ICE blogs

February 20, 2017

A show about watching

Filed under: Blogroll, News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, journalism, human rights — news_editor @ 2:41 pm

Veillance, an immersive, audio-visual artwork about data surveillance and mutual watching by Ronan Devlin, is to be exhibited at Bangor University, beginning 24 February. The work, which takes the internet as its medium, self-generates in real time in response to audience browsing activity, some of which is projected (creatively) on to the walls for all to see.

The work was commissioned by the Space and supported by the Arts Council of Wales and Arloesi Pontio Innovation, and made in collaboration with Vian Bakir, Ant Dickinson, Carwyn Edwards, Michael Flückiger, Gillian Jein and Andy McStay.

For further information check out the website and follow the project on Twitter @veillanceinfo.

February 17, 2017

Media Against Hate

A campaign to counter hate speech and discrimination in the media has been launched by the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ). Together with a range of partners, including Article 19, the Croatian Journalists’ Association, the Community Media Institute, Community Media Forum Europe and the Media Diversity Institute, the EFJ is planning a series of training workshops for media professionals and representatives of civil society organisations and media regulators across Europe ‘to exchange best practice and promote mutual learning’.

A website,, aims to gather relevant news items relating to ethical standards, freedom of expression issues and media diversity. The Media Diversity Institute commented: ‘The media and journalists play a crucial role in influencing both policy-making and societal opinion on migration and refugees. As hate speech and stereotypes targeting migrants and refugees proliferate across Europe, balanced and fair media reporting is needed more than ever.’

• See

February 14, 2017

Jailed Palestinian journalist on hunger strike

Filed under: Blogroll, News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, journalism, conflict, human rights — news_editor @ 3:43 pm

Mohammed al-Qeeq, one of more than 20 journalists currently in Israeli prisons, has declared an open hunger strike following his re-arrest by occupation forces at Beit El checkpoint north of Ramallah. He began his strike immediately upon his arrest.

Al-Qeeq, 35, drew international support last year when he engaged in a 94-day hunger strike against his administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial, winning his release in May 2016. Since his release, he has been active in prisoner support campaigns and was arrested returning from a demonstration in Bethlehem calling for the release of the bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli occupation forces.

Omar Nazzal, a member of the General Secretariat of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, is being held without charge or trial after being seized by occupation forces on 23 April 2016 attempting to travel to Sarajevo for a conference of the European Federation of Journalists.

Philippe Leruth, president of the International Federation of Journalists, said: ‘This Israeli policy of administrative detention is a violation of human rights, the right to a fair trial and the presumption of innocence. We are extremely concerned that the Israeli authorities are extending this policy and that they are allowed to do so ad infinitum.’

Also held under administrative detention is Adib al-Atrash, imprisoned since 20 June 2016 after he returned from studying at Eastern Mediterranean University in Cyprus, where he had just received his Masters degree in media studies.

Palestinian writer Walid Hodali, director of the Jerusalem Literary Office and a member of the Palestinian Writers Union, was also seized by occupation forces amid a large number of arrests in the Ramallah area. He previously spent 15 years in Israeli prisons.

• See

January 11, 2017

Spiked: The murder story of the 20th century

Filed under: Blogroll, News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, journalism — news_editor @ 6:11 pm

So, more than one hundred years after the assassination of the ‘mad Russian monk’ Rasputin (dubbed the ‘murder of the 20th century’), The Times has finally decided to open its archive and reveal its correspondent’s reporting of the event. Given the close ties between the secret state and Fleet Street, this delay is perhaps not so surprising after all!

The Times’s official history had always admitted that its coverage of the killing of Grigori Rasputin, at the centre of Romanov court intrigues before the revolutions of 1917, had been censored following intervention by the Foreign Office. The then-editor decided that ‘the details, though of lurid interest, were not fit for the columns of The Times’. For the first time, on 7 January 2017, the newspaper revealed the actual despatches sent by its veteran correspondent, Robert Wilton, of the killing on 29 December 1916.(1)

Rasputin, he wrote, had been shot in the basement of the palace of Prince Felix Yusupov, an Oxford-educated aristocratic – a one-time member of the Bullingdon Club and married to the Tsar’s niece. Wilton continued: ‘Prince Yusupov did the shooting. Conjointly with other young Princes of the Blood … they had decided some time ago to “remove” Rasputin because they regarded him as the cause of a dangerous scandal affecting the interests of the dynasty.’

But still more interesting is the likely role (missed by Wilton) of British intelligence in the killing as part of its attempts to keep Russian fighting in the First World War. Samuel Hoare, the MI6 station chief in Russia, certainly believed Rasputin was endangering the Russian war effort. But MI6 still refuses to open up its archive on the assassination.

Soon after the killing, Prince Yusupov, Vladimir Purishkevich, the leader of the monarchists in the Duma, the Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich Romanov, Dr. Stanislaus de Lazovert and Lt Sergei Mikhailovich Sukhotin, an officer in the Preobrazhensky Regiment, confessed to being involved in the killing.(2)

Moreover, according to Yusupov’s account, which rapidly became the accepted version, he lured Rasputin to his palace and fed him cyanide-laced cakes. When these did not take effect, he fired a shot at the monk’s heart. Returning to the murder scene an hour later he was astonished to discover Rasputin still alive. The monk leapt to his feet, attacked Yusupov, then fled into the courtyard where he was gunned down by another conspirator, Purishkevich.

But a number of researchers agree that this account is a fabrication with the chief suspect in the murder now being a certain Lt Oswald Rayner. As Ben Macintyre, the author of an excellent biography of the Soviet spy Kim Philby (2014), reported in The Times, Rayner was a 28-year-old MI6 officer and close friend of Prince Yusupov from their time at Oxford.

As early as 2004, the Daily Telegraph reported that Richard Cullen, a retired Scotland Yard commander who had been studying the case with Andrew Cook, an intelligence historian, had concluded, on the basis of a new forensic analysis, that Rayner had fired the fatal final shot to Rasputin’s head.(3)

The Telegraph also quoted a memo sent between Rayner’s two superiors in St Petersburg, John Scale and Stephen Alley, which read: ‘Although matters have not proceeded entirely to plan, our objective has clearly been achieved. Reaction to the demise of “Dark Forces” [a codename for Rasputin] has been well received by all …’

Both Giles Milton, author of Russian roulette: How British spies thwarted Lenin’s global plot (2013) and Michael Smith, author of Six: A history of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (2010), also suggest that Rayner was the killer of Rasputin.(4)

Despite all this mounting evidence, the intelligence service is still refusing to officially admit its role. As Macintyre concludes: ‘The Times has opened up its archives (including less creditable parts, such as spiking the murder story of the century). MI6 should do the same.’


(1) See Macintye, Ben (2017) British spy’s link to murder of Rasputin, Times, 7 January p. 28

Richard Lance Keeble, director of ICE and joint editor of Ethical Space

December 13, 2016

259 journalists in jail around the world

Filed under: Blogroll, News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, journalism, human rights — news_editor @ 12:02 pm

Some 259 journalists are currently in jail around the world – the highest number since the Committee to Protect Journalists began taking an annual census in 1990.

Turkey where there were at least 81 journalists behind bars topped the list. Dozens of other journalists remain imprisoned in Turkey, but CPJ was unable to confirm a direct link to their work.

China, which was the world’s worst jailer of journalists in 2014 and 2015, dropped to second place with 38 journalists in jail. Egypt, Eritrea, and Ethiopia follow as the worst jailers of journalists.

CPJ executive director Joel Simon commented: ‘Journalists working to gather and share information are performing a public service and their rights are protected under international law. It is shocking, therefore, that so many governments are violating their international commitments by jailing journalists and suppressing critical speech.’ Turkey was at the vanguard of this authoritarian trend. ‘Every day that Turkey’s journalists languish in jail in violation of that country’s own laws, Turkey’s standing in the world is diminished.’

For the first time since 2008 Iran is not among the top five worst jailers since many of those sentenced in the 2009 post-election crackdown have served their sentences and been released. The Americas region, which had no jailed journalists in 2015, appears on this year’s census with four journalists in prison. The vast majority of journalists in jail worked online and/or in print, while about 14 per cent are broadcast journalists.

The prison census does not include journalists who have disappeared or are held captive by non-state groups such as freelance British journalist John Cantlie, held by the Islamic State. These are classified as ‘missing’ or ‘abducted’ and CPJ estimates that at least 40 journalists are in these categories in the Middle East and North Africa.

• See

December 9, 2016

Phillip Knightley: The supreme journo

Filed under: Blogroll, News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, journalism — news_editor @ 11:55 am

Phillip Knightley, the investigative reporter who has died aged 87, was a wonderful story-teller. Once he told my students at City University (where I was a journalism lecturer from 1984 to 2003) how, when he was a rookie reporter in the late 1940s on a suburban Australian rag, the news appeared to have dried up for the next edition so his editor asked him to invent a story. Phillip promptly wrote a ‘report’ about a man (he dubbed him ‘the hook man’) who terrorised women on the local buses by lifting up their skirts with a clothes peg. So the front page splash headline: ‘”Hook man” terrorises women on the buses’ duly appeared on the Friday. Not surprisingly, Phillip worried about the response of the local cops to his invented ‘exclusive’. Monday passed without any call from the cops. Then on Tuesday, he received a call from the local police station. ‘Is that Knightley?’ the cop asked abruptly. ‘Yes,’ he responded nervously. ‘Well,’ the cop continued, ‘you know that “hook man” – we’ve caught him!’

In every respect, that was a typical Phillip story: extremely funny – but was it true or false: fact or fiction? In reality, the story as well as being extremely entertaining was a device to encourage his audience to be sceptical.

Indeed, Phillip was for me the supreme journo: always sceptical, fiercely intelligent, courageous, witty, highly sociable, politically astute – as well as being a brilliant writer and story teller.

His achievements in journalism and publishing were vast: major roles in The Sunday Times’s investigations into the thalidomide scandal and Kim Philby, the British intelligence chief exposed as a Soviet spy; twice awarded the Journalist of the Year award; closely involved in the work of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists – and so on.

But his contribution to the development of journalism education in this country was substantial too. His major texts (The first casualty, his seminal history of war reporting; The second oldest profession, on spying, and his autobiography, A hack’s progress) are essential reading for all journalism students. They capture the best elements of journalism: original, clear writing, the synthesis of a vast amount of often complex information, a political awareness, an immediacy; a sense of history and a fascination with the complexities of human nature. As he wrote at the end of A hack’s progress: ‘So my advice for the new generation of journalists is to ignore the accountants, the proprietors and the conventional editors and get on with it. And your assignment is the same as mine has been – the world and the millions of fascinating people who inhabit it.’

Moreover, Phillip clearly enjoyed the contact with students and his appearances at City University and more recently at the University of Lincoln (after I became a professor there in 2003 and where Phillip was appointed a Visiting Professor) always drew big, appreciative crowds. He was also inspirational in smaller, workshop settings, forever keen to share his knowledge of investigative techniques and his spin on various tricky ethical/political dilemmas. For instance, intriguingly, he never had a bad word to say about cheque-book journalism.

Phillip spent a lot of his career writing on the intelligence services – but he was never seduced by the lure of the secret world and very critical of the hacks who got too close to the spooks. As he wrote: ‘…although journalism is riddled with people working for intelligence services, I would stay clear of the game.’ In his autobiography, he concluded wryly: ‘The main threat to an intelligence agent comes not from the security service in the country against which he is operating but from his own centre, his own people.’ And he bravely revealed that the Philby scoop was, in fact, a highly managed operation. The Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) ‘knew beforehand what we were about to publish each week. The editor-in-chief of The Sunday Times, Denis Hamilton, had come to an agreement with the service’. So much for intrepid investigative reporting!

Phillip was also an activist journalist. For instance, in 1999, I organised a meeting at the Freedom Forum in London protesting at Fleet Street’s coverage of the Nato attacks on Serbia and Phillip immediately agreed to speak on a panel. At international forums and in media articles (in both the prestigious press and alternative, progressive journals), he constantly criticised government and military moves to censor and sanitise the reporting of war – and journalists’ failure to confront the secret state effectively. As he reflected: ‘I know now that the influence journalists can exercise is limited and that what we achieve is not always what we intended. It is the fight that counts.’

Richard Lance Keeble,
Joint editor, Ethical Space: The International Journal of Communication Ethics

November 18, 2016

New journal devoted to Orwell

Filed under: Blogroll, News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, journalism — news_editor @ 5:28 pm

Finally, it’s here: a new, peer-reviewed, bi-annual academic journal devoted to the life and works of George Orwell. George Orwell Studies is co-edited by Richard Lance Keeble, chair of the Orwell Society and Professor of Journalism at the University of Lincoln, and John Newsinger, Professor of History at Bath Spa University.

The launch issue is a bumper 158 pages! Articles include ‘Orwell, Poland and Polish Exiles in Paris and London’, by Krystyna Wieszczek; ‘George Orwell’s Conrad’, by Douglas Kerr; ‘Orwell and the Anarchists’, by David Goodway; ‘Only Donkeys Survive Tyranny and Dictatorship: Was Benjamin George Orwell’s Alter Ego in Animal Farm?’, by Tim Crook; ‘”The End was Contained in the Beginning”: Orwell’s Kyauktada and Oceania’, by Firas A. J. Al-Jubouri; ‘”The Lesser Evil”: Orwell and America’, by John Newsinger; ‘The Edges of the Empire: The Symbolism of Bladed Weapons in Orwell’s Burmese Days’, by Don Arp, Jr.; and ‘The Poet Who Wanted to Shoot an Elephant’, by Gerry Abbott – plus book reviews and news.

The journal carries a range of genres: short polemical pieces, articles of around 3,000 words, peer-reviewed papers of around 6,000 words, interviews, book and film reviews and news. Abstracts of 200 words for proposed pieces for issue No. 2 should be sent to Professor Keeble at by 1 February 2017.

Annual subs for the two issues are £25 including post and package. For Europe, the price is £28 and for the rest of the world the price is £30. Send cheques (made out to Abramis Academic) to Journals Fulfilment Department, Abramis Academic, ASK House, Northgate Avenue, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, IP322 6BB. Full details on purchasing are available at

October 27, 2016

Paxman ‘the enigma’

Filed under: Blogroll, News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, journalism — news_editor @ 9:26 am

John Mair reviews A life in question, by Jeremy Paxman (London, William Collins)

Jeremy Paxman is a riddle wrapped up in an enigma. He is the best television journalist of this generation-in and out of the studio – yet surprisingly unconfident. Reading these, his early memoirs, he also appears an accidental man: lucky in school, lucky at Cambridge, lucky in the BBC. But it is luck made by a huge talent.

Paxman is aggressive in his work yet depressive in his private life. He admits in the book to regular therapy to compensate for an oppressive father (and the insecurity it brought). In the closed world of TV journalism, he is revered both for his professional skills but also for his personal kindness.

Reviewers should declare an interest. I have known’ JP’ for nigh on four decades. We spent a year as close colleagues on London Plus. One of the highlights of my own modest TV career was Paxo telling me during the Real Lives protest walk-out at the BBC in 1985 that he had almost resigned live on air that night in disgust over the corporation’s handling of the affair because ‘I knew only you would let me…’ We have been sort of friends (JP’s favoured mode) since. I am a huge fan.

As an interviewer he is unparalleled. Each encounter is a challenge. He prepares for it meticulously: on Newsnight he had a ‘brainstorming’ session each night with his producers just like a matador getting ready for the bull. His technique is simple: aim for the solar plexus with the first question. It is difficult to recover after that. Ask the hapless Chloe Smith, whose ministerial career was destroyed in five minutes by Paxo simply asking her: ‘When did you know about this decision – before or after lunch?’ Or ask Shaun Woodward, who was asked on winning St Helen’s for Labour in 2001: ‘Mr Woodward, did your butler vote Labour?’(Woodward was a rather posh defectee from the Tories who had taken his butler ‘Up North’). Or Tony Blair, who was asked whether he and President Bush ‘prayed together’.

The most famous grilling/toasting of them all then-home secretary, Michael Howard, asked 12/14 times in 1997 ‘Did you threaten to over-rule Mr Lewis?’ about a decision he had made. Paxo later claimed he was filling space. I think he is being economical with the actualité there. I produced a tribute dinner to him a decade ago. I sat him and Howard next to each other. It was très amusant; not a meeting of the minds.

Paxo giving interviewees a stuffing comes in a short tradition of British television losing its deference to politicians and authority. It was only five decades ago that Robin Day transferred his interrogatory skills from the courtroom to the TV studio. He, too, was an on-air bully but a pussy-cat face to face. I was his researcher for a while. Commentators say that the central Paxman dictum is that of Louis Heren, the legendary Times journalist, on politicians: ‘When a politician tells you something in confidence, always ask yourself: “Why is this lying bastard lying to me?”’ He denies it. Many have tried – and still try – to imitate Paxman on screen. Most fail, badly. In his book, Paxman damns all others bar Jon Snow with less than faint praise for their skills. Aggressive questioning is no substitute in itself for good research.

Yet he is a creature of the format. Give him a gladiatorial one-on-one and he thrives. Get it wrong and he shows his contempt and looks very ordinary. I think of the Channel Four Referendum debate in June 2016. It was a total dog’s dinner and Paxo as MC was not going to make that turd shine. Likewise, a long discarded Question Time look-alike two decades ago, You decide with Jeremy Paxman. Paxo could never make that base metal shine either.

But television history will also remember Paxman as one of the great film reporters. From Spotlight in Northern Ireland through to Tonight and Panorama on the BBC, he has understood the central yet understated role of the reporter on film. Words, well-crafted but few. Plus presence on screen. One speaker at the Paxo tribute dinner had interviewed him for his first job in Belfast. After he left the room, the BBC appointments panel turned to each other and asked: ‘Do you think we impressed him?!’ Homing his reporting skills during ‘the Troubles’ was the perfect journalism academy: one mistake and you could be on the way to being a dead man with the terrorists. He has never lost those skills.

He dominated Newsnight for nigh on a quarter of a century. Since his ‘retirement’, it has lost kudos, gravitas and audience. When he was the ‘anchor’ (an Americanism very apposite in this case) woe betide any new programme editor with ideas like using new media or having a weather forecast. Paxo killed them simply by being withering on air. On form, on the night he was superb. A great journalist prepared to do his homework and to dig and dig until he got to what he considered to the truth or kernel of the story. Not the science of propulsion but a lesson for all wannabes now and in the future.

But who is Paxman? Some clues come across in the book though he protects his personal privacy very well. The product of a solid middle class family, less solid once his father left the Navy and guaranteed status for the uncertain world of Midlands manufacturing. Keith Paxman ultimately failed in that and left his family behind for a new life in the Southern seas. His mother, Joan, was much less flaky and rich enough through inheritance to put her children through the local (minor) public school, Malvern College. Even there, institutional straitjackets were bust by JP. He was rusticated twice, fortunately the second time after he had achieved a Cambridge scholarship. There, the ‘accidental man’ was lucky again falling into student journalism.

But you will not discover a huge amount about Paxman the man from these 300-plus pages. Those secrets are left on his therapist’s couch. This book is a good read as you would expect from a good journalist. Will it answer your questions about the meaning of life and media, will it face up to the great cultural studies issues of our times? Barely. His skill is not grand theory but practice day after day. Appreciate it, honour it – but most of all salute a master of the craft.

John Mair

September 13, 2016

US investigative journalist charged

Filed under: Blogroll, News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, journalism, politics, human rights — news_editor @ 10:42 am

The Committee to Protect Journalists has called for prosecutors in the US state of North Dakota to drop all criminal charges against broadcast journalist Amy Goodman, who hosts the global news programme Democracy Now! She faces criminal trespass charges following her reporting on protests against the construction of an oil pipeline opposed by Native American tribes in the region.

Goodman filmed security guards using dogs and pepper spray to disperse protesters. Morton County Sherriff’s Department issued a statement saying protesters had entered private land after breaking down a fence while Democracy Now! reported on its website that an officer from the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation acknowledged in an affidavit that Goodman was seen in the video identifying herself as a journalist and interviewing protesters. If convicted, Goodman could face a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail.

Carlos Lauría, senior programme coordinator for the Americas at CPJ, said: ‘This arrest warrant is a transparent attempt to intimidate reporters from covering protests of significant public interest.’ The complaint also cites Cody Charles Hall, an organiser of the protest, who was arrested on September 9, denied bail and jailed over the weekend, according to press reports.

Energy Transfer Partners hopes the pipeline will carry crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois, across land close to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Protesters say the project risks polluting the water supply, and would run through burial sites and other locations they hold sacred.


June 9, 2016

Ethics teaching focus for conference

Filed under: Blogroll, News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, journalism — news_editor @ 8:11 pm

‘Teaching ethics: Why bother?’ is the title of the annual conference of the Institute of Communication Ethics, to be held on 21 October 2016, at the Frontline Club, London W2 1QJ.

Ethics is now well established as a compulsory subject in the many communication studies degrees (journalism, public relations, media production, etc). Yet while universities might encourage ethical working routines in their students, very often when the student arrives in the workplace they find they have very little influence on the overall operation. Communication organisations tend to be hierarchically structured with power tending to be held by a small group of executives (often male) at the top. Why then bother with ethics at universities?

The conference aims to provide a space for timely reflection on some of the many issues confronting teachers of ethics in universities. Topics might then include:

• My curriculum: Highlighting innovative ways of teaching ethics.
• A critique of the major textbooks in the field.
• What examples of ‘good’ practice are used?
• Critiquing professionalism: the pros and cons of industry codes.
• What place has the political economy critique in ethical debate?
• Best practice: Promoting inclusivity and challenging discrimination.
• The ‘guest speaker from the industry’ syndrome: Pros and cons.
• Using Facebook, Twitter as teaching aids: The ethical issues.
• The dangers of anglo-centrism: Promoting the international perspective.
• Post-Edward Snowden revelations: Transforming the privacy/confidentiality debate.
• Beyond the free press myth: Ethics and the Secret State.
• How important is it to cover the classics (Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, Bentham, Mill, MacIntyre, Rawls etc)?
• Considering women war reporters: Beyond male stereotypes.

These possible issues – and more – will be of interest to those teaching in a range of disciplines: media ethics, journalism, public relations, political communication, media sociology, surveillance studies.

Please send 200-word abstracts to Dr Fiona Thompson, director of ICE ( by 1 July 2016.

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