WINOL: Features Archive

At the age of just 15, Paul Blackburn was wrongfully imprisoned for 25 years. Presented, edited and produced by Tom Morgan.

Media Law - Year Three Notes Archive

A collection of posts looking at media law, including tips for journalists, case examples and information on the various codes of conduct. Click here for more.

American Election 2012 - US Embassy Report

Myself, Lee Jarvis, Sam Sheard and Kirsty McDonagh spent the evening at the US Embassy as part of WINOL's coverage of the 2012 American election.

Work Experience: The One Show

This blog post serves as a summary of what I got up to during my time at the BBC and also provides some information on how the One Show is run.

Work Experience: PC Advisor

After breaking up from University for the summer, I arranged two separate work experience placements to keep me occupied over the break. The first of these placements was at PC Advisor in London.

Work Experience: Basingstoke Gazette

After breaking up from University for the summer, I arranged two separate work experience placements to keep me occupied over the break. The second of these placements was at the Basingstoke Gazette.

HCJ Notes Archive: Year One and Year Two

A collection of lecture notes, seminar papers and seminar summaries from Year One and Year Two on the HCJ course at the University of Winchester

Thursday, 25 November 2010

The Guardian and Absolute Radio - Journalism Now

Founded in 1821 by John Edward Taylor as the 'Manchester Guardian', the Guardian's original intention was to promote liberal interest following the 'Peterloo massacre' – a gathering of radicals demanding parliamentary reform, whose efforts ended in tragedy after troops cut their way through the crowds, killing 15 people and injuring 500 others.

In 1999 the Guardian 'Unlimited' was launched, essentially serving as the online home of the newspaper. The site provided readers with extensive coverage of all the stories discussed in the main paper. It was not until 2004 that a full online edition of the paper was available. The website encourages interaction from readers with features allowing the audience to sign up and voice their opinions on the stories covered.

The new design was first printed on 25th September 2005 in its new 'Berliner' format. Before the changes, the paper was classified as a broadsheet. Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger stated: “The new look Guardian will have colour on every page of every section but one thing will remain the same – our reputation for supplying first class news, features and comment”. The Guardian is part of the GMG (Guardian Media Group) which also includes the Observer.

The Guardian's offline readership is split fairly evenly when it comes to gender. Approximately 53% of readers are male. This equal split in gender is reflected through the adverts contained within the Guardian. For example, the paper advertises technology and sport as well as jewellery and items relating to skincare. In terms of political stance, the Guardian is considered a left wing paper. The Guardian adopts a liberal attitude, meaning it has a belief in liberty and equal rights. It is because of this that the paper would support the idea of gay marriage. Guardian editor Ian Katz confirms the papers stance, admitting: “It is no secret we are a centre-left newspaper”.

The Guardian's front page will nearly always relate in some way to politics or the economy as these are both areas that a large percentage of Guardian readers have a heavy interest in. Further financial news is located towards the back of the paper, discussing market patterns and foreign economies.

The Guardian's online readership is slightly different, particularly in terms of social grade. 63% of offline Guardian readers belong in the ‘AB’ category. Online, this falls to just 36% of readers. These statistics prove that the online readership is more varied in terms of social grade. It is likely that the variety of content featured on the website encourages readers of different social backgrounds to log on. The website features music videos, sports articles, entertainment news and TV highlights. Furthermore, there is a greater mention of celebrity lifestyle and culture on the Guardian’s website which also results in increased social diversity.

Based in London, Absolute Radio is one of the UK's three independent radio stations, broadcasting a variety of music including 80s hits, 90s hits and modern rock. Absolute Radio was officially launched in August 2008 as part of a rebrand by the 'Times of India Group'. The station was formerly referred to as 'Virgin Radio'. When asked why the name had been altered, a spokesperson for Absolute stated: “Our new name, which we own, means we are free to do what we want, and it also says that we're re-inventing ourselves”. 

Absolute Radio's lineup of presenters embody what the radio station is all about. Those involved are fun, humorous and able to make current events accessible and easy to understand for younger audiences. The show includes personalities such as: Christian O'Connell, Geoff Lloyd, Frank Skinner and Ian Wright. Many of these team members, particularly Christian O'Connell, become figures of light-hearted ridicule during the broadcast, mainly during the Breakfast show which develops an informal style similar to that of 'The Chris Moyles Show'. 

Absolute Radio's tone and presentation proves that the vast majority of Absolute's listeners are in their 20s/30s. In terms of social grade, Absolute's audience primarily lie in the BC1 category. The station's YouTube channel in particular targets a younger audience, featuring: humorous interviews with celebrities, live music sets, film news, festival coverage and technology reviews. Furthermore, the advertisements before the news broadcasts (which often last no longer than 4 minutes) reveal more about who's tuning in. For example, adverts for brands and companies such as Best Buy, Samsung and Toshiba are featured repeatedly, targeting an audience that is familiar with the latest gadgets. The overall tone of the station leans towards a young viewership, with puns, jingles and competitions being used to full effect.

A large amount of the stories reported on by Absolute take place within the capital, which is justified as the station is based in London. At the time of writing (September 2010) the student protests have been mentioned repeatedly within the news segments, as have London's hopes to host the 2018 World Cup. Whereas Absolute Radio has paid a great deal of attention to the incident in New Zealand, the Guardian have only given the story a small write-up near the middle of the paper. The Guardian and its readers favour financial and political news so it makes sense that the Irish economy is discussed in depth. Another very recent Guardian front page, for example, looked at the political climate in Korea .


1) The Guardian - 'Demographic profile of Guardian readers' -

 3) The Guardian's New European Look - 

My presentation can be accessed in full using the link below:

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

David Hume – Seminar Notes and Lecture Summary

Born in 1711, Hume was an empiricist who believed events in the universe are actually constructed in our minds through sense experiences. Furthermore, as an empiricist, Hume thought that all our knowledge comes from experience, which goes against the idea of innate knowledge.

According to Hume, the idea of 1 thing happening after another exists only in our head. Any relation of causation you see is not in nature, it's purely a mental phenomenon. Essentially, the idea here is don't jump to conclusions. This idea can also be related to Hume's discussion with regards to what he calls 'miracles', where he states: “Wise men proportion their belief to evidence”. You can't technically prove causation, which leads into the Billiard Balls analogy / Sun analogies. Just because the sun rose today and yesterday does not guarantee that it will rise tomorrow. It could just be a coincidence. In other words, it's never possible to say that it will happen again in the future.

'Induction' is defined as an act or an action that sets in motion some form of events. Hume believed that statements could be either synthetic or analytic. A synthetic statement can be verified, as long as the axiom is accepted as true. For example, 'All humans are mortal, I am human, therefore I am mortal' is an example of such a statement. On the other hand, an analytic statement is where the conclusion can be derived from the subject, which means they're self evident. Hume wasn't an admirer of the concept on induction as he felt there was 'no place' for it in the world.

Hume's Epistemology:
Hume believed that sense impressions only exist in our minds, and we use knowledge as building blocks in order to imagine more complex concepts. For example, we can imagine an angel by combining our knowledge of a human and a bird. This action is called synthesising, as we're building our knowledge using simpler elements. Building a tower, for example, is a synthetic action.

In his Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Hume elaborates on the idea of synthetic actions. He states: “When we analyse our thoughts or ideas, we always find that they resolve themselves into such simple ideas as were copied from a precedent feeling”. Here, Hume highlights the idea that original ideas are actually combinations of previous pieces of knowledge. He goes on to say: “All ideas, especially abstract ones, are naturally faint and obscure: The mind has but a slender hold of them”, showing that when we are faced with a complex concept, we break it down and relate it to simpler ideas that we are familiar with in an attempt to further our understanding.

This idea of growth of knowledge could be linked to Hume's discussion of a blind man . He says: “A blind man can form no notions of colours”. Give a blind man sight, and he forms new ideas and perceptions of the world around him. This also brings forward Hume's opinion with regards to sense experiences. However, Hume seems to suggest there's a limit to human knowledge in his enquiry, writing: “Nature has kept us at a great distance from all her secrets, and has afforded us only the knowledge of a few superficial qualities of objects”.

The Verification Principle:
Hume felt that anything that can't be verified is gibberish. Instead, any truth statement must be capable of independent verification. Hume categorised statements into the following:
  • Statements which can be verified as provisionally true (e.g. Non contradictory)
  • Statements that can be verified as definitely true (e.g. Contradictory)
  • Statements that cannot be verified – Gibberish!
The Bundle Theory
Hume's bundle theory describes how there is no such thing as an actual object; it is instead made up of properties. If you strip it of its properties, it becomes non existent. The YouTube video below discusses this concept and touches on some more of Hume's theories too. This clip discusses the philosopher in a humorous but intelligent manner. I recommend subscribing to CollegeBinary's channel because the other videos they post are also particularly good.

The Freedom of Information Act

In our latest law lecture, we discussed the Freedom of Information Act. This act is of particular interest to Journalists because, if used correctly, it can be a particularly useful means of gathering interesting data and stories from organisations in the public sector. Any person making a request for information to a public authority is entitled to be told whether the authority holds this information and is also entitled to see it. Finding interesting information using this act is perfect for constructing newspaper stories that are of genuine interest to the public.

Unfortunately, a large majority of the act is taken up by exemption. Any information on the military / national security, for example, cannot be obtained. As Journalists it's particularly important to steer away from anything that could be defined as a security risk. Confidentiality is also another hurdle.

When the act came in so too did the idea of a 'sofa government'. Essentially, this meant that vents of importance were discussed rather than printed in reports. This is a hindrance to Journalists, as they can only ask for information that has been recorded in some form. In the lecture, we ran through the process one must go through to gather information using the Freedom of Information Act:
  • In the Act, every organisation needs a Freedom of Information officer
  • Step 1 will consist of writing a letter to this individual, asking that under the information act does he/she/ keep documents on ______ and if so can you see it
  • At this point, you could easily be denied such information. There are a number of reasons why this could be the case. The organisation has a right to say that they could gather that information if necessary, yet it would be too costly to justify.
  • To reduce the chances of your request being rejected, think about getting information that isn't too expensive to gather
  • If denied, you could appeal. The appeal is handled by the Information Commission.

'Law for Journalists' - Chapter 17 Raw Notes


What is protected by copyright? - Copyright is referred to as a 'branch of intellectual property', protects the product of peoples skills, creativity, labour, time.

Under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, the following are protected:
  • Literary work
  • Dramatic work
  • Artistic work
  • Musical work
  • Sound recording
  • Film
  • Broadcast
  • Typographical arrangement
When referring to news stories, it's important to note that there is in fact no copyright in facts, news, ideas or information. However, when news reporting, lifting facts from other papers may be infringement. This is because the writers and researchers of the paper where the information came from have input skill and labour into their report.

Publication without permission of a photograph of the whole or a substantial part of a television image is an infringement under Section 17 of the Copyright Act.

Copyright in Speeches – Under Section 58 of the Act, it is not infringement to use the record of the words for reporting current events, subject to the conditions below:
  • The record is a direct record and not taken from a previous record or broadcast
  • The speaker did not prohibit in making of the record and it did not infringe any existing copyright
  • The use being made of the record, or material taken from it, was not of a kind prohibited by the speaker or copyright owner before the record was made
  • The use being made of the record is with the authority of the person who is lawfully in possession of it
Who owns the copyright?

The first owner of a copyright work created after 31st July 1989 is the author but in the case of work done in the course of employment the employer is the owner, subject to any agreement on the contrary.

Social networking – Downloading pictures from an online profile – Downloading and publishing an image from a social networking site may infringe the copyright of the owner of the picture or the site itself.

Parliament and the courts – There is no copyright infringement in reporting Parliament, the courts, or public enquiries. Furthermore, there is normally no infringement in copying material which must be open to public inspection by Act of Parliament.

Public Interest Defence:

A court would be entitled to refuse to enforce copyright if the work was:
  • immoral, scandalous, or contrary to family life
  • Injurious to public life, public health or safety, or the administration of justice
  • Incited or encouraged others to act in a way injurious to those matters
Lion Laboratories Ltd v Evans [1985] was such a case

Length of Copyright:
  • Is currently 70 years from the end of the year of the author's death
  • Copyright in broadcast is 50 years
  • In 2008 the Government was considering extending copyright on sound recordings from 50 to 70 years
Innocent infringement – If the infringer did not know and had no reason to believe the work was subject to copyright, the copyright owner is entitled to an account of profits but not to damages.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

The Guardian - Audience Demographics

The Guardian has some information on its demographics for both their online and offline readers. I thought it would be interesting to place these statistics side by side and see how the online and offline readership vary.

The chart shows that in terms of gender, the Guardian has a higher percentage of male readers online; at 63%. The statistics show that only 37% of the online readers are female. When we look at the offline statistics for gender, they're more or less even. 53% of the offline readership are male.

The picture above shows the online and offline statistics side by side (Click the picture  to enlarge)

The age statistics show that younger readers are more likely to read the news online than older readers, which makes sense. The younger generation are likely to be more familiar with the Internet and its features. The online site also features more stories that are orientated around celebrities than the offline paper, which again shows that the online site may target a slightly younger audience. Obviously, the Guardian Online doesn't dwell on these celebrity stories to the extent that the tabloids do, but there are some dotted around.

In terms of social grade, 63% of 'offline' Guardian readers belong in the AB category. Online, this is slightly different, with  the AB category only containing 36% of readers. Clearly, the online readership is more varied in terms of social grade. Looking at the website in more detail it doesn't come as a major surprise to me that it's attracting a wider variety of people. It probably helps that the Guardian Online is free too!

The website features music videos, sports articles, entertainment news and even TV highlights. There's even an article on the X Factor, something which I can't really see being talked about in the offline Guardian. I could perhaps see it in being slipped into 'G2', but certainly not in the main paper.

Lecture 5 (Raw Notes)

Hume Lecture Notes

David Hume, 18th century writer and philosopher - Looked up to Newton in many ways. Often referred to as the most intelligent person to come out of the British Isles

The Vienna Circle / Logical positivism - Modern philosophy of science (Based on the work of Hume). Underpins social science.

Hume was openly an atheist but didn't say so as he would have ultimately been executed for it.

Personalities of the movement - Moritz Schlick discussion group for scientists, particularly theoretical physicists. To study philosophy and philosophers to learn the methods and recent discoveries in theoretical physics - 1924 to 1936.

Logical positivism - Don't believe in certain, absolute knowledge. Everything is a matter of probability.

1) Hume and Causation - According to Hume, the idea of 1 thing happening after another exists only in your head. Any relation of causation you see is not in nature, it's in your head, says Hume. You can't show causation - Don't jump to conclusions is essentially the underlying idea here.

2) Hume and induction - Logic is a specific science. Method for analysing truth claims. Use logic to determine - Is it internally consistent?

2 types of logic:

Synthetic - Only true if the axiom is true
Analytic - The conclusion is derived from the subject - The starting point in a chain of synthetic knowledge e.g. All men are mortal.

3) Hume and Locke's epistemology - The Anglo Saxon empiricist school - impressions and synthetic ideas

4) In morality - The "is ought" problem - no morality in phenomena - no teleology.

Synthesise = To build up from simpler elements. Building a tower, for example, is a synthetic action. Hume thinks the synthesising act of the mind is dangerous in some ways.

Morality - (is/ought dichotomy) - You can't say it is cold today but it should be warm - There's no logical path there.

5) Inductive vs synthetic logic

6) Bundle theory of self

7) Method of social science


The Verification Principle - Any truth statement must be capable of independent verification. (Most important aspect of the movement) You can only deal with statements that are verifiable. Metaphysics has to be separated from science.

Statements that can be verified as provisionally 'true' (i.e. non-contradicting)
Statements that can be verified as defiantly true (i.e. contradictory) - For example, 'the moon is the sun' - Clearly false.
Statements that cannot be verified - "gibberish"

The Verification Principle can be linked to how a computer works. For example, if and only if (Object A) is (Object A condition) then (Object B) is (Conclusion)

Karl Popper - The Verification Principle is not scientific. He goes back essentially to Hume, just because an event is repeatable does not mean it will always be repeatable. A statement which is unfalsifiable can never be scientifically valid.

"All men are mortal" cannot be falsified, because there is no finite number of observations - It is always possible that the next person to be born is infact "immortal".

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Blogging Frenzy

Lecture 4 Summary

Our fourth lecture looked at two texts: 'The Royal Exchange' and 'The Spectator 476'.

Lets start with the Royal Exchange, a text that explores the concept of communication and world trade. Addison's general outlook on the Exchange is a positive one, using language to explore the idea of multiculturalism. He describes himself as a 'citizen of the world', also going on to explain the advantages of trade between nations. Addison creates a link between the natural world and international communication, implying that nature seems to have spread its 'gifts' to create connections and bonds between countries. He writes: "Nature seems to have taken a peculiar care to disseminate the blessings among the different regions of the world".

The writer also picks up on how each country seems to bring its own unique produce to the Exchange. France is referred to as 'our garden' and the Chinese are referred to as 'our potters'. Addison shows that England is somewhat dependant on other countries for produce and he even goes as far as referring to England as 'barren'.

Addison's account of the Royal Exchange is somewhat humorous in parts. The writer picks up on the idea that England as a nation is lucky as it doesn't have to deal with extreme climates, yet at the same time is able to reap the rewards from other countries who grow their produce within these conditions. He states: "Whilst we enjoy the remotest Products of the North and South, we are free from those Extremities of Weather which give them Birth".

The second text, The Spectator 476, discusses how people go about portraying their ideas and feelings. The text explains how the way in which ideas are portrayed has an impact on how they are received. If the description of an idea is overcomplicated, its true meaning is lost/misunderstood. Addison relates this idea to the construction of essays and writing in general. For example, he writes: "The advantages of a reader from a methodical discourse, are correspondent with those of the writer", essentially stating that if a writer is methodical, his ideas are easier for readers to interpret for themselves. I think this relates to the thought patterns of history's great philosophers. It may be particularly difficult to explain a complex philosophical concept or idea, which proves the way in which a theory is worded/set out is the key to ensuring it is understood.

Addison uses 2 rhetorical devices (In the form of Tom Puzzle and Will Dry) to prove his point. Tom Puzzle is an individual whom is particularly well-spoken. As Addison states himself, "This makes Tom Puzzle the admiration of all those who have less sense than himself". The writer is explaining how people take notice of Tom Puzzles elaborate language and assume he is a figure of knowledge. Ultimately, Tom Puzzle is intelligent enough to question the world around him, but not to resolve the questions it is that he is asking. In contrast to Tom is 'Will Dry', a concise individual of few words. As Addison describes him, Will Dry is 'a man of a clear methodical head, but few words'.

Lecture 4 (Raw Notes)

Addison background:

Born 1672, keen traveller - Liked to travel around Europe. Also influenced heavily by Jonathan Swift, poet.

'The Spectator' was a daily publication and had a big impact on the public. It was popular and widely influential. Also showed off Addison's love for social commentary. The 'Royal Exchange' that he discusses was the head of international trade.

[Royal Exchange]

"Rich assembly of countrymen and foreigners"

Addison seems to approve of the work the royal exchange - It brings cultures and nationalities together. He explores the theme of multiculturalism - "Citizen of the world"

He links nature with trade and communication, implying that it's like nature spread its 'gifts' to encourage communication between countries - "Nature seems to have taken a peculiar care to disseminate the blessings among the different regions of the world". Also goes on to talk about food and other produce and how to gather it we must communicate.

Addison talks about how he loves the cultures of different countries but then says his own country is 'barren'. Our climate limits what can be grown so it is imported via the exchange. Addison hints that England relies heavily on other countries:

France is our "garden"
"[The] Chinese our Potters"

"Nature indeed furnishes us with the bare necessaries of life, but traffic gives us a great variety of what is useful"

Themes of Puritanism - Puritans obsessed with death and religion
The importance of trade - Merchants "knit mankind together"

[The Spectator 476]

Discussing how people portray their ideas - Starts by saying that doesn't do any of the things he goes on to criticise!

The way in which ideas are portrayed has an impact on how they are received. If the description of an idea is overcomplicated, its true meaning is lost/misunderstood - He relates this idea to the construction of essays and writing in general.

"The advantages of a reader from a methodical Discourse, are correspondent with those of the writer" - If the writer is methodical, his ideas are easier for readers to interpret

Tom Puzzle and Will Dry - Rhetorical devices?

Tom Puzzle - Uses elaborate language. Well-spoken. "This makes Tom Puzzle the admiration of all those who have less sense than himself". People take notices of Tom Puzzles elaborate language and assume he is a figure of knowledge.

Will Dry - A concise individual. "Dry is a man of a clear methodical head, but few words"

Absolute Radio - A Quick Introduction

Seeing as I've been asked to look at Absolute Radio for a recent assignment, it's worth writing up a small introduction about the station and what is does.

Firstly, I've never listened to Absolute Radio before, but judging from the list of presenters (located here) it looks like a nice, light-hearted show. The chief executive seems to agree with me too, describing the station as a 'brand that is unapologetic, cheeky and infectious'. Frank Skinner, Iain Lee and Christian O'Connell (who, from what I gather, is essentially the frontman) seem like a funny bunch. I'm not too keen on Ian Wright though, but that's probably not very relevant, is it? The station produces a podcast, which suits me just fine as I'm quite a fan of various podcasts.

Absolute Radio was officially launched in August 2008. The station is based in London and is one of the UK's three independent stations. An interesting article (located here) explains how Absolute Radio was once referred to as 'Virgin Radio'. Back when the change was announced, Virgin Radio listeners were pretty anxious following news that the company had been handed over to a new owner. The 'Times of India Group' made some changes to Virgin's format, and thus Radio Absolute was born.

An article produced by the Telegraph last month (located here) goes on to explain how the station is actually losing money. Radio Absolute's revenues in 2009 went from £22m to just £14.8m. The article blames the 'advertising downturn' for the fall in revenue, which would make sense as a poor advertising campaign is hardly going to draw in a large amount of listeners. The fact that not everybody was made aware of the name change may also have affected listener figures to some extent. Thanks to the 'Time of India' and its strong financial backing, the station currently has no debt.

Clearly, Radio Absolute aims to target younger, 'trendier' audiences through its use of other digital services. For example, iPhone applications and podcasts (also mentioned earlier) are in the works and the website in association with the station boasts an impressive variety of features and social networking integration. There is also a huge variety in the music played by the station, with 'Absolute 80s' being particularly popular, reaching a peak audience of around 380,000.

I'll be posting further notes and articles on Radio Absolute over the coming days.

'Law for Journalists' - Chapter 28 Raw Notes

The Public Authority Act 2000

In total, around 100,000 major and minor bodies in the public sector are covered by the act, including:
  • National government departments and ministries
  • The House of Commons, the House of Lords
  • The armed forces
  • Local government authorities
  • National park authorities
  • Universities, colleges and schools
The UK's security and intelligence agencies – MI5, MI6 and GCHQ – are exempt from the Act, and so are not required to respond to FOI requests

Courts and tribunals are also not covered by the Act, though some information gathered or created in their functions will be available if an FOI request is made to the relevant government department which holds it, e.g. the Ministry of Justice

How does the act work?

If a 'public authority' receives a request for information, it must normally make a response within 20 working days, either supplying the information or explaining why it cannot be supplied. It may be that:
  • The public authority does not hold the information, in which case the Act's effect is that in most circumstances this must be made clear
  • or the request would exceed the cost limits for the provision of free information
  • or that the information is covered by exemptions under the Act, and therefore need not be supplied
Advice and Assistance

Public authorities are required by section 16 of the Act to give someone proposing to make a request, or somebody who has already made one, 'advice and assistance, so far as it would be reasonable to expect the authority to do so'
  • The public authority should tell you, before you make the request what information of the type you may be available
  • The public authority should give you guidance to avoid your request breaching the cost limit for such information to be provided without charge
Absolute exemptions

Some exemptions are 'absolute, I.e. the Act the public authority does not have any reason for not disclosing the information, beyond stating that the exemption applies because of the nature of the information. These absolute exemptions include the following categories of information

Sector 21 – Information reasonably accessible by other means
Section 23 – Information supplied to the public authority by or relating to bodies dealing with security matters
Section 32 – Court records
Section 40 – Personal information

'Law for Journalists' - Chapter 23 to 33 Raw Notes

Breach of Confidence

Elements of a breach of confidence:

Mr Justice Megarry, giving judgement in 1968, said there are three elements in a breach of confidence:
  • The info must have 'the necessary quality of confidence'
  • The info must have been imparted in circumstances imposing an obligation of confidence
  • There must be an unauthorised use of that information to the detriment of the party communicating it
Obligation of Confidence

An obligation of confidence can arise in a variety of ways:

Contractual relationship – The most frequent is a contractual obligation. People working for others may have signed a contract to say that they will not reveal their employer's secrets, but even if they not there is an implied term in every contract of employment that the employee will not act in a way detrimental to the employer's interests

Disclosure – Under the process of disclosure in legal proceedings, parties have to disclose relevant documents to the other side.

Third parties, such as a journalist – The information may have been obtained indirectly from the confider. A third party, such as a journalist, who come into possession of confidential information and releases it is confidential may come under a legal duty to respect the confidence

Unethical behaviour – it was once considered doubtful whether an obligation of confidence could arise when information is acquired through unethical behaviour, because of the reprehensible means used.

The party communicating – By 'the party communicating it' is meant the person communicating the information originally, that is, the person to whom the confidence is owed.

But how are the media affected?

Injunctions – A person who passes information to a journalist may have received it confidentially. If the person to whom the confidence belongs discovers, before the paper is published or the programme is broadcast, that the information is to be disclosed, he/she can try to get a temporary injunction prohibiting publication of the confidential material

Fines – Disobeying an injunction can result can result in an action for contempt of court. The News of the World was fined £10,000 for publishing a story headlined 'Scandal of Docs with AIDS'

Order to reveal source – A court can order a journalist to reveal the name of his informant, as happened in the Bill Goodwin case

Delivery up – A court can order that confidential matter be 'delivered up' or destroyed

Account of profits – A person misusing confidential information to make money may be asked to account for the profits to the person who confided the information, i.e. the person whose confidence was betrayed.


Article 8 of the Convention: The wording of the article suggests it gives protection for privacy only against a 'public authority', but in fact it gives protection also against the media because under the Act a court in the UK is a public authority and must take into account of the judgements of the European Court of Human Rights


If a journalist is using copyright letters, other documents, or photographs snatched from a family album there is the possibility of an action for infringement of copyright.

The Ofcom code and privacy:

Private lives, public places – Broadcasters should ensure that words, images, or actions filmed or recorded in, or broadcast from, a public place, are not so private that prior consent is required before broadcast from the individual or organisation concerned, unless broadcasting without their consent is warranted

Surreptitious filming or recording:

Surreptitious filming or recording should be used only where it is warranted, and normally it will be warranted if:
  • There is a prima facie evidence of a story in the public interest
  • There are reasonable grounds to suspect that further material evidence could be obtained
  • It is necessary for the credibility and authenticity of the programme
The Local Government Act 2000

When cabinets meet in public:
  • A cabinet meeting must be held in public when a key decision is to be made. A key decision means one that is likely:
  • to result in the local authority incurring expenditure or making savings that are significant having regard to the local authority's budget for the relevant service or function, or
  • to be significant in terms of its effects on communities living or working in an area comprising two or more wards
Papers that must be available

'As soon as reasonably practicable' after a cabinet meeting, either in private or public, at which an executive decision has been made, a written statement must be produced. The statement must include:
  1. A record of the decision
  2. A record of the reasons for the decision
  3. Details of any alternative options considered and rejected
  4. A record of any conflict of interest and, in that case, a note of any dispensation granted by the authority's standards committee
Powers to exclude the press:

Even when key decisions are being discussed, a cabinet can exclude the press and public in three situations:
  1. When it is likely that if members of the public were present, confidential information would be disclosed
  2. When the cabinet has passed a resolution excluding the public because otherwise it is likely exempt information would be disclosed
  3. When the cabinet has passed a resolution excluding the public because otherwise it is likely the advice of a political adviser or assistant would be disclosed
A person who has custody of a document that is required to be available for inspection by members of the public commits an offence if he/she intentionally obstructs any person exercising a right conferred under the regulations to inspect the documents or make a copy of it, or if he/she refused to supply a copy of it

The Journalists Sources

Judges – In common law judges have the power to order disclosure of the identity of wrongdoers

Requests by officials – Sometimes the person asking the journalist for a source will be a tribunal chairman or an official.

Requests by a police officer – Sometimes the person asking the journalist for his source will be a police officer. Like other citizens, the journalist has no legal duty to provide information to the police for their inquiries except in special circumstances

Statutes giving disclosure power:
  • The Criminal Justice Act 1987
  • The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005
  • The Financial Services Act 1986
  • The Financial Services and Markets Act 2000
  • The Criminal Justice Act 1993
  • The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984
  • The Police Act 1997
  • The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000
  • The Pensions Act 2004

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Online Newspapers Taking Over?

Edit - An interesting video that links well with this blog post. The video looks at the 'paywall' and both sides of the argument. LINK HERE.

Peter Cole's account of the modern press produced for the Guardian provides a useful insight into the world of demographics, media influence and readership.

Cole states that figures for newspapers suggest that an increasing number of people are turning away from printed word, instead accessing news online. An article I looked at talking about the Times, however, seemed to disagree. It's now possible to buy digital copies of newspapers for a small sum of money via the Internet. The Daily Star, for example, gives readers the ability to download a digital copy from their computers, which is titled the 'e:edition'. Reading Cole's article, I became interested in how online newspaper sales have impacted the sale of hard copies.

To try and get an answer to my question, I looked at the Times' 'paywall', which charges viewers to view certain articles. Before the viewing charge was introduced to the website, approximately 21 million unique users were recorded on a monthly basis. Following the alterations to the site, this figure plummeted to 2.7 million last month. Clearly, people aren't as willing to fork out the money for digital copies as they are for paper copies, but the newspaper knows this. Executives for the Times said that they actually expected to lose 90% of their online readership anyway. Figures gathered in the last few years prove that tabloids such as The Sun and the Daily Mirror have also lost a large number of readers.

As the newspaper I will be looking at for the news agenda lessons is the Guardian, I will focus more on what Cole had to say about it.

He starts by discussing 'format changes', saying that the Guardian's subject matter and tone has secured itself as the most serious of the four 'quality titles'. Cole says: "As it always has, the Guardian agonises over the human condition and cannot quite understand why the world isn't a better place". Cole also points out that the Guardian appears to 'believe in the power of the governments to sort things out'.

The Guardian also features a magazine, "G2". This part of the paper is clearly aimed at a younger audience and seems to be more willing to deal with celebrity culture. Looking at the copy of G2 I've got at the moment, it's actually quite good. I've never read it before but it seems to be holding my interest!  The fact that the first story deals with goats that are able to climb dams in northern Italy also helps.

Useful sources:
Source A
Source B
Source C

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