It’s beyond doubt that PR has changed massively, and continues to do so, thanks to the opportunities created by digital communications and the diversification of traditional media.
CIPR president-elect Stephen Waddington asked a room full of comms people at the South West Communicators’ Conference in Bristol recently how many had bought a newspaper that morning, and only one confirmed that they had. It’s possible that some people in the room were too busy on their tablets or smart phones to realise he was asking them a question. But he had made the key point; that the media is changing rapidly and communicators must respond to this. Many operators in the South West are rising to this challenge with some great work, as Bristol agency Spirit demonstrated with its support for the Gromit Unleashed campaign in the city.
For weeks, I’ve listened to arguments about the press ahead of Leveson’s damning report today. It’s depressing, but not surprising, how quick people on all sides of the debate have been to reach judgements about the report, which appears at first glance to be thoughtful, proportionate and measured.
During the hearing, we’ve heard sickening tales of people traduced by media misconduct. It shouldn’t be forgotten how people like the McCanns, the Dowlers and Christopher Jefferies were treated at times when their lives were already under huge strain. Hugh Grant, Steve Coogan and Charlotte Church (who was on Question Time tonight) have sounded at times like they are speaking for the country when calling for independent regulation of the press. It was painful to see experienced tabloid journalists Trevor Kavanagh and Nevile Thurlbeck speak on Channel 4 News tonight about the importance of a free media. Surely noone disagrees with this. But their performance tonight suggested that they don’t get what’s happening around them, or what they need to do to deal with it.
Mr Salter has said before that he believes he became an ‘enemy’ of the News of the World for publicly refusing to back its controversial ‘Sarah’s Law’ anti-paedophile campaign in 2000. I worked with Martin on a number of stories at around this time, and remember him explaining his reasons for not backing the campaign to name all convicted paedophiles, stating that it could endanger the children it is intended to protect by driving sex offenders underground.
The heavyweight appearances at the Leveson inquiry keep coming, with Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre giving a rare and fascinating personal insight this afternoon into the issues facing today’s media.
His defence of self regulation and the Press Complaints Commission may have come too late, but there were some notable concessions in his speech too, including a promise to have a corrections column in a prominent position in his papers. Who would have thought that would have happened a year ago? I will be following this development with some interest.
In praise of the Peak District – Living with rats
Sheffield-based journalist Julian Dobson writes about one of England’s treasures, on the fringes of the Steel City. I got married in the Peak District when we lived in the north and will always have fond memories of the area. I enjoyed reading this piece over the weekend. Must go back soon.
‘They eat horses, don’t they?’ – Tabloid Watch
I love this blog, which looks at outrageous tabloid reporting that has become so commonplace that it barely registers a comment elsewhere. In this post, The Sun’s reporting of a mythical marketing campaign supposedly aimed at stopping travellers from eating horses is, ahem, digested. The truth is slightly duller than the report suggests. I think the story would fail the Corn Flakes test in my house. A spiteful sideswipe, which deserves to be ridiculed.
Part of the emerging narrative about journalism appears to criticise all newspapers for recklessly (or ‘illegally’) blagging people’s personal details without justification for doing so. If this is accurate, the public would be right to believe that every journalist who ‘blags’ information (or pays someone to do it for them) is as bad as the rest.
This appears to be the mood amongst many on Twitter, as well as some people with (perhaps) an interest in restricting the press.
Witness this tweet from the blogger Guido Fawkes – which implies the Guardian Media Group (which publishes The Guardian and The Observer) has broken the law as well as its ethical code.