It is odd to think of the BBC as a victim of bullying. It is by far the largest and best-funded child in the playground, should be afforded the protection of the headmaster (though it rarely is), and consistently hands in top work. But, of course, in the pathology of the playground, this makes it a natural victim. And the fact that it consistently takes a mea culpa position rather than punching back only makes the problem worse. Come on, Beeb, the circling bullies (more…)
The news that Yahoo has apparently paid $30m for Summly is surprising. It is a clever app, but has a few problems. The algorithm that is designed to condense long news stories into three smartphone friendly paragraphs often garbles prose and leaves the story and the reader hanging (the third par tends to end quite abruptly, as if the algorithm has run out of patience). It also presents a very limited range of news stories in a package that is quite tedious to navigate.
Presumably, Yahoo’s money will help sort these glitches out.
But the business model is heavily flawed – in that there isn’t one. In its current form, this is (more…)
The day after acting Sunday Times editor Martin Ivens was obliged to apologise to the Jewish community for the offence caused by Gerald Scarfe’s anti-Netanyahu cartoon, there was generally a lot more heat than light shed on the subject.
A Scarfe cartoon is never pleasant, and this seemed designed to provoke a reaction. But in my view, one commentator got it right. The Jewish Chronicle’s comment editor Jennifer Lipman wrote a superb column for the Independent’s website which gives real balance and insight on the issue.
“What is anti-Semitic is always unpleasant, but what is unpleasant is not always anti-Semitic. That was my take on Gerald Scarfe’s now infamous cartoon,” she writes. Later on, she comes to the nub (more…)
It is too easy to say that a lack of a coherent digital is what killed HMV, Comet and Jessops. Too easy, but at least partly true. As this article by Philip Beeching on Guardian.co.uk shows, the senior management at HMV refused to understand the inevitable, even when it was presented to them in 2002. He claims that, at an advertising pitch he made:
The relevant chart went up and I said: “The three greatest threats to HMV are, online retailers, downloadable music and supermarkets discounting loss leader product.”
Suddenly I realised the MD had stopped the meeting and was visibly angry. “I have never heard such rubbish (more…)
It is an over-simplification to say that businesses behave and grow like people: from selfish baby, to disruptive toddler, to self-conscious and defensive teenager, to the increasing comfort and complacency of the twenties, thirties and forties. Still, I’ll stick with it. And I’m intrigued, at the moment, by the transitions between stages. There have been many examples in recent (more…)
A potentially significant development took place in France yesterday, as the government ordered an internet service provider, Free, from blocking online advertising. Free, like all ISPs, carries an enormous volume of ad traffic from Google and others, and it believes it’s (more…)
This evening’s British Journalism awards was a low key affair. But not – as you might expect given the Leveson inquiry and the mass-summoning of newspaper editors to No 10 today – a downbeat one.
It was run by Press Gazette which, even in its new online-only form, continues to celebrate the best (and excoriate the worst) in British journalism. It was fitting, in this week of all weeks, that the awards were held in the sober surroundings of the Stationer’s Hall. The Stationer’s Company, its spokesman reminded us, was responsible for enforcing the closure of unlicensed publications for much of its early history. ‘Unlicensed’, (more…)
I don’t especially agree with Martin’s conclusion on yesterday’s Leveson report, although like many I share his core concerns. The next few days, and months, will present us a range of conflicting voices ranging from the reasoned to the hysterical on both sides. For many, we need press regulation to save innocent lives from being torn apart by a feral destructive press, for others this is the first step on the road to the Thought Police and Stalinist control of the free press. Or many more reasoned points in between.
I’ll freely admit that I still don’t know for certain which side of the argument I come down on. I’m most inclined to agree with Emily Bell over at the Guardian. The debate already seems as outdated and redundant as the superinjunction at a time when (more…)
Like most people who will comment upon it – or certainly have in the last few hours – I have not read the Leveson report in full. There are, after all, 2000 pages, and I’ve been in a lot of meetings today. But I have read enough and seen enough to give an accurate and definitive summary (I hope). Here it is:
1) Everything that is bad is (more…)
Dermot Murnaghan interviewed me today on Sky News about George Entwistle’s departure and the new search for Director General at the BBC. It was a warm-up for his interview with Tim Davie, which ended testily, with the acting DG saying he had a job to get on with and walking off. In contrast, my interview was the very embodiment of civility.
Prior to my interview, I was asked several questions by Sky staff which didn’t make it to air – and some may be worth recording. The following contains a summary of those questions and my answers.
Q: Is it normal for internal candidates to be appointed?
A: As has been fairly well documented, the headhunter concerned in Entwistle’s recruitment (not us) approached and interviewed a broad range of candidates for the role. The shortlist contained (more…)