The Back Page – The Olympics

Published on Society of Editor’s website on 16th November 2009:

How we can work together

Chaired by: Jim White, Columnist, Daily Telegraph
Jonathan Edwards, LOCOG
Andrew Moger, Director, News Media Coalition

A leading media executive today argued that journalists should stand up together and fight against the increasing amount of restrictions imposed by professional sports clubs.

Andrew Moger, executive director of News Media Coalition, claimed the media was being continuously prevented from doing its job.

He told the Society of Editors conference: “Stand up together to fight for the reporting rights you deserve.

“We need access terms for journalists, including being able to report content live, being able to publish outside of output windows and being able to design web pages as you like them.”

Mr Moger said that sports organisations such as football clubs are increasingly reluctant to allow freedom to the media for fear of upsetting sponsors and curtailing their own revenue streams.

He revealed that one sports club had told him that the reason the media could often not use specific pictures because their use was “based on news worthiness and not sponsor richness”.

Meanwhile, former Olympic gold medallist Jonathan Edwards told the Conference today that the London 2012 Olympic Games will create a legacy.

Edwards, a member of London Organising Committee of Olympic and Paralympic Games, presented the overview of progress on the building of the Olympic facilities and outlined the social, sporting and economic benefits of the games.

He said: “We never bid to host the games in 2012 just to put on a great show; it was to create a legacy.”

He spoke extensively about the social benefits the games will have on the “nation and regions.”

These included the Get Set Education Programme, which aims to provide young people in schools across the nation with the opportunity to be involved and benefit from the Olympics.

An example of this is the Lloyds TSB National Sports week, which took place early this year and enabled young people to take part in new sporting activities.

Edwards said: “London’s vision is to meet young people from all over the world.”


State of the media

Published on Society of Editor’s website on 16th November 2009:

How is the media surviving the recession and massive structural change? What does the future hold? Who are the winners and losers?

Chaired by: Torin Douglas, Media Correspondent, BBC News

Jim Chisholm, Joint Principal, iMedia Advisory Services

Claire Enders, Founder and Chief Executive, Enders Analysis


One of the world’s foremost media commentators today claimed that newspapers have a long way to go before they become unviable.

In an upbeat speech about the state of the media in the UK, Jim Chisholm argued that there was plenty of room for optimism about the commercial revenues generated by the press.

Chisholm, the Joint Principal of iMedia, a leading global newspaper consultancy practice, told the Society of Editors: “There is no profit problem, only debt problem. Newspapers can decline a long, long way before they become unviable.

“Cutting more staff is not necessarily going to produce more profit.”

Mr Chisholm claimed that current declines are in line with cyclical and structural trends and that profit margins for newspapers could rise from an average of around 10.5 per cent to as much as 27.5 per cent by 2014.

He cautioned that there is little loyalty from readers online and they will flip between different providers so newspapers must learn to work together to increase commercial revenues.

He said: “We all need to examine the value of news in our society.” He added: “I might consider paying for news if I can have access to all the papers.”

Mr Chisholm’s view was contrary to that of Claire Enders, a media analyst for Ender Analysis, who opened the debate with a bleak prediction of the future of the media.

She said: “A double-dip recession in 2010 cannot be ruled out for the UK.

“UK consumption will remain very weak due to the leveraged state of household balance sheets.”

Ms Enders predicted that there will be more “victims of change” resulting from the accelerated decline of newspaper circulation since 2002, arguing that 21,000 media jobs will have been “destroyed” by the time the crisis has bottomed out.

She presented figures that showed average advertising spend has reached a plateau, despite the fact that nominal GDP has been steadily increasing.

The ad revenue problem stems from the growing trend of online media competing with traditional forms of print, even though the average time spent reading a newspaper is 30 minutes a day, while the average online consumption of news is as little as 11 minutes per month.

Ms Enders concluded that pay walls are a feeble attempt to regain revenue and that online revenue will never replace those lost from print.

Dominic Grieve MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Justice

Published on Society of Editor’s website on 16th November 2009:

Conservative Government on Free Speech

The Shadow Justice Secretary Dominic Grieve today claimed that the crisis in British justice is so stark that it teeters on the brink of collapse.

Mr Grieve said urgent change is required to the justice system in order for there to be greater transparency in both the courts and in government.

Speaking to the Society of Editors’ conference, he warned: “I don’t want to sound apocalyptic but we are in fact facing a serious crisis in the administration of justice which is teetering on the brink between passable efficiency and collapse.”

In laying out his blueprint for rejuvenating British justice, the Shadow Justice Secretary revealed that a Conservative government would advocate a third party body to report court cases in greater detail and that it is “interested” in the idea of press accreditation for certain family courts.

He also outlined plans to bring in more money to sustain the justice system by a Contingency Legal Aid Fund or private insurance cover for legal costs and expenses.

Mr Grieve explained: “It may be necessary to have a third party body of some kind to help disseminate greater information about procedure and proceedings, with the public interest in mind.

“And we are interested in the idea of press accreditation for certain family courts, so we can build up high levels of trust between the courts and the media.

“This is all sensitive terrain. But I hope it gives you a sense that we are inclined towards greater transparency where it will do no harm to children.

“My Shadow Justice team colleague Henry Bellingham has undertaken a review in this area, looking at the detailed implications of these principles.”

Mr Grieve criticised the shortcomings of the current legal system and its growing litigation culture, where lawyers are deliberately encouraged to take an economic stake in the success of their client’s case.

He said: “We will take the opportunity to look at the balance between rights such as freedom and personal privacy. Frivolous litigation that might deter legitimate media comment is always to be deplored.”

Mr Grieve voiced his strong support for freedom of speech as the bedrock of a free society, making reference to the furore caused by BNP leader Nick Griffin’s appearance on Question Time.

Referring to the programme, he said: “I believe that, unless someone is directly inciting violence or serious disorder, their voice must be heard and if the BBC has rules that allow parties to have air time based on representation, it is a bad precedent to skew those to exclude those whose views we may rightly dislike.”

The Shadow Justice Secretary also defended the right of journalists to expose information that’s a matter of public interest, provided it does not harm national security.

He criticised the Government for preventing a full account of the facts in some recent controversial cases such as the Iraq war, allegations of MI5 collusion in torture, the failures of the intelligence services and police in the lead up to 7/7 and the release of the Lockerbie bomber al-Megrahi.

Mr Grieve said: “The approach of this government has been paranoid, vindictive and foolish.”