ICE blogs

July 29, 2011

‘Inspirational’ journalism prof wins top teaching award

Filed under: Uncategorized, News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, journalism — news_editor @ 2:48 pm

Professor Richard Lance Keeble, Acting Head of the Lincoln School of Journalism (LSJ) and director of the Institute of Communication Ethics, has become the first academic at the university to win a National Teacher Fellowship - the top award for teachers in higher education.

The prize, worth £10,000 for professional development, will be awarded at a ceremony at Middle Temple Hall, London, on 5 October.

Professor Mike Neary, Dean of Teaching and Learning, said: “Richard has been at the forefront of developing progressive teaching and learning practices at the University of Lincoln. Key to Richard’s contribution has been to recognise the importance of ethics and progressive politics to pedagogical practice more generally; and to find ways to embed these core aspects for teaching and learning across the student experience.”

Professor John Tulloch, Head of the LSJ, commented: “This award is richly deserved. Richard is a hugely experienced and inspirational teacher of journalism. In particular, he has pioneered the teaching of media ethics and human rights in the journalism curriculum - two subjects that the industry badly needs to address, as the current scandal over phone hacking shows. We need to enhance journalism training and help to support a new generation of journalists who fully understand the ethical issues and are confident and courageous enough to say no to unethical practices, whatever the pressures from employers. Richard’s work helps to build a better journalism. The LSJ is proud of him.”

Professor Mary Stuart, Vice-Chancellor, commented: “I am delighted that Richard has been recognised as a National Teaching Fellow. It demonstrates his considerable contribution to teaching excellence in journalism, not only at Lincoln but his wider engagement and influence.”

After studying history at Oxford University, Professor Keeble, who is joint editor of ICE’s journal, Ethical Space, worked on the Nottingham Guardian Journal and Cambridge Evening News before becoming director of the International Journalism MA at City University, London, in 1984. On 1 April 2003 he became Professor of Journalism at Lincoln.

He has taught in all the main journalism subject areas - both practical and theoretical. His book, The Newspapers Handbook (Routledge) is now in its fourth edition and is considered the seminal text in the field. He has also throughout his career sought to integrate his research interests into his teaching. Thus, at Lincoln, he has launched modules on Peace and Conflict Reporting, Ethics, a new MA on War and International Human Rights and a new BA in investigative reporting.

Along with Professor Tulloch, he has advanced the study of literary journalism: in particular the reporting of George Orwell and Robert Fisk. He has also done much to promote the critical engagement with the industry inviting top journalists such as John Pilger, Phillip Knightley, Bridget Kendall and Dorothy Byrne to give talks to his students.

His 20 written and edited texts cover a broad range of topics: for instance, communication ethics, the internet and news and the coverage of the Afghan War. And he has given talks in many countries including Australia, Belgium, Egypt, France, Germany, Holland, Hungary, India, Malta, Montenegro, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine and the United States.

Professor Keeble commented: “Throughout my career I have been lucky to work alongside many wonderful colleagues in both the academy and journalism. I would like to thank them all, sincerely, for their support.”

July 12, 2011

‘TV failed to prepare viewers for Arab spring’

Filed under: Uncategorized, Blogroll, News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, journalism — news_editor @ 8:57 am

UK broadcasters failed to prepare viewers for the ‘Arab spring’, according to a major new report by the International Broadcasting Trust and the University of East Anglia.

The report, Outside the box, reveals that Algeria, Bahrain, Libya, Oman, and Yemen - which have recently experienced unrest or uprisings - were not the main subject of any factual programme in 2010. And the only programme to focus principally on Syria was the BBC4 series Syrian school. Tunisia only received significant coverage in BBC4s On Hannibal’s trail and Morocco in Channel 4’s Jamie does Marrakesh.

Despite carrying international programmes such as the consumer travel series The secret tourist as well as covering developing countries in Sport relief, BBC1 is falling behind other channels in its reporting on developing countries, according to the IBT.

In total, North Africa and the Middle East received just 5 per cent of all international non-news factual coverage across UK channels in 2010. Last year, the main UK terrestrial channels broadcast fewer hours of new international factual programming than at any time since IBT began its annual reports in 1989.

Martin Scott, the report’s author and a lecturer in media and international development at the University of East Anglia, commented: ‘The results of this study strongly suggest that UK television left audiences remarkably unprepared for these momentous events. Public opinion and public debate in the UK about the Arab spring is surely the worse for UK television’s persistent failure to cover adequately this part of the world.’

He continued: ‘I’m not suggesting that the BBC and other broadcasters should have predicted the Arab spring but that they have not lived up to their responsibility to give audiences the opportunity to understand better this part of the world.’

- Download the full PDF of the report from www.ibt.org.uk.

July 11, 2011

Orwell and the killing of the News of the World

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

Richard Lance Keeble finds most intriguing the prominent display of a quotation by George Orwell in the final “Thank you and goodbye” edition of the News of the World

One of the most intriguing aspects of the News of the World’s final issue on 10 July was its prominent use of a quotation by George Orwell - on the back page and again as the opening paragraph in the Page Three editorial. In full, the quote reads:

It is Sunday afternoon, preferably before the war. The wife is already asleep in the armchair, and the children have been sent out for a nice long walk. You put your feet up on the sofa, settle your spectacles on your nose, and open the News of the World.

Such a positioning of the quote, if nothing else, confirms the extraordinary, iconic place George Orwell still holds in the political and cultural life of the country - more than 60 years after his death at the tragically young age of 46.

Yet on closer inspection, the quote appears to be a strange choice to adorn NoW’s “Thank you and goodbye” edition. It comes at the start of an essay he wrote while literary editor of the leftist weekly journal Tribune. Titled “Decline of the English Murder” it was published on 15 February 1946.

Over around 2,000 words Orwell examines nine murder cases during what he describes as the “great period” between 1850 and 1925 and compares them to the Cleft Chin Murder of 1944 (so called because the victim, a taxi driver, had a cleft chin). Orwell lists the “great” murders (Dr Palmer of Rugely, Jack the Ripper, Neill Cream, Mrs Maybrick, Dr Crippen, Seddon, Joseph Smith, Armstrong, and Bywaters and Thompson) but provides no dates.

Analysing them (and excluding the Jack the Ripper case since “it is in a class by itself”) he finds that most of the criminals belonged to the middle class, most involved poisoning and the background to all (except one) was domestic: of twelve victims seven were either wife or husband of the murderer. From these conclusions Orwell goes on to construct a fascinating picture of the “perfect” murder:

The murderer should be a little man of the professional class - a dentist or a solicitor, say - living an intensely respectable life somewhere in the suburbs, and preferably in a semi-detached house, which will allow the neighbours to hear suspicious sounds through the wall. He should be either chairman of the local Conservative Party branch, or a leading Nonconformist and strong Temperance advocate. He should go astray through cherishing a guilty passion for his secretary or the wife of a rival professional man, and should only bring himself to the point of murder after long and terrible wrestles with his conscience.

In contrast to these murders, Orwell castigates the Cleft Chin Murder for having “no depth of feeling in it”. The two culprits involved, an eighteen-year-old ex-waitress Elizabeth Jones and an American army deserter, posing as an officer, Karl Hulten, sadly lacked the middle classness of the “great murderers”. Rather than use poison in a seedy domestic drama, Hulten and Jones went on a mindless killing spree - first running over a girl bicycling along a road, then throwing a girl into the river after robbing her and finally murdering a taxi driver who happened to have £8 in his pocket.

While the News of the World prided itself on its appeal across the classes and to the working man and woman, here Orwell betrays his underlying middle classness. This he associates with stability and strong, authentic emotion in contrast to the instability and working classness of the contemporary murder. For Orwell, “the old domestic poisoning dramas” were a “product of a stable society where the all-pervading hypocrisy did at least ensure that crimes as serious as murder should have strong emotions behind them”.

As Paul Anderson says in his brilliant overview of Orwell’s writings while on Tribune (Politico’s 2006), this essay amounts to a “masterpiece of dark nostalgia for the good old days of middle class poisoners”.

The quotation also identifies the imagined reader as exclusively male (the wife is said to be “asleep in the armchair”). This then again makes the quote a strange one for the NoW to use so prominently - since women as much as men were its target audience.

But on reflection perhaps the Orwell essay about the decline of English murder was a subtle choice by the editor: Rupert Murdoch, after all, killed off his 168-year-old Sunday jewel in a ruthless act which appears to have “no depth of feeling in it”.

- Professor Richard Lance Keeble is Acting Head of the Lincoln School of Journalism

July 10, 2011

How Murdoch’s Australian papers stay mum over “Hackgate”

Filed under: Blogroll, News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, journalism — news_editor @ 8:55 pm

Richard Lance Keeble finds many of Murdoch’s Australian newspapers strangely coy about covering the News of the World hacking scandal

The countless twists and turns of the News of the World “Hackgate” may be clogging up the pages of mainstream press in this country, but over in Australia, where Rupert Murdoch owns a vast share of the newspaper industry, many newspapers have remained strangely mum on the scandal.

A survey by the excellent current affairs website Crikey (www.crikey.com.au) of eight daily outlets owned by News Limited (the Australian branch of Murdoch’s News Corporation) reveals that only the Herald Sun and the Australian covered the story. In the case of the Herald Sun, the report was buried on page 32 and ran to just 28 words:

A private detective working for the News of the World allegedly hacked into the mobile phone of a missing girl, a lawyer for the murdered child’s parents claimed.

The Australian carried an Associated Press report on page 11 and followed up with detailed coverage of the highly critical editorial of the London Times (also owned by Murdoch) but the scandal got no mention on the Daily Telegraph, the NT News, the Advertiser, the Courier-Mail, The Mercury and the Gold Coast Bulletin.

Rather intriguingly, these dailies did carry reports on someone hacking into Fox News’ Twitter account and tweeting lies about the death of Barack Obama.

Last year, the editor of the Victoria-based Herald Sun (Australia’s biggest-selling daily), Bruce Guthrie, revealed in his book Man Bites Murdoch (Melbourne University Publishing), how overt censorship inside News Limited was rarely necessary, since “yes-men” were only too happy to internalise their master’s voice in their day-to-day operations.
“Their first thought is what will Rupert think of this, whether it’s a story, whether it’s a decision to launch a new section…whether it’s a leader on election eve…it’s almost instinctive second-guessing the boss and it flows from there, so you second-guess Rupert and you second-guess John Hartigan [the CEO of News Limited] and you second-guess the corporate partners…and once you’ve cleared all those hurdles, you go for the story.”
He continued: “Within the News empire, talent is one thing but absolute dedication to Murdoch’s world view and various causes is another. And it’s far more important than talent. The most highly regarded people at News are little more than Murdoch robots, programmed to consider him first and the issue second.”

- See: http://www.crikey.com.au/topic/news-of-the-world-phone-hacking-scandal/

Phone hacking: more regulation is not the answer.

Filed under: Blogroll, News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, media policy, journalism — news_editor @ 8:45 pm

Barry Turne argues that “hackgate” represents the failure of the criminal law rather than the failure of press regulation

On Friday, at a dramatic press conference, the Prime Minister announced that two inquiries would be set up to examine the biggest scandal in British journalism for decades. David Cameron described the deliberate hacking into the phones of private individuals by the News of the World as despicable and called for a massive overhaul of the relationships between the media and both politicians and the police.

The suggestion by the PM was that this scandal had come about in the main because of lack of regulation of the press meaning, of course, in this instance the tabloid print media. In his statement to the press, Mr Cameron did acknowledge that this problem ran much deeper and, very unusually for a politician, even accepted some of the blame for himself and his colleagues from all parties.

Nevertheless, the problem was still presented mainly as a fault in our press regulation and as the specific fault of rogue journalists and editors and consequently one that needed a review of press regulation.

This is, of course, not the first time that senior politicians have called for tighter control on the tabloids in particular. In 1989, David Mellor, Conservative cabinet minister, declared that the tabloids were reckless, too powerful and in need of more regulation; they were, he warned, “drinking at the last-chance saloon”.

Mr Mellor and Mr Cameron, some 23 years apart, had their eye on the tabloids as the scourge of politicians and, in Mellor’s case, it was those he considered in need of regulation. Since then politicians of all parties have rallied to that cause.

Today, press regulation in Britain is already a mess but not because journalists often upset politicians. We have the somewhat absurd distinction of having two sets of media regulation: one for print and one for broadcast. Neither work very well. Our current regulatory structure distinguishes artificially between journalists who work in print and those who work in broadcast as if there actually existed two forms of journalism rather than two platforms on which it is disseminated.

Our current print regulator, if such a term can be used for the PCC , is a toothless talking shop that gives schoolmasterly lectures on morality to journalists who over step the mark, but what is the mark? Our broadcast media is regulated by OFCOM, a bureaucratic anachronism unfit for modern broadcast media in a democracy.

Both current regulators work from a baseline of public morals and 19th century models of fairness. This has led in the case of broadcast journalism to the absurdity of impartiality being translated into the most simplistic form of ‘balance’ and for our newspapers to be subjected to outdated and frankly quaint ideas of ‘decency’ in the name of regulation.

Mr Cameron and many others are now calling for more regulation as if any of the current models or variants of them would have had any effect on this current scandal. This is a typical British approach to dealing with a problem: rules have been broken so let’s have more rules.

On the surface, this current scandal is about the criminal acts of a few journalists and editors that would hardly have been affected by any kind of ‘regulations’. This criminal behaviour is already subject to sanctions that no regulator could ever impose and since the criminal law itself has failed to deter the behaviour it is difficult to see how a book of rules will.

Beneath the surface of the hacking scandal is a far more disturbing state of affairs. For decades politicians and public officials have had a far from healthy relationship with the press. Politicians are frightened of the press and curry favour with it for reasons that should make us all question their integrity and moral courage. It is this relationship that needs to be regulated and to do that the politicians need closer regulation.

It is hardly surprising that giant media corporations believe that they are bombproof when it comes to the law. When the legislators themselves sycophantically curry favour with the owners of giant corporations it is obvious that it will come at a price. Favours need to be repaid so if you don’t want to grant them don’t seek them.

What can we expect now? It is early days yet and we await the public inquiry but David Cameron has already alluded to the possible models that could be put in place. The obvious one is to turn the PCC into a proper regulatory body independent of the newspapers and government. This would give whatever succeeds the PCC the ability of impose sanctions on an offending newspapers and individual journalists and editors. This model would resemble the current strictures placed on the broadcast media under OFCOM. The OFCOM model is itself flawed, based as it is on the faulty concept of balanced reporting and paternalistic protection from offence to public decency.

This model represents a threat to more than 350 years of newspaper tradition in that it would force editors into the ridiculous position of incorporating ‘balance’ into the stories they published. British newspapers have a tradition of partisanship and it is the reason people buy them. Most of our newspapers take a position politically and morally and that is why their readers find them attractive. To introduce the faulty concept of balance will remove the very heart of each of them and take away the choice of the readers to enjoy whatever political and moral position they want to read about.

To wreck centuries old traditions of the press in order to prevent the type of scandal we are now witnessing is throwing the baby out with the bath water on a grand scale. It is akin to attempting to prevent stealing by banning the ownership of property.

Another ‘regulator’ mooted by Ed Miliband, leader of the opposition, is to introduce a General Medical Council or Law Society-based professional practice model. This model too is flawed. The GMC and Law Society - more correctly the Solicitors Regulatory Authority - do not conduct their business publicly. They act as investigator, judge and jury and are hidebound with anachronistic practices and a lack of transparency - precisely the problem with the current regulators of our media.

Why do we need new press regulation at all? Since this scandal began with the arrest and eventual imprisonment of the News of the World’s Clive Goodwin and a private investigator for tapping phones in 2007 it is clear that these matters are of a criminal nature and not one of press regulation. Thus, it is the failure of the criminal law that should be in the spotlight here not the failure of press regulation. This affair is not about journalists or editors it is about corruption in public office.

David Cameron did accept in his comments to Friday’s press conference that the problem lies with the dangerous relationships that have developed between politicians and media corporations. He accepted that for too long practices that allowed this scandal and the earlier one of members’ expenses were well known in the corridors of power and disgracefully tolerated. He accepted that such practices represented a threat to our democracy, where the legislators who make our laws and who govern us, the police who enforce those laws and the media who inform us of how we are governed have developed an unhealthy and corrupt relationship based on kickbacks and deals entirely against the public interest.

There is now a danger that attention will be focused on the press and away from the other two key players in this disgraceful affair as if the actual hacking into private mobile phones was the heart of these crimes. The hacking is a symptom of the disease not the disease itself.

- Barry Turner is Senior Lecturer in Media Law, Lincoln School of Journalism

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