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


Lord Hall to call it a day

Tony Hall is to step down as director general of the BBC in the summer, after seven years in the role, announced the broadcaster this morning. Lord Hall revealed that he felt it was important the BBC had the same leader for the mid-term review in 2022 and the renewal of its charter in 2027.

Lord Hall, whose official title is the Lord Hall of Birkenhead, said he believed he would be “leaving the BBC in a much stronger place than when I joined”. His appointment in 2012 followed revelations over Jimmy Savile, and the resignation of George Entwistle in the wake of the Newsnight Lord McAlpine row.

Court on Camera

Several papers including Sky and the BBC splashed this week on news that television cameras will be allowed to broadcast from Crown Courts in England and Wales for the first time. The Crown Court (Recording and Broadcasting) Order 2020 will allow cameras to broadcast the sentencing remarks of High Court and Senior Circuit judges in some of the most high-profile courts across the country, including the Old Bailey. This will allow the general public to be able to watch online and hear judges explain the reasons behind their sentences for the most serious offences.

It is the culmination of more than a decade of campaigning by BBC, ITN and Sky News to persuade the government and the judiciary to allow cameras in court.

Whilst some editors have hailed the move as a “momentous day for transparency in our justice system” others have voiced fears that filming judgments & inquiries could encourage people to act up to the camera and raising questions about throwing judges into the public domain. Filming will be restricted to sentencing remarks only and no other court user – including victims, witnesses, jurors and court staff – will be filmed. Trials will not be televised as they are in countries such as the US as only the judge will be filmed.

Hand it Over

Leading UK psychiatrists say they will never understand the risks and benefits of social media use on children’s mental health unless companies hand over their data to researchers.  The Royal College of Psychiatrists has called for social media firms to hand over data about who their users are and why they use the sites, in order to reduce suicide among children. The College, representing the UK’s 18,000 psychiatrists, demands that the government force social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to hand over the data anonymously to academics. Data passed to academics would show the type of material viewed and how long users were spending on such platforms.

This comes as ministers finalise plans to crack down on issues caused by people viewing unsavoury material and messages online, amid growing concern that young people are being harmed by material that encourages self-harm, suicide and eating disorders. The government plans to set up a new online safety regulator and the College says it should be given the power to compel firms to hand over data. It is also calling for the forthcoming 2% “turnover tax” on social media companies’ income to be extended so that it includes their turnover internationally, not from just the UK.

SPA Goes Tax-Free

On Wednesday several British journalists were tweeting about the news that the Student Publication Association, the UK and Ireland’s largest student media association, has been granted charitable status by the Charity Commission of England and Wales. The SPA, founded in 2013, is made up of more than 100 publications and is free to join for student journalists and publications in Higher Education. Among other things, the charity helps student papers fight censorship, runs journalism masterclasses and negotiates exclusive deals for members to help them get a foot in the door.

The best of a bad bunch

National newspaper circulation figures have been published for December 2019, with The Observer seeing the smallest paid-for circulation drop overall down two per cent year-on-year. At the other end, the biggest declines were at the Scotland’s Sunday Post and the Daily Star on Sunday.

The Sun remained the UK’s top-selling newspaper with a circulation of 1.2m with the Daily Mail still close at its heels, just over 7,800 copies behind it.

This comes as news that the Telegraph Media Group is pulling out of the ABC newspaper circulation audit, who published the figures, saying it is no longer a “key metric” for its subscriber-first strategy.



The BBC has launched a new year-long series covering climate change. The video series, called ‘Our Planet Matters: Climate change explained‘, joins the debate over why the last 10 years have been the warmest decade on record. Producers aim to tackle questions over the Australian bushfires, torrential rains in Indonesia and record-breaking temperatures in Europe.


An online Freedom of Information platform has launched to promote journalists’ stories produced from the results and improve transparency. WhatDoTheyKnow, which archives FoI requests and also offers an online form allowing people to make and send them, has changed its site to enable news story links to be added to resulting responses. The site is run by mySociety, a not-for-profit social enterprise, which hopes the platform will be a “useful way to give your stories some more readership (not to mention a nice inbound link from a high-ranked site for your search engine ratings)”.


The Guardian has appointed Fay Schlesinger to the role of head of national news, based in London.

Dharshini David has been appointed Global Trade Correspondent at BBC News.

Benjamin Kentish will be joining LBC later this month as Westminster Correspondent. He is currently a Political Correspondent at The Independent.

Mark Bridge has been appointed History Correspondent at the Times. Mark was previously Technology Correspondent and has been replaced by Tom Knowles who returned from the US last week.

Jessica Beard starts this week as Pensions Reporter at The Telegraph.

Michael Domanico has been appointed as Assistant Managing Editor at Business Insider.

Kate Andrews has now started her new role as Economics Correspondent at The Spectator. She was previously a freelance contributor to City AM and also Associate Director at the Institute of Economics Affairs.

Madison Darbyshire has joined the FT Money team as a Reporter, focusing on investment. has appointed Alex Davies as deputy TV editor.



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