Archive for the ‘Paul Dacre’ tag

Dacre right to call for a privacy debate, wrong to blame current situation on a judge

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The Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Mail was right to call for a public debate about privacy. He was not right to do it through such an astonishingly personal attack on Mr Justice Eady (who is not in a position to respond). Nor was he right when he said the judge was creating a ‘back door’ privacy law in the UK (we have had a privacy law since Article 8 of the Human Rights Act was incorporated to British law in 2000). But he was right that this issue is of significance and should be discussed publicly and openly.

Not least because it fully illustrates the inadequacy of the current system of press self-regulation. If the existing Press Complaints Commission were not so opaque, so riven with conflicts of interest, and so unaccountable, then fewer people would resort to legal action and the risk of a privacy law restraining the press would recede.

Written by Martin Moore

November 10th, 2008 at 4:06 pm

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Why it's a bad idea to make Paul Dacre head of the Code Committee

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The Press Complaints Commission yesterday announced that Paul Dacre, editor-in-chief of the Daily Mail / Associated Newspapers, will be the new chairman of the Editorial Code Committee – the powerful body that sets the rules of press self-regulation.

There are many reasons why I think this is a bad idea. Here I’ll name just 5:

1. There have been more successful complaints made to the PCC against the Daily Mail than against any other newspaper. 153 over the last decade, as compared to an average of 43 for other newspapers (source: Nick Davies, Flat Earth News, p.366). Dacre therefore has a long track record of breaking the editorial code he is now going to set.

2. The Daily Mail came top of the Information Commissioner’s ‘league table’ of trade in illegal information (from ‘What Price Privacy Now‘ p.8). 58 journalists from the Daily Mail made 952 transactions – i.e. paid a private detective to illegally gather personal information about individuals. None have been sanctioned. Dacre’s paper has therefore systematically broken Clause 2 of the Editorial Code (privacy), as well as frequently breaking the law.

3. Before standing down last December the government’s chief scientist claimed the Daily Mail should be held responsible for threatening the lives of 50-100 children as a consequence of the links the paper drew between MMR and autism (indeed the paper continues to make those links despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary). Sir David King added that the Mail’s anti GM campaign had probably cost the economy between £2bn and £4bn.

4. When he takes his new position Paul Dacre will step down from the PCC itself. But he will remain a member of the Press Board of Finance (see here) – the body that funds the PCC. He will therefore set the rules and determine the funding – a serious conflict of interest that would be considered unacceptable by any other public body

5. In his book Nick Davies provides evidence to suggest that the Daily Mail is institutionally racist. For example, he talks to a reporter who was told to drive 300 miles to cover a triple murder only to be called back when the news desk discovered the victims were black. Then there’s the email, leaked a couple of weeks ago, in which a Daily Mail journalist hunts for immigrant horror stories (see Greenslade Blog)

These are over and above the fact that appointing such a prominent and powerful editor sends a very clear message to the public that the PCC acts in the interest of newspapers, not in the interests of the public.

If you have any other reasons – for or against – the appointment, please feel free to comment below.

Written by Martin Moore

March 5th, 2008 at 1:52 pm

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Daily Mail turns green?

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I looked at the headline, then up at the name of the paper. Then at the headline again. Yes, it was The Daily Mail. Yes, they had devoted their whole front page to an environmental campaign. ‘Banish the Bag’, the Mail tells its readers today. And it’s not just the front page lead but fills pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9, plus an editorial by John Humphrys on page 14, and a leader column.

Wow. That’s not doing things by halves. If I hadn’t checked it three times I could’ve sworn I was holding The Independent.

Does this represent a major editorial shift? Has the Daily Mail decided to go green? What next, how to combat climate change?

Well, if the editorial stance has shifted, then the paper will have a job on its hands convincing its highly paid columnists, almost all of whom seem to believe that this whole global warming thing is some sort of massive cultish conspiracy.

It is, wrote John MacLeod in the Mail back on January 5th, “frankly, a religion; as arrogant and as bonkers as the most COMFORT doom-laden of the Armageddon sects, with its own priests, its own mysticism, its own intolerance, its own bigotry and its own lies”.

Climate change dissidents have, Melanie Phillips believes, been censored. The Mail columnist laments “the successful attempt to suppress debate over man-made global warming, with sceptical scientists deprived of grant funding and subjected to venomous smears”.

One of those dissidents, Martin Durkin, who made the (much criticised) Channel 4 film ‘The Great Global Warming Swindle’, is applauded by Richard Littlejohn for making a film which “outs the scientific case against man-made global warming”. It should, Littlejohn believes, be screened in schools alongside Al Gore’s film, ‘An Inconvenient Truth’”.

Peter Hitchens, writing in the Mail on Sunday, poo-poos environmental concerns and proudly reports that “LAST week I began to stockpile old-fashioned high-energy light bulbs. I suspect that it will not be long before they begin to disappear from the shops, and I have no intention of being forced to use the horrible, feeble, glaring low-energy bulbs that we are being ordered to employ. I don’t believe in man-made global warming”.

Christopher Booker argues, in both the Mail and the Sunday Telegraph, that “the latest evidence shows that, while CO2 levels are still rising, global temperatures are lower than they were ten years ago and may soon even fall” (this from a journalist with no scientific credentials – see previous blog).

And David Jones went as far as Churchill, Manitoba, in the Arctic Circle to find plentiful polar bears and locals who were convinced that “the world’s being conned by green scaremongers”. “Doomed?” asked Jones, “don’t you believe it”.

So does the campaign against plastic bags augur a sea change in the editorial direction of the UK’s best-selling mid market tabloid?

Or is it perhaps more likely that this is the fruit borne of the the close ties between Gordon Brown and Paul Dacre? Could it be that there is some link between the Daily Mail’s new campaign and a little reported speech by Gordon Brown last November in which the Prime Minister called for an end to the “single-use disposable” plastic bag? (reported here by Benedict Brogan in… the Mail).

Written by Martin Moore

February 27th, 2008 at 9:03 am

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