13
Dec 12

James Harding departs The Times: follow the money

I’m sorry to see James Harding shoved out of the editor’s chair at The Times. He had made mistakes, but he had also done the paper (for which I worked) a lot of good.

The instant speculation about why he was dumped tells you a good deal about the way journalists think about their business. Some, noting rightly that coverage of News International and phone-hacking had been good after an initial stumble, thought that this robust editing had annoyed News Corporation’s boss Rupert Murdoch. If this was any problem at all, it would have rated as an irritant. Likewise I can’t think that Harding’s failure to buy the CD containing details of MPs’ expenses, when offered it before the Daily Telegraph, would have done for him.

Journalists find it hard to confront the unpalatable truth that the present and the future cannot resemble the past. The reasons are economics and nothing to do with politics or proprietorial power. In a phase of rapid change driven by technology and money, a large part of an editor’s job now is to help to find a business model. The Times hasn’t got one.

In this, The Times is not alone: the Guardian searches for the same thing. When the Sunday Times made profits which covered the losses of The Times, the weak market position of the latter title didn’t matter much to a company making plenty of money from three of its (then) four papers. Around ten years ago, The Sunday Times stopped covering the losses of The Times. These financial agonies lie at the root of all that is happening.

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James Harding departs The Times: follow the moneyJames Harding departs The Times: follow the moneyJames Harding departs The Times: follow the moneyJames Harding departs The Times: follow the moneyJames Harding departs The Times: follow the moneyShare This Post

06
Nov 10

Local TV: setting Jeremy Hunt straight

A lot of the gloom-laden chat about the “crisis in journalism” (which is, naturally, a massive problem for democracy) tends to focus on newspapers. And rather less on television, which outside London is in no better shape than papers. Possibly worse.

Coming into office, the Conservative-Liberal coalition government dumped a series of pilot schemes under which coalitions of news organisations in locality could combine to compete for (probably modest) subsidies for local broadcasting, suspending rules prohibiting newspapers cooperating with local TV. By way of replacement the government has commissioned work (interim report so far) on what conditions are needed to revive local TV and talked about licensing some 15-20 experiments under new rules, as yet unwritten. One thing is clear: subsidies are very unlikely.

We gathered 70 or so experts at City University yesterday to discuss these embryonic plans. General conclusion: almost no one thinks that the Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Jeremy Hunt is yet making sense (example here). Here’s a quick summary of the takeouts:
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