Showing posts with label journalism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label journalism. Show all posts

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

George Galloway sues but he probably won't sue you

According to Bradford's Telegraph and Argus newspaper, George Galloway is taking legal action against a Labour councillor for sending an allegedly libellous text in the run up to tomorrow's by election.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Hackney Gazette and ELA leave East End (after 144 years)

The Hackney Gazette and the East London Advertiser are moving offices from Bethnal Green to Ilford. The two papers currently share an office in Bethnal Green (Cambridge Heath Road) not far from Hackney but will be moving on November 26.

The Gazette has been based outside Hackney for quite a while but the ELA has been in Tower Hamlets for 144 years covering Jack The Ripper (who turned up in 1888 20 years after the paper was established) and surviving the Blitz.

Sad to see it move - especially when its owners seem to be making money (as pointed out in this Guardian Article). May be the council papers: the weekly East End Life and the fortnightly Hackney Today were also responsible. Whatever the reason it'll be harder for journalists to do their jobs properly now. (But for Tower Hamlets politics try Trial by Jeory)

I worked at the ELA for four years starting a few weeks before 9/11 (2001) and leaving a few weeks after the 7/7 (2005) bombings. Not long after I arrived the then editor Richard Tidiman (now dead) opened an envelope containing a white powder and a note claiming it was anthrax. When the police eventually turned up - there were a lot of anthrax scares at the time - they said it was probably talcum powder (no tests just said we should wait until we got ill before worrying).

But we were all pretty obsessed with terror. I took the picture below because of the stupendous terror events these billboards claimed to be reporting - I don't remember any of them.

The picture was taken in June 2005 (The date can be seen above Ricin 'Terrer') when East London was buzzing with terror threats.

Some more pictures from the good old days...

Down at Tower Hamlets Town Hall in 2005 when councillors walked out ...

George Galloway after his election.

Oona King before she lost the election....

Oldreporter said: "A pal of mine, a good sub, was made redundant a while ago and did some shifts at one of these "subbing factories." (Like the new Ilford office) After a few days he began to realise that good stories were being down-played because of the formatted pages and crap stories were getting shows. He raised the matter with his chief-sub or equivalent and was told: "Don't worry about it. We're not here to do anything other than get the pages away." A little later he was given another story sub which had the makings of a splash for the title he was working on that day. He approached his boss again and told him with a couple more inquiries made by the reporter in the area and a little tweak the story was much better than the one he had subbed as the splash. Again he was told: "Forget it." That's what people who care are up against. If the bosses don't give a toss neither do their minions. And weeklies will continue to go down the pan.

Another comment came from 'Localreporter': I work on one of the above papers, about to be moved to Ilford - miles off patch.Since the centralised CMS system was introduced not long ago, which is obviously enabling this move, it has been evident that quality has declined. We are often being told to "write to fit" the space provided, so stories with worth are being squeezed into nib size, and rubbish that would normally be used as space fillers is being given more room than it deserves. All so that pages can be "sent off" to production, and all part and parcel of this centralised subbing system. Working in Ilford, several miles and over an hour's journey off patch, is going to be yet another recipe for disaster. All very demoralising..."

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Hackney Gazette has new website that allows comments

Yes, the Hackney Gazette now allows people to leave comments. Blood and Property left one under the Hackney cuts story. Not sure why, but the comment, left on Saturday, had yet to appear on Sunday night.

Other story this week:

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Hackney shooting photographer threatened by police

According to this report on the National Union of Journalist's website a photographer for the Hackney Gazette was manhandled by a police sergeant and had photographs forcefully deleted from her camera.

I'm assuming that this happened soon after the shooting on Saturday (Hackney Hive version).

The NUJ reported: "A police Sergeant approached Valino telling her that she was disrupting a police investigation and to hand over her camera. After protesting to the Sergeant that she was in a public place, outside the cordon he had no right to take her camera, he grabbed her wrist and pulled out his handcuffs. Before he could put the cuffs on she handed him her camera. He then left for five minutes before coming back, bringing Valino inside the cordon and asking her to show him the images and deleting them. Valino was told that she could come back in a few hours to photograph the scene."

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

16-year-old Hackney photographer (terrorist?) stopped again

It looks like Jules Mattsson, a 16-year-old photographer and sixth form student at Stoke Newington School, has been detained with the help of a stronger strain of anti-terror legislation... Amateur Photographer: Photographer suspected of being a terrorist outside Buckingham Palace

Apparently, this time, the police used section 43 of the Terrorism Act under which they have to "reasonably suspect" the person of being a terrorist.

Mattsson was nearly arrested under anti-terrorism laws for photographing cadets in Romford (Hackney Hive version here).

Friday, 30 April 2010

Suzanne Moore: 'help' from friends and family

Were friends and family of Suzanne Moore, prospective MP for Hackney North, testing out bold new PR techniques yesterday?

In the Jerusalem Post her friend Julie Burchill, godmother to her three daughters, wrote that she: "gave her (Moore) the green light to take up with my second (Jewish) husband shortly before I dumped him. “Why don’t you ‘comfort’ poor Cosmo?” was the way I phrased it, to her slightly repelled fascination. Didn’t stop her, though!"

In the Guardian her daughter chips in: "Her middle daughter, Bliss, 19, has just wandered in and out in search of toast, and on hearing that this is an interview, has said that all she really knows about her mother's life is she was "a junkie for about 10 years."

The Guardian writer points out this was a joke and, later in the interview, Moore says: "I'm not a junkie, like Bliss said, but I can say that I've taken drugs and liked it. I can't pretend otherwise. The fact is that, now, if you're of a certain generation and you haven't slept around, taken drugs, you're just not normal, so what are we going to do? . . . Do you want the people who represent you to be flawed, or to embody this perfect ideal? Because we've had the perfect ideal, and that's given us the bloody expenses scandal and two wars."

Monday, 26 April 2010

Hackney Citizen's grand design

I was ensnared by the Hackney Citizen's general election debate late last night. I don't know what I was expecting but I only aimed to look at it for a maximum of 10 mins. May be an hour later I found myself composing a comment (by then it was 1.30am) which I then posted by accident - and then had to post again to dig myself out of a hole.

But the Hackney Citizen (and Hackney Voice) project is worth a look. There's an impressive response rate from candidates but the real story might be in who didn't answer what questions.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Is anyone policing Hackney's PR department?

Over the last 12 months it looks like only one senior Hackney Council officer has publicly argued against cuts in their department.

Polly Rance, head of the borough's media and communications department said her department should not be cut during the recession. But would she allow the heads of other council departments to defend themselves from job cuts in a public arena?

In her latest piece in PR Week she defends Hackney Today, part of her communications empire: Councils would welcome resolution on publications debate (April 21 2010)

In an earlier piece (October 9 2009) she made a case for maintaining the size of the communications department:"In a recession the need for clear, accessible comms is greater than ever, as residents seek advice on debt, jobs and housing."

Compare Rance's recession plan with that of another Hackney Council officer who has been in the press - Gifty Edila, head of the borough's legal department. When she was interviewed by The Lawyer in November 2009, she said: “We’re in a recession and that’s impacting on the public sector, but we have to make sure we streamline resources while recruiting really talented people to fill the large number of vacancies we carry.”

Phrases like "streamline" and "large number of vacancies" are not used by Rance.

Is the communications department on a level playing field with other council departments?

Another council officer who has been interviewed or written for the press in the last year is Risthardh Hare, group head in the borough's social services, he reviewed the film Precious for the Guardian.

There may be more - I haven't seen them.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Hackney Citizen: Boff-tastic or intelligence wing of the Green Party?

Keith Magnum, founder of the Hackney Citizen, confesses that the paper's website looks a bit "Boff-tastic" at the moment. It's full of the various gripes of the Conservative Mayoral candidate, Andrew Boff.

This is odd considering Magnum stood as a Green Party candidate in Clissold in the last election (2006). What's doubly odd is that there is no Mischa Borris, the Green Party Mayoral candidate, in the paper's who's who for the Hackney Mayoral race.

I hoped this could mean one of two things. Either the Boff interest was a double bluff and Magnum was master-minding - in his own words - "the intelligence wing of the Green Party" or hated his former colleagues at the Green Party so much he'd turned to the Conservatives.

But Magnum said neither interpretation was correct: "I left the Green Party. I left because I didn't think being a member of a local party would be compatible with what I'm doing now. I'm still friendly with them but I'm not involved in it."

Apparently the lack of Green stories is because the Green launch has come a bit later than the others. "We're not avoiding them... I've known them for ages and I still speak to them. But it's not like this is the intelligence wing of the Green Party, they don't know anything before it gets published."

So, what's with all the Boff coverage - as opposed to the lack of Borris coverage ? "We've done stuff with Andrew Boff just because it's interesting." He said Boff had approached them with his story about the council refusing to print his election address.

Magnum - who has no background in journalism (I failed to ask him what his professional background was) - said "Hackney Council rejects mayoral candidates election address" was a "brilliant story" but hard to substantiate, which was probably a pop at the Hackney Press office which took its time confirming Boff's story.

Magnum says: "When I look at our homepage, it does look a bit Boff-tastic, but he's just given us the best stories." As an antidote he says Boff might have slightly brought the problem on himself by not attending relevant meetings and leaving it all to the last minute.

In contrast Magnum says the Greens have provided press releases about more money for pensioners which, while worthy, are unlikely to prompt the kind of reactions that Boff's problems have - lots of comments can be found at the end of the story.


Otherwise, has the Hackney Citizen overtaken the Hackney Gazette as the borough's main newspaper? While Magnum can point to a print run of 20,000 free newspapers, a statistician might balk at comparing this to the Gazette's weekly 8,000 sold newspapers. But according to Magnum his 20,000 probably means a readership of around 60,000.

Compared to the Gazette's full time editorial staff of 7 - four reporters, news editor, deputy editor, editor (that doesn't include sport, advertising or circulation) the Hackney Citizen doesn't have any paid staff. According to Magnum, the advertising revenue goes back into the circulation.

Meanwhile Magnum says he's watching for any web activity from Archant which owns the Gazette. He says the privately owned newspaper group has upgraded some of its local news sites.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Hackney Raving Loony PR stunt success

The BBC reports the Hackney North and Stoke Newington Monster Raving Loony Party candidate's plans for Londoners to use floating bicycles.

Meanwhile these Hackney blogs/websites have put in some hours to investigate issues in the borough.

Loving Dalston exposes idiotic bicycle rules on East London Line.

East London Lines uses Freedom of Information Act to investigate unused property in Hackney while 15,000 are on the housing waiting list.

Stokey Talk talks about the value of votes in Hackney
and more recently about the East London Line extension and general election in general.

Hackney Voice unearths the precarious fate of Hackney Wick's artist community

And Hackney Citizen sets up online Q&A with candidates from the borough's two constituencies (you need to register before 5pm on April 25th to take part).

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Hackney: home to London's most mysterious newspaper

Conspiracy, hoax? Then the The London Weekly launched. Still lots of questions. The answers are apparently brewing away at 203 Mare Studios, E8.

The company claims to have backing to the tune of £10.5m but a number of inconsistencies have been pointed out by James Ball also: Helpmeinvestigate
and: (5th Feb - The London Weekly Paper exists) and (2nd Feb - The London Weekly: Some unanswered questions) and Guardian (Jan 27).

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Hackney Vs Trinity Mirror over Hackney Today

All of this is stolen from the Guardian and there's more there:

Last week Bailey attacked councils for producing "mini Pravdas" and yesterday branded an Audit Commission investigation that found little wrong with them as "a complete waste of time".

But councils suggested she was not acknowledging the financial benefits to Trinity Mirror of printing the papers.

"While local newspapers might not get the traditional advertising they once did from councils, the newspaper industry is benefiting in other ways, such as through print contracts with local authorities," said a spokeswoman for Hackney council.

"In Hackney we have an excellent working relationship with Trinity Mirror who print our council paper and who put a huge amount of effort into pitching for the contract.

"It seems odd, to say the least, that Sly Bailey so vocally opposes those publications which she is happy to print, and happy to bill us every month for."

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Hackney Gazette: Death knocks and dream jobs

The Hackney Gazette is looking for a new Chief Reporter.


Earlier this week the Guardian journalist Tim Dowling revealed that working for the Gazette was his dream job. His story on Monday described doing work experience on our local rag:

"Have you ever done a death knock?"
"No," I say, feeling the blood drain from my face. I want to go home already.
Starbrook (editor) has a chat with reporter Victoria Huntley about an incident the previous week when a local man doused himself in petrol and set himself alight in front of his estranged wife and their two kids. He tells her to go out and find the family, and instructs me to go with her. It will be my first death knock...

The Press Gazette noted the coincidence: "Tim Dowling you’re in luck – Hackney Gazette is looking for a chief reporter"

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Diane Abbott interviews Nick Robinson

In a series of Guardian interviews in which politicians get to interview well known journalists, Diane Abbot appears to escalate the animosity between press and reporters. She took the opportunity to deliver some harsh, loaded, personal questions, criticising Robinson's looks; suggesting his politics were a betrayal of her ethnic roots, and that he was sneering.

DA You have a very knowing manner on screen. A sort of knowing…

NR [Laughs.] You're thinking of something slightly ruder than that. Do you mean sort of sneering?

DA A little bit like that…

NR I don't want to come over as sneery. I shouldn't.

DA Are you grateful that you're pursuing your career in a broadcasting environment very different from that in the US, where you have to be quite good-looking?

NR [Laughs.] Oh dear, oh dear, she says I'm sneering?

DA I'm just asking!

According to Wikipedia she was a researcher and reporter at Thames Television from 1980 to 1983 and then a researcher and reporter at TV-am from 1983 to 1985 before becoming a press officer at the Greater London Council under Ken Livingstone from 1985 to 1986 and Head of Press and Public Relations at Lambeth Council from 1986 to 1987.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Navel-gazing intro: Candi-dating in Hackney

My brother-in-law is the only person who has asked me to explain why I have never voted. I argued that the issues were too complex; that no one understands the issues (even people who have spent their professional lives trying to understand them); that everyone who does vote is using the evidence to justify an emotional decision; that the evidence could be used to justify anything - except a decision based on evidence.

My brother-in-law hasn’t stopped voting and I haven’t started so the argument was probably never relevant - for some reason he votes and for some reason I don’t. I don’t have faith in my argument that it is all too complicated - it could be used to justify not getting out of bed in the morning - but it has become my excuse for not getting involved. At least not as a voter.

I am afraid to step into this arena now. I fear that my opinions are half-formed, adolescent, embarrassing. I am afraid that if I try to express a view on the issues, rather than my lack of confidence in the system, my ignorance will be exposed and ridiculed. Politicians and the people who surround them appear to spend a lot of time exposing and ridiculing each other and I assume that they would happily do the same to me.

Now, having set it up as an act of selfless bravery, I reveal that on Saturday, I went to the first political event I have ever been to in Hackney – apart from a couple of council meetings.

The reason I could stomach it – or even contemplated going at all – was because of this blog. I assumed it would allow me to hide behind the cloak of journalism. There was another reason too: on Thursday I found out that I might be made redundant and I didn’t feel like sitting around thinking about it.

So going to Hackney Unite’s 'candi-dating' event wasn’t really a tentative step in my journey toward democracy but I’m aiming to write up the experience over the next couple of days.

Here’s the Socialist Party of Great Britain's candidate’s take on the day and a quick mention by the Lib Dem candidate.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

The news pudding - spit or swallow?

This picture was taken on Hackney Road in June 2005 (The date can be seen above Ricin 'Terrer').

A month later on 7 July 2005 real bombs went off in London killing 52 people and injuring 700.

On 21 July a man tried to blow-up the 26 bus on Hackney Road not far from this newsagents in a follow-up attack.

According to reports from the scene of the failed bombing, witnesses told the police that there were "strange smells" and white crystals around the unexploded bombs.

Perhaps these witnesses thought that these bombs were similar to all the other ones that allegedly and endlessly exploded around the borough. But it wasn't all rubbish. I worked not far away from this spot for one of the papers whose bill posters are featured in the photo. I can't remember the ricin terror, the triad bomb or Europe's war with France.

But I do remember in 2001, just after the 9/11 attack in New York, when one of my colleagues asked the editor (who sat next to me at the time) what the funny looking powder on his desk was... "someone's sent me some anthrax" he said.

The building was evacuated and I remember being terrified and embarrassed. I think I sided with the serious worried people, not the people cracking jokes about death - which turned out to be a mistake. The police turned up looking bored and wandered into the building without even putting their masks on - apparently they had dealt with hundreds of hoaxes.

Judging by the photo above my colleagues and I managed to keep that fear bubbling for four years before it was justified.

Anyway, I spent ages copying out the quote below expecting it to link seamlessly with this subject. I'm sure there is a link but it's 2am and I've failed to find it. It is a depressing description of how journalism failed to deal with something real and terrifying, the main point it makes is: "Conventional journalism could no more reveal this war than conventional firepower could win it, all it could do was take the most profound event of the American decade and turn it into a communications pudding...."

In his book Dispatches Michael Herr said that conventional journalism failed to deal with the extreme circumstances of the Vietnam war - although it doesn't seem to work particularly well under any circumstances:
"And just-like-in-the-movies, there were a lot of correspondents who did their work, met their deadlines, filled the most preposterous assignments the best they could and withdrew, watching the war and all its hideous secrets, earning their cynicism the hard way and turning their self-contempt back out again in laughter."

"If New York wanted to know how the troops felt about the assassination of Robert Kennedy, they'd go out and get it.... They knew that, no matter how honestly they worked, their best work would somehow be lost in the wash of news, all the facts, all the Vietnam stories. Conventional journalism could no more reveal this war than conventional firepower could win it, all it could do was take the most profound event of the American decade and turn it into a communications pudding...." - Michael Herr, Dispatches.

Perhaps a communications pudding is all we should ever expect.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Will Hackney schools suffer if contractor folds?

Hackney contractor, William Verry, is likely to go into administration in what Construction News reports "would almost certainly be the most high-profile construction casualty of the recession so far." The Hackney contract appears to have been the last won by the company - in December 2008. Hackney's "Building Schools for the Future" programme proposes rebuilds or refurbishments for six secondary schools and four special educational needs schools.

The councillor who might be able to help is Cllr Rita Krishna, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services.

At the moment this blog is what some might call 'churnalism' - copying everyone else's news. So nothing more to add to this at the moment. Is there another way? Maybe

So back to the churnalism:

The story of what appears to be another gang killing unfolds in court. Prosecutor says a gang called the London Fields Boys had "violence on their minds" when they allegedly killed 14-year-old Shaquille Smith in London Fields in August 2008.

Hackney Council has successfully prosecuted two home owners for making alterations without planning permission. A report in Planning Resource said: "Both owners have spoken to London Borough of Hackney planning officers and agreed to carry out remedial works to resolve the breach. If this does not happen, the council will prosecute again."

Diane Abbott gets a mention in a Times comment piece: "It's a hard life for women about the House" describing the lot of women MPs, but it doesn't look like anything new.

Old but just for sake of having somewhere on this blog - children's charity, Chance UK wins funding reprieve from Hackney Council.