DOES BRITAIN HAVE A FREE PRESS? (2,715 WORDS)

This essay will discuss whether or not Britain has a free press. It will look at the reasons why Britain has a free press, due to their ability to conduct undercover investigations. It will also look at why Britain does not have a free press, as there are heavy restrictions being imposed on journalists, section 40 and the investigatory act. This essay ultimately aims to conclude that Britain does not have a free press.

Before formulating an argument and answering the question, it is important to understand what is meant by a free press. Former American journalist Walter Lippmann described free press as a crucial need for a democratic society: “A free press is not a benefit of a person, but an organic necessity in a great society. Without criticism and reliable and intelligent reporting, the government cannot govern. For there is no adequate way in which it can keep itself informed about what the people of the country are thinking and doing and wanting” (Feldman, J., 2007).

Press freedom is under attack due to acts such as the Investigatory Act 2016.

A new investigatory act may now threaten whistleblowing in the UK. The Investigatory Powers Act 2016 (IPA) allows intelligence agencies to legally surveil and hack, however, it does not give proper protection for journalists’ sources, and this could even stop whistleblowing (MacAskill, 2016). Commenting on whistleblowing, one spokesperson from the government stated: “We believe in the freedom of the press, and would never do anything to undermine legitimate whistleblowing or investigative journalism”, despite this, however, the government want to raise the maximum prison sentence for whistleblowers from 2 years to 14 years for leaking state secrets. This would in effect put both the journalist and their source in danger. However, the National Union of Journalists states as a principle in its code of conduct that it aims to protect “the identity of sources who supply information in confidence and material gathered in the course of her/his work.” Defender and promoter of media freedom, Reporters Without Borders, described the act as a “death sentence” for future investigative journalism (RSF, 2016). Journalists will not be warned when the authorities wish to hack their devices, as the act has not made this a requirement. This means whenever they want to, the authorities can pry into the privacy of journalists’ devices and communications data (RSF, 2016). In a statement, The National Union of Journalists said:  “The government has argued the bill is about dealing with national security and serious crime but what they have actually done is use terrorism as an excuse to give themselves new powers to spy on journalists” (European Federation of Journalists, 2016). As journalists may become fearful of private information being retrieved, this may halt whistleblowing and investigative journalism.

Currently, the Terror Act 2000 is posing major problems for journalists and their sources. Police used anti-terrorism laws to confiscate the laptop of BBC correspondent Secunder Kermani (Hopkins, 2015). His laptop was seized so that the police could read communications between Kermani and a source of his who was working for the Islamic State. In response to this, editor of Newsnight Ian Katz said: “While we would not seek to obstruct any police investigation, we are concerned that the use of the Terrorism Act to obtain communication between journalists and sources will make it very difficult for reporters to cover this issue of critical public interest.” Gavin Millar said journalists do not publish stories for fear of their sources being exploited: “There’s a chilling effect – I know material has not been published or broadcast because of anxiety to protect sources” (Burrell, 2015). This means there are many stories journalists may not publish as they want to protect their sources. Kermani is not the only victim of the Terrorism Act.

 

Whistleblowers are also under threat as a result of a planned Espionage Act. This act “would put leaking and whistleblowing in the same category as spying for foreign powers.

“That threatens leakers and journalists with the same extended jail sentences as foreign agents” (Campbell, 2017). Former editor of The Guardian Alan Rusbridger, responsible for publishing revelations of Snowden, said: “It is alarming that such a far-reaching proposed reform of laws which could be used to jail whistleblowers and journalists should have been drafted without any adequate consultation with free speech organisations” (Bienkov, 2017).

Had this planned law been active in 2013, Alan Rusbridger would have been in prison for “handling copies of documents Edward Snowden passed to his reporters” (Campbell, 2017).

 

 

In relation to censorship, the press are having to deal with a proposed section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013. This act states that the publishers who have not joined an officially recognised regulator would have to pay for both sides even if they win the case (Cencorship, 2017). In 2013, the act was passed by parliament, but has yet to be put into action. Impress is state regulated and newspapers are free to join it, however, it is funded by Max Mosley, who dislikes the press for exposing a scandal he had in 2010: “Unfortunately, it (impress) is funded by one of the great media haters of our time, a certain Max Mosley, who has run a vendetta against the press since his fondness for orgies was exposed” (Rees-Mogg, 2017). Now however, as a spokesperson of the Department of Culture told Press Gazette (2017): “There are manifesto commitments to repeal Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 and terminate part two of the Leveson Inquiry. The Government is committed to doing both” (Ponsford, 2017).

The Spectator, a weekly British magazine on politics, described Impress as “an appalling outfit funded by Max Mosley” (The Spectator, 2016), as he holds a strong grudge against the press: “When that paper (The News of The World) collapsed in the wake of the hacking scandal, Mosley scented blood and devoted significant chunks of his fortune to going after the press more generally — and financing those who support his vendetta.”

However, not everyone believes that joining Impress is a terrible idea. Jonathan Heawood, chief executive of Impress believes newspapers will get protection from libel: “They get huge new protections from libel, threats, privacy actions which actually means they have a lot more opportunity to run investigative stories” (BBC News, 2017). In the end, Impress would only be a threat to the press, as if newspapers were to join this sanction, it would make it easier for them to be sued: “Publishers would pay £3,500 to the arbitrator, up to £3,000 of the claimant’s costs, the publisher’s own costs, and then the value of any award against them should they lose” (Pegg, 2017).

The costs far outweigh the benefits. The mere fact that so many newspapers would like to risk being sued instead of joining a regulated sanction proves the damage that section 40 as a whole could have on free press, as The spectator emphasised: “When every single newspaper has decided that it would rather risk massive new libel costs than submit to a regulator sanctioned by the state, it is a sign of the depth of feeling on this matter across the press, from left to right.”

The fact that the media is controlled by privately educated white men is another reason why Britain lacks a free press.

Injunctions could now see journalists not publishing stories. In 2016, reporters were banned from revealing the identity of a celebrity involved in sexual affairs outside their marriage. The two celebrities involved in the alleged three-way sex scandal are known as PJS and AB, as they cannot be identified due an injunction (Watson, 2016). Lord Mance, Deputy President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, said: “There is no public interest, however much it may be of interest to some members of the public, in publishing kiss-and-tell stories or criticisms of private sexual conduct, simply because the persons involved are well-known; and so there is no right to invade privacy by publishing them” (Bowcott and O’Carroll, 2016).

PJS argued under the defence of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, claiming “it outweighed an English tabloid newspaper’s right to publish a story about his extra-marital sexual exploits, under Article 10 of the Convention, which guarantees freedom of expression” (Watson, 2016).

It can be argued that the billionaires that own the press set the agenda. Six billionaires own 75.1% of combined print and online press (Tories, 2015). Rupert Murdoch alone owns The Sun, Sun on Sunday, The Times and Sunday Times. In an interview with the Evening Standard in 2010, David Yelland, former editor of The Sun, stated that many editors write stories the way Murdoch would like them written: “Most Murdoch editors wake up in the morning, switch on the radio, hear that something has happened and think: what would Rupert think about this? It’s like a mantra inside your head, it’s like a prism. You look at the world through Rupert’s eyes” (Evening Standard, 2010).

According to a social mobility and child poverty commission study, out of the top 100 media professionals, 54% went to private schools. Frank Cotrell Boyce, an Oxbridge graduate explained how the system is in his favour:

“Only 25 per cent of the population earns more than £30,000 a year. Most media commentators (including me) do. For people like me, the country basically works. Politics doesn’t affect me. Politics, for me, is about how other people are treated. It’s easy inside my echo-chamber to believe that I am the norm, or the middle. Easy to forget that there are voices outside” (Boyce, 2015).

A study conducted by Lis Howell discovered that the ratio of male to female professionals in the media industry is 4:1 (National union of journalists, 2014). With this comes a divide of upper class (the privately educated men) and middle class (women and ethnic minorities).

Another study done by the University of London which surveyed 700 news professionals, found that many religions, except Buddhism and Judaism, were inadequately represented. One of the Muslim participants was quoted as saying: “Consistently I’ve not really got anywhere, to such an extent that once I applied for the same job using an English-sounding name and I did get an interview.” This indicates that minorities and people of different ethnic backgrounds may have difficulty getting jobs in the field of journalism due to discrimination and prejudice.

The privileged, educated white men cannot truly represent the press, as it is unlikely that they have experienced such prejudice and have all gone to prestigious institutions.

It is clear that Britain does not have a free press, as corporate advertisors can influence the content. Peter Oborne, former editor at The Telegraph, resigned as he was prohibited from writing about the HSBC tax scandal, since it was one of The Telegraph’s major corporate advertisers. In February 2015, HSBC helped many clients avoid paying large sums of taxes (BBC News, 2015). Multiple press organisations such as the BBC, The Times, and The Mail gave detailed descriptions about the scandal, however The Telegraph wrote very little on the subject. Oborne said: “You needed a microscope to find the Telegraph coverage: nothing on Monday, six slim paragraphs at the bottom left of page two on Tuesday, seven paragraphs deep in the business pages on Wednesday” (Ponsford, 2015). Due to the lack of coverage, Oborne felt the need to report the details of the scandal, as the paper had been, as he said, “placing what it perceives to be the interests of a major international bank above its duty to bring the news to Telegraph readers.” This ultimately led to his resignation, as he stated: “The Telegraph’s recent coverage of HSBC amounts to a form of fraud on its readers (Oborne, 2015).

Oborne further stated that the country needs a free press, and that newspapers should aim to tell the readers the truth, and not simply write stories that large corporations would like: “A free press is essential to a healthy democracy. There is a purpose to journalism, and it is not just to entertain. It is not to pander to political power, big corporations and rich men. Newspapers have what amounts in the end to a constitutional duty to tell their readers the truth.” Evidently, with corporate advertisers censoring content in the media, the press is limited in what they can publish.

 

At this point, it is blatantly obvious that the press is restricted and lack an element of freedom. One other example of this is how the intelligence services manipulate the press. An example of how exactly the press are manipulated is shown by David Leigh, a former investigations editor of The Guardian. He explained how the secret service attempt to secretly spy on others: “The first is the attempt to recruit journalists to spy on other people, or to go themselves under journalistic “cover”. This occurs today and it has gone on for years.” He continued, saying how a friend of his,  Observer reporter Farzad Bazoft, was executed by Sadam Hussein for spying (Leigh, 2000).

He went on to describe another form of manipulation, where “intelligence officers are allowed to pose as journalists in order to write tendentious articles under false names.” In November of 1995, The Sunday Telegraph published an article of how the son of the late Gadaffi, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, was involved in a “money-laundering operation involving Libyan dinars and counterfeit Iranian currency” (Tweedie, 2002). This story was written by Con Coughlin, the chief correspondent of the paper, but it was wrongly credited to a banking official, however it was actually given to him by the MI6 that were posing as a banking official (Leigh, 2000).

However, it can be argued that Britain has some press freedom.

It can also be argued that Britain has free press, as publications can freely express themselves, as long as they stay within the law.  For example, on the 16 October 2017, Hull had its annual fair which saw over 500,000 people participating, some of which were police rising dodgems. The Sun openly criticised police for riding dodgems instead of being on guard. In an article, they wrote: “COPS who claim their skint force is overstretched found time to ride dodgems on duty. Eighteen who were meant to be patrolling a funfair were filmed in bumper cars as three more looked on. More than 30 terrified fair-goers had been left dangling for 7½ hours the day before when the Power Tower ride broke down” (The Sun, 2017). Hull Daily Mail responded to this in an article titled: “Sorry Sun but we think Humberside Police earned a five-minute break at Hull Fair”, the article continued to criticise The Sun: “What The Sun fails to mention is the amazing job officers did throughout the week, making sure the half-a-million people who went were safe” (Corcoran, 2017). It is clear that, to a certain degree, Britain has a free press, as news publications are allowed to give their opinion on certain topics.

In Conclusion, the freedom of Britain’s press is becoming more and more limited. According to a press freedom index, in the past five years, the UK has dropped down 12 places on the index, scoring at number 40 out of a possible 180 countries (Gayle, 2017).  Multiple factors, many already listed in this essay, have played a role in decline in the rank of press freedom on this index. The investigatory act, also knows as a “death sentence”, as well as the billionaires who own the press, and the political use of supposedly neutral sources which leads to bias reporting, are only a few of the contributing factors, which are, as the RSF described: “worrying moves against press freedom in the UK” (RSF, 2017).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Final Proper feature

Picture this: It is the year 1940, you are 25 years old, the only way to meet a partner is by approaching them face to face – the old-fashioned way. Fast forward 77 years later and today’s 25-year-olds are on their phones using dating apps and swiping left and right to find a partner, and the only time they approach a person directly is with the help of alcohol as a confidence booster. It is something that others have become accustomed to, but others think it has destroyed

It is without a doubt that people today are more reliant on dating sites to meet a partner than they were a few years ago, as research suggests. Currently, an estimated seven million UK residents are currently using online dating.

According to statistics, 1 in 5 relationships in Britain begin online. Why is there an increase in the number of people, particularly the younger generation, using dating sites? Is it a good thing that more younger people are using dating sites? Most importantly, does the use of dating sites affect their overall social skills?

Benjamin Green, 24 from Bridlington thinks fear has a big part to play in this. “Most guys get very nervous just thinking about talking to a girl. They want to but they just cannot bring themselves to because they are afraid of rejection. That is why they use tinder because you do not have to physically talk to her ”

Based on what Benjamin says, and from what the research and statistics have shown, two things seem to be prevalent and repetitive: fear of rejection, and anxiety to approach. The question is, why? Why do many people have this social anxiety, and why are they so fearful? The answer is evolution. It stems from many centuries ago. Back in the caveman era, if a man stumbled upon a group of people and summoned enough courage to talk to one of the girls in the group that he did not know, the alpha male of that group would smash a rock over his head for trying to steal his woman. This fear is still embedded in our genes and it is why many men suffer from “approach anxiety”.

Melvin Lee, 21 from Hessle said tinder worked in his favour: “My girlfriend and I met on tinder 2 years ago. I tried meeting people in person it just did not work and it was not for me. I think everyone should give tinder a go, all my friends also met their girlfriends through other dating sites.”

Melvin is not the only one who thinks online dating is good. Not only are you able to find a perfect match easier online, but you can also increase your social circle, according to James Hubbard, 19 from Cottingham. “I met my girlfriend on Plentyoffish (a dating site). We had a good connection but I also made some good friends on there as well.”

Evidently, online dating is good for meeting partners and making friends. It is the perfect tool, correct? It might not be as good as it seems. According to online dating statistics, between 2009 to 2014, there was a 450% increase (from 33 to 184) in the number of reports of serious sexual assaults during first face-to-face meetings following initial contact online. This shows the potential dangers of online dating, and how it is a lot riskier than people may believe.

In the defence of face to face meetups, there is a lot more honesty in a real-life interaction than online, according to a certain Margaret Wood, 57 from Anlaby. “We did not have any dating apps back in my day. The only way to meet people was through social circles, youth clubs, and discos. It is very embarrassing if someone online were to lie about their age or height and show up in person looking completely different. Meeting in person is better because you cannot lie about those things.”

Statistics show that 81% of people lie about their height, age and figure while dating online. As embarrassing as it would be, it is commonplace.

Katherine Gray, director at friendsfirst, a Christian dating service for singles in the UK says people nowadays use apps such as Tinder: “because they are readily available and seem an easy way to meet people.”

Upon being questioned as to whether she believes people who meet through dating apps are happier and have longer lasting relationships, she responded with: “no, i do not think it makes a difference, as long as they have a good courtship that is the key thing.”

Finally, when asked which method would be better, Katherine said: “definitely face to face”.

However, further research from people’s opinions shows that 59% of people feel online dating is a good way to meet people. Furthermore, it seems opinions about online dating have changed drastically within the last 13 years. Previously in 2005, 44% of people said online dating is a good way to meet people. In 2013, however, this figure increased to 59%. As well, in 2005, 29% of people believed that people who use online dating are desperate. This number reduced down to 21% in 2013. Perhaps online dating really is not that bad after all?

Mixed feelings and opinions on this subject leave just one question: Online dating or real life? At the end of the day, it depends on what people are looking for, according to a spokesperson for Select personal introductions, a professional dating agency for singles in Yorkshire.

He states that a large number of people are on dating sites looking for casual sex. “80% of the people that use tinder are simply looking for hookups. That is why people are addicted to online dating, because it is easier for hookups.”

He went on to say: “It (online dating) will work for differently people. It is down to luck. The people who swipe left or right on tinder are the ones who are more single. It is funny because there are so many dating apps now but people are more single now.

“Face to face is better because many people use filters on the apps and do not even look themselves. Looks will fade. If you’re just swiping right for looks, the relationship will not last, whereas if you have a laugh with someone face to face the relationship will be stronger.”

On the point of filters, it seems as though he is right. There are many catfish and liars online, according to Stacy, 23 from Goole: “I once met up with a guy on Tinder, and he looked nothing like his profile. He set up a fake profile just to talk to many girls. Some of my friends have also matched with bots and fake profiles.” Whether or not online dating is better for younger people, one thing remains certain: it is affecting their social skills.

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In addition, the survey also found that 40% of people know how to approach a person in a bar or restaurant, while 60% would rather check Tinder to see if the person in the next barstool is also on the app.

Brilliant words from these dating professionals. In the end, however, whether you choose to follow the advice from and Katherine and the spokesperson, or whether you wish to follow your heart, the choice is yours.

 

 

 

Review – Hull Comic Con

The Hull Comic-Con saw more than 2,000 people taking part. Excitement filled the area with the range of activities available, from stand-up comedy, to a “how to draw” seminar, to pictures with Santa Claus himself.

The Hull Comic-Con began promptly at 11am on Saturday 2nd December at the Guildhall. Upon entering, visitors were welcomed by numerous volunteers that masked their fatigue and thorough boredom with fake smiles, and a slightly taller version of the Grinch screaming “23 days until our saviour Christ was born”.

A rather awkward start to the event, with strangers nervously talking to one another, like a dysfunctional family gathering for a Christmas dinner. Soon after everyone became more relaxed. Within minutes it was obvious how much work most people put into their costumes, as almost all 2,000 people that attended the Comic-Con dressed up. One particular girl dressing as a character from her favourite comic Tokyo Ghoul, a Japanese cartoon about scary creatures that feed on human flesh. Another man dressed up as Batman, even doing impressions for children, leaving them to stare in awe and beg for a picture.

All the merchandise available for purchase put a smile on everyone’s face. Handmade pillows with designs from famous Japanese comics such as Pokemon, Dragon Ball Z, and One Piece, all available for £10. Headbands from a comic called Naruto were also available for only £6. A Star Wars action figure that left most saddened due to its expensive price of £160. A few of these products, particularly the action figure, are difficult to find. Moreover, the products that are easy to find are more expensive online. In one corner stood a Japanese man welcoming everyone with a warm smile and local Japanese delicacies like Sushi. To the surprise of absolutely no one, the food tasted exquisite.

Nearby was a gaming room, filled with more than 20 people, young and old, squeezed together fighting for a chance to use a console. People were able to play with games from as far back as 2001. An elderly lady was sitting, fixated on the screen as she was attempting to shoot a bird with a controller.

Halfway through the day, Marvel comic book artist Russ Leach held a “how to draw” workshop. Russ taught people the right way to hold a pencil, and how to sketch different Marvel characters such as Iron man, Spiderman, and The Wolverine. Giving words of wisdom, he says:”Practice makes perfect. This job is hard, and you cannot do it without hours of practice.” To the delight of a few, he spotted some talented drawings.”

Overall, the event was a success. According to the event planner Steve Bowman, the planning of the event began in 2015. He says he wanted to bring “The purpose of this event was to bring these sort of events to Hull, we were sick of travelling (abroad to America) to attend them, so we decided to bring them here.”

Soon after, an after party was held, honouring the hard work of the volunteers, and anyone else that wished to attend with drinks and food, as well as quizzes.

Towards the final minutes of the event, stand-up comedian Norman Lovett took to the stage, leaving most people in stitches. Although this event does not take place regularly in Hull, the smiles on everyone’s faces showed that another Comicon is a must have.

 

 

Does Britain Have A Free Press? (1ST DRAFT)

This essay will discuss whether or not Britain has a free press. It will look at why Britain has a free press: two journalists went in disguise and filmed Sam Allardyce as part of an undercover newspaper investigation while he was still in charge of Sunderland. It will also look at why Britain does not have a free press, as there are too many restrictions and regulations such as ofcom, as well as the fact that journalists are heavily restricted on what they are able to report on in a courtroom.

Before formulating an argument and answering the question, it is important to understand what is meant by a free press. Walter Lippmann, a former American journalist described free press as a need for the democracy, and not a benefit for a person: “A free press is not a benefit of a person, but an organic necessity in a great society. Without criticism and reliable and intelligent reporting, the government cannot govern. For there is no adequate way in which it can keep itself informed about what the people of the country are thinking and doing and wanting” (Feldman, J., 2007).

Britain has a free press, as journalists are able to conduct undercover investigations freely. For example, with the case of Sam Allardyce, English football manager, two journalists went in disguise as businessmen and filmed him as part of an undercover newspaper investigation while he was still in charge of Sunderland. He told the reporters of ways to bypass Football Association rules on player transfers (Telegraphcouk, 2017). As well as this, he told them that Enner Valencia was under a third-party ownership agreement. When asked whether third party agreement was a problem, he responded: “It’s not a problem, we got Valencia in. He was third party owned when we bought him from Mexico.”

Following the phone hacking scandal, it was decided that a new independent regulatory body was to be set. Lord justice Leveson published a report in November 2012, looking at the ethics of the British press. Speaking on Leveson and whether it will affect Britain’s free press, Charlotte Church, singer and phone hacking user said:

“Leveson has said to the press, you take responsibility, you guardians”, she continued ” all that the statutory underpinning should be able to do is make sure that there is a body that those rules are enforced and I do not see any way in which that can affect the free press” (Learningonscreen.ac.uk, 2017).

It can also be argued that Britain has a free press, as publications can freely express themselves. On the 16 October 2017, Hull had its annual fair which saw over 500,000 people participating, some of which were police rising dodgems. The Sun openly criticised police for riding dodgems instead of being on guard. In an article, they wrote: “COPS who claim their skint force is overstretched found time to ride dodgems on duty. Eighteen who were meant to be patrolling a funfair were filmed in bumper cars as three more looked on.More than 30 terrified fair-goers had been left dangling for 7½ hours the day before when the Power Tower ride broke down.” Hull Daily Mail responded to this on twitter saying: “Sorry Sun but we think Humberside Police earned a five minute break at Hull Fair”, also publishing an article stating “What The Sun fails to mention is the amazing job officers did throughout the week, making sure the half-a-million people who went were safe.” It is clear Britain has a free press, as news publications are allowed to give their opinion on certain topics.

The reason Britain does not have a free press is that the media is controlled by privately educated white men. According to a social mobility and child poverty commission study, out of the top 100 media professionals, 54% went to private schools. Frank Cotrell Boyce, an Oxbridge graduate explained how the system is in his favour:

“Only 25 per cent of the population earns more than £30,000 a year. Most media commentators (including me) do. For people like me, the country basically works. Politics doesn’t affect me. Politics, for me, is about how other people are treated. It’s easy inside my echo-chamber to believe that I am the norm, or the middle. Easy to forget that there are voices outside” (Boyce, 2015).

A study conducted by Lis Howell discovered that the ratio of male to female professionals in the media industry is 4:1 (National union of journalists, 2014). With this comes a divide of upper class (the privately educated men) and middle class (women and ethnic minorities)

Another study done by the University of London which surveyed 700 news professionals found that many religions except Buddhism and Judaism were inadequately represented. One of the Muslim participants was quoted as saying: “Consistently I’ve not really got anywhere, to such an extent that once I applied for the same job using an English-sounding name and I did get an interview.”

The privileged, educated white men cannot truly represent the press, as it is unlikely that they have experienced such prejudice and have all gone to prestigious institutions.

It is clear that Britain does not have a free press, as corporate advertising censors the content. Press rely on advertising, as this is where a lot of the income is derived from. A decade ago, The Guardian got 70% of its income from advertising and 30% from sales. However now it 60% from advertising, and 40% from sales. (   )

Peter Oborne, former editor at The Telegraph, resigned as he was prohibited from writing about HSBC tax scandal, since it was one of The Telegraph’s major corporate advertisers. In February 2015, HSBC helped many clients avoid paying large sums of taxes (BBC News, 2017). Multiple press organisations such as the BBC, The Times, and The Mail gave detailed descriptions about the scandal, however The Telegraph wrote very little on the subject. Oborne said: “You needed a microscope to find the Telegraph coverage: nothing on Monday, six slim paragraphs at the bottom left of page two on Tuesday, seven paragraphs deep in the business pages on Wednesday.” Due to the lack of coverage, Oborne felt the need to report the details of the scandal, as the paper had been, as he said: “placing what it perceives to be the interests of a major international bank above its duty to bring the news to Telegraph readers.” This ultimately led to his resignation as he defied corporate advertisers and published the story.

Oborne stated that the country needs a free press, and that newspapers should aim to tell the readers the truth, and not simply write stories that large corporations would like: “A free press is essential to a healthy democracy. There is a purpose to journalism, and it is not just to entertain. It is not to pander to political power, big corporations and rich men. Newspapers have what amounts in the end to a constitutional duty to tell their readers the truth.” Evidently, with corporate advertisers censoring content in the media, the press is limited in what they can publish.

In relation to censorship, the press are having to deal with section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013. This act states that the publishers who have not joined an official recognised regulator will be sued and will have to pay for both sides even if they win the case. Impress is state regulated and newspapers are free to join it, however, it is funded by Max Mosley, who dislikes the press for exposing a scandal he had in 2010: “Unfortunately, it (impress) is funded by one of the great media haters of our time, a certain Max Mosley, who has run a vendetta against the press since his fondness for orgies was exposed” (Rees-Mogg, 2017).

The spectator, a weekly British magazine on politics, described Impress as “an appalling outfit funded by Max Mosley”.

However, not everyone believes that Impress is a terrible idea. Jonathan Heawood, chief executive of Impress believes newspapers will get protection from libel: “They get huge new protections from libel, threats, privacy actions which actually means they have a lot more opportunity to run investigative stories” (BBC News, 2017). In the end, Impress would only be a threat to the press, as if newspapers were to join this sanction, they would not freely conduct investigations, lest they risk being fined by the claimant: “Publishers would pay £3,500 to the arbitrator, up to £3,000 of the claimant’s costs, the publisher’s own costs, and then the value of any award against them should they lose”.

The costs far outweigh the benefits. The mere fact that so many newspapers would like to risk being sued instead of joining a regulated sanction proves the damage that section 40 as a whole could have on free press, as The spectator emphasised: “”When every single newspaper has decided that it would rather risk massive new libel costs than submit to a regulator sanctioned by the state, it is a sign of the depth of feeling on this matter across the press, from left to right.”

Yet another reason Britain does not have a free press is that the billionaires that own the press set the agenda. Six billionaires own 75.1% of combined print and online press (Tories, 2017). Rupert Murdoch alone owns The Sun, Sun on Sunday, The Times and Sunday Times. In an interview with the Evening Standard in 2010, David Yelland, former editor of The Sun, stated that many editors write stories the way Murdoch would like them written (Saylt,2017). : “Most Murdoch editors wake up in the morning, switch on the radio, hear that something has happened and think: what would Rupert think about this? It’s like a mantra inside your head, it’s like a prism. You look at the world through Rupert’s eyes.”

It is clear that there is very little impartiality and a great deal of bias in the press, mainly due to information that is not reported on. A UK poll released in 2013 asked people how many civilians and soldiers they believed died in the Iraq war in 2003. The results showed that 10% thought 50,000 or less Iraqi civilians and combatants died due to the war, and 44% believed that up to 5000 died (ComRes, 2013). In reality, This data shows just how misinformed a lot of the population were about the war.

Alex Thompson, chief correspondent for channel 4 news left his opinions on the results of the poll: “Equally – questions for us on the media that after so much time, effort and money, the public perception of bloodshed remains stubbornly, wildly, wrong” (Thompson, 2013).

Another example of bias and how limited the freedom of press is, is the media coverage of the financial crisis in 2008. The financial crisis was said to be the worst of its kind since the Great Depression in 1930 (Amadeo, 2017). Banks put copious amounts of money into the property market, thereby increasing both prices of housing and personal debt. The economy went into a recession. Mike Berry, Lecturer at Cardiff University’s School of Journalism, conducted research to find out how BBC Radio 4’s Today programme reported on the 2008 banking crisis. He said: “Today coverage, due to its exceptionally heavy reliance on City sources, tended to feature less criticism of the finance sector and more arguments against further regulation than any national newspaper” (Berry, 2017).

The Results spoke for themselves. His research showed that city sources such as bankers and brokers got the most media coverage with 35%, whilst union leaders had a mere 0.4%. Berry believed that the media bias lay in the fact that the city sources had the most coverage: “The fact that the City financiers who had caused the crisis were given almost monopoly status to frame debate again demonstrates the prominence of pro-business perspectives.”

At this point, it is blatantly obvious that the press is restricted and lack an element of freedom. One other example of this is how the intelligence services manipulate the press. Richard Keeble, Professor of Journalism at the University of Lincoln, wrote about the relationship between the press and the intelligence services in the UK in the book “The Media And The Secret State”. In his book, Roy Greenslade, Professor of Journalism at City University London, stated that journalists are simply used by the MI5: “Most tabloid newspapers – or even newspapers in general – are playthings of MI5″ (  ). An example of how exactly the press are manipulated is shown by David Leigh, a former investigations editor of The Guardian. He explained how the secret service attempt to secretly spy on others: “The first is the attempt to recruit journalists to spy on other people, or to go themselves under journalistic “cover”. This occurs today and it has gone on for years.” He continued, saying how a friend of his, Farzad Bazoft, was executed by Sadam Hussein for spying (Leigh, 2000).

He went on to describe another form of manipulation, where “intelligence officers are allowed to pose as journalists in order to write tendentious articles under false names.” In November of 1995, The Sunday Telegraph published an article of how the son of the late Gadaffi, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, was involved in a “money-laundering operation involving Libyan dinars and counterfeit Iranian currency” (Tweedie, 2002). This story was written by Con Coughlin, the chief correspondent of the paper, but it was wrongly credited to a banking official, however it was actually given to him by the MI6 that were posing as a banking official (Leigh, 2000).

A new investigatory act may now threaten whistleblowing in the UK. The Investigatory Powers Act 2016 allows intelligence agencies to legally surveil and hack, however it does not give proper protection for journalists sources, and this could even stop whistleblowing (MacAskill, 2016). Commenting on whistleblowing, one spokesperson from the government stated: “We believe in the freedom of the press, and would never do anything to undermine legitimate whistleblowing or investigative journalism”, despite this, however, the government want to raise the maximum prison sentence for whistleblowers from 2 years to 14 years for leaking state secrets. This would in effect put both the journalist and their source in danger. However, the National Union of Journalists states as a principle in its code of conduct that it aims to protect “the identity of sources who supply information in confidence and material gathered in the course of her/his work.” As journalists may become fearful of prosecution, this may halt whistleblowing and investigative journalism.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FEATURE INTROS

  1. Telling a story – an anecdote that pulls the reader in
  2. Make a statement – but a bold or even astonishing one
  3. Setting the scene – describe a person or a place or time
  4. In media res/in the middle of thing. In the middle of things: a literary technique employed by the likes of Homer, Milton, Virgil
  5. Asking a question
  6. Starting with a quote – some editors like them, many don’t. Only guaranteed to work if the person is dead famous or your feature is a case study
  7. Teasing lead (the delayed drop): delays identification of the story until later on
  8. Personal lead: draws on the reader’s own experience;
  9. Shock lead – pulls the reader up short with use of a striking word/fact/figure
  10. Hard news intro for hard news feature/investigative feature

 

George Orwell – Politics and the English Language

Most people agree that the English language is collapsing. Any attempt to save the old-fashioned language is for sentimental reasons. It’s believed that language naturally grows and we don’t shape it overtime.

The decline of a language is due to economic and political reasons, not just from an individual writer. English becomes ugly and wrong because of our foolish thoughts, but the ugliness of the language makes it easier to have foolish thoughts. Modern written English has many bad habits that can change if effort is put in, which will lead to clear thinking.

A dying metaphor is one that is overused and has lost its meaning. For example: toe the line, hotbed, achilles’ heel. Most of these are used without an understanding of their meaning, with a mix of incompatible metaphors. Some have been taken out of context without the writer realising. For example, toe of the line can be written tow of the line.

Verbal false limbs inflate the word making it longer than it should be. For example, serve the purpose of, take effect. Instead of being a single word, a verb becomes a phrase. The passive voice is used more than the active, and noun constructions are used instead of gerunds (by examination of instead of by examining). Simple conjunctions are replaced with phrases like “in view of”, “the fact that” and the ends of sentences are saved by anticlimax by big commonplaces like “deserving of serious consideration”.

Pretentious diction – words like element, virtual, basic are used to give objectivity to biased judgements. Adjectives like historic, unforgettable, are used to glorify the dishonourable process of international politics. words like cul de sac are used to portray elegance. It is easier to fabricate words like impermissible and extramarital than to think the English words that will cover ones meaning. This causes more vagueness.

I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.

Modern writing consists in combining long strips of words, already done by another, and presenting the words inaccurately. Using ready-made phrases, the phrases sound pleasant.

A metaphor is meant to bring a visual image. When these images clash, like “the fascist octopus has swung is swan song” the writer is not really thinking.

Currently, it is true that political writing is bad writing. When watching a tired hack repeat the same phrases – “bestial, atrocities” it feels like watching a dummy speak. Speaking like this favours political conformity.

Right now, it is impossible to ‘keep out of politics’. All issues are political issues, and politics is hatred and lies. When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer.

If thought corrupts language, language can corrupt thought. A bad use can spread by imitation even to those who should know better.

The fall of our language can be stopped. Silly words and expressions like ” explore every avenue” were discarded by the jeers of a few journalists. If people tried, we could reduce the amount of latin and greek in a sentence, and take our foreign phrases. The defence of the English language implies more than this, and it is best to say what it does not imply.

It has nothing to do with archaism, nor with making English too simple, but rather to let the meaning choose the word. Do not surrender to words. Thinking of a concrete object and describing, you tend to look for the best words to fit it. It is better to get one’s meaning as clear as possible through pictures and sensations.

 

 

 

JOURNALISM POST LEVESON

The Leveson Inquiry = A public, judge-led inquiry to look at the culture, practice and ethics of the press following the News international phone hacking scandal

In 2007, Clive Goodman, royal editor of News of The World (NOTW) and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were convicted of illegal interceptions of phone messages.

According to NOTW, this was an isolated incident, but The Guardian claimed it extended beyond Goodman and Mulcaire.

In 2011, after a civil settlement with Sienna Miller, the police set up a new investigation called “Operation Weeting.” In July 2011, it was revealed that NOTW reporters hacked the voicemail of murder victim Milly Dowler.

Prime Minister David Cameron announced that a public inquiry would be chaired by Lord Justice Leveson on 13 July 2011.

The inquiry looked at 2 parts:

Part 1: the culture, practice and and ethics of press and politicians and the press and police; it is to consider the extent to which the current regulatory regime has failed and whether there has been a failure to act upon any previous warnings about media misconduct.”

Part 2: the extent of unlawful or improper conduct within News international, other media organisations or other organisations. It will also consider the extent to which any relevant police force investigated allegations relating to News international, and whether the police received corrupt payments or were otherwise complicit in misconduct.

The Inquiry

The inquiry published the Leveson Report in November 2012, which reviewed the general culture and ethics of the British media, and made recommendations for a new independent body to replace the existing Press Complaints Commission, which would have to be recognised by the state through new laws.

Prime Minister David Cameron, under whose direction the inquiry had been established, said that he welcomed many of the findings, but declined to enact the requisite legislation.

Leveson’s Recommendations

Leveson found the existing press complaints commission is not sufficient and recommends a new independent body which would have a range of sanctions available to it including fines and direction of the prominence

Membership of the body would be voluntary,, but incentivised by schemes like kitemark and inquisitorial arbitration service for handling tort claims like libel and breach of privacy, and by allowing exemplary damages to be awarded in cases brought against non-participants in the scheme, something not usually part of the English law.

Leveson rejected the characterisation of his proposal as “statutory regulation of the press”

 

Fallout Continues to this day

A new body was set called the Press Recognition Panel. It is an independent body set up to judge whether press regulators meet the Royal Charter Criteria.

Newspapers refused this body and formed an IPSO (Independent Press Standard Organisation). Set up in 2014, the IPSO claims to be the independent regulator of the newspaper and magazine industry.

Are MP’s right to be concerned that IPSO has never fined a newspaper? Has the behaviour of the press improved since the phone hacking scandal?

IMPRESS is the only one of these formally backed by Press Recognition Panel .

The application by IMPRESS to become the UK’s first state approved press regulator was approved and it was granted a Royal Charter in October 2016

 

 

 

How To Do An Interview

1. RESEARCH

Make sure you do your research before the interview or you’ll just make yourself look stupid.

2. PREPARING THE INTERVIEW 

  You need to decide how you’re going to record the interview. If the interview is a really short one, or you’re just interviewing one person, you can do it with a pen and paper. But if the interview is long, or you’re interviewing more than one person, a dictaphone, a digital recorder or phone will work fine.

3. PREPARING QUESTIONS: THE SCRIPT AND THE PROMPT

Have a list of questions to ask the interviewee/subject. Have about 6-12 questions prepared. But, when interviewing, listen to what the interviewee is saying and don’t just ask the prepared questions like a script. For example, he may have made a good point, and you can use that chance to ask him to expand on that point, instead of asking them your next pre-prepared questions. An interview is like a conversation: let the convo flow and ask your pre-prepared questions when the interview is becoming repetitive or boring.

4. ONLY ASK QUESTIONS 

Even if the interviewee is saying things that you really disagree with, don’t start argument to prove them wrong. Your job is to ask questions.

5. YOUR FIRST QUESTION

“In your own words, can you tell me a little about your background?”

This is a very good warm up question because:

  • it gets the interviewee to open up and relax a little since they’re talking abou themselves
  • It’s a  chance to check and see if the audio is good on your recording device
  • It’s an open ended question – the interviewee could talk about their childhood, their tim in uni, their career etc.

6. ASK OPEN QUESTIONS, AVOID CLOSED ONES

You can get a bigger, longer better answer by asking an open ended question rather than a closed one.

7. DON’T INTERRUPT

You might stop them in their tracks when they’re about to say something really useful.

8. HOW TO SHUT SOMEBODY UP

If they keep talking and you want them to stop, just tell them you have one final question. This lets them know the interview is almost done.

9. YOUR REAL FINAL QUESTION

Even if you’ve already asked your final question, end the interview with “have you anything further that you’d like to add?” More often than not they’ll say np, but they might say something smart that hasn’t been covered in your questions.

10. FOLLOW UPS

In case you didn’t cover everything in your interview, you could always get in touch with the person you interviewed, thank them for the previous interview, and tell them how there’s one or two things you missed or there’s something you’d like to go over again. The interviewee may be happy to see that you want to make that effort to ensure everything is as it should be

 

 

Metaphors, Similies, idioms & Clichés: A Definitive Guide

  1. METAPHOR = a figure of speech that describes an object or action in a way that isn’t literally true, but helps explain an idea or make a comparison e.g Time is a thief – Time isn’t really stealing anything, this metaphor just indicates that time passes quickly and our lives pass us by.Metaphors can be deployed in journalism to great effect

2. SIMILE = a figure of speech that makes a comparison, showing similarities between two things, using words “like” “as” or “than” to do so e.g He is as cunning as a fox.

3. IDIOM = a figure of speech that has a certain meaning that is different from the meanings of each word on its own e.g it’s raining cats and dogs. Of course it isn’t literally raining cats and dogs, this just means it’s raining heavily. 

4. CLICHE = a figure of speech that has been so overused that it has become boring and unoriginal. Clichés are also dangerous to a writer because they tend to stereotype people and situations.