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


Slow and steady

The former director of news at the BBC, James Harding, has launched a new media venture, Tortoise. Harding left the BBC in early 2018 to focus on ‘slow news’. Unlike other websites, Tortoise will include the daily publication of ‘five concise pieces, tackling one subject or story in depth’ and will not focus on breaking news. It also aims to include the public in its newsroom through things like ‘Thinkins’ – open news conferences that members will be able to attend or dial into to contribute to the news agenda. A Kickstarter page has been set up to fund the project and, at the time of writing, it had more than tripled its initial goal of £75,000.

No more secrets

Facebook is to oblige those who purchase political adverts to verify their identity and location following concerns about the role of ‘fake news’ in political campaigns. A ‘paid for by’ label will be attached to campaigns so users can see who is funding the advertising. There will also be a ‘report’ option for any unmarked political ads, while the social media company is creating a public ‘ad archive’ to store political adverts for up to seven years for reference. Instagram, owned by Facebook, has implemented similar rules in the US, Brazil and the UK. The decision comes amid mounting pressure from the UK Electoral Commission on Westminster to make political promotions more transparent.  Elsewhere, Facebook is facing accusations that it over-estimated its ad view statistics to attract higher revenues from advertisers, in some cases by as much as 900 per cent. A group of small advertisers has lodged a legal case against the corporation that alleges Facebook ‘knowingly falsified its average viewership statistics for over a year’.

Journalism wins

Reporters Without Borders has announced the shortlist for its first ever London-based Press Freedom Awards. Twelve journalists and media organisations have been nominated for three categories: Courage, Impact and Independence in Journalism. The newly created L’esprit de RSF award will also be presented. The nominees include Paolo Borometti, an Italian journalist and Sicilian mafia expert whose murder plot was foiled by Italian police, and the Ghanaian undercover reporter, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, who now lives in hiding in the wake of his investigation into bribery in the African football world.

Regulation ready

Google’s vice president and managing director for the UK and Ireland, Ronan Harris, has announced that the technology giant is ‘ready to partner’ with the UK Government following the upcoming outcome of the Cairncross Review. Dame Frances Cairncross was commissioned to examine ‘what intervention might be required to safeguard the future of our free and independent press’.  In the past, news publishers have called on the Government to take steps to ensure that digital giants make a financial contribution to ensure that traditional journalism in the UK survives.

Reader loss

The Mail Online has seen its readership fall by 19 per cent in September, compared with the same month last year. The Mail Online remains, however, the news website with the highest daily average number of visitors, ahead of the Metro and The Sun.



Sir Nick Clegg is to move to California to join Facebook as its head of global affairs and communications.

Simon Neville joins The Mail on Sunday at the end of this month as a city reporter.

Rachel Millard has joined The Sunday Times as a business reporter covering energy and mining.

Michael Knowles is now a home affairs correspondent at the Daily Express.

Kalyeena Makortoff is joining the Guardian as their banking correspondent.

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