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Welcome to Lexington’s weekly round-up of media news and the latest moves in journalism.

MEDIA NEWS

Toxic Twitter

Twitter has announced a technical update to prevent other users from replying to your tweets, in a bid to tackle problems that have given it a reputation as a “toxic” platform.
The social media giant is tipped to introduce a setting for “conversation participants” in 2020 that will let tweeters choose from four options, on a per-tweet level:

  1. “Global”: as today, anyone can reply to a global tweet.
  2. “Group”: only people who you follow can reply, as well as anyone mentioned in the tweet.
  3. “Panel”: only people mentioned in the tweet can reply.
  4. “Statement”: no one can reply.

The Guardian reports however that the new features could undercut the social network’s ambition to prevent the spread of misinformation. The features would allow purveyors of false information to simply mark their tweets as “statements”, preventing the journalists, experts and engaged citizens tweeting side by side correcting and challenging public discourse, that the platform relies upon as a self-regulating fact-checker.

The Sun crosses the Pond

On Thursday, The Sun followed tabloid rivals MailOnline in broaching the American market launching The US Sun in a bid to boost online readership. The paper, which is part of Rupert Murdoch’s News UK empire, already has an online audience of over 16 million unique users per month in the US. News bosses announced in a tweet yesterday that The Sun US is now live, though the roll-out was accompanied by limited fanfare.

The news site, which is the UK’s biggest newsbrand, is being run by a team of journalists in New York, who will produce some unique reporting aimed at the US market. However, CityAM speculates that much of the site’s content is likely to focus on showbiz and royal coverage already popular in the US.This comes after news that the news site has cultivated an online audience of over 16m unique users per month in the US.

The Lobby lobbies

The National Union of Journalists has announced that changes to how the Government briefs the group of political journalists reporting from Westminster are “ultimately a threat to the freedom of the press”. The NUJ, which represents local and national publishers in the UK, called for the Government to consult more fully on the changes to the Lobby which came into force last week.

Among the changes is Boris Johnson’s move to relocate daily briefings with accredited reporters from the Lobby room at the House of Commons to Downing Street, a five-minute walk away. Christopher Hope, Lobby chairman and the Telegraph’s chief political correspondent, raised fears in a message to journalists last week that this would make it harder for them to attend the twice-daily briefings, especially in the afternoon when Parliament is busy.

The News Media Association similarly urged Number 10 to consult with the Lobby, saying the changes could “weaken media access to Government”.

Maintaining UK media plurality 

On Thursday the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport published a letter sent to Daily Mail publisher DMGT on the decision to intervene with the group’s growing conglomerate. The letter came following the DMGT’s acquisition of the i newspaper, and the potential impact on fair media plurality in the UK.

Culture Secretary Baroness Nicky Morgan stated concerns there may be “public interest considerations” to the acquisition that warrant further investigation, citing the need for “a sufficient plurality of views in newspapers in each market of newspapers in the United Kingdom”. The letter invites Metro publishers to make representations by Monday, with a final decision on whether to issue an intervention notice forecast for the end of the following week.

The Daily Mail owner bought the i from JPI Media in November for £49.6m, describing it as a “strong print title” with an “established reputation for quality journalism”, whilst pledging to maintain the i’s editorial independence, including its “distinctive style and politically neutral approach”.

Sky launches cultural sports podcast

Sky Sports has unveiled a new weekly sports podcast that will explore “the intersection at which sports and culture meet” with interviews, in-depth stories, debates, discussions and tips from stars of the industry. The podcast, called Sidelines, launched on Wednesday with an in-depth interview with world champion boxer Anthony Joshua to discuss how sport impacts mental health. The podcast is hosted by DJ and presenter Martha Pazienti Caidan, grime MC Big Zuu and Nathaniel Cole, a writer and co-founder of Swim Dem Crew.

This week’s episode will star Ovie Soko, the basketball player who took part in Love Island in 2019, discussing how sports, music and pop culture are becoming closely intertwined.

Biting the Hand that feeds you

Following splashes this week that Harry and Meghan are “stepping back” as senior royals, they have also announced their intention to restrict media access to their official engagements in a snub to British tabloids. The royal couple revealed in a statement issued on their website that they were looking to “carve out a progressive new role” for themselves within the monarchy. As part of this, the Sussexes have declared plans to bypass the traditional “royal rota” system and focus instead on speaking directly to the public through social media, using “grassroots”, “credible outlets” and “young, up-and-coming” journalists.

The royal rota system has been used by Buckingham Palace for decades, allowing access to royal engagements to accredited correspondents on UK newspapers on a shared, ‘pool’ basis to ensure maximum press coverage with minimum interference in the engagement itself.

The Duke and Duchess said there was an international “misconception” that Britain’s royal correspondents were credible sources for information on the work of members of the royal family or on their private lives. In reality, they claimed, these reporters indulged in “frequent misreporting”, and even accurate stories were rewritten by editors to present false impressions.

In what the MailOnline are calling an ‘abdication crisis’, the couple have also revealed their plans to bypass the rota when issuing photographs to ensure publications do not profit from the images. Instead they want to deal with outlets they feel foster “inclusivity, diversity and tolerance” – singling out the likes of National Geographic over British tabloids.

TWEET OF THE WEEK

Ex-BBC journalist John Humphrys was revealed this week to be joining the Daily Mail as a regular weekly columnist, replacing Peter Oborne who stood down in October, after claiming lobby journalists were being used by Number 10 to spread “lies and smears”. Humphrys left Radio 4’s Today Programme in September after 32 years and has already returned to the airwaves presenting Classic FM’s Sunday afternoon show.

Humphrys said of the move: “The Mail is a paper that knows what it believes in, and proudly says so, but it does not demand that its columnists toe an approved line.” “That’s the big test of a paper’s integrity.”

MEDIA MOVES

Metro.co.uk has appointed Claie Wilson as Communities Editor. She would like to receive opinion pieces and relevant first-person stories.

Mark Di Stefano starts his new role as Media and Technology Correspondent at the Financial Times. He was previously a Media and Politics Reporter at BuzzFeed UK.

Patrick Jenkins has been appointed Deputy Editor at the Financial Times.

Jill Treanor started on Tuesday at The Sunday Times as City Editor.

Seb McCarthy has joined The Daily Telegraph as a Business Reporter, focusing on construction, real estate and support services.

Lewis Goodall has now started his new role as Policy Editor for Newsnight on BBC Two. He was previously a Political Correspondent for Sky News.

Reach plc has appointed Hayley Watson as Social Media Editor across the Daily Mirror, Daily Express and Daily Star.

Bloomberg News (UK) has appointed Andrew Silke as social media editor. Andy was previously social lead, BBC politics at BBC News.

Charlotte Wace has now started her new role as Northern Correspondent at The Times. She will initially be based in London, before relocating to Manchester. Charlotte was previously Royal Correspondent at the Mail on Sunday.

Eddie Spence has been appointed Investing, Hedge Funds and Real Estate Reporter for Bloomberg in London.

Bloomberg has appointed Will Kennedy as Executive Editor for global energy and commodities coverage. The team focuses on oil, gas, mining, metals, agriculture and power.

ARTICLE OF THE WEEK

CityAM reports that the BBC plans to move two-thirds of its employees outside London by 2027, as the corporation has a responsibility to “serve everyone” and “reflect every part of the UK”, according to Director General Tony Hall.

This comes after accusations of metropolitan bias against the public service broadcaster throughout the election coverage, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson threatening last month to decriminalise non-payment of the licence fee – a move that could cost the BBC £200m a year. The government has also implemented a boycott of the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme amid allegations of pro-Remain metropolitan bias.

 

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 Lydia.Willgress@lexcomm.co.uk .

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