The usual suspects who raise a hue and cry about media plurality seem strangely silent about the Mirror – Express merger. Print sector media plurality is being dramatically reduced from four major media groups to 3 plus the also rans. The new group will have about a quarter market share of the UK dead tree press. As the print market withers it is turning oligopolistic…
Tom Watson is silent, the usual gobby ‘media plurality’ campaigners are also mute. The Guardian isn’t going on about the hackers at the Mirror not being fit and proper to take over the Express. There are genuine public interest concerns; plurality is being reduced and the distinctive political voice of the Express is being put at risk. Are plurality concerns only applicable to Rupert Murdoch?
Dacre and Desmond went all in with their praise for May’s manifesto and “social care revolution” last week, only to be made to look like chumps by the u-turn. The Mail and Express generously spare Theresa any front page blushes…
UPDATE:Though the Mail’s Stephen Glover tells Newsnight: “There’s no doubt the original policy was a cock-up and an own goal.”
Congratulations to Sunday Express political editor Caroline Wheeler, who MediaGuido hears will be the new deputy political editor at the Sunday Times from July. A smart hire, Caroline was one of the few journalists who reported definitively that there would be an early election. She has plenty of Sunday Lobby experience and will now enjoy a deserved wider audience. From one Brexit-backing paper to another…
The second instalment of MediaGuido’s Impress Filereveals attempts by the state-endorsed press regulator to financially ruin three newspapers. Several senior figures at Impress support the so-called Stop Funding Hate (SFH) campaign to boycott advertising in the popular press. SFH’s stated aim is to “take on the divisive hate campaigns of the Sun, Daily Mail and Daily Express by persuading advertisers to pull their support”. It wants to prevent newspapers from “making money by publishing these headlines”.SFH is bullying advertisers to censor or bankrupt the three centre-right newspapers read by millions of Britons.
Impress CEO Jonathan Heawood is a vocal supporter and campaigner on behalf of SFH. He has promoted social media posts from SFH aggressively targeting Boots and HSBC intoremoving ads from MailOnline. He has a pinned tweet in support of an advertising boycott of the Mail. He has shared an SFH article summing up their approach to free speech: “Voltaire… never said I will defend to the death your right to get advertising revenue”.
Impress board member and chair of its code committee Marie Messenger Davies also regularly expresses support for the SFH campaign. Davies has repeatedly promoted posts calling for an advertising boycott of the Mail in particular. Emma Jones, a member of the Impress board and code committee, also regularly promotes SFH. Impress actively campaigns to bankrupt three newspapers – how can it possibly be a fair and balanced regulator of the press?
The Daily Mail and MailOnline have a readership of 23 million a month, The Sun is the most-read newspaper in Britain. Latest figures show the Express is growing online by 16% year-on-year. Millions of free-thinking readers choose to read these publications every day, SFH is an cabal of so-called ‘liberals’ trying to shut down the right-of-centre popular press. This raises serious questions for the government: how can Impress possibly be a fair and even-handed regulator when key figures within Impress are campaigning to ruin several newspapers? Regulators would not be allowed to behave in this way in any other industry…
As Guido reported earlier, and the Express have now confirmed in an ‘exclusive’, Richard Desmond has opened his chequebook and donated a million pounds to UKIP. He says:
“I firmly believe in Ukip. It’s a party for good, ordinary British people. It is not run by elitists. They are struggling to have a voice. They do not have a massive party machine or highly paid public relations people. They are human; they are not perfect and they do not pretend to be. But what they believe in is the best for the British people. They are the sort of people who will stand up for people who are struggling.
I don’t believe Cameron has delivered on his promises. I don’t want to be a member of a club. As Groucho Marx said, I don’t want to join any club that would have me as a member. I always have challenged the establishment and I want to continue to challenge it. I’m giving this money because I believe….as Emerson, Lake and Palmer might put it… Ukip’s political outlook is a ‘fanare for the common man. I want to back our customers, Daily Express readers, who believe in many of Ukip’s common-sense policies on the EU and immigration and taxation. That is why I am putting my hand in my pocket; it is for my customers, my readers. I hope by doing this, it will encourage more people to do the same.
I want them to stand up like me and be counted. I believe there are still people out there who are frightened to stand up for something new and I hope they will follow my example.”
Understand the donation came as a surprise to UKIP. Senior staffers, as well as press officers did not know it was coming when Guido put it to them three hours ago. Their laughs of ‘no way’ were genuine…
A mass influx of migrant fleas flooding the Daily Express newsroom has swept panic across the paper. Journalists were in chaos last night as hundreds of the blood-scrounging bugs descended past lapse security controls and arrived in their besieged office. Concerned Arts editor Clair Woodward vowed to launch a crackdown on newsroom filth after workers reported “having to wear Deet to the office”:
“Due to the amount of complaints about fleas, I have called in a chap from the City of London environmental health who will hopefully visit us pronto and some of us might get to stop having to wear Deet to the office… nothing can be done until the culture of leaving food around in the office stops – flea-carrying rodents won’t take bait if there’s half a sandwich left in the bin next to your desk. Like our bitten colleagues, I’d really like to see and end to this once and for all, but I don’t want Mr Environmental Health to come to the office and tell us again that we’re not helping ourselves. Gestapo-like, I have noticed that food leftovers and packaging are still not being put in the swing-top bins, and packets of sugar (mice love it – some stole a friend of mine’s dentures she’d left on the bedside table as they had a bit of Cadbury’s Éclair stuck to them) left on tables, and food in packages mice can eat through in drawers.”
Experts last night warned the flea terror could see house prices rise by as much as 0%…
Among several changes in the lobby this month, the Sunday Express has hired regional reporter Caroline Wheeler to replace Kirsty Buchanan as political editor. Kirsty is off to spin at the Department for Communities and Local Government. By coincidence, a person going by the name of Caroline Wheeler yesterday submitted this FoI request to the House of Commons. Do we sense Ms Wheeler’s first Fleet Street splash, bound to rock the Palace of Westminster to its foundations, on the horizon?
Dear House of Commons,
I wold like to know the following information under the Freedom of Information Act:
1) How much has the House of Commons catering department spent on sauces and condiments in the past five years broken down by year?
2) What sauce sachets are available to consumers and have any sauces been withdrawn?
3) Has the provider of the sauce sachets changed at any point in the past five years?
4) Is HP sauce still available and if not who now provides the brown sauce and for what reason was this changed?
5) Has there been any policies introduced to save costs on complimentary sauce sachets for consumers in the past five years?
Please give details.
Yours faithfully, Caroline Wheeler
Sunday Express editor Martin Townsend must be on the edge of his seat.
Seemingly the entire left-wing twitterati have been up in arms this week over analysis carried via LexisNexis showing that use of the word “scrounger” has rocketed in the British media since 2010. You might, if you subscribe to the Owen Jones thesis that there is a right-wing agenda cooked up in CCHQ to demonise “scroungers”, have expected it to appear more in the likes of the Mail or the Express than the ‘progressive’ metropolitan liberal press. The demonising is in reality coming from Owen Jones, who is relentless in trying to describe any reasonable attempt to reform welfare as an attack on the poor – he is desperate for a Cabinet Minister to use the term “scrounger” so that he can say to the 53% of the population that receives a welfare payment of some kind – including pensioners, war widows and the chronically disabled – that the government thinks you are scroungers. Not so. Guido has been crunching the numbers, and it turns out it is none other than the Guardian that uses the word most, followed by the Indy, where Owen has a column.
After carrying out a simple search of the word “scrounger” on each newspaper website for the period 2010 to date, the figures show that the Guardian used the word in 736 articles over the last three years. In second place is Owen Jones’ Indy, who – as he might say – “demonised the poor”185 times over the period. Much further down come the right-wing tabloids: 76 for the Mail and 20 for the Express. Owen knows there is no public sympathy for people who abuse the welfare state, he also knows that the majority of the population, thanks to Gordon Brown, receives a welfare payment of some kind. Owen dogmatically refuses to countenance any welfare cut of any kind, that is why he is trying to encourage the likes of mothers who receive child benefit and deserving pensioners to align with those who are rightly losing benefits – fit people of working age who turn down jobs for example – he wants them to believe that welfare reformers think they are “scroungers”. That is why Owen and the unpopular progressive sections of the media use the emotive term more than anyone on the welfare-reforming right…
Methodology: Because neither Google or LexisNexis include all paywalled sites in their analysis, Guido used each newspaper website’s own internal search engine to determine in how many articles the word “scrounger” appeared between 2010 and today. The respective Sunday editions of the titles were included with the daily for the purposes of this research.
Well the Express seems to have well and truly got under the skin of its Eurocrat foes this afternoon. The UK’s European Parliament Information Office has thrown its toys out of the pram quite spectacularly:
“Welcome to the brave new world of EU reporting at the Daily Express, where information is bad, transparency is dictatorship, civic rights are forms of oppression and checking facts makes you blind. We do not normally find it worthwhile challenging Daily Express euromyths. It would be like trying to engage UFO Magazine in scientific debate: a waste of time and dangerous for one’s mental health. Moreover, we are used and resigned to the peculiar phenomenon of its journalists switching off all critical faculties when it comes to taking politically motivated anti-EU tirades as fact, then working backwards to try to fit the circumstances to the ‘crime’… Providing context and balance in a story is no longer the job of the Daily Express reporter, you see. If you want balance and context you have to knit it yourself. You’d be searching in vain for this context in today’s story, reader. You will not find it. What’s worse, your ignorance of the existence of sinister educational websites set up by the Houses of Parliament leaves your children vulnerable to the horror of ‘Soviet-style’ British propaganda right here right now, under your very nose and , needless to say, with your taxes.”
Of course the European Parliament UK Information Office is funded by the taxpayer, naturally…
Last weekend’s Sunday Express went big on a story that detectives had got hold of a new photo apparently showing Maddie McCann in Brazil. James Murray’s splash did not run the picture, but reported that:
“Officers were happy for us to describe the potentially key evidence which shows a healthy fair-haired girl aged three or four in pink trousers, a green top and a blue hat. The child is walking along a road, possibly near a port or airport as there are many people with suitcases in the area. It is sunny with a palm tree in the background. The photograph was allegedly taken in Brazil in June 2007, a month after Madeleine, three, was snatched from a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on Portugal’s Algarve coast. The girl is holding the hand of a swarthy foreign-looking man aged about 50 with long dark hair and a beard. He is wearing cut-off jeans and a green T-shirt. Nearby, another man in checked shorts and a black T-shirt is pulling a red suitcase. There is no sign of a woman and the child looks out of place with the older men. ”
Could this be the photo that the Sunday Express story was talking about?
It shows a young, fair-haired girl in pink trousers, a green top and a blue hat, walking along a busy road with dozens of people carrying suitcases. The sun is shining and there is a palm tree in the background. She is holding the hand of an bearded, middle-aged man with cut-off jeans and a black t-shirt, with a man in checked shorts pulling a red suitcase behind. The problem? This is an Associated Press photo taken at Ibiza airport in 2007 after a bomb scare. It was even used in a BBC report at the time.
On a day like today it seems relevant to reflect on the public’s general distrust of tabloids. A Populus poll commissioned by lobbyists Open Road and released today has found that the public distrusts the Sun more than any other tabloid. 59% of the public distrust the Sun either “somewhat” or “completely”. The findings don’t make happy reading for the other redtops either, with 43% distrusting the Mirror, 39% the Mail and 32% the Express. Guido is happy to accept that this blog was categorised alongside the other tabloids and report that we are, err, less distrusted than all our tabloid rivals. We’re feeling pretty superior…
Open Road’s client News Corp will no doubt be pleased with their lobbying firm choosing today to further blacken the name of their biggest selling newspaper. Doh!