February edition of Press Gazette magazine: A manifesto for change in British journalism

I had a cracking exclusive interview lined up for this month’s mag but, alas, at the last minute the individual thought better of going on the record. Perhaps understandably in view of the current Leveson inquisition – few high profile journalists in the national press want to place their heads above the parapet. Such are the challenges of editing Press Gazette!

So instead, with the first module of the first stage of Leveson during to a close, we thought we would lead the February edition of the magazine with our proposals for the future of press regulation.

As independent watchers and chroniclers of UK journalism I guess we are as well placed as anyone to have a stab at doing this and, dare I say it, as the trade title for British journalists it is our duty to do so. The proposals are laid out in full in the magazine and I hope they form a talking point (more details too on our website tomorrow).

Ethics and fairness should be the bedrock of great journalism, but that foundation has begun to look a big shaky in recent years for some sections of the press. Our manifesto goes much further than the Leveson Inquiry to propose a wholesale reform of the way British journalism operates.  

PCC chairman Lord Hunt is currently drawing up the industry’s response to Leveson and the hacking scandal. Press Gazette hopes that this time the solution is not a stitch-up between a narrow group of senior editors, publishers and owners – but is instead a genuine reflection of the widespread consultation across the industry which Hunt has been engaged in.

Other highlights of the February edition:

Jon Slattery asks how easy is it to get an NUJ press card? And he speaks to Sally Murrer, the journalist who proposed News of the World private investigator Derek Webb to join the union.

John Dale interviews Dave Thomas and Andy Young, the journalistic double-act behind South West News Service – the Bristol-based outfit which has grown to become the biggest independent agency in the UK and which has produced three current national editors.

Sean McManus reports from the frontline of a hostile environments training course to reveal how journalists can stay alive when they find themselves in a tight spot. (In view of last summer’s English riots this piece should be compulsive reading for any local newspaper journalist in particular).

Conscientious objectors: Tony Harcup makes the case for a conscience clause in the Editors’ Code, and examines the PCC’s refusal over the years to take on board concerns raised by ordinary journalists who have felt they have come under pressure to behave unethically.

Local TV. With 20 stations set to be awarded licences this summer – Peter Kirwan explains why the financial odds still seem stacked against Local TV, and former Today editor Kevin Marsh explains why he now thinks the project could work.

Former Daily Mail head of editorial legal Eddie Young explains why he signed off the paper’s infamous Murderers front page 15 years ago even though, as editor Paul Dacre said, “this was contempt of a cosmic order”.

Freelance of the month Rob McGibbon: “I’ve been on freelance island since 1990. I’m doing a longer stretch in solitary than Papillon.”

Exit interview with outgoing Associated Press chief Tom Curley: “Ask the tough questions, launch into the story and get to the critical questions. Don’t be pushed aside or told to walk the other way.”

If you’d like to subscribe to Press Gazette call 0845 155 1845.The current rates are as follows:

New subscriber: £90 plus a free USB stick (see all these great benefits).

Member of the NUJ: £50 a year (click on this link or telephone 0845 155 1845).

Retired: £40 a year (click on this link or telephone 0845 155 1845).

Students: £40 a year (call on 0845 155 1856, this offer not available online).

DON’T FORGET: ALL SUBSCRIBERS TO PRESS GAZETTE NOW BENEFIT FROM ACCESS TO AN ARCHIVE OF OVER 200 DIGITAL EDITIONS AT NO EXTRA COST VIA www.exacteditions.com


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