Tim Montgomerie Quits ConHome For The Times

Interesting news: Tim Montgomerie is standing down as editor of ConHome to become the Times’ comment editor:

“It is with mixed emotions that I report that Sunday 7th April will be my last day as full-time Editor of ConservativeHome. The following day I start an exciting new chapter in my working life. The Times newspaper’s new editor John Witherow recently asked me to edit The Times’ comment pages and I have decided that it was right to say yes to this exciting new opportunity.”

He will still be contributing weekly to ConHome and advising the site. Congratulations…

Would I Lie to You?

clegg

This from today’s Sunday Times magazine. Talk about amateur media management…

H/T @wallaceme

Achtung Martin Ivens

7-day-times

Date: 19 January 2013 13:36
Subject: Tonight
To: All Sunday Times Users
Dear All,

As you know, this is John's last day as ST editor, so he
would like to invite anyone who is still here after the
first edition is put to bed to come by his office and have
a farewell drink. It's also a chance to celebrate the
appointment of Martin as the new Obergruppenfuhrer
(kommissarisch).

Liesl
Liesl Wickins
PA to John Witherow
Editor, The Sunday Times

Ivens surely isn’t that right-wing…

Murdoch Plans 7 Day Times

7-day-times

The editor of The Times, James Harding, resigned after becoming aware that he no longer enjoyed the confidence of Rupert Murdoch. John Witherow, the long-serving editor of The Sunday Times, is the front-runner to be appointed editor of The Times. News Corporation is reported to have taken legal advice on whether it could merge the two newspapers into a more economic seven-day operation. During the Harding era broadsheet newspaper circulations have collapsed:

circulation-falls

rupert-murdochWhen he bought the paper in 1981 Rupert Murdoch gave an undertaking “to preserve the separate identities of The Times and The Sunday Times.” Given that The Times is losing nearly a million pounds a week that is an undertaking that is no longer viable in the digital age. In the circumstances the government is unlikely to stand in the way of a rationalisation of the papers into a 7-day operation, like its tabloid sister The Sun…

Steve Hawkes to the Telegraph

hawkes

The Sun’s business editor Steve Hawkes is off to the Telegraph to become their consumer affairs editor. The Standard diary had prematurely reported he was off to the Times, but the Telegraph have got their man this morning.

Still a step down from the Bank of England job though…

No.10 Do Not Deny Dave’s Debating Comments

Guido went back to his sources yesterday after some denials about Dave’s angry words to one Tory rebel. This morning Downing Street have all but confirmed it. According to the Times:

“No 10 conceded that Mr Cameron may have confronted one of the Tory rebels, Andrew Bingham, the MP for High Peak, at a drinks reception in Downing Street the previous evening about his support for the rebel amendment.”

Apparently the “this is not a sixth-form debating society” line is one of Dave’s favourites for admonishing unruly rebels. The 53 would agree: the EU and it’s budget matters to their voters.

Sam Coates Goes Back to Wapping

The Lobby will be losing one of their more familiar faces after conference season. Though nothing has been confirmed Media Guido understands that the Times politics desk will be shaken up with Sam Coates moving to become Banking Editor. Some will see that as a sideways move. Though it’s a higher profile beat these days and the Times business desk will perhaps benefit from having someone with Treasury contacts.

If Coates is thinking beyond a career in journalism, knowledge of the financial sector never did highly paid lobbyists any harm…

Cops Nick Ex-Times Hack Over Nightjack Blogger HackWhat Did Guardian’s Sabbagh Know and When?

Former Times hack Patrick Foster has we understand been nicked this morning by Operation Tuleta cops investigating the outing the previously anonymous Nightjack blogger in 2009. Earlier this year it was revealed that Foster had discovered the identity of the blogger through computer hacking. The media editor at The Times at the time was the Guardian’s current head of media, Dan Sabbagh.

Even after the Nightjack scandal broke Sabbagh continued to commission him with work for the Media Guardian  pages and judging by his tweet appears to still be in the loop with Foster:

What did Sabbagh know and when?

UPDATE:

Gordon Brown v News International

News International has today written to the Leveson Inquiry asking them to seek further evidence from Gordon Brown over his claim that the Sun illegally accessed his son’s medical records. Gordon Brown is getting his lawyers on to The Times

Read all about it… over on MediaGuido

Wall Comes Down

The Times‘ paywall has finally been breached this afternoon as the paper’s bosses decided to allow some of its opinion writers to be read online for free. The move appears to be a first step towards a Wall Street Journal-style semi-permeable website. Could editor James Harding be set to usher in a new age of glasnost?

This is the digital opinion equivalent of 1989…

UPDATE:

It is not too pedantic to say self-evidently that is not completely true…

Former Tory Spinner Spoils Sunday Times Sting

Former Tory spinner Ed Staite looks set on trying to ruin the Sunday Times’ Saturday. Having smelt a rat when he met with the “Global Zenith” he has put an unedited version of events on his own website. His fisk of their email allegations is pretty pithy:

Dear Mr Staite,

We are preparing an article for publication in this weekend’s edition of The Sunday Times which will describe advice you gave to undercover reporters posing as wealth fund executives at a meeting in February.

They lied to meet me, took up at least a day of my time and, I assume filmed the whole thing while lying further as a way to attempt entrapment. I outlined a way to make a positive contribution to the political process instead of paying for influence as the journalists continually advocated.

The party will soon begin setting up new groups to form policy ahead of the next General Election, you said.

They will as is the natural process of politics.

This process will go on “behind Chinese Walls” in order to exclude Liberal Democrats.

The Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives are not the same party so naturally they have different policies. This is attempting to make me, and what I advocated, look underhand.

The groups can be bankrolled either with cash sponsorship or by paying for a secretariat. Funders are allowed to “join in the conversation” and “communicate their priorities” in order to influence the outcome.

As bankrolled is not in inverted commas and it is not something I’d say I assume I didn’t say it. Bankrolled is a word used by journalists to make a payment of any kind seem seedy. A policy making process should be a conversation and communicating priorities does not mean they are accepted.

You told the reporters they could even come up with their own idea for a policy group for the party in exchange for funding and suggested Government efficiencies as a good area.

A policy group would have to meet the aims of the Conservative Party only then would it be set up and a secretariat appointed. Government efficiencies are indeed a good idea as we face a massive structural deficit.

You said they could use their influence over such a group to benefit their business strategy by pushing for the sale of the Royal Mail and other assets.

Again I haven’t been quoted here and using the word “pushing” is suggesting something underhand.

Please respond by email with any comments that you wish to make on the above points by 6pm on Friday.

No, thank you. I have responded here on my blog.

Yours sincerely,

Really?

Heidi Blake

I thought your name was Hayley.

Access denied!

UPDATE 1800: The Sunday Times have got in touch to dispute Staite’s version of events.

James Murdoch Quits Sun & Times

The Standard got the scoop:

He never liked newspapers anyway. Big test will be whether he survives the BSkyB vote on Tuesday.

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…

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….

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…

Sign the Times Leaders

Times Masthead

The Fink responds to Guido’s call this morning for leader writers to lose their anonymity.  Tom Harris agrees.  Not sure this is a campaign so much as a reflection.  Fink basically says Philip Collins, Michael Binyon, Antonia Senior, Camilla Cavendish, Oliver Kamm, Joe Joseph and himself write the leaders in various combinations and permutations.  Is that really a good reason why the contributors can’t all sign the leader?

Reading between the lines Fink seems to be saying that the editor sets the direction and we just write the stuff.  Like Fink, Guido has written a few speeches for others in his time, Fink knows as well as anyone that actually he who crafts the words gets as great a chance to set the tone and direction as he who speaks or commissions them.  If Fink is intimating that leader writers, like barristers, say things they don’t believe for good professional reasons (such as the editor told them the line to take) that is in itself interesting. Wouldn’t it be better that instead of hiding behind collective anonymity, they took personal responsibility for something they themselves take quite seriously?

Incidentally, some newspapers employ very young leader writers to pontificate.  It seems laughable to be lectured on the strategic geo-political imperatives of Iran by someone who has just completed their gap year.  We deserve to know who the authors of a leader  are so we can judge with what authority they write and weigh their words accordingly.

Incidentally, Guido wrote his first newspaper leader when he was 21 (for The Sun).  As it happens it was on a topic about which the young Guido was pretty well informed and was in any case more of a polemic.  It was re-worded by the great Ronnie Sparks who was the official leader writer at the time during the reign of Kelvin MacKenzie.  It was unsigned.

Time to End Anonymous Times Leader Columns

Times Masthead

When Guido started back in 2004 he tried to be an anonymous blogger until he was outed by the Guardian duing the 2005 elections (a Labour party employee had traced back the fax number).  A major part of the reason for that was to save my wife embarrassment.

nightjackNowadays the third person anonymity on this blog is just a stylistic device, for Richard Horton it was for essential career reasons, blogging policemen are breaking regulations. The Times claims public interest is behind the reason for outing the Orwell prize winning Nightjack blogger. Mr Justice Eady, who fancies himself to be a legislator as much as a judge, ruled that the mere fact that the blogger wanted to remain anonymous did not mean that he had a “reasonable expectation” of doing so or that The Times was under an enforceable obligation to him to maintain that anonymity.  He is clearly correct in law.

The Times journalist says he wanted to discover the true identity of the author of blog,  for with that knowledge he would be able to judge the standing and authority of the author.   The Times has daily leader columns, these famously thunder out the considered view of the newspaper on the issues of the day and seek to influence the direction of the country. It would enable Guido and the rest of us to better judge the standing and authority of those leaders if they were signed rather than anonymous.   Was the recent leader on Investment v Cuts,  which was so favourable to the Shadow Chancellor’s arguments, written by a former work colleague and friend of George Osborne?  It would be nice to know.

Which employee of BSkyB supremo James Murdoch argued for a smaller BBC and against giving licence fee money to Channel 4?  Who wrote the last leader calling for interest rate cuts?  Was it Rupert Murdoch himself?  All News Corp’s newspapers worldwide argue without exception for interest rate cuts.  Hardly surprising when you know  News Corp struggles to service interest payments on $14 billion of debts…

Self Censorship at The Times

This is deliciously amusing.  Guido’s Wapping co-conspirator is laughing and asking

Why has a regular Times T2 columnist had a piece called ‘How Not To Spend It’, which was due to be published today, pulled by The Times. The reason? Might be sensitive, given MPs spending habits. The columnist?

Could it be that the columnist is Sarah Vine?  Also known as Mrs Gove…

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