Your Noon Briefing: Gordon Airs, register of lobbying, etc

A FORMER Daily Record journalist, who famously spent a night behind bars for refusing to reveal his source, has died.

Gordon Airs has been described as ‘legendary’ by several people who noted his death on twitter, over the weekend, including Allan Rennie, editor-in-chief of the Record and sister title, the Sunday Mail.

‘Porridge’ was aged 76 and died on Saturday, from cancer.

He was chief reporter at the Record for 24 years. His successor, Anna Smith, writes movingly about him, here.

An obituary in today’s edition of The Scotsman, by Bill Heaney, appears here.

It was following a trial during the mid-70s – involving an ultra-Scots nationalist cell – that saw Airs imprisoned.

Says Heaney: “Airs… refused to identify one of the terrorists who had blindfolded him and drove him in a closed van to a secret rendezvous in a lonely place for an exclusive interview for his newspaper.

“He was sent down by Lord Keith and detained overnight in police cells after Lionel Daiches, QC, for the accused, asked him to identify one of the men in the dock. Airs refused and told the judge it would be wrong for any journalist to reveal the source of his information.”

Writes Smith: “During the trial of seven members of the Army of the Provisional ­Government of ­Scotland, he repeatedly refused to reveal the name of his contact in the ­organisation.

“A High Court judge jailed him for contempt of court. Unfazed, Gordon spent the night locked up, a takeaway and a bottle of wine delivered to his cell. He was later fined £500.”

The Record devotes its page 14 to Airs’ death, under the heading: ‘Goodbye Gordon, journalism in mourning’.

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JOURNALISTS should get out more. That’s the basic conclusion to a rather stinging rebuke of the Scottish press, in an article on the website, Scottish Review.

Among his criticisms, Dominic Hinde writes: “…there are few people going out into Scotland and talking about what is actually going on when events do not take place in either football stadiums or the Holyrood chamber.”

Read more, here.

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BEGINS Douglas Fraser, BBC Scotland’s business and economy editor: “While newspapers face declining sales, at least they can point to the shift to some big readership numbers online.

“The free and the international, such as the Daily Mail and the Guardian, may not be turning much of a profit from well over 100 million website visitors each month, but they’re showing that the news business can be reinvented.

“Magazines are having a tougher time, according to the latest figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulation.

“Print sales are down 6.5 per cent in the last six months of 2014, when compared with the previous year.

“But few are succeeding at replacing those lost readers with online ones.”

Read more, here.

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WARMING tale in today’s Herald (page three), by chief reporter, David Leask, after he last week pointed out – in his Inside Track column – that the US’s army commander in Europe had made a geographical gaffe about Ukraine.

allmediascotland understands that the office of Lt General Ben Hodges then contacted the reporter, saying their boss had read his piece and wanted to speak.

And today, Leask quotes Lt General Ben Hodges, as saying: “I was impressed when you busted me out for not having my geography straight.

“I felt like such a knucklehead. You made a great point, it was a little bit professionally embarrassing, so my team had some fun laughing at me.”

Read more, here.

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THE Scots division of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations has posted its (broadly positive) reaction – here – to a Scottish Parliament committee recommendation for a Register of Lobbying in Scotland.

An article by Andrew Whitaker, on page six of The Scotsman today, begins: “A Labour MSP has said he will force a Holyrood vote on proposals to introduce a strict code of conduct designed to monitor the activities of lobbyists.”

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BEGINS an anonymous blog on The Guardian’s website: “A few years into working for a PR agency, I’m used to being the anonymous one. Parents don’t quite understand where you fit in when you show them the great write-up in the newspaper you secured. Yet, it’s also one of the thrills of the job. You act as the critical intermediary between your clients’ unrealistic expectations and the increasing cynicism of time-pressured journalists to pull off a news item that may otherwise never have appeared. You make things happen.”

The blog is headed, ‘It’s time to buy into selling-in: the most hated task in PR is its most strategic’.

Read more, here.

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