Archive for the ‘Journalism’ Category

North West has good neighbours in the BBC

Friday, June 1st, 2012 by Gemma Ellis

In 2011 the BBC relocated all of its staff from Oxford Road in Manchester and a significant chunk of its workforce at White City in London to Media City, Salford Quays.

One year on, Staniforth was invited to see how its neighbours were settling in.

The fanfare of publicity surrounding the move – both good and bad – could not be easily ignored, so we were keen to see if the scaremongers had any ground in their criticisms. We’re pleased to report that the corporation is functioning very well at its new location in the North West, thank you.

News editor, Fiona Steggles led Staniforth on a tour of the BBC’s impressive premises and was able to shed light into how the set-up at Media City better suits the news process. Being a public service broadcaster, the BBC continually looks to provide the best possible programmes to consumers and this is evident at Media City.

The purpose-built studios mean that newsrooms, production suites and recording studios sit neatly together, making for a more efficient operation, while cross skills training and easy availability of state-of-the-art equipment means many reporters can and do self-shoot, present and edit their own bulletins.

The newsroom itself is designed to be a hub of creativity. An expansive floor plan allows easy integration between flagship programmes BBC Breakfast, North West Tonight and The Politics Show, as well as sports and Radio 5 Live. News sharing is fluid and this ensures that a story is placed where it fits best.

BBC Breakfast has really made itself at home since its first broadcast from Salford Quays in April and has not, as detractors cried, suffered from a dearth of high calibre guests in relocating, having played host to Young Musician of 2012 Laura van der Heijden, actor Will Smith and gold medallists Darren Campbell and Ellie Simmonds in recent weeks.

For PROs, opportunities for spokespeople who are locally based, flexible and able to provide relevant and impartial commentary do exist and this can be a good platform to help with interview guests. In the past the BBC has drawn on the expertise of academics from Manchester University and some of the country’s leading law firms, doctors and politicians who have their base in the North West.

As a national broadcaster, it’s important that the BBC represents the whole of the UK, its regions and diverse communities and the move northwards is certainly allowing them to do this.

Guardian’s Newsdesk live: exposing the newsroom?

Monday, January 30th, 2012 by Jon Clements

Do the humble consumers of news care how the news comes about? And do they care to contribute to the stories of the day?

The Guardian’s latest online editorial experiment is about to find out with the launch today of Newsdesk Live, combining its already established “open news list” of each day’s selected stories and correspondents with the liveblogging platform and live comment thread. So, for everyone determined to add a tuppence worth to the news process, the Guardian is the place to go.

Run by the ever-industrious Guardian correspondent, Polly Curtis, who is adding this to her Whitehall and Reality Check column responsibilities, Newsdesk Live is forensically dissecting a small number of stories – which today includes Stephen Hester’s bank bonus and the UCAS application figures – while giving space to graphics, multimedia and input from the Twitterverse.

Dan Roberts, the Guardian’s national news editor says, in a reply to a reader: “For those worrying about excessive navel-gazing, it’s a fair point if we get carried away, but mostly what you are seeing is part of the editorial process that goes on any way – just usually behind closed doors. More importantly, I hope the Guardian’s recent record in breaking stories shows that taking an open approach often results in better journalism too.”

And the Newsdesk Live concept is now getting high praise in high places…

Citizens and journalists reporting the news? My first editor – if he were dead – would be turning in his grave!

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

The Stone Roses – Guardian Readers Bite Back

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011 by Rob Brown

A function of the social web is that journalism, is fast becoming an interactive form.  Most of us of a certain age spotted that The Stone Roses had announced at a press conference they were reforming and our reactions were mainly good, some bad, others indifferent.

Step forward one  Sam Wolfson a journalist who writes mostly about music for the Guardian, NME and a slew of popular culture mags and sites.  In The Guardian Music blog he wrote today a piece entitled “The Stone Roses didn’t soundtrack my generation – please shut up about them”.  He went on to say that he wasn’t even born when the Stone Roses released their debut album in 1989 and bemoaned having the music and legend “rammed down my throat”.   My beef wasn’t that he didn’t like the Roses  (one truly great record, not so much live) but rather his sloppy journalism.  He described New Order who formed in 1980 from the ashes of Joy Division (we all know that, right?) as being the offspring of the Stone Roses…who formed in 1983.  He starts a paragraph with ‘but’.

Well, I wasn’t the only one vexed.   In just eight hours the post has attracted 120 comments – some longer than the original article and most more entertaining or better informed.  Have a read.


About Rob Brown

Rob Brown has worked in PR for over 20 years and for over fifteen years held senior PR positions within three major global advertising networks; Euro RSCG, McCann and TBWA. He launched his own business ‘Rule 5’ in MediaCityUK, Manchester in November 2012. Rob is the author of ‘Public Relations and the Social Web’ (2009), blogs for The Huffington Post and is joint editor of 'Share This Too' (2013).

Techcrunch Time for Media Future

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011 by Rob Brown

We’ve often talked about the demise of dead wood and ink (and sometime of its resilience) on this blog.  What then of the fortunes of the natural successor to newspapers; online media?

TechCrunch along with Mashable has been at the forefront of this evolution. Focusing on technology news it has carved a powerful niche since it was founded by Michael Arrington in 2005.  It is one of the top 200 websites in the world and has over 4.5 million subscribers.   However the future of this new media Leviathan has been thrown into some confusion today with a post on the site entitled “TechCrunch As We Know It May Be Over”.  The post is written by MG Siegler a respected Techcrunch staffer since 2008 (Official title: Kick Ass Pool Party Coordinator).

The central theme is whether Techcrunch will stay the same if, as seems increasingly likely, the newish owners AOL, dispense with the services of founder Michael Arrington.   His tenure at least in part centres around a complex debate about transparency and editorial control.  Allegations in the New York Times suggest that Techcrunch lacks transparency when reporting on ventures in which its owners or leadership have a financial interest.  Defenders including Siegler say that the loose editorial control ensures that Techrunch can not have an editorial policy in favour or against any organisation and this unrestricted environment is what also makes the site able to break so many stories.

The debate here is not just about ethics, its about the sustainability of loosely controlled new media models.  Stay tuned.

About Rob Brown

Rob Brown has worked in PR for over 20 years and for over fifteen years held senior PR positions within three major global advertising networks; Euro RSCG, McCann and TBWA. He launched his own business ‘Rule 5’ in MediaCityUK, Manchester in November 2012. Rob is the author of ‘Public Relations and the Social Web’ (2009), blogs for The Huffington Post and is joint editor of 'Share This Too' (2013).

Low take up of magazines’ digital editions

Monday, August 22nd, 2011 by Mark Perry

Hidden away in the latest ABC issued last week were interesting facts relating to digital editions of magazines.

With the growth, in particular of tablets and e-readers, you would have expected it to be a strong market.

It seems that where they are available the digital versions represent about 1% of total sales accroding the Press Gazette. The top sellers are Men’s Health (1,746), Hello (1,165) and Stuff (981).

Magazines such as House & Garden, Autocar and Cosmopolitan sell around 300 copies each and Vogue just 185.

While these are just optimised versions of the established print editions, there are magazines launching, such as Football Espana, which are solely as electronic versions having the look and feel of a traditional magazine. It will be interesting to see how well they do without the legacy of having had a print edition.

About Mark Perry

Mark has more than 25 years’ experience in PR and corporate communications. He is a founding director of B2B consultancy Melville PR.

The truth is out there

Monday, August 8th, 2011 by Gemma Ellis

In the wake of allegations of plagiarism and phone hacking, the good reputation of the British media suffered a further blow last week when it emerged that a story featured in several of the major news outlets – including the BBC, Daily Mail and The Telegraph – was an elaborate hoax.

The article in question stemmed from phoney psychometric consulting company, AptiQuant, which claimed that Internet Explorer (IE) users possessed significantly lower intelligence than those using other browsers. As well as being highly offensive, the report was flagged up by readers of the BBC website as completely and utterly untrue.

As shocking as this incident is, the IE IQ fabrication isn’t the only dubious tale to feature in the press of late. The recent case of Thornton v The Telegraph also brought issues of culpability to the fore, in which journalist Sarah Thornton successfully sued acclaimed author Lynn Barber for libel. Barber was found to have made a slew of untrue claims in her review of Thornton’s non-fiction narrative, Seven Days in the Art World; effectively, she was judged guilty of lying for calling Thornton a liar.

While I don’t wish to get into a debate on the wider issues surrounding the Barber review and the fine line between subjective criticism and categorical falsity, what this story and the IE IQ hoax signify is a greater need for accountability in the media.

I am not advocating that journalists move to a system of stringent referencing complete with academic Cliff notes, but they certainly need to stop these incidents happening. If, as the marketing bods so often like to tell us, content is king, then getting the facts right should surely play an important part of this reign.


Cosmo for Guys Launches with Ipad Head Girl

Monday, August 1st, 2011 by Rob Brown

The relentless march of the digital magazine continued with today’s launch of an iPad male version of Cosmopolitan called CFG: Cosmo For Guys. To herald the launch an imaginative bit of film called Ipad Head Girl dropped on Youtube.  The link to the magazine is clear if you stick with the video passed the minute mark.

The content of the new iPad magazine is 21+ and holds to the maxim that sex sells.  With monthly issues available as in-app purchases, priced at $1.99 (or yearly for $19.99) it makes more sense that the pay-wall model championed by several News corp. titles.


About Rob Brown

Rob Brown has worked in PR for over 20 years and for over fifteen years held senior PR positions within three major global advertising networks; Euro RSCG, McCann and TBWA. He launched his own business ‘Rule 5’ in MediaCityUK, Manchester in November 2012. Rob is the author of ‘Public Relations and the Social Web’ (2009), blogs for The Huffington Post and is joint editor of 'Share This Too' (2013).

United In Grief, Divided By Opinion

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011 by Julie Wilson


This weekend saw the world rocked by the tragic events in Oslo, the shock news of Amy Winehouse’s death and sadness surrounding the Chinese rail disaster.  These incidents combined with the on-going plight in Somalia saw the nation united in grief.

A world united in sadness was not, however, one united in opinion as anyone monitoring Facebook and Twitter during the unfolding of the events would have seen.

Within just minutes of news of the passing of one of the UK’s most talented musicians breaking, users of social media platforms became embroiled in debate as to the significance of one event over that of another.

The comments which emerged, including distasteful jokes (which I will not repeat), did not surprise me.  What did, however, was the response of the authors of such comments, whom appeared genuinely surprised by the disapproving and angry response of fellow users.

“My profile, my opinion, I’m entitled to it” was one such response.

The answer is of course yes, that is true, but it is naive to think that posts of such a sensitive matter will not provoke a response and users should be reminded that social media platforms are a public place.  In the same way that you would not expect to walk into a crowded bar and loudly voice a potentially provocative opinion without being challenged, the same is true online.

Whilst it is a free world, social etiquette does, I was warmed to read, still exist online.  The overarching opinion of most users this weekend being that “there is no ranking of tragedy.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Should you wish to support the work of those in Somalia visit or text 70000 to donate £5 to the Disasters Emergency Committee.


Did the Sundays miss a trick?

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011 by Jo Rosenberg

With 2.7 million people now without their regular Sunday newspaper you would think that the surviving few would do everything possible to reel in all those extra readers.

Not so. Granted, from a marketing perspective they pulled out all the stops with price cuts (Mail on Sunday was on sale for £1 as opposed to its usual £1.50) and TV advertising; yes Saturday night TV was littered with ads from all the major players, yet the editorial content remained the same celebrity fuelled nonsense.

Perhaps I’m naïve to assume that lessons should have been learnt and that the Sundays would evolve following the appalling sequence of events at NOTW but from this weekend’s evidence, it appears not.

Front pages were littered with intrusive celebrity and royal tittle-tattle about the usual suspects, Cheryl and Ashley (“Ashley’s Rat It Again”), Katie Price (“speaking Spanglish”) and Kate Middleton (“Too Thin To Get Pregnant”).

It’s almost disrespectful that despite the closure of NOTW, the Mirror, People and Daily Star are still dredging up intrusive and mindless celebrity gossip.

If there was ever an opportunity to bridge the gap between the red tops and the middle market Mail on Sunday, then this should be it. UK newspapers owe it to us to deliver more balanced content.

It was refreshing in some respects to see that despite millions of NOTW readers looking for a replacement newspaper, The Mail on Sunday didn’t try to fill the void and didn’t overload the celebrity content.

That said, looking at early sales figures based on a sample of 250 retailers, the big winner last Sunday was the Daily Star Sunday, up more than 110% but that’s from a starting point of just 306,000 last month. The People improved by more than 50% and the Sunday Mirror was up by 40%. The Mail on Sunday added just 13% but this was enough to take it beyond its 2m circulation. The Sunday Times was reported to have lost just over 1% of its normal sales.

We wait to see what the Sunday Sun will bring to the party…


Murdochs meet their phone hacking nemesis

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011 by Jon Clements

The Murdochs – father, Rupert, and son, James – face Parliament today to answer for the phone hacking scandal that has dominated UK media coverage in what is normally the so-called “Silly Season” of newslessness.

Predictably, the Today programme rolled out a big hitter this morning – former Labour leader, Neil Kinnock – to debate this afternoon’s grand political theatre; and Kinnock is – in no small way – relevant to the topic, as the principal whipping boy for Murdoch-owned media in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Whether or not today’s Culture Select Committee interrogation will achieve anything concrete, Kinnock is hoping for nothing less than “from now on, no-one ever in politics will seek to serve the interests of any newspaper proprietor” and a “readiness to confront the ownership of newspapers”. I suppose his revenge has been a long-time coming.

It’s 30 years since Rupert Murdoch became the owner of The Times and The Sunday Times and – in light of where News International finds itself today – it’s worth considering the history of the man who has wielded such media power for so long.

Former Times and Sunday Times editor, Harold Evans, captured the period from Murdoch’s initial entry into UK newspapers in his 1983 book, Good Times. Bad Times.

Evans, reflecting on Murdoch’s success with the “soar away Sun”, more than tripling daily sales to three million in three years, says: “He [Murdoch] had done much for the newspaper business, but had he done anything for journalism?” He quotes an Australian editor of the time, Graham Perkin, who knew Murdoch from his earlier career as media magnate in the country, who was “at odds with Murdoch in what he saw as his contempt for political objectivity and professional standards”.

Following a News of the World article involving the photograph of a government minister, Lord Lamton, in bed with a prostitute, which brought criticism from the Press Council (the precursor to the Press Complaints Commission). Evans had responded with an article in The Sunday Times, criticising the “pornographic surveillance and the sloppy way the paper had allowed the unpublished photographs, instruments of blackmail, to be taken away by a petty crook.”  Murdoch responded to Evans with: “I do not hate the Press Council. I just think they are a pussy-footing arm of the establishment.” From this, Evans concludes: “We got the message – he wanted it to be known he didn’t give a damn.”

Plus ça change…

While BBC political editor, Nick Robinson, calls today’s potential,, verbal evisceration of the Murdochs a “cathartic moment”, Kinnock turns to mythology to frame its importance: “It may be that in the true Greek fashion, what we are now witnessing is at least a partial nemesis.”

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''