How Journalism Works (Part 94)


Yesterday we reported exclusively that Bob Roberts will be appointed as Ed Miliband’s news spinner. The Guardian followed it up with “There were unconfirmed reports today that Bob Roberts, political editor of the Mirror, is to become Miliband’s director of communications…”, note the lack of attribution to the unconfirmed report. The FT’s Jim Pickard went with it, having apparently troubled himself to get a non-denial from Bob, the Daily Mail just went with it – again without attribution. They can’t bring themselves to give credit, because then their editors would ask them why they were beaten – again – by a below-the-salt blogger?

Saturday Seven Up

7upThis week the most popular stories were about Jeremy Hunt, Denis MacShane and Mike Hancock – the c***t theme being common to them all.

Guido’s favourite story of the week (which got no follow up in the Dead Tree Press) was an extract from Steve Hilton’s policy grid. There is more fun to come from that.

This week the blog had 415,100 page views from 253,109 visits by 88,009 visitors, which means this blog now has more daily readers than The Times online. The top 7 stories last week in order of popularity were:

You’re either in front of Guido, or you are behind…

Gove No Longer a Demigod

Guido has noticed that The Times’s Sarah Vine has more than a passing interest in writing about the male form. Take this morning’s column about that Russian for example:

Vine is also known as Mrs Gove. Guido knows he has had a rough couple of months after having Balls beat him up over the summer, but hadn’t realised Gove’s standing had dropped quite that low. The Secretary of State for Education was unavailable for comment…

Industry Research : Guido Has More Readers Than Times

And lo it has come to pass as Guido predicted. Back in June (“The Times’ Paywall of Death”) this blog offered a wager that within 12 months no Times political columnist will have more measurable readers online than Guido. We now have authoritative confirmation of the prediction having come true.

According to industry analysts Experian Hitwise their research suggests that approximately 54,000 people access The Times, with as few as 28,000 being paying customers. On Monday this blog served 75,233 pages, the average weekday readership is circa 60,000.

Last week The Times revealed snidely that Guido has paying advertisers. Have a look at The Times front-page online today (you can see it for free) and you will see not one single paying advertisement. It is no longer a commercial proposition. Print advertising is in long term decline, online advertising is growing at some 10% per annum. This blog has been more profitable than Times Online for years, now it also has more readers and more advertisers. Murdoch is making a strategic error on a grand scale…

Polly Missed Guardian Tax Justice Demo

In February 2009 Guido’s co-conspirators held a tax justice demo outside the Guardian’s spanking new HQ. Shouting “Scott Was a Tax Evader” and “GMG Fat Cats Pay No Tax”. We didn’t manage to get any support from multi-millionaire, three home-owning, anti-poverty campaigner Polly Toynbee. We would have dragged her out if we could…

The Guardian Media Group is one of the shrewdest corporate avoiders of tax in Britain, in 2008 it made a £300 million profit and yet managed to pay no corporation tax, the following year in 2009 it still paid no corporation tax, it uses the offshore Caymans tax haven to own assets, it uses tax efficient trusts and deploys all manner of perfectly legal tax shelter strategies to avoid paying tax. Polly seems silent about this tax dodging…

See also: Guardian’s Tax Hypocrisy is RidiculousTax Justice Protest Against Guardian Tax Dodging

Another One Bites the Dust

As the news emerges that The Telegraph is set to join the FT, News of the World and The Times behind the paywall, Guido is intrigued to why such a decision was made when all the evidence shows it’s not a winner. The Times has lost 95% of their online traffic, but the bad news doesn’t stop there. Since they introduced their pay-wall in June their paper sales have headed south as well:

Introducing a pay-wall was supposed to increase revenue by forcing people to buy the paper or subscribe online. Instead the decline of newspaper sales is unmitigated. There will be glum faces over in Victoria as it dawns on the hacks that soon nobody will be reading their work…

Polly Slammed By the PCC

Polly final solution for the poor” Toynbee has been slapped down by the Press Complaints Commission for her remarks comparing the government cuts to the murder of six million Jews:

“The Commission understood that readers may have found the use of the phrase “final solution” in the context of an article about benefits cuts unnecessary and offensive.”

Nice to see Polly’s exit from reality has been officially noted.

Pay-Wall Silences Purnell Spurn

Labour Uncut have got a lot of attention today for revealing that Ed Miliband offered former Blairite MP James Purnell the job of his Chief of Staff. The only man brave enough to stand up to Gordon Brown, before being let down by David Miliband, seemingly refused to touch the job with a barge pole. The story has sent ripples of excitement through the Labour lot and the hacks. But was this as exclusive? No.

The Times apparently ran the story nine days ago, but because of their pay-wall no one saw it or took any notice. For their take Labour Uncut get all the credit and the traffic, leaving Wapping’s finest with nothing. Guido bets their political team are a happy bunch this afternoon given they managed to save Red Ed from humiliation.

Mr Harding Goes To Washington

Well not quite, but to a ranch in Texas in fact. Guido learns that Murdoch has secured the serialisation of George W. Bush’s long awaited “I was right all along and screw you all” book and The Times editor James Harding is flying out next week for cigars and non-alcoholic beer on the ranch. Shame no one will get to read the pay-walled interview though, just this week Harding was moaning it was a “tricky business”.

Did You See Guido’s Column in the Mail Today?

It was only a fortnight ago that Guido wrote to the Daily Mail’s editor, Paul Dacre, asking him for a columnist’s job at the Mail. Some of you will have noticed that he has decided that Guido’s distinctive style and subject choices are worthy of a column. However due to an unfortunate mix-up at the printers the paper has run Guido’s stories with Andrew Pierce’s byline. What other explanation can there be?

The lead story in the Mail column was a piece on Tristram Hunt, which admittedly appeared here on the blog a full 7 days ago, but it was such a good take on the story – pointing out that Tristram’s alma mater was a member of the Eton group of schools – it was worth repeating. Quote of the Day this morning was Guido’s Quote of the Day on Friday and even the story about DfID hosting a “gender and climate change seminar” was recycled from Thursday’s blog.

Guido’s invoice is on the way…

Finally An A-Polly-Gee

In a rare move for the belligerent and hyperactive columnist, Polly Toynbee this morning apologised for the inflammatory language that Guido highlighted the other day, when she compared a slight tweak in government benefits policy to the slaughter of six million Jews. On her “final solution” comment she said:

“Yes, it was over the top, a slip of the pen, made worse by the fact that it was put in the headline. I regret it.”

Savour the moment, Guido doesn’t imagine we will get another half-apology any time soon…

Sorting Out the BBC is a Job for Kelvin or Dacre

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is looking for an exceptional individual to lead a strong and independent BBC. Or so the advert goes for the new Chairman of the BBC Trust.

The broad post is responsible for strategy and standards across the vast, over-burdening leviathan, and with a radical choice of candidate the BBC could finally begin to overhaul the bias and waste that so damages the organisation. So who could be brought in shake things up?

Rumour and whispers say that Paul Dacre isn’t long for the Daily Mail editor’s hot-seat. Rothermere was in the front row of Cameron’s conference speech and Guido hears that eyebrows have been raised at the increased attacks on the paper’s reputation. As one of the BBC’s fiercest critics, why not let Dacre put his money where his mouth is, and instead of merely shouting from the sidelines, see if he can do any better?

Kelvin MacKenzie has a wealth of broadcast experience, setting up L!veTV and the hugely successful TalkSport. He is a polished performer in public and could bring some much needed private sector efficiency to the Beeb. If anyone can put a bit of stick about it would be Kelvin.

It doesn’t look like Andy Coulson is being forced out anywhere fast, but after a third bottle at lunch the other day a former spinner in-the-know let slip that it is likely he will bow out next year in an “offer he can’t refuse” situation. Common sense would have him returning to News Corp at an extremely senior level, but perhaps after juggling the entire government comms strategy, one last public service could tempt him…

Guido is sure any of these candidates would be welcomed with open arms by the Beeboids, better than their nightmare scenario of TV reviewer Gary Bushell at the helm at any rate…

Cuts Causing Commentariat to Exit Reality-Based Community

Polly Toynbee is taking the end of welfare-for-life badly, it has clearly pushed her over the edge, she spitefully told a fellow Guardian journalist recently that her breast cancer was exacerbated, deservedly, because she had worked for the Murdoch press.

Yesterday she claimed “the Tories have a final solution for the poor”. Yes, Polly thinks capping benefits at £26,000 a year is comparable to the genocide of 6 million Jews.

Polly has finally lost it.

Look With Your Eyes Not With Your Hands

Something is just a little bit too convenient about this photo of Beaker the Leaker:

Guido does find it rather amusing that in order to avoid being accused of “announcing to the press before announcing to the House” the government seems to have just accidentally happened to get photographed reading the chosen headline figure.

Dave got caught flashing photographers a document as well. Instead of briefing the press the new method seems to be to simply flash briefings to photographers so hacks know what to write about thus softening the blow. Despite the half a million jobs figure being the official forecast for months, every single newspaper splashed it this morning…

Could this be a plausibly deniable job well done? Though questions still remain about why the Telegraph had the entire Defence Review before it was announced yesterday…

An Open Letter to Paul Dacre

The Cellar
House of Commons
London
SW1 0AA

Mr Paul Dacre,
Editor the Daily Mail

Dear Mr Dacre,

I would like to apply for a job as one of your columnists. As you will see below your current columnist Andrew Pierce has deemed my work worthy of your hallowed pages, he will no doubt be happy to provide a reference.

In the last few weeks Mr Pierce has found my website a wonderful resource for his columns:

Since the beginning of October Mr Pierce has seen fit to lift an entire story concerning William Hague’s former Special Advisor Christopher Myers, he didn’t even try to find a new angle on it. Two days later my story concerning the Tories putting a press officer on Newsnight was lifted almost word for word. And just this morning exactly the same happened with my exclusive concerning Steve Hilton and Rageh Omar.

Given Mr Pierce appears to simply lift my copy and scoops without any payment, perhaps you should simply cut out the middle man and get your stories from the source? You may be unaware that Mr Pierce has a magpie-like long track record of cutting and pasting the most sparkling stories that would shame those avian thieves, as indeed Private Eye reported several years ago. Despite this Pierce continues to deny he is even a reader of my “ugly and boorish” website. You will no doubt agree the evidence suggests otherwise.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Yours in middle class solidarity,

Guido Fawkes Esq.

Guardian Should Launch a Satellite Channel if it Wants Plurality

All of Rupert Murdoch’s British rivals have got together to complain to Vince Cable that he is better than them. In a charge led by the Guardian Media Group (readership down 10%, losses up 77% to £171 million this year) they argue that he will be too dominant in newspapers and broadcasting. People forget that Murdoch bet everything on Sky, it almost bankrupted him. The Daily Mail also set up a satellite channel about the same time – younger co-conspirators won’t remember British Satellite Broadcasting’s “Squarial” – it failed. Now the Mail has joined with the Guardian demanding that the government handicaps Murdoch for being successful. The rivals put forward a specious argument about media plurality – though how News International buying the bit of Sky they don’t already own changes plurality from a consumer’s point of view escapes Guido. Murdoch succeeded and in doing so he single-handedly broke the BBC / ITV duopoly. Before the advent of Sky we had less media plurality.

What is really the biggest danger to media plurality? Failure, newspapers going bankrupt and out of business. The editor and management of The Guardian would be better employed trying to reduce their losses rather than pulling down their competitors.

The BBC, Channel 4, the Telegraph and Mirror groups have all joined in the complaint to Vince Cable. Ironically it is the BBC that arguably crowds out potential competitors by offering products which it is very difficult to compete against, because the BBC has no need to make a profit. If the Guardianistas are really concerned about media plurality why don’t they do what Murdoch did – set up their own satellite channel. Guido for one would love to see a Guardian/Mirror channel launched, with their media brand’s partisan values up against a Fox-style Sky.

Go on Rusbridger, do something to increase media plurality, rather than just moaning about a lack of it…

Polly Spins for Hubby Again

Polly is pushing her warped logic to the maximum in her column today suggesting that just because one department spends more money on boxes of paper, Whitehall needs more quangos to regulate costs and other such daft ideas. Quoting the National Audit Office, the Tuscan-typer is clearly still scathing about the scrapping if the Audit Commission and the subsequent loss of her husband’s job as their spinner.

Despite attacking Philip Green’s wife in the rant, yet again Polly feels no need to declare an interest that she is continuing to fight her husband’s lost battle. She does however manage to squeeze his name in eventually – in a plug for their new co-authored book at the bottom of the article.

Minister Mauls Guardian

That extra million votes that the LibDems picked up in May was more to do with Cleggmania than the Guardian’s lukewarm endorsement but it’s nice to know their support was appreciated.

While it was hardly Tony Woodley shredding a copy of The Sun from the podium, Paul Burstow lashed out the “spreader of misinformation and lies”. Arguably a fair assessment of the last bastion of print leftism, but unfortunately for the Health Minister, Newsnight’s beady eyed Michael Crick spied him briefing the very same newspaper this morning.

What was he passing on, misinformation or lies?

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.[…] Read the rest

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