Religious Reporting Guardian Style

Guido may have suggested yesterday that the Guardian editorial team was full of ill-informed atheist bigots, lacking in respect for alternative belief systems as well as being intolerant of those who have faith and believe in God. Obviously this is entirely refuted by the fact that they have a religious affairs correspondent.

As can be seen, Riazat Butt is clearly knowledgable and takes her job seriously…

Take a Look in the Mirror

While the Mirror and the Guardian try to breathe air into the phone hacking scandal, lets take a look at why it isn’t really only about evil Murdoch and his newspapers. A little evidence based research, with the help of the Information Commissioner’s Office, shows how all the papers were up to dirty tricks and “blagging” – pretending to be someone you are not in order to gain information you are not entitled to or worse still bribing phone company, HMRC and DVLC employees to obtain information. Who do you think had the most recorded offences?

So where is Watson’s call to have the Mirror and the Mail hauled up before Parliament to answer questions, or does that not fit the attack strategy?

Coulson Cleared

Well not quite, but Channel 4 News have certainly put The Guardian in a tricky spot. The paper’s strategy is to drip out one former Screws hack every day to keep the story alive, but it seems that they are grasping at straws already:

“Paul McMullan told the Guardian newspaper this morning that David Cameron’s communications chief “would certainly be well aware that the practice was pretty widespread,” but Channel 4 News has learnt from the former features executive that he left the paper in 2001, two years before Mr Coulson became its chief.”

Investigatory journalism at its finest…

UPDATE : Latest betting prices from Political Smarkets – Will Andy Coulson leave? Yes 43% / No 70%.

Commons Committee to Investigate NOTW

As the phone “hacking” saga gets its debate in the House, and now a Standards and Privileges Committee investigation, new levels of hysteria have been reached. Tom Watson is demanding that Rupert Murdoch to be called before Parliament to answer for himself. Don’t hold your breath mate…

Given journalists left, right and centre are openly admitting, sometimes live on TV, that the practice of listening to other people’s answer-phone messages was widespread, you must wonder how papers like the Observer and the Mirror are justifying their Coulson onslaught. Back in 2002 a crowded room of showbiz reporters cheered and laughed as a Sun hack blamed Vodafone, who were sponsoring the event, for their lax security that enabled the Mirror to get their exclusives. When the Guardian wrote it up back then, they knew exactly what was meant and didn’t bat an eyelid.

Labour’s case is undone by only targeting News International and making this a big bad Murdoch attack. If they were really as concerned as they are pretending to be then they wouldn’t be focussing their fire on just one publication…

Guardian Falls Foul of Scott Trust

Further to the post earlier about the Guardian taking tens of thousands of pounds from local councils in return for editorial guidance over their review of the “Future of Public Services” Guido got thinking. Is this shabby journalism really what was envisaged by the tax-evading CP Scott? The Scott Trust is in place to “secure the financial and editorial independence of the Guardian in perpetuity: as a quality national newspaper without party affiliation; remaining faithful to its liberal tradition; as a profit-seeking enterprise managed in an efficient and cost-effective manner.” All very noble.

Amongst the “essential qualities that Scott believed should form the character of a newspaper” are honesty, fairness and “a sense of duty to the reader and the community”. The Scott Trust’ role is to ensure that these values are upheld throughout Guardian Media Group.

So how does touting out control over a feature to the highest bidder really stack up with this?

Perhaps a complaint to the Scott Trust is in order…

Guardian Surrenders Editorial Control for £15k

The withdrawal of public sector job advertising was always going hurt The Guardian, but it looks as if they are finding new craftier ways of propping up their bloated business model on the public purse. Wendy Miller, the rather grandly named Public Sector Manager, has been emailing local councils and asking them to cough up £15,000 to “sponsor” a Guardian supplement entitled “The Future of Public Services”:

Given the clamp down on public sector lobbying, Guido should think the Guardian got their cash as councils look for new ways to promote their interests,  but why are they still encouraging public money to be wasted on promotion and council aggrandisement? The fact that they are willing to surrender editorial direction for money some what weakens their “look at the culture of public services in the context of a general election and the current financial situation.” While their columnists bleat at the evil cuts, the management side are still scrambling for the taxpayer teat.

Polly's Undeclared Interest

Millionairess Polly Toynbee is on the rampage against public service cuts again this morning:

“Many will see their good faith rewarded with a kick in the teeth. The bullying rudeness and sheer nastiness of Eric Pickles, the chill callousness of Francis Maude and the evident relish with which most ministers flourish carving knives at public services advertise their contempt.”

Whilst managing to get a plug of her book into her column, strangely Polly didn’t feel it necessary to declare any conflict of interests in her special pleading. Given the obvious financial pain Toynbee will be feeling when her husband’s six-figure “loyal public service” non-job at the Audit Commission is scrapped, her readers really should be told about the undue influence this is clearly having on her writing. In the U.S. there would be serious ethical concerns raised about failing to declare such a direct interest. Just because you have three houses to support is no excuse for a drop in journalistic standards…

Polly's Fears Strike Home

Polly writes movingly today of the fear that is stalking the Guardian reading public sector parasitical classes:

“…Cameron and Osborne have been most successful is in frightening people, not in itself a useful economic tool… However, fear can be useful politically. Cameron’s government has skilfully created a hate campaign directed at the public sector. The release by Eric Pickles this week of all the spending data from his department and its quangos was admirable openness – but mainly a crafty assault on everything spent by public servants… Cameron has performed a political conjuring trick of some brilliance in diverting voters’ wrath from the gamblers of high finance to public servants’ excess.

Tragic isn’t it? The truth and openness about public servants’ excesses. Enough to fill any decent Guardian reader with fear…

Polly personally knows the meaning of that fear, having to scrape by on her six-figure Guardian salary supplemented only by media appearance fees and royalties from her book Unjust Rewards, co-authored with her husband David Walker a former Guardian journalist, which attacked the rich and inequality.

He is (for now) the axed Audit Commission’s six-figure salaried Managing Director of Communications and Public Reporting, basically an upmarket spinner. With a household joint-income in the top 1% and some ten times the national average, her husband’s looming unemployment must put her in fear for their multi-million pound property portfolio – the £2.4m London townhouse, the villa in Tuscany, not forgetting the holiday home in upmarket Lewes, Sussex. Thank god Polly and David no longer have to worry about their Amy’s private school fees. How will they cope?

Fact Check: Bouncing Bryony Boobs Column

Shock waves have been sent through the national media today by The Telegraph’s Bryony Gordon. Seemingly tasked with making Colonels splutter into their cornflakes, the former 3am Girl this week devoted her entire column to her ample bosom and the debate surrounding topless sunbathing. Something about the piece got Guido thinking, so he got the Guy News Fact Check team on the case.

In the article Bryony claims:

“When I go on holiday, I like to sunbathe topless. The beach towel goes down, the book comes out, and the bikini top flies off, often in the direction of a startled looking friend who has clearly never seen a pair of breasts before. Topless sunbathing is a wonderful thing, a holiday in itself from underwired bras… Many believe that the topless sunbather is an exhibitionist, a minx and a strumpet. They are mistaken – mostly, we just don’t like tan lines. And we don’t mind our breasts. Is that such a bad thing?

But the picture tells a different story. Here is Bryony snapped on holiday, displaying clear and obvious tan-lines where her bikini top has been. Fact Check verdict? Fiction.

Sunday Times Runners and Riders

There is no denying that the Sunday Times Political Editor’s job is much coveted. Since the news that Jonathon Oliver was heading to spin-land, there have been all sorts of rumours flying around of hats in rings and silent campaigns. Names that have come across Guido’s desk include The Guardian’s Nick Watt (denied from the beach) The Times’s Sam Coates, the Standard’s senior and junior, Joe Murphy and Paul Waugh (denied flatly, though Waugh said it was “nice to be thought worthy of such a plum job”) Guido wasn’t expecting any other response…

Word is that current Deputy Political Editor Isabel Oakeshott is digging in and has her heart set on the job. She’s had a successful run of scoops and ghosted former Labour Party General Secretary Peter Watt’s grenade of a book before the election. An insider says she is greatly respected Wapping way….

Stagnant Staggers Struggles for Staffers

With job openings in journalism a rarity these days, with newspapers laying off staff left right and centre, graduate schemes having thousands of applicants for one place and talk of not paying interns laughed out of the media world, you would think the post of assistant editor to a once prestigious and well read magazine would have the applications flooding in. Not at this dying magazine though…

The New Statesman have had to extend the application process for their assistant editor, presumably because of a lack of interest or quality hats thrown in the ring. Who wouldn’t want to be responsible for the dirth of talent at the struggling magazine?

With such cutting edge insight from the Political Editor Mehdi Hasan such as “The next Labour leader will be called Miliband and the renowned “Mr Scoop” himself, James Macintyre on board, the job would be a breeze, just watch out for those writs. With circulation rapidly heading for rock bottom – just the libraries that subscribe – perhaps those budding lefty hacks have realised the Staggers is a place to end your career rather than start it…

UPDATE: Mehdi got in touch to insist that he is not the Political Editor but the Senior Editor (Political). If that is the only part of the story he could find to refute then things were worse than Guido thought….

Spin-Dominated Dead Tree Press

Guido is a little puzzled. Everytime he reads something about the Treasury Select Committee, it seems to be proceeded by the words “Tory dominated”:

Take this example from the Guardian, or this one from Progress, or from The Mail. Now take a look at the make up of the Treasury Select Committee:

Andrew Tyrie
(non-voting, chairman)

Michael Fallon
Andrea Leadsom
Jesse Norman
David Rutley
Mark Garnie
r

Andy Love
John Mann
George Mudie
Chuka Umunna
John Cryer


John Thurso

Stewart Hosie

Can the old hacks not add up, or are they deliberately not mentioning that far from dominating, the Tories are outnumbered?

A Whopping 27,500 Customers

Guido speculated last week that more people would be coming here for their political news than The Times and the as-of-yet unconfirmed numbers from the first month of the pay-wall won’t make for comfortable reading down Wapping way.  Dan Sabbagh, formerly The Times’ media correspondent, blogs at Beehive City that his sources in Wapping say the figures are 15,000 paying for the content on the web with a further 12,500 paying for the iPad app. Which implies that half as many people now read the Thunderer online as read Guido daily.*

The plan was always fewer, more loyal readers, but unless the Mandy-mania had people flocking to the site last week in tens of thousands, this could get rather embarrassing.

*If it is any consolation to Rupert Murdoch, the two ways readers can pay to subscribe to this blog – via LexisNexis and Amazon’s Kindle – generate about enough revenue to buy a pint per month.

The End Is Nigh

Guido hears that today’s Local Government Association Conference was a right hoot, well perhaps not, but Eric Pickles used his speech there to zero his sight and take aim squarely at The Guardian.

It seems he is coming good on Tories pre-election promise to put public sector job adverts online rather than using taxpayers’ money to subsidise the otherwise unsustainable Guardian business model. Without those public sector adverts the paper is going to be in serious trouble. Not even more deals with Apple will be able to save them. Tragic…

Odd Jobbing from Larry Elliott

The Guardian has managed to turn a leaked Treasury PowerPoint forecasting lower unemployment  into a 1.3 million public sector jobs losses front page story. Larry Elliott, who really does know better, has ignored the same PowerPoint’s prediction of 2.5 million job gains in the private sector, giving a net gain of some 1.2 million jobs (as illustrated by the above chart). The Guardian chose not to front page the headline that the Treasury predicts 1.2 million job gains…

The Office for Budget Responsibility is equally clear in its forecast of lower unemployment

We expect employment to stabilise this year and to start rising in 2011. The ILO unemployment rate is expected to peak at just over 8 per cent in 2010, before falling gradually throughout the forecast period, to just over 6 per cent in 2014. The claimant count continues to decline, from 1½ million in 2010 Q1 to just over 1 million by the end of 2014 (Chart 3.12).

What is obvious to everyone is that the bloated public sector payroll is going to fall and a recovering private sector is expected to take up the slack. Larry has managed to set the news agenda today only by ignoring the whole story.  The loss making Guardian is of course the house-paper of the public sector, with pages full of advertisements for non-jobs.

The Guardian’s advertising revenues will be hit incredibly hard, to the tune of hundreds of millions pounds, by the public sector hiring freeze and the coming shift of public sector job advertising from their printed pages onto jobs.gov.uk.

A cynic might wonder if that perhaps helps to explain the paper’s editorial stance…

Off to Debate Sir Michael White on the "Liberal Elite"

Guido is off to the Institute of Economic Affairs to debate the whats and wherefores of the “liberal elite”. As is traditional whenever Guido goes head-to-head with Sir Michael White, Guido is wearing national dress tonight (pictured).

The Free Society and Liberal Vision will be discussing:

Who holds the liberal torch in 2010: Libertarians, Lib Dems or the “liberal elite”?

Tuesday June 29, 2010 Chaired by Mark Littlewood (Institute of Economic Affairs), speakers include Julian Harris (chairman, Liberal Vision), Chris Mounsey (leader, Libertarian party), Brendan O’Neill (editor, Spiked!), Paul Staines (aka blogger Guido Fawkes), James Delingpole (writer, journalist and broadcaster), Mark Pack (co-editor, Liberal Democrat Voice) and Michael White (assistant editor, Guardian).

The Times' Paywall of Death

The wall is up at The Times even if payment isn’t required yet. It started on May 24 and traffic has more than halved in the month since. It will probably halve again and then some when the cash register opens…

I’ll wager Danny Finkelstein, who is overseeing the Wapping paywall project, that within 12 months no Times political columnist will have more measurable readers online than Guido. Lunch at the restaurant of his choice…

Riddell Redundant

In news smuggled out from from behind the Wapping paywall it is revealed that Peter Riddell the veteran politics commentator is, after 40 years on Fleet Street and 21 years at The Times, taking redundancy.

After relating an anecdote in the Guardian, which reflected on him unfavourably, about asking a group of Oxford students who in the media they trusted more, Peter Riddell took umbrage with Guido. He told a Iain Dale that he really should disassociate himself from yours truly. When independent analysis came along to back up the contention that Riddell was not only less trusted, but his opinion was less sought after, the froideur was total.

Guido’s new ambition to be read by more people than read The Times’ political comment and news looks ever more achievable…

UPDATE : The Guardian is reporting that The Times is losing three members of the business reporting team. Wonder if we will start to see news syndicated across from the Murdoch owned Wall Street Journal in The Times. Makes compelling commercial sense for a paper losing £10,000 an hour.

Negative Campaigning Works

Guido thinks the Libdems have learnt a hard lesson. A lesson learnt by Mandelson, Blair and Brown in the mid-90s. When the British press launches an onslaught against you it hurts, you might want to believe it doesn’t work, but it does.

After the post-TV debate Cleggmania the front-page scrutiny of Clegg was brutal, it wasn’t a pretty sight, some of it was loopy, but it definitely put uncertainty into the minds of many voters. You can kid yourself otherwise, but the tabloids can do damage when they go negative…

To Be or Not to Be…

[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



Tip offs: 0709 284 0531
team@Order-order.com

Quote of the Day

Paul Dacre on the Daily Mail’s future support for Brexit…

“…what moves me most are the countless messages from readers worried about whether the Mail will continue its support for EU withdrawal. My answer to them — and others — is unequivocal. Support for Brexit is in the DNA of both the Daily Mail and, more pertinently, its readers. Any move to reverse this would be editorial and commercial suicide.”

Sponsors

Guidogram: Sign up

Subscribe to the most succinct 7 days a week daily email read by thousands of Westminster insiders.
Marr’s May Monopoly Marr’s May Monopoly
CCHQ Begs Association Chairmen CCHQ Begs Association Chairmen
Paul Mason Reported to Police Paul Mason Reported to Police
Etonian Free Cabinet Etonian Free Cabinet
Paul Mason’s Coming Home to England Paul Mason’s Coming Home to England
PM Runners and Riders PM Runners and Riders
Question Time’s £450,000 Gender Pay Gap Problem Question Time’s £450,000 Gender Pay Gap Problem
Alan Sugar Tries to Get Sacked from BBC Alan Sugar Tries to Get Sacked from BBC
Question Time Runners and Riders Question Time Runners and Riders
Daily Brexit? Daily Brexit?
Sun, Mail, Telegraph Warn May Sun, Mail, Telegraph Warn May
Guy News Special Report : Remain Campaign Cheating Guy News Special Report : Remain Campaign Cheating
Geordie Greig New Mail Editor Geordie Greig New Mail Editor
Mail Runners and Riders Mail Runners and Riders
Peston On Sunday Cancelled Peston On Sunday Cancelled
Evening Standard Denies Report of ‘Selling News’ Evening Standard Denies Report of ‘Selling News’
Watch: Jon Craig Duped By Daily Mash Watch: Jon Craig Duped By Daily Mash
All-Remain Peston Show “Kerfuffle” All-Remain Peston Show “Kerfuffle”
Named: MPs Who Voted Against Press Freedom Named: MPs Who Voted Against Press Freedom