The Murdochs VS the BBC: Round two: twenty years on


By Danny Lee Contributor: Michael Morgan Bain - with many thanks James Murdoch opened the floodgates to hell on Friday night and reopened old wounds as he delivered 34th James MacTaggart Lecture from the Edinburgh International Television Festival. The commercial media sector is in some form of agreement with Murdoch Jnr as he describes the BBC ambition and activities as “chilling.” In reality, Murdoch would love a society without the BBC as he calls for the corporation to be dismantled.

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Lockerbie and the British constitution




Is it appropriate that the decision to release Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was made by the Scottish government? Was devolution supposed to give a Scottish minister, with no broader UK mandate, the power to influence British relations with the USA? I think not.  The Independent invited me to explain why this decision can be regarded as an alarming example of devolution's increasingly plentiful unintended consequences.  

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Corporate lobbying and health policy


Daniel Hannan MEP's vitriolic comments about the NHS on Fox TV have provoked a torrent of newspaper analysis and commentary. Among the most acute contributions is Peter Wilby's column in the Guardian identifying the vast power of corporate lobbyists to influence the US policy debate. Lobbying is beginning to corrupt British politics in a similar way and Wilby's objections are eloquent. This is a valuable lesson in how politics really works. Such lobbying by unaccountable corporate interests threatens our democracy as much as it undermines the principles enshrined in the US constitution.  

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Don't dismiss Rupert Murdoch


News Corporation Chairman Rupert Murdoch has loosed a tiger among the doves with his announcement that he intends to charge online readers of his newspapers for access to their journalism. Several new media seers have dismissed the idea as a desperate last-ditch defence of the old media model. Even among the wise there is scepticism about whether the pay-to-read model can work. On this occasion I find myself on Murdoch's side and I have interrupted my holiday to explain my stance on radio and in print. Why?

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The sky's the limit: my time at Sky News


Last week I completed my month-long placement at Sky News as part of the Bob Friend Memorial Scholarship. Over the four weeks I kept a diary of what I got up to, and you can read my account of the experience below.

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Centre for Journalism: The Movie


The blockbuster movie of the summer gets its eagerly-anticipated premiere today. Directed by Bafta-winner Richard Pendry, it contains all the elements you would expect from the Centre for Journalism stable:  a stellar cast; superb production values; a brilliant script; heart-stopping action; thrilling drama; and, of course, tender romance. 

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Skewered by statistics


Have a listen to the clip below from last night's File on Four (the full programme is still available in full on the iPlayer). It's a wonderful example of a journalist - in this case Gerry Northam - digging beneath the veneer of statistics presented by a PR machine and exposing them as spin.

He's interviewing the director of the Serious Fraud Office, Richard Alderman, who has just published a report suggesting that successful prosecutions by his organisation have increased impressively. But Northam realises the figures don't add up, and uses the data provided to challenge Alderman. Note particularly how the journalist forensically presses home the point in the face of blanket denials by his quarry. Watchdog journalism at its best.

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Google versus newspapers: once more unto the breach


As part of the development of this site I've been working on an aggregration page that pulls together all of the most recent posts from the top bloggers in medialand. It's not a particularly complex thing to achieve, but it has got me thinking about the notion of Fair Use of content from external sites. How much of that content, supplied in a handy format by those bloggers in their RSS feeds, is it reasonable to present on this site as long as it includes a link back to the original? All of it? The headline and intro? Will we be driving traffic their way? Or gaining traffic of our own at their expense. And should I be asking permission to do so? In a minuscule way, it reflects the argument that has raged on and off between Google and newspaper publishers for much of the last decade and has recently flared up again with a vengeance.

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New protests in Iran


Among the less tolerable flaws in western quality journalism is the tendency to fixate on an important story for a week or so, giving it blanket coverage,and then to forget about it. This rarely means that the story has simply stopped. It can mean no more than that editors have decided it is no longer interesting. It can mean that access to news has become harder, particularly when foreign correspondents have been expelled from the relevant location. On occasions it can even mean that the story has actually ceased to be interesting.

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Radio journalist Peter White honoured by University of Kent


At last night's degree congregation I had the pleasure of acting as steward for Peter White, who was receiving an honorary doctorate nearly four decades after quitting the University of Kent 18 months into a law degree on a hunch that he might be able to get a job in radio. Not a bad hunch as it turned out. Since hitch-hiking from Canterbury to the Radio Solent offices in Southampton in 1970, he's forged a tremendously successful radio and television career, presenting programmes including In Touch, Pick of the Week and You and Yours for Radio 4 and Same Difference for Channel 4.

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