Monthly Archives: February 2010

I will Tweet to 10,000 followers

Plymouth Daily The Herald has reached the impressive milestone of 10,000 followers on Twitter.
The paper’s success puts it among the top 1,000 sites in the country – two years after it started tweeting.
Web editor Neil Shaw told HoldtheFrontPage that Twitter was a major source of traffic for the paper’s website and a great opportunity to interact with readers.

With thanks to: HoldtheFrontPage

State of Play: It’s life Jim, but not as we know it


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Everything you always wanted to know, but didn’t use to be able to ask…

Heather Brooke and MPs expenses have lifted the spirits of the Freedom of Information bandwagon again.

The Blog thinks FoI is an excellent tool for any busy newsroom, giving journalists access to a whole host of splash making information.

And if you don’t believe us check out head of multimedia for Trinity Mirror Regionals, David Higgerson’s excellent regular blog posting FOI Friday: 10 things we’ve learnt this week thanks to Freedom of Information

This week FoI tells papers around the country the impact of the Baby P case, the amount spent spinning a failing hospital and law breaking coppers among other things.

Do try this at home…

State of Play: Alive and kicking

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Thames Valley Police is at it again

Thames Valley Police is up to its old tricks again.

In a letter to Milton Keynes Citizen reporter Sally Murrer, the journalist it attempted to prosecute for the ‘heinous’ crime of talking to a police source, the force has denied any wrongdoing and refused a claim for compensation.

For those who aren’t aware of the case, Ms Murrer had to undergo 19 months of hell during which police arrested her, seized her address book, mobile, laptops and bank statements, kept her isolated from her two daughters and autistic son for 24 hours, left her shivering in a cell, strip-searched her and told her she was going to jail.

Does Ms Murrer have connections to Al-Qaida? Had she been peddling international secrets to the highest bidder?

No, she had merely chatted to a copper on cases involving an MK Dons footballer and a local drug dealer to get stories for her paper.

For the crime of being a good, old-fashioned journalist she ended up facing spurious charges of ‘misconduct in a public office’ and ‘aiding and abetting misconduct in a public office’.

The copper – Mark Kearney – and his son, soldier Harry  also faced charges, along with private detective Derek Webb.

Ms Murrer, backed by the National Union of Journalists, pleaded not guilty and the multi-million pound case was thrown out of court after it was revealed the police’s case relied on evidence gathered from a bug placed in the detective’s car.

More on the case can be found here, here and here.

Of course, the real concern for journalists up and down the country was that had Ms Murrer been found guilty, basic journalistic rights would have been trampled over.

Hence these relieved quotes after the case from her solicitor Louis Charalambous and NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear.

 Charalambous: “Sally Murrer should never have been prosecuted. The safeguards enshrined in law for the protection of journalists have been trampled upon by Thames Valley Police – both at the outset and when they chose to bug Sally’s conversations under a warrant that failed to mention that she was a journalist and later when she was arrested and brought to a police station, where, following a strip search and a night in the cells, she faced a gruelling interrogation – while her home and office were searched, and all of her notebooks seized.

“Had the case against Sally gone ahead, it would have signalled a lurch towards a police state, a situation which is abhorrent in the minds of right thinking people.”

“This judgment sends a clear message to the authorities: they must recognise the importance of free and open journalism. Hard questions must now be asked of the police and CPS as to why these costly proceedings were allowed to get so far.”

Dear: “This is a major victory, not just for Sally but for all journalists. This case was yet another example of members of the police force believing they were above the law, able to trample over well-established journalistic rights and freedoms.

“Let’s be clear, this was an attempt to make a criminal out of a journalist for receiving information that the state didn’t want to get out. It was a misguided prosecution that sought to punish Sally for simply doing her job.

But it seems the verdict – and the recent compensation payout to Milton Keynes News photographer for Andy Handley after he was arrested for the equally abhorant crime of taking a picture – has had little effect on the philosophy of Thames Valley Police.

A letter from its solictors Barlow Lyde &; Gilbert, dated February 5 and seen by The Blog, has dismissed Ms Murrer’s claims for compensation and added that TVP did nothing wrong during its investigation.

The force might as well say: ‘We’re perfectly entitled to drag a journalist into our cells and charge them with anything we can think off if they dare to talk to people within the force and write stories on subjects we don’t want to talk about.’

And if that is the case, then there is every chance they will do it again.

Our basic freedoms and journalistic rights remain under threat from a controlling and overbearing state.

It is time for the world of journalism to unite behind Sally Murrer again.

Or else the next person might not be so ‘lucky.

State of Play: It’s not safe out there

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Slattery on song

Jon Slattery’s ‘Quotes of the Week’ round-up is always excellent every week.

Take a look.

That’s it…

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Celebrity PR dying? I wish…

Interesting post on the Bristol Editor blog today suggesting the Celebrity PR could be a dying breed.

In his ‘musings from a media maverick’, Bristol Editor suggests the fact everyone knows its spin could consign celebs to the Red Tops:

The client knows its spin.

The Press regurgitates the spin.

The readerships know its spin.

So, where is the value? Is it just to raise newspaper and magazine sales, whilst giving the celebrity and Max a cosy pay packet? My main point is – where is the ACTUAL value to the reader? Do they accept they’re reading a piece of reputation management, without substance, and in some cases, any style, either?

While we can only hope this is right, as far as The Blog can see the cult of celebrity seems to be on the up and up; as shown by the Tabloid and Broadsheet coverage of the John Terry and Ashley Cole sex scandals.

Indeed, as the excellent Grey Cardigan shows, the so-called serious papers seem to have taken a ‘vowel’ to publish more celebrity guff.

With thanks to: Bristol Editor

State of Play: An optomistic pick-me-up for real journalism

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Where was the Newsletter in 2005?

Dominic Ponsford pays tribute today to the work of the Staffordshire Newsletter in helping to expose the horrendous problems at Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust.
More than 1,200 more people died at the hospital between 2005 and 2008 than would have been expected to.
But The Blog can’t help noting that most of the impetus seems to have come from campaigning June Bailey and her Cure The NHS campaign.
While we’re sure the Newsletter has played a vital role one has to wonder what it was up to between 2005 and 2008 when Mrs Bailey wrote to it.
Or did none of it’s reporters notice patients at the local hospital were dropping like flies?

State of Play: Contact the hospital

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Saddam defectors told a ‘pack of lies’ – and we knew

Iraqi defectors told a ‘pack of lies’ while British Intelligence stood and watched.
That is the opinion of former Observer and Vanity Fair journalist David Rose.
Speaking at the Frontline Club, Rose said defectors from Saddam Hussain’s regime told a ‘pack of lies’.
He added that British Intelligence had allowed this to happen despite knowing the truth – and then that these sources were used to back theories on Weapons of Mass Destruction.
The Independent’s Patrick Cockburn called reporting in the run-up to the war ‘notoriously bad’, while Radio 4’s Kevin Marsh told how Alastair Campbell orchestrated the whole Lobby.
Most tellingly, Rose concluded that cuts to editorial budgets had contributed to mistakes being made.
He said: “The first place that feels the pinch is covering foreign conflicts – not Cheryl Cole.”
I bet Ashley wishes that wasn’t the case…

With thanks and for much more: Jon Slattery

State of Play: Terminal

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