THE SPEAKER IS GONE!

Files under General | May 20th

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One day after being humiliated in the chamber by cross-party calls for his resignation, Michael Martin is gone.

In less than ten seconds he announced that was standing down and ending his controversial tenure as Speaker of the House of Commons.

“Since I came to this House 30 years ago, I have always felt that the House is at its best when it is united…

In order that unity can be maintained, I have decided that I will relinquish the office of Speaker on Sunday June 21.

This will allow the House to proceed to elect a new Speaker on Monday June 22…

That is all I have to say on this matter.”

As John Burns writes in The New York Times:

“It began modestly enough back in 2005, when an American freelance writer and journalism teacher living in London, Heather Brooke, entered a request under Britain’s newly promulgated freedom of information act for details of the expense claims of British members of Parliament. Ms. Brooke’s initiative to expose the politicians’ greed, now led by one of the country’s principal newspapers, The Daily Telegraph, has led to the biggest scandal to hit the House of Commons in decades. On Tuesday, the affair claimed its biggest victim yet when the speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin, became the first man to be ousted from that job in more than 300 years.”

He is gone, who will be next?



NEWSPAPERS: BACK TO THE BASICS

Files under General | May 19th

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INNOVATION partner and London director Juan Senor was interviewed last week in Miami at the World Congress of the International Newsmedia Marketing Association (INMA).

Watch here the video clip.

His message is the message of  all of us: innovative newspapers, innovative journalism, and innovative journalists, as O GLOBO says, in print, online, full-time,  are here to stay.

This is why I started the new Twibes on NEWSPAPERS today.

Please join us in this fight.



THE SPEAKER IN POLITICAL CARTOONS

Files under General | May 19th

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The Speaker of the House of Commons according Dave Brown of The Independent, Christian Adams of The Daily Telegraph,  and Morland of The Times.

Via Christian Adams’ blog.



POLITICAL SKETCHING CAVIAR

Files under General | May 19th

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Simon Hoggart writes political sketches for the Guardian, and a column on wine for the Spectator.

Today he writes this fantastic column on the front page of the paper about the Speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin.

Yes, this is pure political sketching caviar!

A few paragraphs of his piece:

“It was gruesome, horrible, pathetic and miserable. You had to watch it through your fingers, with teeth clenched and stomach knotted. It wasn’t even tragic, if tragedy is the story of a great man brought down by his own weakness. Michael Martin is a weak man about to be destroyed by his own weakness.

The Speaker resembled a boxer totally outfought, tottering numbly around the ring, barely aware of what was happening, staggering into his opponent’s fists, somehow upright, but swaying. He is a dead man reeling. In any humane venue, the referee would have stopped the fight. But he is the referee! And he’s not stopping anything!

…He didn’t even mention the possibility of resignation. Instead, he intends to hold a top-level meeting. A meeting! If this man were tackling the Great Fire of London he would announce a commission on fire prevention measures, to report by the autumn. He simply doesn’t get it.

…It was, as everyone kept saying, a historic day in parliament. Or at least a hysteric day.

David Winnick, an aged Labour sage, asked the Speaker – pleaded with him – to give some indication of when he would retire.

But Michael Martin was no more going to do that than drop his trousers and tango on the table of the house. “You know that is not a subject for today,” he said. But it was, precisely and exactly, the only subject for the day.

David Heath, for the Lib Dems, got loud support when he said that the very people “who got us into this position by resisting reform [who can he have meant?] cannot possibly be the people to lead us out of it!”

…The worst news came near the end, when the only real support came from Bob Spink, a Tory turned Ukip, and largely detested by all sides. It was like a beleaguered banker getting heartfelt support from Sir Fred Goodwin. The end must be very near.”

Brilliant!



TWIBES ON NEWSPAPERS

Files under General | May 19th

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Please join me in the new Twibes on NEWSPAPERS.



THE NEW NEWSWEEK: A BOOKZINE THAT WANTS TO BE THE LAST WORD, NOT THE FIRST

Files under General | May 18th

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Editor Jon Meacham explains the new formula of NEWSWEEK by saying:

“The weekly cycle is a promising one in a world running at a digital pace.

The Internet does a good job of playing the role long filled by newspapers, delivering headlines, opinions and instant analysis.

Many newspapers have long been forced into a traditional newsmagazine model, with longer-form reporting and more big-picture thinking, but they still have to do it every day, and there is only so much wisdom one can summon in a few hours.

As we see it, NEWSWEEK’s role is to bring you as intellectually satisfying and as visually rich an experience as the great monthlies of old did, whether it was Harold Hayes’s Esquire or Willie Morris’s Harper’s, but on a weekly basis.”

How?

“With two kinds of stories in the new NEWSWEEK.

The first is the reported narrative—a piece, grounded in original observation and freshly discovered fact, that illuminates the important and the interesting.

The second is the argued essay—a piece, grounded in reason and supported by evidence, that makes the case for something.”

No more news digest, but analysis and arguments instead.

On better paper.

Easier to read.

A “bookzine” that doesn’t want to be the first word, but the last word.

I like the new concept.

Not Roger Black, though, the former Art Director, who says on Facebook:

“Just saw Newsweek. Well . . . at least now they can change the name. It’s not a weekly. And there’s no news in it.”

Well Roger, it’s time to invest in new products and ideas.

Let’s give them a chance.

Perhaps the old Newsweek was a weekly and had news, but it was dying.



THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: “A DEAD MAN WALKING”

Files under General | May 18th

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ITN said a few minutes ago that Michael Martin, the Speaker of the House, was “a dead man walking.”

See here his full statement, including these lines:

“I would like to make a statement on members’ allowances. We all know that it is the tradition of this House that the Speaker speaks to the whole House. But in doing so, please allow me to say to the men and women of the United Kingdom that we have let you down very badly indeed. We must all accept the blame and, to the extent that I have contributed to the situation, I am profoundly sorry.”

The reactions of his peers were brutal:

Norman Baker, Lib Dem: (Mr Martin) “completely blew it….He signed his own political death warrant. I give him less than a week.”

Gordon Prentice, Labour: “My own prediction is that Speaker Martin will be going by the end of the week. His position is untenable.”

Paul Flynn, Labour:  “It’s like showing the red card to the referee – it hasn’t happened for 300 years but I feel like it’s got to happen now… We’ve got a dead Speaker walking at the moment.”

The Tory leader, David Cameron proposed a national petition calling for a General Election.

“I think the scale of the problems facing Britain – the recession, the debt crisis and above all the political crisis – all point in one direction. I think there is now only one way of sorting out the mess and that is for Parliament to be dissolved and for there to be an immediate General Election. The political crisis has been caused by politicians, so I don’t think the politicians alone can solve it. The public must be involved.”

And Sir William Rees-Mogg, my favorite columnist from the London Times, wrote today an excellent article that includes these smart paragraphs:

“Whatever they may be saying in public, almost all Members of Parliament hate having been humiliated and hate the press for it. The present mood of the House of Commons resembles the mood of Germany after the Treaty of Versailles; MPs resent the press at least as much as the public resent the greed of MPs…

In my view, there also needs to be a new prime minister, moving rapidly to the election of a new House of Commons. Gordon Brown has been too slow to grasp this problem; David Cameron has been much more decisive. The Labour Party should change its leader. But more than that will be necessary to regain public confidence. This is a major scandal, by any standards. There should be a general election this autumn. It might even help to save some Labour seats that might be lost in the following year. The public have to be convinced that Britain is being governed by an honest Parliament.”

Illustration by Quinton Winter (quintonwinter.com)



CHIQUI ESTEBAN SHOWS A NEW WAY TO TELL (AND UNDERSTAND) A STORY

Files under General | May 18th

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INNOVATION’s Chiqui Esteban, news narratives editor of La informacion.com has done a superb job with this simple, but very rich graphic about the TV market in Spain.

Click and learn.

See and understand.

Journalism caviar.

Well done!



CIUDAD HABANA

Files under General | May 18th

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A very slick slide-show about La Habana.

The city, the streets and the people.

With pictures by Daniel Perez.

And fantastic Cuban music.

Via Jose Luis Orihuela



HOW THE DAILY TELEGRAPH GOT THE SCOOP

Files under General | May 18th

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The Guardian goes behind the news and explains how The Daily Telegraph got a terabyte of data from a classified computer with two million documents, including copies of expense-claim forms, handwritten comments scrawled in margins and attached sticky notes from 646 members of the parliament (MPs).

As Steven Brook says:

“The Daily Telegraph’s expenses investigation has shaken up the political establishment; sent sales of the paper soaring; and left frustrated rivals asking questions about chequebook journalism.”

The data was offered first to The Sun and to The Times, but they didn’t grasp the value of the disk!

The Daily Telegraph’s revelations boosted circulation by nearly 100,000 copies on the first day, giving the paper a bigger boost than a promotional DVD giveaway.

Since then, the paper has increased its circulation day-by-day.

In April, the Daily Telegraph sold an average of 817,692 copies each day, according to official ABC figures for last month, with the Sunday Telegraph averaging a circulation of 590,970.

The Telegraph Media Group has neither confirmed nor denied whether it paid a price tag stretched from £70,000 to £300,000, although the payment is believed to be at the lower end of this range.

Peter Preston, former editor of The Guardian wrote yesterday in The Observer:

“Simply, it’s been a bit of blast, material skilfully excavated, honed and projected: every day a new target and a new range of dodgy MP dealings hit square on. So bully for editor Will Lewis, three cheers for the Barclays’ chequebook and one extra hurrah for Tony Gallagher, the paper’s news supremo…

But there’s also a more profound point here. Could the Telegraph, or any other paper, have scored anything like this impact by using its (very successful) website alone? How much do big headlines on paper still count? You only have to ask the question to see the residual value of presses thundering on.

The paper paid cash for a mountain of raw information on disc. All of that could be put online in an instant, the full murky Monty.

If the information had been released in July, as slyly intended, its sheer critical mass, spread across many newspapers, would have worn out a welcome after two days maximum. The Mirror could have highlighted Tory moats and chandeliers; the Express could have torn into Luton MPs living in Southampton. No-score draws and incipient exhaustion all round.

But because 10 or 11 pages of print, carefully aimed, moved the story on selectively, offering something fresh for TV (and competing papers) to chase after at the end of every Newsnight, so the same tale and the selfsame disc seemed inexhaustibly shocking as Paxman’s lip curled time and again.

Impact – and sales – come from media interplay, not going it alone. Newspaper exclusives take off when TV the night before gets excited because the Daily Whatsitsname has got a scoop. Blogs… need press and television for glory in the second phase. TV investigations by themselves can’t hit the spot if the press sits on its hands. And the net, by itself, is a back-up medium when a deluge of Commons sleaze starts falling.

You want loads of detail and piles of archive stuff? You can forage around websites pretty fruitfully and sound off in a spate of furious blogs. But gocomparetheimpact.com? It’s not one or the other. Just everything and the kitchen sink – with print (93,000 copies up on day one, and maintaining clear gains through the week) bringing in the money that justifies the investment in the first place and helps pay for the big team of reporters who made it all possible. A flipping virtuous circle, in short: something wiping away the grime here and now, day by day, when journalism and every available medium matter.

Well done, and thanks to this 10-day boost, worth the money that was paid for the disk.

“More to Come”