Clause for Owen Jones Moment

Guardian journalists have today been emailed by the editor, Kath Viner, a detailed set of company “social media guidelines.” “This document explains how we expect Guardian News & Media (GNM) employees and contributors to behave on social media”. Guido – an occasional contributor to the Guardian – the word rate means it is not worth abiding by the rules at the cost of lost banter. Buried inside the document there is specific clause that was apparently included as a result of complaints about Guardian journalists baiting Owen Jones on Twitter in an uncomradely way.

The ‘Owen Jones Clause’ appears under the subheading of “Tone”.

“Do not use social media to air internal disputes with colleagues or contributors, or with the Guardian”

Traditionally a drunken punch up outside the Coach & Horses in Clerkenwell was the accepted way to resolve internal disputes between Guardian hacks. Bloody tweeting snowflakes…

Hat-tip Mark Di Stefano

Guardian U-Turns to Take Seumas’ Line

Curious about-turn at the Guardian over the last 24 hours. Thursday’s paper ran this strong leader criticising Corbyn and backing Theresa May’s conclusion on Russian responsibility:

“Mr Corbyn’s reluctance to share Mrs May’s basic analysis of the Salisbury incident made him look eager to exonerate a hostile power… Britain has been targeted with a chemical weapon and it is almost certain that there is only one plausible culprit with the means and the motive. The prime minister might not have as many tools for retaliation, unilateral or international, as she would like. But she has judged correctly that the time for equivocation, given the sinister nature of Mr Putin’s regime, is over.”

Yet this morning’s paper pours scorn on the previous day’s leader, running a story headlined: “UK’s claims questioned: doubts voiced about source of Salisbury novichok”. It echoes Seumas Milne’s line comparing the situation to Iraqi WMD, and quotes “arguments” on “social media” that the novichok could have come from “some non-state group, maybe criminals”. It even links to the infamous conspiracy theorist Craig Murray’s blog claiming “Israel undoubtedly has as much technical capacity as any state to synthesise Novichoks”. The decision to promote a source like Murray, a man who has spent time in a residential mental health facility, has caused bewilderment in the Guardian newsroom…

Guardian hacks are wondering why their paper’s line has changed so dramatically in such a short space of time. They doubt a respected journalist like Ewan MacAskill would write such an odd piece without instructions from above. Surely nothing to do with Seumas giving his old friend Kath Viner Corbyn’s big op-ed this morning…

Kath Viner Not Keen on Seumas Affair Story

A Guardian source tells MediaGuido those photos of lefty lothario Seumas Milne were the talk of the newsroom yesterday. Hacks at Kings Place spent the day speculating about the identity of their former colleague’s blonde companion. Yet for some strange reason the tale doesn’t make today’s paper, despite being all over rival broadsheets. Seems editor Kath Viner is not keen on Seumas affair stories… 

Guardian: “How Did the Language of Politics Get So Toxic?”

viner

Today’s Guardian publishes an opinion piece asking “how did the language of politics get so toxic?”. It criticises the “verbal violence” of metaphors used by the media, those who use words like “treachery” and “vermin“, and asks: “Why have we forgotten Jo Cox?”. The article has been tweeted out approvingly by the paper’s editor Kath Viner…

Of course, this is the same Guardian which has in the last month published headlines claiming Brexit is “an act of treachery”, accused Michael Gove of “weapons-grade treachery” and another calling him a “political serial killer”. The same Guardian which sells on its online shop t-shirts, mugs and prints of the famous Nye Bevan quote calling Tories “lower than vermin”:

bevan

How did the language of politics get so toxic, indeed…

H/T Daniel Sugarman

Seumas Milne’s Closeness to Guardian Editor

There has been consternation in Labour circles and at the Guardian over Seumas Milne being allowed to work for Jeremy Corbyn while “on leave” from King’s Place. The bizarre arrangement suggests he still has his column waiting for him if and when things go south with Jezza. How was the curious deal allowed to go ahead?

Guido hears that the key factor was his very close personal relationship with Guardian editor Kath Viner. The couple have been close friends for years and Kath is known to have always loved his column. Though staff on the paper have been perplexed at why £340,000-a-year Viner, a relative moderate politically, is so enamoured with the handsome revolutionary firebrand. Kath – 44 years-old and unmarried – is such a close ally of Seumas that he even “canvassed on her behalf for several months” when she was campaigning for the editorship. Sources say he was drumming up support for her “night and day 24/7”, causing many raised eyebrows at the time. The Guardian and the Labour leadership are closer than they’ve ever been…

The Corbian Hiring

guardian front page

The journal of record for Corbynistas is advertising for a “Wealth Correspondent”.  Are they thinking of launching an FT-style “How to spend it” section?

According to an email from Kath Viner (basic salary £340,000) they will cover “the wealth gap and the super-rich elite” Sort of like “How they spend it”? 

We are looking for a wealth correspondent to write news articles, features, liveblogs, interviews, background and other material on the wealth gap and the super-rich elite. Combining financial literacy with first-rate storytelling, you will generate exclusive news stories with national and international impact, focusing on the super-wealthy, their lives, their influence, and the impact they have on society.

Guido’s source inside King’s Place says “The wealth correspondent is a Corbyn correspondent by another name. Place has gone nuts for Corbyn. People like Freedland and Kettle are walking around in a daze.” Apparently when Corbyn came in the fan hysteria was worse even than when Benedict Cumberbatch visited…

New Guardian Editor Names and Shames Traffic De-Link-quent Hacks

New Guardian editor Kath Viner is making her mark at King’s Place. Busy news journalists were grateful for this urgent missive yesterday, reminding them of “one of the most important elements of… good journalism” – adding links to previous Guardian articles in your copy to game traffic. She is even naming and shaming hacks who don’t comply.

One of the easiest things everyone can do is link to other Guardian stories when writing a Guardian story.

It’s very simple (highlight the word; Apple K; paste in link) and yet is one of the most important elements of digital practice and good journalism. It gives readers context and background, and it drives traffic.

It’s especially relevant for reporters and writers; simply add as many relevant links as you can to previous articles (which may well include items you wrote yourself). Although desk editors and subs often help out after the fact, it’s not their responsibility — the person who wrote the story is best-placed to know the linkable items that will be most helpful to readers.

Ophan has a particular page to show the most-read pieces on a given day which contain no internal links. Here is yesterday’s list of shame.

If you’re unsure how to do it, feel free to have a discreet word with anyone on the desks, or Chris Moran.

Get linking please!

Thanks,
Kath

Newshounds breaking stories might unfairly sniff at Viner’s features background, but she is of course completely correct. You can read Guido’s past stories on the Guardian and Ms. Viner here and here

Rusbridger Redux

rusbridger-banged-out

Rusbridger was banged out of the building by his staff last week. His successor is Katharine Viner:

kath-viner

He wrote his own obituary for his editorship in his last paper, it seems only right that the Guardian’s fiercest critics should have a look back as well.

Rusbridger bet big on digital; The Times, Telegraph and cash-starved Indy don’t really match The Guardian in the quality of their digital offer. Rusbridger decided on digital first before the other papers – some of which still hold back the best stories for the second edition to serve yesterday’s news in tomorrow’s papers – which doesn’t really cut it in the digital age. The second big bet was on a “free-to-air” model with no internet paywall. The Mail and The Guardian are both close to making this work financially, the jury is still out as to if the greater scale of advertising will trump paywall subscriptions. The Guardian’s mobile app is quite simply way ahead of any other British newspaper’s app.

Rusbridger maintained the liberal traditions of the paper, it is safe to say the editorial values of the Guardian and Guido clash. We’re believers in the liberating power and prowess of capitalism in raising living standards for all. They’re hand-wringing worriers about social justice who want to tax us into equality. So much for economics as politics by other means. However we’re admirers of the tenacity with which Rusbridger pursued some stories – phone hacking was mostly indefensible, the Snowden revelations were in the public interest, as were the Wikileaks revelations – which they handled well in the circumstances.

Rusbridger’s Guardian lost money, this along with their shifty offshore assets tax hypocrisy was a constant theme of ours for years. Guido believes that profit is the best guarantor of independence. A multiplicity of revenue streams means never being so dependent that you are compromised. The Guardian’s business model has profit as a secondary consideration, having succeeded in creating a massive tax efficient endowment from selling Auto Trader. If they don’t overspend too much that will last them for many decades yet and, even if they do, Liz Forgan told Guido that she could see a few billionaires endowing their brand of liberal journalism in perpetuity.

On balance as a news brand Rusbridger’s Guardian is a triumph, as a business less so. However, to be fair, who in the newspaper business has been more successful?

Two anecdotes: Guido was once cornered at an awards ceremony by Rusbridger’s two daughters, they physically pinned him to a pillar and berated him for an age – in no uncertain terms – for being sexist and, far more importantly, mean to their father. On recounting this story to Alan he literally beamed with fatherly pride.

Some years before that, at a think-tank lunch, Rusbridger was the guest speaker and positively glared at Guido throughout his talk on the difficulties of keeping a newspaper viable in the dawning digital age. When it came for questions he seized the moment to have a go back at Guido. Pointing his finger, he sneered “you’d probably be glad to see us go under, wouldn’t you, well?” At this point Guido turned to the chairman of the lunch: “This is under Chatham House rules, isn’t it? None of us can report who says what?” The chairman nodded. Guido turned back to Rusbridger, “Whenever I am abroad on holiday it is the paper I choose to buy for the breadth and depth of coverage. You edit one of the greatest papers in the world.” Deflated, Alan slumped back in his chair with a bemused grin…

Election Result Due Imminently

nuj-ballot-guardian

There is another election result due soon…

UPDATE: Media Guardian beats Media Guido for once….

kath-vinerStaff of the Guardian and Observer have voted in favour of Katharine Viner, the current editor-in-chief of Guardian US, in an indicative ballot on who should be the next editor-in-chief after Alan Rusbridger steps down after 20 years this summer.

Some 53% of those who voted backed Viner with a first choice vote of 438. In second place was Emily Bell, director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University and a non-executive director of Guardian-owner the Scott Trust with 188 votes. Janine Gibson, editor-in-chief of theguardian.com, was in close third place, with 175 votes. Wolfgang Blau, GNM’s director of digital strategy, received 29 votes.

Runners and Riders for New Guardian Editor

  • Janine Gibson – Seen as the heiress apparent, this year Janine came home from the US to be deputy editor and editor-in-chief of the Guardian website
  • Katharine Viner – Replaced Gibson as editor of Guardian US, might she leapfrog her predecessor?
  • Emily Wilson – Former UK network editor of the website, now she is Down Under having taken over from Viner.
  • Dan Sabbagh – 94/1
  • Amol Rajan – Time for a person of colour?
  • James Ball – Has written every story of significance in the Guardian for the last 10 years, or so he claims.
  • Edward Snowden – You can run a paper from Skype, right?
  • Frank Fisher – Right-wing legend who writes most of Comment is Free (in the comments).
  • Russell Brand – King of the C U Next Tuesdays.
  • Jonathan Freedland – Sound on Palestine.
  • Ian Katz – Return of the Prince from the Guardian’s broadcasting arm.

Surely it’s time for the Guardian to have their first non-private school educated editor? 

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