his distaste for the phone-hackers: “I’ve had enough. Even though I’m a reporter I want a law to protect me from these creatures. These people have no business in our phone calls, they have no business in our bedrooms.”

Davies did however speak out in support of a law which would give reporters additional powers to hack into telephones and voicemail accounts where there was a demonstrable public interest.

What we’ll discover as we go through this evening is that a lot will cluster around two simple words, ‘public interest’ (…) I would go so far as to say I would like to see a change in the law to allow journalists to intercept voicemail messages if it’s in the public interest. The huge problem is that nobody knows where the boundaries of that concept are.

Well, as Roy Greenslade pointed out in his terrifically acted (if somewhat comical) turn defending the NotW, “What is the public interest to the Guardian and the Observer is very different when you reach the celebrity agenda of the Sun and the NotW.”

Paul McMullan clearly has a very different concept of public interest to Nick Davies and especially to Max Mosley, with whom he repeatedly clashed. McMullan said, in answer to “How far should a reporter go?” that “if you want to get ahead in journalism you have to go as far as you possibly can, there is no limit”.

I think privacy is the thing we really have to fight against, privacy is the place where we do bad things. We hide our misdemeanors embarassments and things we wouldn’t want to have to tell our wives and children we were up to and then we say privacy, it’s my private life, I can break my marital contract, I can have a completely false public perception when actually, I’m a grubby little sinner.

Mosley, on the other hand, is clearly more of a fan of the French way of doing things. He claimed throughout that the private lives of public figures have no bearing on their public life, dismissing McMullan’s notion that there was a legitimate public interest in reavealing the private actions of those who presented themselves as family men, or who were said to be role models.

…there is this mad argument ‘oh we should expose Tiger Woods or Mr [John] Terry because they tell the world they are great family men and they’re not. This is the idea that people go to watch John Terry play football or Tiger Woods pay golf, and they say to themselves ‘why am I going to see him, oh because he’s a wonderful family man’. It’s so absurd.

Mosley was very firm in his belief that jounalists should not be able to get away with breaking the law because they decide it serves the public interest. Defamation lawyer Mark Lewis pointed out that if the police want to tap somebody’s phone they have to approach the home secretary first for permission, with prima facie evidence, and not just go on a “fishing expedition” if they so decide.

Ken MacDonald, former director of public prosecutions, countered that their argument was “too simplistic”, arguing that without journalists bending, or perhaps breaking the law, a huge number of important public interest stories would not have been published. MacDonald also expressed concern about allowing public figures to live “entirely parallel lives”, which he said could lead journalists to “an attitude of deference to those in power and to cultural elites”.

His comment prompted an audience member to ask whether a hypothetical story about David Cameron being caught with call girls had legitimate public interest. Given what this information would tell us about the judgement of the country’s prime minister in opening himself up to bribery and coercion, Nick Davies was surprisingly unsure whether he thought this constituted public interest.

Repeatedly mentioned of course was Cameron’s director of communications and former NotW editor Andy Coulson. Last night’s Dispatches documentary featured a former senior NotW journalist claiming, anonymously, that the former editor had listened to hacked voicemail messages. Coulson has continually denied any knowledge of phone-hacking, despite recent accusations in the New York Times that he sanctioned the practice. Roy Greenslade, in his role as the newspaper’s defender, sounded quite convinced in his support of Coulson, inparticular Coulson’s claim that he wouldn’t neccessarily have known or even asked about the provenance of stories. According to Greenslade:

Editors don’t have to know every intimate detail on this occasion I don’t think he did (…) A lot of people here will say ‘of course he knew’, but it seems perfectly feasible to me that you don’t neccessarily know every detail about the methodology.

The panelists debated various possible ways of negotiating the difficult terrain between freedom of the press and privacy, with Max Mosley calling for the law to require prior notification on issues which the subject of the story might not want publicised. Mosley’s strict position was largely dismissed by the journalists present, who saw the extent to which it could compromise a free press. Nick Davies suggested a variation on the idea, in which editors could approach a “council of wise men” who (quite who was never clarified) could arbitrate and advise on publication, with their recommendation taken in to account if the editor was challenged post-publication.

The risk all these possible regulatory measures pose to freedom of the press was articulated of course, leaving the panel not much closer to a workable solution to the problem by the end. But it was a spirited debate which generated decent conversation about some of the issues at the heart of the phone-hacking scandal and well-demonstrated the difficulty of satisfying both the need for freedom of the press and the need for privacy.Similar Posts:



October 05 2010

12:06

Phone-hacking on Dispatches: a good documentary but not enough new evidence

Following the Twitter conversation around last night’s Channel 4 Dispatches on phone-hacking, Andy Coulson and the News of the World, it seems that for those already following the story there was insufficient new evidence.

But for those less aware of the ongoing claims and the series of investigations that have been conducted, the programme did a great job of putting the most recent claims – sparked by the New York Times’ reports in September – into context with what has gone before, starting with Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire’s arrests in 2006.

Dispatches had comments from Paul McMullen, a journalist working at the News of the World when Coulson joined, and an unidentified source who worked under former editor Coulson while he was deputy editor.

Both alleged that phone-hacking did not begin and end with Goodman and Mulcaire. McMullan told the programme that there was surprise in the newsroom following Goodman’s arrest and sentencing that no one else had been charged.

Of 13 people who worked at the paper during Coulson’s editorship or time as deputy editor and have spoken to Dispatches, not one believes that Goodman was a lone “bad apple”.

Questioning Coulson’s “collective amnesia” and rulings by the Met Police and other industry groups that Goodman and Mulcaire were the only people involved in the practice may not be new, but Dispatches did a good job of raising some new points, as yet largely uncovered by the mainstream media. In particular, the programme spoke with a non-celebrity potential victim of phone-hacking, who explained how difficult it has been to get information from the police and her mobile phone operator to check if she had been hacked.

Concerns were raised by interviewees, including Brian Paddick, who is calling for a judicial review of the Met’s 2006 inquiry, and DCMS select committee member Adam Price, who had suggested that News International’s Rebekah Brooks should be made to give evidence to its phone-hacking inquiry, that whatever the truth behind the allegations about the extend of the practice, the way in which investigations by government and the Metropolitan police have been conducted suggests that the News of the World may be “above the law”.

Tom Watson MP, who worked on the department for culture, media and sport’s select committee inquiry into allegations against the NOTW, told Dispatches that he considered giving up politics after a senior News International journalist told him that he would be pursued by its titles after he called for Tony Blair’s resignation in 2006 because of the support of News International for the then PM.

Watson has now published a letter on his website written to the Prime Minister and asking him to make a statement in parliament this week about the allegations against his communications director Coulson.

Coulson has repeatedly denied knowledge of phone-hacking at the News of the World and told Dispatches he had nothing to add in response to its broadcast.

Lack of press coverage at the time of Goodman’s arrest suggested similar goings-on at other papers, said Dispatches’ host Peter Oborne last night. But given the Daily Mail columnist’s involvement and the featured commentary from former News of the World journalists, Channel 4 and the Guardian, has last night’s broadcast created a more united front amongst the press to investigate its own state of affairs?Similar Posts:



October 04 2010

10:45

Phone-hacking: Dispatches source claims Coulson listened to recordings

Tonight’s Channel 4 Dispatches documentary, Tabloids, Tories and Telephone Hacking, will reveal new phone tapping allegations against Andy Coulson, Channel 4 News revealed yesterday.

In a breaking news announcement, presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy reported that a past colleague of Coulson’s will claim in tonight’s broadcast that the former editor of the News of the World, and now communications director for the Prime Minister, not only knew about phone hacking at the tabloid and asked recordings to be played to him. Coulson has always claimed that he had no knowledge of hacking at the paper.

The Dispatches programme, which features an investigation by political journalist Peter Obourne into the tabloid’s relationship with police and the government, will be aired on Channel 4 tonight at 8pm. The programme follows fresh allegations of phone hacking at the tabloid made by the New York Times last month, sparking emergency debates in the House of Commons, a new police investigation and a series of lawsuits.Similar Posts:



September 22 2010

12:02

Phone hacking: Journalists who paid me should have been prosecuted too, says convicted PI

A private investigator who was found guilty of illegally obtaining information about public figures for a number of newspapers has claimed it was “unfair” that journalists who paid him to carry out the work were not prosecuted alongside him.

Steve Whittamore was given a two-year conditional discharge in 2005 after pleading guilty to obtaining and disclosing information under the Data Protection Act. Speaking on the BBC’s PM radio programme yesterday, Whittamore said that the journalists involved “should have stood up and been counted”.

They actually asked me to do this on their behalf. I suppose you could view it as my Oliver Twist to the press’ Fagin (…) Requests were asked of me by people who I viewed as really being above reproach. They were huge corporations. I assumed they knew what they were asking for.

According to the programme, Whittamore acted on about 13,000 requests, many of which would have been legal but some of which weren’t. He told the PM programme that he had refused certain requests, including requests from journalists to obtain health records.

“Towards the end it got more and more personal (…) telephone account details, that sort of thing, maybe bank account details”. Whittamore admitted that the practice had got “quite a bit out of hand”.

Listen to the full interview (available until 27 September) at this link…

More on phone hacking from Journalism.co.uk:

PCC to review stance on phone hacking at News of the World

Phone hacking: Brian Paddick and Chris Bryant launch legal action

Phone hacking: new government inquiry launched, PM expected to be quizzed todaySimilar Posts:



September 13 2010

11:58

MPs and ‘media assassins’: an update on the phone hacking saga

Adam Price, former Plaid Cymru MP and a member of the culture committee which previously investigated phone hacking allegations, spoke to Channel 4 recently about why the culture committee did not force Rebekah Brooks to give evidence, using the Seargent-At-Arms or “nuclear option”, as he refers to it.

We could have used the nuclear option. We decided not to, I think to some extent because of what I was told at the time by a senior Conservative member of the committee, who I know was in direct contact with NI execs, that if we went for her, called her back, subpoenaed her, they would go for us – which meant effectively that they would delve into our personal lives in order to punish them and I think that’s part of the reason we didn’t do it… in retrospect I think that’s regrettable. It’s important now that the new inquiry stands firm where we didn’t. Politicians aren’t above the law but neither are journalists, including Rupert Murdoch’s bovver boys with biros.

In a statement to Channel 4 News, the committee chairman John Whittingdale said there was “no suggestion” the news organisation would target members’ private lives.

When it was suggested by Labour members to force Rebekah Brooks to attend, I recall a conversation with Adam Price in which the repercussions for members’ personal lives were mentioned. But that had no bearing on my own decision to oppose bringing in the Serjeant at Arms. Nor do I have any reason to think there was any suggestion that News International would target our private lives.

West Bromwich MP Tom Watson, who spoke at last Thursday’s Commons debate in support of a motion for the standards and privileges committee to investigate fresh allegations of phone-hacking, told the House that politicians are “afraid” of standing up to media “assassins”.

Watson said this weekend that he regretted his part in a story in the Sun suggesting Kate Adie should be sacked in 2001. In an interview on Radio 4, he said he was was “ashamed” of his role in the story, which quoted him as saying Adie should “seriously consider her position”.

I have done things that I regret with journalists. I’ll tell you the worst (…) I stood up a Sun story that Kate Adie had jeopardised our troops in Iran/Iraq with her reporting because I was asked to do so and I felt very guilty about it afterwards. I didn’t tell lies. I was asked by the Sun did I think her report imperilled the safety of our troops. It was a judgment call – I think I used the words ‘she should consider her position’ which was weasel words from a politician that I feel ashamed of.

So I’m part of the problem as well, I am holding my hands up. But nevertheless there is a problem and we need to get to the bottom of it. People whose phones were hacked need to know. We have a toxic media culture that we cannot allow to continue.

Adie was cleared of blame by the BBC and she later accepted damages for libel from the newspaper.

Also speaking on Radio 4, former chairman of the Press Complaints Commission Sir Christopher Meyer said that MPs have an “love-hate” relationship with the media.

If we are going to talk about people being in cahoots with journalists, look no further than the House of Commons. This is why the thing has got so convoluted. It is because MPs enjoy an intimate, often toxic, love-hate relationship with journalism. They need journalists in order to leak and to brief; they hate journalists when they start looking into their affairs.

(…) They live together in a deadly embrace and I really have to ask the question whether MPs shouldn’t actually recuse themselves from passing judgment on journalism simply because the interests are so conflicted.

Similar Posts:



September 08 2010

09:15

Phone hacking: new government inquiry launched, PM expected to be quizzed today

The Home Affairs select committee has launched a new inquiry into allegations of phone hacking against the News of the World. The select committee will look at the offences related to unauthorised hacking, how such offences are dealt with and the police’s response.

This will be the second inquiry conducted by MPs following the culture, media and sport select committee’s investigation, which concluded earlier this year with a report condemning “collective amnesia” amongst senior staff at the News of the World. News International argued that the cross-party committee had pursued a political agenda.

The new inquiry has been prompted by claims of fresh evidence against the News of the World and yesterday’s appearance by assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan police John Yates in front of the home affairs committee. Yates told the committee that “all reasonable steps” had been taken during the Met’s 2006 investigation of phone hacking to warn individuals when police had reason to believe their phones had been hacked, which he said only applied in the case of 10 to 12 people.

According to the Guardian, Ross Hall, a former employee of the News of the World named in the previous government inquiry, has said he will testify in the phone hacking case. Hall, who is reported to have transcribed hacked voicemail messages for others in the newsroom, told the Guardian he would be willing to speak to Scotland Yard and the new select committee.

Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to face questions on the affair at Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons today. To follow updates on the story from Journalism.co.uk, subscribe to this RSS feed.Similar Posts:



September 07 2010

10:01

September 03 2010

16:46

‘The silence is almost eerie’: press holds back on phone hacking scandal

Allegations of phone hacking at the News of the World resurfaced this week following an investigation by the New York Times which looked at past allegations as well as a new case being legally pursued by a third party. This has led to calls today for a judicial review from industry bodies and politicians.

But coverage of the event by the rest of the media has come under criticism by numerous publications and bloggers.

Caroline Crampton at the New Statesman reflected on the issue the day after the story broke, when she claims the Guardian was the only national newspaper to have reported on the NYTimes article at the time.

The Times, the Telegraph, the Independent, the Daily Mail, the Sun and the Mirror all failed to cover the story at all. Considering that the investigation uncovers a widespread culture of phone-hacking at a major Sunday paper, with one source saying “Everyone knew. The office cat knew”, I would have thought that Fleet Street would have more to say about the low tactics employed by one of its number.

But the silence on the Coulson story from the rest is almost eerie. Papers are usually desperate to expose each other’s failures. Why are they holding back?

Online media watchdog Tabloid Watch makes the same points, while editor of the Liberal Conspiracy blog Sunny Hundal wrote on the Guardian website that while he expected News International publications to avoid the topic, he was disappointed by a lack of coverage on BBC radio early on.

It comes as little surprise News International subsidiaries and other tabloids have avoided it. But the BBC’s radio silence also speaks volumes: not just about their deference to the new administration, but of unwillingness to investigate their peers. It needed the New York Times to blow the story wide open again.

(…) The conscience of our country is determined more by Rupert Murdoch’s private interests than is healthy, already. These controversies say less about rightwing bloggers (whose smears are used as a proxy) and more about the collusion that takes place among the media establishment.

However the BBC has since followed up on the Time’s report, including an interview on Radio 4′s Today programme with Lord John Prescott this morning discussing his own concerns of being targeted by phone hackers while BBC Surrey’s Nick Wallis yesterday discussed the report, admitting that the BBC had only touched on the issue “from time to time” but said he would be writing to every Conservative MP in Surrey and asking them if they are happy that David Cameron kept former NOTW editor Andy Coulson as his PR man.

The article by the New York Times is due to be published in its Sunday magazine this weekend.Similar Posts:



May 19 2010

15:24

April 12 2010

08:01

Media Guardian: Fresh phone hacking investigation into John Terry affair stories

More from Nick Davies in the investigative journalist’s ongoing exposés of phone hacking by the British press: the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has launched a new, official inquiry into suspected interception of voicemail messages linked to tabloid reporting of Vanessa Perroncel and her alleged affair with England and Chelsea footballer John Terry.

The evidence focuses on the phone records of Vanessa Perroncel and of one of her close friends, Antonia Graham. Perroncel was accused by tabloids of having an affair with Terry.

One allegation involves the interception of a live telephone call between the two women, a more serious offence than listening to phone messages.

Published in February, the findings of a Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee inquiry into press standards, privacy and libel said the News of the World and other newspapers turned a blind eye to illegal phone hacking and ‘blagging’ (the practice of obtaining information through deception), contradicting a Press Complaints Commission report published in November.

According to Davies’ new report, Perroncel’s lawyers have also formally warned seven national newspapers that she is planning to sue them for privacy breaches.

Full story at this link…

Similar Posts:



March 15 2010

12:21

March 10 2010

09:03
Older posts are this way If this message doesn't go away, click anywhere on the page to continue loading posts.
Could not load more posts
Maybe Soup is currently being updated? I'll try again automatically in a few seconds...
Just a second, loading more posts...
You've reached the end.

Don't be the product, buy the product!

Schweinderl