RUMOUR: BBC’s James Harding to Replace FT’s Lionel Barber

barber-harding

Could Lionel Barber be on his way out as editor of the Financial Times? MediaGuido heard a rumour doing the rounds of the metropolitan elite’s cocktail party circuit that the former Times editor turned BBC head of news, James Harding, is being lined up as a potential replacement at the Pink’un.

Might Harding be moving back to print after less than a year at the Beeb?

FT Rejects IPSO, Sets Up Own Regulator

FT editor Lionel Barber says the paper will set up its own mechanism to deal with complaints. It won’t be part of the new IPSO press regulator:

The Financial Times stands for an independent press, free of economic and political interference. We therefore support efforts to create a more robust system of independent regulation for the industry in the wake of the Leveson inquiry.

After careful consideration, the FT has decided to put in place a system which is accountable, credible, robust and highly adaptable to meet the pace of change in our industry. We believe this approach is consistent with our record of journalistic excellence and integrity, and it builds on our already strong system of governance designed to maintain the highest possible ethical standards.

The FT has established a track record for treading its own path at a time of wrenching change in the news business. We have consistently taken decisions which have marked a break with established industry practice when it is the right thing to do for our readers and business.

Our approach reflects the FT’s standing as an increasingly digital news operation with a global footprint. More than three-quarters of our readers are now outside the UK. Our main competitors are global news organisations, each of which applies its own system of independent regulation. There is no industry standard.

The FT has been a longstanding member of the Press Complaints Commission, which is due to expire shortly. Readers will therefore no longer have recourse to the PCC as an independent service for dealing with complaints. In its place, we will set up a new mechanism to handle reader complaints in the event that they feel our internal procedures fail to provide an adequate response or redress.

Two points are relevant here. First, our record at the PCC in recent years shows that in the overwhelming majority of cases the FT has been exonerated from criticism. Second, the FT is always willing to deal with complaints expeditiously and, if warranted, publish a clarification, correction or apology.

Nevertheless, we recognise that we need to provide additional reassurances in the post-PCC world. We will therefore be creating a new position of editorial complaints commissioner. The remit and reporting line will be set out in a public advertisement in due course. The successful candidate will be appointed by a three-person committee and will be independent of the editor.

In addition, the FT will continue to provide platforms for readers to comment on articles and participate in discussion with our reporters and commentators. We believe our conversation with readers around the world is important. Understanding what they need and value is vital to our success as a news organisation.

The FT will continue to engage with our peers in the industry. Every newspaper and news group must make their own choice regarding regulation. At this point, we have decided to plot our own course. We are committed to best practice and determined to uphold the high standards that have served the FT and our readers so well over the past 126 years.

Saying thanks but no thanks to Brian, the Royal Charter and IPSO…

Change in Paywall Linking Policy

With the coming of Sun+ next month, where readers will be charged to read the paper online, four national newspaper websites will now be behind a paywall. As of August the Times, FT, Telegraph and Sun will be asking readers to pay for content. Even if the “Digital First” Telegraph’s attempt at keeping out cheapskates is amusingly easy to dodge by going incognito, this means that four of the papers Guido is most likely to link to are now paywall protected. So it is time for a change of linking policy. Guido has previously tended not to link to paywall sites on Seen Elsewhere, using a ‘£’ sign on the rare occasions that links are given. Since so many papers have now succumbed to a paywall this no longer makes sense. So links will now be given to paywall sites as they would non-paywall sites, without a ‘£’ sign. If you are unable to remember if a website is behind a paywall, that is your problem.

Incidentally, it is still Guido’s view that websites without unique content won’t make a success of charging for that content online. The audience is still out on that one…

What’s in a Name?

You would have thought the FT would know the name of their own star columnist Janan Ganesh:

Could have been worse, they could have called him Jeffrey…

Via @georgeeaton

The Pink ‘Un Awakes

There is usually radio silence over at the Pearson-owned FT whenever Pearson-owned Edexcel are in the news, so Guido was surprised to see the paper wade into the debate on exam boards this morning. They argue: “Mr Gove’s plan to approve just one exam board for each subject…is a welcome step forward. Abolishing competition need not lead to falling standards if the government sets the bar high enough.” According to FT education correspondent Chris Cook, this was a rare sign of editorial independence:

However, he added one crucial caveat:

Cook went on to admit that the move “might not be as bad for Edexcel as many people suspect“. Guido can’t imagine why he would back abolishing the competition…

Silence of the Pink ‘Un IV

The FT‘s education correspondent Chris Cook has inexplicably missed out on yet another great story. An A-level maths exam due to be sat next week has been scrapped after a major security breach – it turns out the exam board, Edexcel, accidentally delivered a batch of papers to a British school in Egypt. The news was picked up by all the main news outlets, yet somehow the FT missed it, again:

  • Telegraph: A-level exam axed following major security breach
  • BBC: Maths A-level exam paper scrapped
  • Mail: Thousands of A-level exam papers pulped after security error
  • Press Association: Maths exam sent to schools in error

It’s not like the FT and Edexcel are owned by the same company or anything…

Silence of the Pink ‘Un III

Once is chance, twice coincidence, but three times just looks like poor form from the FT’s Education Correspondent Chris Cook. Once again a story that is awkward for his proprietor – Pearson “the world’s leading learning company”- has failed to make the pages of the pink ‘un. After years of denials, Ofqual have finally ruled that exams are getting easier – a pretty big story it seems:

  • Sun: GCSE is too easy
  • Independent: Exams are easier now, report finds
  • Mirrror: Exams now easier than 10 years ago
  • Telegraph: Exam system ‘undermined after decade of dumbing down’
  • Mail: The proof that exams really have got easier
  • Guardian: A-level exams have become easier, says regulator
  • Times: A-levels have got easier, says exam chief

And nothing in the FT. Surely that pious and righteous bastion of journalistic integrity would not suppress the truth because of its commercial interests?

Cooking the Books

Given that the system is already at breaking point, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing that the number of university applications is falling, but nearly all the papers this week have agreed that it is happening:

Mirror: “University applications fall 25,000″

Mail: “University applications down by 23,000″

Indy: “University applications down despite late surge”

Times: “Fewer British and European students apply to universities despite surge before deadline”

Telegraph: “University demand falls by 8%”

Guardian: “University applications slip by 8% as fees triple”

Only the FT bucked the trend with: “Students undeterred by higher University fees”

Guess which one of those pieces was written by a former adviser to David Willetts, the Minister responsible for universities?

Take a bow, spinner turned Education Correspondent and blog favourite, Chris Cook of the FT…

Silence of the Pink ‘Un II

There are 22 articles currently listed on Google News regarding this morning’s Education Select Committee. They all mention the appearance of Rod Bristow, president of Pearson UK. The publishers own the exam board Edexcel, as well as the Financial Times[…]

Silence of the Pink ‘Un

Another day and another good secret camera sting. This time it’s the Telegraph catching out exam board officials briefing teachers, for cash, what will be in the exams in order for their pupils to up their grades. Nearly every other […]

FT Editor Wants to Tax and Regulate Guido

The FT’s cerebral editor Lionel Barber gave the Fulbright Lecture last night about media matters of concern to the chatterati (The Future of News and Newspapers in the Digital Revolution). Barber joins the chorus for a […]



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Andrew Neil on the dying Dead Tree Press

“I read more bloggers now than mainstream columnists, because they’ve got more interesting things to say. Too many columnists today make you think, ‘Yeah, I think you’ve said that 10 times before and I’ve just noticed your column has not go a single fact in it’”.

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