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March 8, 2013

This week in Press Gazette – Journalism Weekly: Johnston Press faces boycott threat over editor axe proposal

By Andrew Pugh

 Johnston Press faces boycott threat over editor axe proposal.  Johnston Press is facing the threat of a reader boycott over its proposal to make popular Whitby Gazette editor Jon Stokoe redundant – despite the paper being one of just 13 weekly circulation risers in the UK.

“Whitby folk will not stand for being pushed around by Scarborough in this way. Watch out for a massive backlash!”

Montgomery insists Times will remain ‘diverse’. Incoming Times comment editor and Conservative Home founder Tim Montgomerie has brushed aside suggestions the paper is moving towards the political Right.

“The proof of the pudding will be in the eating. Nothing I can say now will necessarily reassure the sceptics,” he said. “I want people with interesting views from wherever they sit on the political spectrum on The Times’s pages.”

‘Town Hall pravda’ asks councillor to change quotes. Attempts by a council PR working on one of London’s controversial ‘Town Hall Pravdas’ to alter councillors’ quotes have called into question the paper’s impartiality.

“So I thought you were quoting me from the budget meeting. I did not realise that a quote from a member had to be agreed by finance officers. Calls into question the impartiality of the reporting in East End Life really doesn’t it?”

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Growing local weeklies reveal how they are bucking the print trend. The continuing decline of the regional printed press was once again in the spotlight last week following publication of the latest ABC figures for local newspapers.

“We have as many Facebook friends and Twitter followers as copy sales. This generates great leads and debate – we’re much more part of the local conversation as a result.”

8 Bradshaw: Government should pass Defamation Bill with ‘Leveson law’. Former Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw believes that if the Government is serious about being Leveson compliant it should pass the Defamation Bill in its current form.

“I have never really seen how independent self-regulation can be effective in terms of ensuring participation and ensuring that sanctions are enforceable with some sort of statutory underpinning or oversight.”

Lord Hunt seeks to break deadlock. Press Complaints Commission chairman Lord Hunt has sought to break the political deadlock over the future of regulation by pressing ahead with the formation of a “Leveson-compliant” regulator.

“The talking has got to stop and it’s time for action, and in a way today I’m firing a starting gun.”

10 Hencke: Tax avoidance story wouldn’t have been possible on the nationals. When David Hencke took voluntary redundancy from The Guardian in 2009 he imagined he would be retired by now. But four years on, having joined investigative website Exaro News, his journalism career has a new lease of life.

“Sometimes if you’re doing one short story in a paper you might not use very much but we pursued every possible angle. You’re increasingly unlikely to be able to do this at a national level because reporters are expected to do so many different things. It probably wouldn’t be done properly – just a quick hit and that would be it actually.”

12 How Hencke exposed tax avoidance at Whitehall. David Hencke saw off competition from major news organisations to win Political Journalist of the Year at the British Journalism Awards for fledgling news website exaro. The judges described his revelations over widespread tax avoidance as a “major scandal”. Like many great stories, it started with a whistleblower.

“I was introduced to a senior civil servant who basically was very upset about what he could see – the culture changing around him. He had picked up a lot of stories suggesting that people being appointed to jobs across Whitehall were basically avoiding tax by either having their own personal company or being employed for a management company.”

13 Lord Hunt: I am determined to deliver on Leveson. It is now more than a year since I persuaded the Press Complaints Commission, with its in-built majority of individuals who are independent of the press, that the PCC should prepare itself for an orderly transition, to be replaced by a more effective and authoritative body, of the kind we confidently expected Sir Brian Leveson to recommend in his report.

"We can never prevent human error, but we must establish a structure that stamps down especially mercilessly upon systemic breaches of the Code."

14 In the age of limitless news, who can tell what is new? There has never been a better time to be a journalist, if it’s your hobby. If you hope to make a living out of it, then I can’t remember it being worse. But the newspapers and the magazines are not to blame. They are in the same boat as the rest of us.

"The real problem is the internet and search engines like Google, in particular, that do not value content."

16 Ted Jeory: More journalists should probe local govt. Ted Jeory was recently shortlisted for the Paul Foot Award for his blog, which investigates allegations of corruption in the London borough of Tower Hamlets. He left the East London Advertiser in 2008 and currently works as home affairs editor for the Sunday Express.

"From my point of view, where I got to and the nomination is quite unbelievable, and I really hope that it gives encouragement to other local journalists to put in the time to do great journalism and not just hang up their notepad at the end of the day."

18 Sullivan’s US Dish serves up web funding solution. While The New York Times has proved that online paywalls can work for big mainstream newspaper websites, Andrew Sullivan’s US political blog The Dish appears to be proving the same for blogs.

“I had two pledge drives early on, in 2002 and 2003, which netted a certain amount of money. But this is a different model. This is trying to make it sustainable, long term: don’t give it money just because you like me. We are trying to create an actual site that is news and opinion that people value and pay for, and become associated with in the long run. We could have done a tip jar. We decided no. We wanted to be a business. And do it the right way.”

19 Freelance tips: Any money is better than no money. As a freelance, my attitude has always been that any money is better than no money and small pieces generating small rewards (but involving minimal effort) could make a contribution to a life-sustaining income. But something happened. The world changed. 

24Axegrinder: Do BBC-bashing papers have their own gagging clauses?; Has Hacked Off lost the plot?

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