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Welcome to Lexington’s weekly round-up of media news and the latest moves in journalism. To subscribe please email communications@lexcomm.co.uk. 

MEDIA NEWS

New Deal

A new deal will see the i newspaper print 10 articles a week from the Financial Times. The pieces will be chosen by the i, which already includes articles from The Conversation and The Economist, and labelled with the FT logo. Editor-in-chief Oly Duff said: ‘We aim to blend original i journalism with our curation of quality articles from other leading publication, selected for their potential appeal to i readers.’ He also hinted about ‘further planned improvements’ to the paper over the coming months.

Less is more

Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright has said he is ‘minded’ to allow News UK’s request to merge resources at The Times and Sunday Times on the condition that the organisation clarify its governance structures. Wright justified his decision saying there has been a ‘material change in circumstances since 1981 that warrants me considering the application’. He said that he thought the ‘proposed changes would not, in my view, materially impact on the public interest’. News UK has welcomed the statement, responding: ‘The Times and The Sunday Times are committed to remaining as separate newspapers but persistent cost pressures facing our industry means both titles need the freedom and ability to work more closely to avoid unnecessary duplication. We are now engaging with the DCMS on any further relevant updates.’ Separation between the two titles was mandated in 1981 when Rupert Murdoch acquired them amid concerns about his hold on the UK media. Now News UK wants the papers to share journalists as ‘the most obvious way to achieve further cost savings without affecting the quality of journalism’.

And the winner is…

Netflix is reportedly considering launching its own quarterly print magazine to promote its shows and stars, according to Bloomberg. The publication, rumoured to be named Wide, will not go on general sale, but will instead be distributed at industry events from June. The timing is likely to coincide with voting for Emmy nominations. Netflix has recently hired Vanity Fair editor Krista Smith and publicist Lisa Taback to oversee its awards operations.

Robot takeover

Press Association’s ‘robot generated’ news service has passed a trial period, signing up eight regional news publishers covering 329 outlets to the service. Reporters And Data And Robots (or Radar) was set up in 2017 after receiving 700,000 euros from Google’s Digital News Initiative. The service creates local news stories using government crime figures, hospital waiting times and pupil absences, and has filed 100,000 stories since 2018 jointly written by AI and journalists. Reporters ‘identify, write and template’ stories before a Natural Language Generation technology localises the stories with relevant data.

Contrary to what you might think, Politico interviewed several news executives who argued that the software will not make journalists redundant. Radar’s reporters must first identify an idea worth investigating and write a template before using the software to input local data into the skeleton article. Radar editor-in-chief Gary Rogers said: ‘To my mind, the best judge to a story is still a human journalist, rather than a machine.’ Lisa Gibbs, director of artificial intelligence at the newswire AP, also argues that automating simple stories will give time-poor journalists more freedom to pursue deep-dive investigations.

Liar, liar

Press regulator IPSO has ruled that Boris Johnson broke accuracy rules in a 2018 Telegraph column. Johnson claimed that polls showed a no-deal Brexit was more popular ‘by some margin’ than remaining in the EU or the Prime Minister’s deal. A reader complained to IPSO as Johnson did not cite a reference for the claim. The Telegraph had defended the article, arguing it was ‘clearly comically polemical, and could not be reasonably read as a serious, empirical, in-depth analysis of hard factual matters’.

COMMENT OF THE WEEK

MEDIA MOVES

Channel 4 News political correspondent Michael Crick announced on Twitter that he is leaving the channel and ITN after seven and a half years. He wrote: ‘I’m looking forward to an exciting new life writing books again, and all sorts of other activity in journalism and other fields.’

Faisal Islam has completed his final broadcast at Sky News before moving to the BBC as economics editor.

Mark Landler is moving to London as New York Times bureau chief. He tweeted that he ‘look[s] forward to covering another Western democracy in distress’.

Andy Woodcock is leaving Press Association to join The Independent as political editor.

Tom Fitzpatrick is leaving his role as Editor of Construction News in late June after eight years at the publication. CN is currently recruiting for his replacement.

Retail editor Deirdre Hipwell is leaving The Times to join Bloomberg.

Elisabeth Mahy is now a business and economics producer at BBC News.

Jacqueline Housden has resumed her role as news editor at HuffPost UK.

Sinead Rocks, former director of education at the BBC, is joining Channel 4 as its new managing director of nations and regions.

If your organisation needs communications advice, or you would like more information about how Lexington’s team of media experts can support you, please contact caroline.nagle@lexcomm.co.uk.

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