‘Nazi’ hookers will cure journalism’s ills

Rebekah Wade, the editor of the Sun,  gave her Cudlipp lecture last night and, following a path trodden by Paul Dacre, the editor of the Daily Mail, she bemoans “the drip, drip of case law in the High Court without any reference to parliament” that is leading to a privacy law by the back door.

So far, so dull — but then she namechecks campaigns such as the Times pushing for the Reform Act of 1832 and  investigations into thalidomide victims by the Sunday Times under Harold Evans.

Hmm, cleaning up massive parliamentary corruption and an almost decade-long struggle to secure adequate compensation for thousands of people born with deformed limbs.

… Ok, those are both good things that newspapers did.

She even says: “Great investigations, like yesterday’s Sunday Times exposé of the Labour Lords are lifeblood to newspapers.


… Yes, yes they are. Where is this going?

But it is “the epitome of self-flagellation when The Guardian publishes Max Mosley’s views on press freedom”.

Hooray — did you see what she did there? Why flagellate yourself when “Nazi” hookers will do it for you.

Is this for real? Can the editor of the Sun, Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper really be comparing 

the genuine work that papers do fighting on their readers’ behalf with the prurient, moralising muck-raking of the News of the World’s Max Mosley “investigation”?

Does anyone really at this stage not get the fact that the Lords investigation, while important, doesn’t interest that many Sun readers, while the Mosley “investigation”, while utterly trivial, had them slavering for more?

Can’t we stop pretending that this is about the courts’ erosion of  “freedoms hard won over centuries” and about satisfying a lust, feeding a need and making a buck?

Or is it just that if law is made with “reference to parliament” rather than by inconvenient judges, then Rupert Murdoch and Mr Dacre know exactly on whom to call to have their curtain-twitcher’s licences reinstated?

Is Paul Murphy taking the Michael?

I am baffled by the announcement that Paul Murphy, the minister for digital inclusion, is establishing a network of digital mentors to help the 17 million Britons who have no experience of the web.

The same Paul Murphy who is chairman of the cross-departmental committee on IT and information security? What could possibly go wrong?

While the thrust of Mr Murphy’s plans is commendable – extending internet skills to the most deprived members of British society – the execution is lacking. Having squadrons of mentors on hand to train people with no home internet access in what they could do if they had internet access seems pointless and cruel.

The Cabinet of which Mr Murphy is a member will likely shell out a second £500 billion in bail-outs (with no end in sight) in the hopes of restoring confidence in shattered City banks and markets – the UK’s supposed financial bread basket.

He could go to vodafone.co.uk and order a Dell netbook with mobile broadband access of 3GB a month for two years.

Now do that 17 million times. The damage? £11.5 billion — or £5.25 billion a year.

Or about 0.5 per cent of what this IT-ignorant government will spend in your taxes on propping up shoddy banks. And that’s without a bulk discount.

I would be much happier seeing my taxes go toward building a true knowledge economy, adressing what is rapidly amounting to electronic disfranchisement and giving 17 million people the chance to google recipes, program, write a blog, twitter, watch youtube, or even really waste their time and petition Downing Street.

What happened to the multi- in UK multimedia?

Columbus Dispatch web-only series on death

I came across this web-only series on the wonderful Innovative Interactivity. The music and treatment is a little Hallmark-y for my tastes but I really like the execution  — it’s got video, audio slideshows, data and some slick transitions to show all elements on the screen at once.

Viewers can comment on the whole package and, in a very clever move, each individual interview has its own release date so it has become almost like an old-fashioned three-day newspaper special.

While the Telegraph is offering lots of interesting video, and the Guardian has podcasts and map mashups , I don’t know of any UK media outlet that has used embedded multimedia this effectively to tell and show a multi-layered story with accompanying data.

And the beauty is the idea is so transferrable to other themes.

Added bonus: it shows how effective mono pictures can be online.