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


Fake news

On Wednesday, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport published a report on the ongoing Government investigation into disinformation and fake news. The report warned of a ‘democratic crisis’ stemming from the manipulation of personal data to target web users. The Government rejected several of the report’s proposals including the introduction of an educational levy on technology companies to fund internet awareness. Damian Collins MP, chair of the DCMS Committee, also said it was ‘disappointing and a missed opportunity’ that the Government failed to respond to calls that the Electoral Commission establishes a code for social media advertising during election campaigns. Of the 42 recommendations in the report, at this time only three have been accepted by the Government.

Stay in your lane

David Dinsmore, the chief operating officer of News UK, has criticised the BBC for ‘directly challenging’ commercial tabloid journalism by taking away traffic.  The former editor of The Sun said that the BBC was subject to ‘no scrutiny or challenge’ and by offering its services for free was ‘reducing the leverage of commercial publishers’. Specifically, Dinsmore was concerned that the BBC had overstepped its remit by offering stories on subjects such as Love Island and Strictly Come Dancing: ‘To be clear, I am not criticising the BBC for the provision of high-quality, impartial news online… The BBC should return to its core public purpose of serving impartial news and content that is not well-served by the commercial sector.’

Ofcom investigates

Ofcom has announced that it will review BBC news and current affairs programming to ensure it is a ‘trusted destination’ in today’s ‘complex and rapidly changing’ world. Until April the BBC was self-regulated but Ofcom’s first annual report into the broadcaster has revealed it will examine whether the BBC continues to deliver on its first obligation under the Royal Charter: ‘To provide impartial news and information to help people understand and engage with the world around them’. Seventy three per cent of people surveyed in a recent Ofcom report rated the BBC highly for providing trustworthy and accurate news.

That’s a fact!

A US survey, conducted by the Pew Research Centre, has demonstrated that younger people are better at distinguishing facts from opinion than their over-50 counterparts. Amongst the 18 – 49 age group, a third of people were able to correctly identify five factual statements from a mixed group of facts and opinion statements. This figure dropped to just a fifth in the over-50 group. Analysis of the data has suggested that younger generations are better able to recognise facts from opinions because they are more ‘digitally savvy’.



Presenter Simon Mayo will be leaving his slot on the Radio 2 drivetime show he co-hosted with Jo Whiley. Whiley was added to Mayo’s slot by BBC bosses earlier this year but the relationship faced criticism from the outset, with listeners complaining that the pair ‘never quite gelled’.

Paddy McGuinness and Freddie Flintoff have been announced as the new presenters of Top Gear.

Ben Woods joins The Sunday Times to cover tech, media and telecoms.

Shahesta Shaitly is now Deputy Editor of The Observer Magazine.

Holly Collins is now Deputy News Editor at ITV News.

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