Decline steeper in Britain than rest of world

Fascinating article from Peter Preston at The Observer today, in which he reveals how the newspaper industry in Britain is in a far steeper decline than some of its rivals worldwide.

While it is all to usual to compare our papers with the collapsing industry in the United States, Preston reveals this is merely a look at the two worst declining countries.

According to a Organistation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) study, US circulations are falling like a stone with only 30 per cent of people saying they read a paper the previous day. In Britain, the country which fared second worse, of the 31 OECD members, only 33 per cent of people claimed to have read a paper recently.

But, the study and Preston both point out, these figures are vastly different in other parts of the world. In Japan, the figure is 94 per cent and in Norway it is 82 per cent.

Preston writes that a number of explanations and excuses can be used: circulation figures here made artificially worse by quality newspapers hacking away at bulk sale giveaways ; a particularly deep UK recession;. a rampant internet news sector and a rapid rise in cover prices among them.

But he points out: ‘ The countries where online newspaper website consumption is highest – Korea, Norway, Iceland, Japan – outscore Britain almost two to one and fare much better at protecting print circulation as well. Austria, pretty close to the UK in news site usage, lost a mere 2% of publishing turnover in the two years where we saw 21% go.

‘Here’s a hint in these statistics – the sort of people who get their news online are also the sort of people who buy print newspapers. It’s not one or the other; it’s often both. And nothing they find prompts the OECD researchers to conclude that print papers have a doomed, finite future.’

Preston adds that the UK also lags behind America in terms of digital advertising, that competition in this country is too introverted and that British papers struggle to connect with younger readers:

‘Worse, we’re particularly poor at connecting with new, young readers – who may prefer news on the net, but often choose no news at all. We fulminate about immigration, but don’t provide a service to meet their different needs. We tell ourselves that Fleet Street knows best, but change painfully little in style or range as the crisis bites.’

Source: The Observer

State of Play: Self-flagellation


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Regional Press Awards shortlist revealed

The full list of nominations for the NUJ’s Regional Press Awards has been published this week.

The winners will be announced at Dingwalls in Camden at 1pm on June 29. As far as The Blog is concerned that fact that at least some journalists will get to see their work honoured this year has made the oft-criticised work of the NUJ worthwhile.

Here is the shortlist in full:

Columnist of the Year

  • Paul Taylor – Manchester Evening News
  • Rod McPhee – Yorkshire Evening Post
  • Barry Gibson – Huddersfield Examiner
  • Erik Petersen – Nottingham Post
  • Stacia Briggs – Norwich Evening News

Campaign of the Year

  • Kirsty Whalley – Croydon Guardian
  • Cara Simpson – Coventry Telegraph
  • Lucy Purdy – Haringey Advertiser
  • Kathryn Torney – Belfast Telegraph
  • Robert Pattison – Sunday Sun

Designer of the Year

  • James Young – Evening Leader / The Leader / Chester Standard
  • Alan Cooper – The News Portsmouth
  • Alan Formby-Jackson – Evening Gazette
  • Graeme Windell – The News
  • Gerard Gough – Scottish Catholic Observer

Feature Writer of the Year (Daily/Sunday)

  • Jayne Dawson – Yorkshire Evening Post
  • Keiron Pim – Eastern Daily Press
  • Rowan Mantell – Eastern Daily Press & Evening News
  • Jim Entwistle – Northern Echo
  • Viv Groskop – Evening Standard
  • Lee Marlow – Leicester Mercury

Feature Writer of the Year (Weekly)

  • Roger Lytollis – Cumberland News
  • Audrey Watson – Belfast Telegraph (Weekend)
  • Lucy Purdy – Haringey Advertiser
  • Michael Russell – West Highland Free Press

Multimedia Journalist of the Year

  • Gail Milne – Glenrothes Gazette
  • Joseph Watts – Nottingham Post
  • Nick Stylianou – The Orbital (student mag)
  • Sion Donovan –
  • William Watt – Blackpool Gazette

Multimedia Publisher of the Year

  • Jo Wood –
  • Peter Raven –
  • Stewart Kirkpatrick – Caledonian Mercury
  • Paul Bradshaw – Help Me Investigate

Photographer of the Year (Daily/Sunday)

  • Simon Dack –
  • Martin Shields – The Herald
  • Marc Turner – Herald and Times
  • Mark Bikerdike – Yorkshire Evening Post
  • Stuart Boulton – Northern Echo

Photographer of the Year (Weekly)

  • Stephen Garnett – Craven Herald
  • Alistair Wilson – Surrey Advertiser
  • Chris Whiteoak – Surrey Advertiser
  • Mark Soanes – Waltham Forest Guardian
  • Peter Foster – Galloway Gazette

Reporter of the Year (Daily/Sunday)

  • Phil Coleman – The News and Star
  • Bimpe Archer – The Irish News
  • Allison Morris – The Irish News
  • Ciaran Barnes – Sunday Life
  • Gavin Aitchinson – The Press

Reporter of the Year (Weekly)

  • Cherry Wilson – Rotherham Advertiser & Croydon Advertiser
  • Phil Turner – Rotherham Post
  • Katie Davis – Ham & High
  • Kate Mason – West Highland Press
  • Eleanor Harding – Dumfries and Galloway Standard

Sports Journalist of the Year (Daily/Sunday)

  • Neil Allen –
  • Scott Wilson – Northern Echo
  • Amanda Little – News & Star (Cumbria)
  • Jon Colman – News and Star
  • Martin Smith – The Star, Sheffield

Sports Journalist of the Year (Weekly)

  • Eric Mackinnon – West Lothian Courier
  • Jon Colman – The Cumberland News
  • Amanda Little – The Cumberland News
  • Chris McNulty – Donegal
  • Keith MacKenzie – West Highland Press

Student Journalist of the Year

  • Mark Duell –
  • Andy Halls – Pluto
  • Rosie Taylor – Forge Press
  • Jennie Agg – Student Direct
  • Nick Stylianou

Scoop of the Year

  • Bimpe Archer – The Irish News
  • Gavin Aitchinson – The Press
  • Cherry Wilson – Rotherham Advertiser & Croydon Advertiser
  • Victoria Raimes – Evening News (Edinburgh)
  • Ciaran Barnes – Sunday Life

Sports Photographer of the Year

  • Stuart Harrison – Swindon Advertiser
  • Mark Bickerdike – Yorkshire Post
  • Chris Booth – Northern Echo
  • Lucy Ray – Bradford Telegraph & Argus
  • Chris Vaughan – Lincolnshire Echo

Sports Photographer of the Year (Weekly)

  • Chris Whiteoak – Aldershot News
  • Stephen Garnett – Craven Herald
  • Marie Caley – Doncaster Today
  • Liz Mockler – Doncaster Free Press
  • Ann Marie Sanderson – various

Specialist Writer of the Year

  • Carl Eve – The Herald
  • Keiron Pim – Eastern Daily Press
  • Susanna Wilkey – Hampstead & Highgate Express
  • Katie Baldwin – Yorkshire Post

The Felix Dearden Reporting on Race Awards

  • Tinashe Mushakavantu
  • Nick Tarver
  • Mary Griffin

Source: National Union of Journalists website

State of Play: Kiss of life

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NUJ: ATEX breaches PCC code

Johnston Press bosses are coming under more pressure after the NUJ reported the company to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) for compromising editorial standards.

According to the Union, the PCC has asked JP to respond to claims its new editorial content system, ATEX, is putting accuracy at risk.

The NUJ wrote to the PCC following a memo from Paul Bentham, Managing Director of the group’s South Yorkshire titles, to editors and senior journalists, setting out new rules following the introduction of ATEX.

Mr Bentham’s note said all editors are not permitted to change pre-prepared templates ‘on the fly’, that a right first time policy must be ’embedded into newsroom culture’ and that editors should not ‘ continue with the old practice of reading every story’.

He added that a set percentage of pages must be completed at various stages before each paper’s deadline; namely 25 per cent five days before deadline, 50 per cent three days ahead, 75 per cent two days ahead and 90 per cent four hours from deadline.

NUJ Northern Organiser Chris Morley wrote to the PCC highlighting the union’s concerns.

He wrote: ‘I know that you and the PCC are now aware of the recent instruction to Johnston Press editors in South Yorkshire regarding ATEX. The memo from the managing director contains a number of extremely worrying developments which strike at the heart of an Editor’s responsibilities.
“I believe it is important for the PCC to take a formal view on this as the PCC’s code is written in to JP employees’ contracts. I’m hopeful that the company will think again, in light of the seriousness of our concerns.
‘But if employees were to carry out these instructions of the company, it is entirely possible that editors and other journalists will be in breach of the code and therefore their contracts, not to mention the NUJ Code of Conduct if they are a member.
‘This is an intolerable position for our members to find themselves in and if a case arose where the fault for a substantial inaccuracy lay with inadequate checking (as directed by the aforesaid memo) where would the PCC put the blame – on the individual editor or the company whose procedures had created the conditions for the complaint to arise?”
NUJ General Secretary Jeremy Dear said: “This makes a mockery of Johnston Press’s stated commitment to editorial independence and puts editors and senior journalists in an intolerable position. It is yet another sign that ATEX is purely about commercial imperatives not about improving journalism”.
Source: NUJ website
State of Play: A dagger to the heart

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So that’s where all the money goes…

NUJ bible The Journalist’s June/July issue includes a mightily revealing round-up of the salaries and bonuses of top media bosses – and the success levels of their companies that have helped earn them that cash.

The magazine’s main story on page 4 focuses on the Trinity Mirror chief executive Sly Bailey. The article points out that Ms Bailey earned £1.68 million last year – a 66 per cent pay rise – out of a total pay out to executive and non-executive directors of £3.77m. This at a time when the company froze pay and cut 1,700 jobs.

But it wasn’t just Trinity Mirror putting on the executive grave train. The Journalist also reveals how:

* Chief executive of Pearson, which owns the Financial Times, Dame Majorie Scardino enjoyed a 13 per cent pay rise, up to more than £2.3m. At least her bonus of £1.3m was backed up by a 13 per cent rise in per-tax profits for Pearson.

* European Newspaper Group Mecom’s chief executive David Montgomery was not so successfully, overseeing a 28 per cent fall in profits and cutting 850 jobs. Nevertheless he received a whopping 51 per cent pay increase, up to £874,000 and including a £290,000 bonus.

* Gavin O’Reilly, the chief executive of Independent News & Media, actually took a ten per cent pay cut – but still took home £760,000.

* And John McCann, chief executive of the ITV franchise holder and UTV Media, earned £450,000, although the company experienced a 12.5 per cent fall in profits.

Every felt you’re in the wrong job?

Source: The Journalist

State of Play: How many journalists could that lot pay for?

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Whoops! I did it again

This from Fleet Street Blues in the light of the ‘headline headghgh’ gaffe.
The letters page of the European edition of the Financial Times opted to entitle one letter ‘1dk hd’ with the strap ‘Second standfirst’.
Who’s next?

Source: Fleet Street Blues

State of Play: It’s catching

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Industrial action to take place in Stourbridge

Industrial action is set to take place at Newsquest’s Stourbridge papers.

Ten NUJ members at the centre voted for the action over plans to move three journalists 30 miles away to Worcester.

The staff work on a number of papers, namely the Stourbridge News, Halesowen News, Dudley News, Kidderminster Shuttle, Bromsgrove Advertiser and Redditch Advertiser.

State of Play: Open heart surgery

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ATEX responsible for headline gaff

A senior source inside Johnston Press has today confirmed to The Blog that the now infamous ‘headline headghgh’ gaff was down to an ATEX error.

The source, who does not want to be named for obvious reasons, said the front page of the Bedfordshire Times & Citizen’s mid-Bedfordshire edition was sent off with the correct headline in tact, but that somewhere along the line it reverted to an old version with the changes to both the headline and strapline being lost.

That meant the front page appeared with a templated version reading ‘headline headghgh’ and a strapline saying ‘Strapline for main story like this if needed’.

The debacle, according to our source, has drawn the attention of bosses in Edinburgh, including chief executive John Fry. Questions are now being asked as to why the error was not picked up at the printers in Portsmouth where around 17,000 copies were printed before the presses were stopped.

It is also rumoured that IT experts are to be sent to every centre around the country to make sure the system is being implemented correctly.

It is the latest in a string of controversial ATEX errors, including 12 pictures in a rogues gallery on the front page of the Sheffield Star being blown. Journalists across the group voted for strike action, but the company was granted an injunction preventing it taking place.

The ‘headline headghgh’ front page has been blogged and appeared on Twitter all around the world, with the latest gag seeing t-shirts developed baring the headline and strapline.

State of Play: Someone put this system out of its misery

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