The Media in the Press 16.11.09

Second-year Journalism student, Alan Robertson, of Strathclyde University, takes a look at the media stories making it into the pages of today’s papers….

The Press Complaints Commission is the main media talking point in today’s press after its chair, Lady Buscombe, delivered the Society of Editors annual lecture in Stansted, Essex last night.

The Scottish Daily Mail (page 12) reports Lady Buscombe’s comments on the importance of a free press to combat Britain’s ‘dysfunctional democracy’. “It must be true that the freer journalists are to criticise, scrutinise and analyse, the more trustworthy institutions become. That is because without freedom of the Press there is no real accountability to the public,” she said.

The Herald (page 9) hones in on her warning to newspaper editors that “shouty” headlines can cause Government to make bad decisions. The PCC chief said that the “power of a shouty headline is intense” and can “spook all but the most robust of politicians”.

Lady Buscombe’s attack on the use of super-injunctions to silence the press is the focal point of The Guardian’s (page 9) report. In it, they quote the PCC chair as saying such measures are “insulting to the public, and anathema to democracy”. Her comments follow the oil trading firm, Trafigura’s unsuccessful attempts to prevent the Guardian from reporting a parliamentary question about its activities.

The Daily Telegraph, (page 4) meanwhile, adds a more personal touch with the headline, ‘Telegraph’s ‘role in democracy is crucial’’ after the PCC chairman’s praise of the MPs’ expenses investigation.

Lady Buscombe also features in The Independent (page 12) following the revelation that the parliamentary inquiry into phone hacking by the News of the World may have been misled. According to evidence given to the House of Commons Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport, messages to 6000 people had been intercepted. However, the Scotland Yard detective who was attributed the claim has denied ever making it. The PCC will now re-write the inquiry report it published last week.

In other media news, the BBC could face cuts both in the license fee and in its digital output if the Conservatives come to power at the next General Election. In an interview with Sky News, the shadow culture, media and sport secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said: “We are not ruling out freezing the license fee, or cutting it,” while also warning that the corporation would have to justify investment in its digital channels such as BBC Three (The Daily Telegraph (page 6), The Independent (page 12)).

And it's media supplement day in The Guardian and The Independent. MediaGuardian sheds light on the Newspaper ABCs with national circulations down 3.7 per cent year-on-year for the month of October (Media Guardian (page 6)). The Independent, (page 45) meanwhile, contains a reminder from Stephen Glover of ‘Murdoch’s cheerleading for Labour’, following criticism of The Sun’s switch to the Conservatives.

Other media stories:

* The BBC has refused to give sound recordings of an anti-Israeli protest – where five people were arrested and charged with racist behaviour – to a Scottish court – The Scotsman (page 9).

* Virgin Media has stalled negotiations to sell its £160 million wholly owned television channels as it weighs up whether to offload its share in UKTV as well – The Times (page 42).

* Ofcom met ITV chiefs last week amid concerns that X Factor results had been affected by a new service offering cheaper voting on the internet – The Scotsman (page 19).

* ITV1 were expected to post their biggest peaktime audience for more than five years last night after scheduling two reality shows back-to-back – The Daily Telegraph (page 13).

• Independent contributor Yasmin Alibhai-Brown uses an opinion piece to warn of the dangers of libel laws to democracy – The Independent (page 29).

* Enid Blyton was banned from the BBC for nearly 30 years because the corporation thought her work lacked literary value – The Guardian (page 7), Daily Record (page 29), Scottish Daily Mail (page 19).

* Television executive Brian Park has suffered a brain haemorrhage and remains in intensive care in Perugia, Italy -Scottish Daily Express (page 15).

* Scots TV newsreaders Kirsty Wark and Kirsty Young will perform a stand-up of the Two Ronnies to raise money for the BBC’s annual Children in Need fundraiser – The Herald (page 3).