Male experts on news programmes peak

The number of male experts appearing on UK flagship news programmes has peaked during March 2020 with a three-year high of 2.7 males to every female expert. Data gathered by the Expert Women Project from City, University of London, shows that politicians and political advisers are largely responsible for increasing the ratio from February to March by more than 20 per cent. The good news is that in April, for most programmes, female experts reappeared, as news journalists began to focus on health workers – and on practice over policies. The project surveyed six flagship TV and radio news programmes for five days per month: Channel 4 News; Kay Burley @ Breakfast (Sky News); ITV News at Ten; Today (BBC Radio 4); BBC News at Ten; and 5 News (Channel 5).

While male politicians and advisers dominated the airwaves at a rate of five to one throughout March and April, the gender balance was more equal between UK ‘establishment figures’  – such as senior academics and representatives of key organisations. In April, for every one female establishment figure, viewers heard just 2.5 men.

Dozens of weeklies go subscription only

Regional publisher Newsquest has introduced online subscription on the websites of around 40 of its weekly newspapers, including the Basingstoke Gazette, Bury Times and the East London & West Essex Guardian. Newsquest has brought in the measure at titles across the country after rolling out a metered paywall on the sites of its regional dailies last month. The scheme invites readers to sign up to a subscription of either £4.99 per month or £52 per year, and has been introduced after the company recorded its highest year-on-year web growth last month. In return, those who sign up will receive access to unlimited articles, up to an 80 per cent reduction in visible advertising on the site and the ability to post comments online.

Sky News reported this week that senior media figures have warned of the coronavirus ‘perfect storm’ hitting newspapers, saying the drop in circulation and ad revenue could lead to some outlets disappearing completely. Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick MP this week encouraged people to ‘go out and buy a newspaper’ in Wednesday evening’s Number 10 press conference.

ITN calls for fake news penalty system

ITN is calling for a digital “kitemarking” system online to distinguish between quality journalism and fake content – with internet companies facing penalties if they publish inaccurate information. The coorporation, which develops news content for ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, says the coronavirus pandemic has revealed both the importance of ‘trustworthy and reliable information’ and the dangers to democracy of fast-spreading misinformation. A submission to a House of Lords inquiry into the future of journalism, reported by the Observer, called for internet companies to face the same penalties as broadcasters and other quality news providers from regulatory bodies, such as Ofcom, if they let misinformation slip through the net. ITN also insisted Parliament draw up a code of conduct for news suppliers and digital platforms to help prevent the dissemination of fake news.

Twitter, Facebook and Google ‘woefully lacking’ on fake news

Meanwhile, social media companies were criticised last week for an unwillingness to answer direct questions during a select committee hearing on disinformation around COVID-19. Julian Knight MP, chair of the DCMS Sub-Committee on Online Harms and Disinformation, said that answers provided by Twitter, Facebook and Google ‘fell short of the standards we expect in terms of clarity and openness’.

DCMS Committee Chair Julian Knight MP said: ‘The defensive position demonstrated by the representatives sent by Twitter, Facebook and Google was deeply unhelpful and failed in clarifying what they are doing to tackle the threat posed by record levels of misinformation and disinformation online about COVID-19, some of it deadly. The lack of information and detail in the answers we were given showed a disregard for the important process of scrutiny. We’re again asking the social media companies for information that was so woefully lacking in order to prove to Parliament and their users that their organisations are open and accountable for their behaviour.’


Boris Johnson’s televised speech last night setting out ‘the first sketch of a road map for reopening society’ drew in a record 27.49 million viewers, according to the BBC’s Entertainment Correspondent Lizo Mzimba.

By contrast, a total of 13.13 million viewers watched the Queen’s 9pm address to the nation on the 8th May, commemorating the 75th anniversary of VE Day across BBC One (9.86 million), ITV (2.36 million),  Channel 5 (0.53 million),  BBC News Channel (0.19 million) and  Sky News (0.19 million).


Thursday saw the launch of the first edition of the Financial TimesCity Bulletin, providing subscribers with a daily pre-market update and commentary on the day ahead. City Correspondent Cat Rutter Pooley is editing the UK section with Gordon Smith compiling the international section. It runs Monday to Thursday straight into your inbox by 8am, with a guest writer on Friday. The bulletin is described as still having all the content from the FT’s Opening Quote briefing with a fresher look and an extra section on how companies are coping with coronavirus.

Meanwhile, Lucy McNulty has been appointed City Editor at the paper, writing about the the challenges for the City arising from the coronavirus crisis, regulatory developments, politics and policy-making and white collar crime. She was previously Financial Regulation and Brexit Editor and she will continue to cover Brexit too as and when it’s a concern for the City.


Nick Rostron-Pike has joined ITV as Digital Executive Producer. He was previously Head of Content at News UK.

Lara Keay has joined Sky News as a News Reporter, she was previously a Senior News Reporter at MailOnline.

Terri-Ann Williams has joined The Sun as a Digital Health and Fitness Reporter. She was previously a News Reporter at MailOnline.

Alice Jaffe has joined the Daily Mail as an Assistant Editor, working on the Good Health section.

Minnie Wright is now a News Editor for the Radio Times. She was previously a Senior Entertainment Writer at the Daily Express.

Clare Fordham has been appointed Editor of the Emma Barnett Show and also Chiles on Friday at BBC Radio 5 Live.

Victoria Macdonald has been appointed Health & Social Care Editor at Channel 4 News.



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