Asian Lite, UK won ‘How Do’ award without psychics, astrologers or sex ads!

In the papers five-year history, we never took a single advert of psychics, astrologers, faith healers or premium-priced sex chat lines. Journalism is more than a business and we are trying our best to serve the community in a better way. We follow a strict advertising policy to protect the readers from the clutches of psychics and the sex industry.” 

said, Anasudin Azeez, Editor of Asian Lite, a fortnightly focussing on British Asian events and issues who recently won the prestigious How-Do newspaper of the year award for 2012.The panel also praised the newspaper’s quality, creativity and producing the contents ‘appropriate to that target audience’.

Azeez, who hails from Palakkad district in Kerala said the How-Do award will inspire the editorial team to stick with its policies to bring back the missionary values of journalism.

The award committee said Asian Lite, published by New Asian Media Ltd, bucked the current British trends in declining sales and circulation in publishing and derived innovative solutions to identify new models and revenue streams.

A judging panel comprising BBC veteran Jim Hancock and Google’s Andy Barke selected Asian Lite as the Newspaper of the Year 2012 from the short-list of eight leading British titles, including Rupert Murdoch-owned News Corporations’ The Times; Newsquest’s The Bolton News and Johnston Press Group’s Lancaster Guardian. Asian Lite was the only British ethnic media title shortlisted in the 18 award categories. The award ceremony was held at the prestigious Lancashire County Cricket Club and attended by several media personalities and industry leaders, a statement said.

Sir Stephen Sedley proposes statutory media regulation

The Leveson Inquiry has invited evidence and submissions from the public as well as from the Core participants.  Although not reported widely in the media, last October, the recently retired Lord Justice of Appeal, Sir Stephen Sedley, made his own submission to the Leveson Inquiry. This is available on theLeveson Inquiry website [pdf].  In this submission, Sir Stephen proposes his own model of statutory regulation of the media.

Sir Stephen argues that “Britain can boast some of the best investigative newspapers in the world” but that we also have “some of the most intrusive and foul-mouthed newspapers in the world“.   He characterises the problem as being “how to keep the plums and curb the duff” – by the latter he means not the tasteless, trivial or debased – with which a free society has to live – but rather

“material which has no proper place in a society which respects truth and recognises the rule of law: material which illegitimately invades individual privacy, which depraves and corrupts or which is simply mendacious“.

He points out that while the first and second are illegal, or potentially so, simple lying “carries neither civil nor criminal penalties”.

“it is possible, at present, without fear of redress, to publish untruths which, although neither libellous nor invasive of privacy, can do serious personal or public harm”.

Despite this, he argues that the law’s abstension from the regulation of truth-telling is both principled and wholesome.

In terms of the potential remedies, Sir Stephen rejects the PCC, which he describes as being

“widely and rightly regarded as a body lacking both perceptible independence and any worthwhile disciplinary power“.

He goes on to make what he describes as “A modest proposal” for regulating the press.  This involves

the setting up of a statutory printed media regulator, governed by rules authorised by Parliament and designed to ensure a fair inquistorial, rather than adversarial, procedure Such a procedure will place the responsibility for the initiation and conduct of an inquiry on the regulator rather than the complainant, but will afford the respondent a right to full notice and disclosure and a right to be heard at ever stage

The standards to be applied could, he suggests, could perfectly well be those in the PCC’s Code.

The critical element of such a statutory regulator would be, he argues, its powers.  He suggests that the primary tool should be an uncapped power to impose fines, tailored to the gravity of the offence.  Such penalties should be open to appeal or review.

Sir Stephen argues that the subject-matter of a complaint would not have to be “pigeon-holed” into a legal category and there should be no trade off against civil rights of action.

As to who should be subject to regulation, he suggests that the daily printed media are the obvious candidates.  The fact that international co-operation would be required for internet issues is not a reason for doing nothing now about the mainstream media.

In relation to the non-mainstream media, he suggests a possible solution would be to give the regulator a remit “which allows it to investigate any written publication within the United Kingdom“.

Finally, Sir Stephen rejects the idea of an enforceable right of reply suggesting that the solution is not problematical

“the press should remain free to refuse to publish a required correction or retraction following an adverse adjudicatiion, but if it does so any regulatory fine should rise steeply”.

This proposal is, he says in conclusion

“designed simply to suggest that there is now a powerful case for independent statutory regulation of the mainstream medial that regulation can solve a number of problems for which neither litigation nor self-regulation is proving adequate and that it can be done fairly and effectively without either licensing the press or giving the regulator a monopoly of the truth

Although unattractive to the media, the virtues of this kind of straightforward model of statutory regulation are obvious. As the Leveson Inquiry moves to Module 4 and considers practical proposals for press regulation this is one which clearly deserves serious consideration. (courtesy: informm’s blog)

Dial M for Murdoch – Tom Watson

On 19 April 2012 Tom Watson MP and Martin Hickman published their book about phone-hacking and related scandals, Dial M for Murdoch (Allen Lane £20).  This is Tom Watson’s preface to the book, reproduced here with the permission of the authors and the publisher.

This book tries to explain how a particular global media company works: how it came to exert a poisonous, secretive influence on public life in Britain, how it used its huge power to bully, intimidate and to cover up, and how its exposure has changed the way we look at our politicians, our police service and our press. Some political ‘friends’ have tried to portray the hacking and bribery which has exposed the workings of News Corporation as part of the price you pay for good tabloid journalism. They’re wrong.

Of course, tabloids sometimes get out of hand, but this is not (at least, not much) a story of harmless mischief, of reporters in false moustaches and rollicking exposés of hypocrites. It is not just the famous and wealthy who have been damaged, but ordinary decent people who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The legendary Fleet Street names whose reputations have been tarnished could almost (but not quite) be considered tiny pawns. This is a power game played out in the boardrooms and dining salons of the elite, and every political party, mine included, has had an inner circle of people on the Murdoch invitation list. Ultimately this scandal is about the failure of politicians to act in the interests of the powerless rather than themselves. As the book shows, I hope beyond any doubt, prime ministers, ministers, Parliament, the police, the justice system and the ‘free’ press became collectively defective when it came to investigating the activities of NewsCorp.

Now that Murdoch’s corrupt grip on our national institutions is loosening, and thanks to the laser-beam focus of Lord Justice Leveson, who leads the public inquiry into this affair, these individuals and public bodies are belatedly start- ing to clean up their acts.

I know from personal experience what it’s like to be attacked by Rupert Murdoch’s organization. In the book, I give a first-hand account of some of the worst moments – though they were infinitely less bad, of course, than others have suffered.

Sometimes, now, I can laugh at my former situation: a well connected ex-minister in parliament, altering his route home at night, fearful of someone who might be in pursuit. But the affair has taken its toll: the failure of my marriage, the loss of friends and intense stress over many years. Even though the mechanisms of intimidation have now been exposed, I still obsessively memorize the number plates of unfamiliar vehicles parked outside my house. That’s what it does to you when you’re at the receiving end of the Murdoch fear machine – the threats, bullying, covert surveillance, hacking, aggressive reporting and personal abuse make you permanently wary.

That was the state I was in – suspicious and paranoid – when Martin Hickman called me in October 2010, for the first time in ten years. I was distrustful of most reporters and at a low ebb, but Martin was an old friend: we had known each other well at Hull University, where he’d set up a newspaper and I’d become president of the Students’ Union, my first elected position. At that stage, a trusted journalist seeking to investigate a media cover-up was rare.

Regularly from then on, we would meet quietly at the Fire Station bar next to Waterloo station in South London, often for black coffee and breakfast before work, or occasionally late at night over a beer. Whilst the commuters tapped into their laptops and the revellers partied, we would sit in the corner, away from prying MPs and journalists, talking about developments as they happened. Martin was always a great person to bounce things off.

Of course, I wasn’t working in isolation. Many individuals, most notably the Guardian’s Nick Davies, the BBC’s Glenn Campbell and lawyers Mark Lewis and Charlotte Harris, played critical parts in unravelling this complex scandal. Even so, in the early days, it was a lonely pursuit.

We became close in the face of opposition from Murdoch’s UK executives, the Metropolitan Police, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Press Complaints Commission and many of my fellow politicians. We were all helped by the brave whistleblowers who summoned the courage to share key information with us. Though still too frightened to go public, they know who they are, and believe me, they are heroes.

Because I was involved, I come into the book myself from time to time, as Martin does occasionally too. But though the story is inevitably coloured by personal experiences, we didn’t want to over- emphasize our roles, and for that reason it is written in the third person: I am not ‘me’ or ‘Tom’ but ‘Tom Watson’; similarly Martin is ‘Martin Hickman’.

Martin is calm and cautious. I am not. I hope our contrasting characters have created an accurate and informative account, albeit one which leaves you in no doubt as to what we think of the events and organization we are writing about. Many of the events are public knowledge, but they have become so in fits and starts and the connections between them have not been made.

We believe that seeing the story whole, as it is presented here for the first time, allows the character of the organization to emerge unmistakably. Please tell us what you think. We’re on Twitter at @tom_watson and @Martin_Hickman.

This story is not yet over, but it extends deeper into the past than some may realize. For most, it really began when a newspaper story about the hacking of a missing girl’s phone prompted a national wail of outrage so loud it was heard in the lofty world of Rupert Murdoch, and the mighty proprietor had to account for his actions to representatives of the people for the first time. So this is where our story begins – in the middle of those tumultuous days.

Tom Watson, April 2012

courtesy: informm’s blog

Anandabazar Patrika eyes STAR

Indian media group Anandabazar Patrika aims to buy out STAR Group‘s 26 percent stake in their Indian television joint venture, the Business Standard reported on Monday.

The group is parting ways with the Rupert Murdoch-controlled television group after months of discontent over editorial and other strategic issues, the newspaper said, citing an unnamed official involved in the negotiations.

“It’s final now. The two legal teams are working out the details and the fine print will be clear very soon,” it quoted the official as saying.

Dipankar Das Purkayastha, managing director of Anandabazaar Patrika, denied any such plans, the paper said.

Media Content & Communications Services India Pvt Ltd, the joint venture, runs three news channels in India – STAR News in Hindi, STAR Ananda in Bengali and STAR Majha in Marathi.

“This is a closely held joint venture. I am not going to comment on market speculation,” the paper quoted Uday Shankar, chief executive of STAR India Pvt Ltd, as saying.