Guardian, Mirror and Financial Times hacks are complaining in Press Gazette that they were “blocked” from attending Priti’s Rwanda trip this month, with the Guardian going as far as to accuse the Home Office of trying to “avoid public scrutiny“:
“We are concerned that Home Office officials are deliberately excluding specific journalists from key briefings and engagements. [This] sends a worrying signal about the state of press freedom in the UK.”
Strangely, however, Guardian hacks were actually invited on the trip… their reporter just happened to fall ill right before leaving.
Even so, the Guardian is now donning tinfoil hats and claiming the Home Office rejected replacement hack, home affairs editor Rajeev Sal, because he might ask tough questions. They also claim the Home Office have deliberately rejected Sal from briefings before, something the Home Office tells Guido is “rubbish“. If Sal is such a tough interviewer, it does beg the question of why they didn’t submit him for the trip in the first place…
Guido’s departmental co-conspirator says the whole row is “silly“, as they can’t offer tickets to everyone, everywhere, at all times. They also point out how both the BBC and PA were on-hand throughout the entire trip – so those that couldn’t attend could get straight wire copy. In fact, even the picture used in the Press Gazette report came from PA…
The New Statesman’s political editor, Stephen Bush, has announced he’s leaving the magazine to join the FT as a weekly staff columnist and associate editor. He’ll take up his new post in early 2022, having worked at the New Statesman for over six years. Commenting on the move, Bush says:
“I’m thrilled to be joining the FT, a newspaper I’ve read and admired since my student days. It’s the best newspaper in the country bar none. From its peerless Africa coverage, Lex, Sarah O’Connor’s columns or the work of its fantastic Westminster team, I always start my day with the FT and am incredibly excited to be joining.”
Only yesterday his soon-to-be ex-editor said of Andrew Marr’s hiring that he’s finally bringing “in some big hitters and more experience”. Presumably Stephen had secured his next gig before Jason Cowley’s comments…
This email has just gone out to FT subscribers:
To help the news industry weather the impact of the Covid-19 crisis, a long-awaited decision to remove value added tax (VAT) from digital news sites was brought forward by the UK government and implemented in May this year.
This change brings the tax status for digital news in line with that for physical newspapers, which have been VAT exempted for decades to promote informed public debate through quality journalism.
Your payment due on 03/07/2020 will remain at the price of GBP50.4, with the new 0% VAT reflected in your invoice.
So corporate subscribers who got reimbursed the VAT paid will see a 20% hike in the price they pay. That is daylight robbery…
Newsnight made a lot out of an incredible statistic: that the UK had more deaths yesterday than the entire EU. The problem is the numbers are nonsense. The FT has exposed reporting on the continent to be littered with “flawed data”…
In fact some of the data in foreign countries is so dodgy that, according to the FT’s data guru John Burn-Murdoch, if England had adopted Spain’s new ‘method’, it would have reported just 20 new deaths yesterday. England is equivalent to 13% of the population of the EU, and yet would appear to have just 6% of the death rate, if it adopted Spain’s manipulated reporting…
Newsnight is supposed to provide analysis that goes behind the headlines, did no one at Newsnight not think the data was suspect? Was it just “too good to check” and they just preferred the Twitter buzz…
UPDATE: Newsnight sourced the dodgy data from controversial website ‘Worldometer‘, a website that even Wikipedia editors have decided to avoid. The data manager for independent statistics website Our World In Data told CNN that “We think people should be wary, especially media, policy-makers and decision-makers. This data is not as accurate as they think it is.” Take note, Newsnight…
The Financial Times has suspended recently hired Mark Di Stefano as media and technology correspondent. The tenacious reporter joined from Buzzfeed where he covered media and politics. He accessed private Zoom conference calls held by The Independent and Evening Standard. The Indy is reporting that log files show an account registered to Di Stefano’s @ft.com email address joined the private video call for Independent staff on Thursday for 16 seconds.
“The caller’s video was disabled, but journalists saw his name flash briefly on screen before he left the meeting. Five minutes later, a separate account joined the call, this time unnamed. Again, video was switched off so that only a black square was displayed among the screens showing up to 100 people who had been invited to attend. The anonymous user account, which remained in the meeting until the end, was later shown to be linked to the mobile phone used by the same Financial Times reporter.”
Di Stefano tweeted the news of staff cuts and furloughs while The Indy’s staff were still on the call. His FT report stated that “people on the call” were the source of the story.
What’s the FT got to say about this? Their own code of conduct says ‘the press must not seek to obtain or publish material acquired by… intercepting private or mobile telephone calls, messages or emails”. https://t.co/POb4ABsU0t— George Osborne (@George_Osborne) April 27, 2020
Di Stefano allegedly used the same trick – Zoom is accessible to anyone who has an invitation – to eavesdrop on the Evening Standard’s conference call where similar bad news was broken to staff. Arguably this is more a case of gatecrashing than hacking, it does however appear to be a breach of the FT’s newsgathering rules…
UPDATE 01/05: Di Stefano resigns from The FT
Lionel Barber and Roula Khalaf arrive on editorial floor this morning <Succession theme fade out> pic.twitter.com/PzYvzsTPUn
— Janine Gibson (@janinegibson) November 12, 2019
The Financial Times today announces the appointment of Roula Khalaf as editor. She succeeds Lionel Barber, who has held the position since 2005 and will step down at the beginning of 2020.
Khalaf has been the FT’s deputy editor since 2016, overseeing a range of newsroom initiatives and award-winning editorial projects and leading a global network of over 100 foreign correspondents. She recently launched Trade Secrets, a new content vertical focused on global trade, and has been a driver of diversity initiatives in the newsroom, in particular those focused on increasing the FT’s female readership and talent pool.
Commenting on the appointment, Tsuneo Kita, chairman of Nikkei, the FT’s proprietor said: “I am delighted that Roula Khalaf has agreed to take the position of editor. I have full confidence that she will continue the FT’s mission to deliver quality journalism without fear and without favour, inspire and lead a team of the most talented journalists and pursue the FT’s new agenda covering business, finance, economics and world affairs.
“Roula’s 24-year FT career, including her tenure as deputy editor, has proven her integrity, determination and sound judgment. We look forward to working closely with her to deepen our global media alliance.”