Corporate elision sullies the end of the Indy, Fleet Street’s last great gamble

Independent final edition 2, March 2016 by Jimmy Nicholls

Should a real press regulator ever be set up in this country, its first rule should be that any paper found to be puffing itself like a political or corporate dispatch will be abolished on sight.

Most would not last the day, windbaggery being a practice most editors and proprietors enjoy even as the grunts on the newsdesk wipe tears from their eyes as they extract the sliver of meaningful information from another slew of press releases.

It’s this practice that leaves a bitter taste in the mouth as one leafs through the last paper edition of the Independent, still the last full-blooded national ever launched in Britain (New Day and the i being cheap-sheets) after 30 years.

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The Internet needs better advocates than the censorship crusader Laurie Penny

Aaron Swartz, January 2012 by MariaJesusV

It is evident to anybody who takes an interest in free speech and its bedfellow free thought that the Internet is now the only battleground worth fighting over.

As such, any attempt by a journalist to publicise the likes of Aaron Swartz, one of the programmers behind Reddit – to name a lesser achievement – should be applauded, even if it is Laurie Penny.

But the trouble with Penny’s writing on this subject is that it is dishonest, and it fails to delineate the complex argument around distribution of information in the Internet age.

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Bill Buckley, Gore Vidal, and the flourishing of American partisanship

William Buckley debating Gore Vidal, 1968 in public domain

In a year that Donald Trump could well become president of the United States, it is arguable that the country’s cable news networks appear, by comparison, oddly sober.

As such it is intriguing to find the roots of America’s love affair with polarised punditry dissected in The Best of Enemies, a documentary on William Buckley and Gore Vidal.

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A New Day on Fleet Street?

New Day, February 2016 by Jimmy Nicholls

It is perhaps the defining hypocrisy of journalism that while the industry claims to be dedicated to popping the pretensions of the great windbags of our time, the trade rarely misses a chance to puff itself.

So it’s hard not to snigger at the claim of the New Day, the first national paper to be launched in Britain for some 30 years, to be “a new type of newspaper”.

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What’s so unfair about ‘Fat Cat Tuesday’?

Kitten Looking Up, August 2012 by Belal Khan

The New Year can always be relied upon to provide newspapers with a steady flow of stories they write every damn year, pausing only to change some of the figures.

And so it is on the first Tuesday of 2016 we are presented with “Fat Cat Tuesday”, the amusingly named creation of the think tank-cum-lobby group High Pay Centre that points out that top chief executives still make a lot more money than you.

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