Here's the team from The Times discussing their hugely successful Olympic wraparound covers. I think we can all allow them to be a little pleased with themselves...
Here's the team from The Times discussing their hugely successful Olympic wraparound covers. I think we can all allow them to be a little pleased with themselves...
The Times has been winning praise and plaudits throughout the Olympic Games for a series of stunning front and back page wraps. But while they have certainly made the most of some iconic images and memorable performances, the big question for many media watchers has been whether the designs have actually contributed to a rise in sales.
The answer appears to be yes. Figures published today by The Guardian suggest The Times has added around 180,000 additional sales during the Games.
That may not sound much at a time when you might expect all newspapers to be bringing in extra readers clamouring for Olympic news and comment. But that has not proved to be the case across the board. The Sun and the Daily Star have both experienced significant drops in sales, according to the figures and many of the closest rivals to The Times have added more modest sales.
It's also easy to believe the newspaper industry's ability to compete in print has been severely tested as never before by the pressure from diverse online channels during the Games. With 26 channels of BBC coverage online and on mobiles, a ramping up of the papers' own online coverage and record-breaking levels of social media activity around each medal win and event, print's already inherent tardiness has been further exposed by the immediacy of information available during these "first social media Games".
Add to that the fact August tends to see a slowdown in sales as readers head off on holiday.
Looked at in that context, the increased sales brought in by The Times, and the decision to focus so much effort on print's undeniable visual strength in response to the speed and choice of digital channels, looks all the more like a medal winning performance for the people behind designs such as these:
All the newspapers today went big on the Olympics but gold medal for best front page goes - by some distance - to this wraparound effort from The Times. Keen-eyed readers will note the paper has gone with a The Times of London masthead - the name by which the paper is still known the world over. The Photograph is by Dominic Lipinski:
The Media Blog today turns three years old (hence all the childish humour and occasional tantrums). Over that time a lot of ground has been covered in more than 1,200 blog posts but it's some of the quirkier posts that have typically taken off with readers. That is certainly reflected in the 10 best-read posts from the past three years...
1. No!…no!…no!…no! That'll be the Liverpool Echo, with arguably one of the worst page layouts ever witnessed in the rich history of massively inappropriate headline, picture, caption and story clashes.
2. The BBC wrestles with social media: You know that moment when you accidentally set your development website live, complete with insults about your readers? Yeah, that…
3. Daybreak viewers get easily confused: The fact Daybreak viewers get confused by ITV +1, to the point they contact the programme via Twitter to tell them their clock is wrong – every single day – has provided hours of amusement. It all started with this post.
4. The wrong Steve Jobs: There are so many spoof Twitter accounts, including a fake Steve Jobs who famously fooled the Daily Mail...
5. A Twitter riot: If the internet has always been good for one thing then it is surely 'blaming stuff on'. Last summer that meant the Daily Mail blaming the London riots on Twitter.
6. "A**e!": Some over-officious censorship at Virgin Media saw all sorts of words getting the asterisk treatment.
7. Newspapers clash off-the-ball: While England and Sweden battled it out on the pitch to decide who was marginally more qualified to get knocked out at the Quarter Final stage of Euro 2012, the two countries’ newspapers fought it out in a series of spoof front pages.
8. Well somebody had to say something: This open letter to the BBC was an attempt to restore some much needed perspective to the debate about the Corporation’s coverage of the Jubilee. Only one person on Twitter didn’t get the joke.
9. Penguins will make kids gay: Over the past three years the Daily Mail has provided more fodder for The Media Blog than any other newspaper, including some odd views on penguins.
10. When captions attack: The BBC graphics team have given us a few laughs over the years, but this one will take some beating.
Only last week this blog highlighted The Telegraph's typo problem but this one, in the standfirst, really is a classic of the genre given the subject matter:
The Telegraph today put the boot in to the BBC over its coverage of the Diamond Jubilee. However, its criticism would probably read a lot better if its own coverage managed to spell 'Diamond' correctly (hat tips: David Walsh and Charlie M):
...to the world famous Goodwood estate...
...they can be found "sqandering it"...
Saturday's Telegraph really has got a bad case of Jubilee fever: from the bunting festooned over the masthead (seriously, that's actually on there) to nearly £16-worth of free DVD. There's a free guide to the festivities and there's Matthew Norman discussing how he cured his republican ways.
Even the lead story is about grannies enjoying generous tax breaks...
A Telegraph reader writes...
(Hat tip India Knight)
It was hard to ignore Tuesday's big news story...
(Hat tip to Nick Sutton for the front pages.)
If you look carefully you might just spot a little bit of advertising from Sky (39 per cent owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp) around The Guardian's double page spread on Murdoch's entry in the Leveson fray this week (hat tip Scott Bryan):
Is this a defensive measure by Sky - an undaunted attempt to capitalise on one of the week's big media stories or a cheeky attempt to drown out potentially negative coverage? Or is it simply unfortunate sheduling?
Some say it started with the budget. Others suggested the damage was done when David Cameron stood by and watched the Leveson enquiry drag News International further into the mire. But whatever the reason, David Cameron and the Conservatives appear not only to have lost the support of the right-wing media but they have actually become their prey.
Following the budget the front pages were full of highly charged talk of a "raid on pensioners". And these weren't just the Murdoch attack dogs - even the Daily Mail accused George Osborne of picking the pockets of pensioners:
Some suggested this was a token mid-term kicking of the kind which proves of little consequence when the right-wing press rally behind the Conservatives in time for any important election. Perhaps for the Mail and The Telegraph it was meant to be. But it didn't stop with the budget or with stories out of the media's control.
Next came a timely and clearly orchestrated Sunday Times sting exposing David Cameron's £250,000 dinners for Tory party donors, for anybody who thought this might not be a personal and deliberate campaign:
That sparked a fresh wave of criticism across the wider right-wing media. And the ink was hardly wet on those damaging headlines when two fresh crises hit Cameron - petrol panic and pasty tax. The latter may seem a trivial story on the surface but it provided a perfect, bite-sized 'us and them' story for the papers to tell in one headline, one picture or one cartoon. It set a trap for the Tories which they blundered into, inviting ridicule and scorn alongside the more damning headlines about dangerous scaremongering and panic on the forecourts:
These stories would be classic tabloid fodder at any time of course but the blood lust with which the Murdoch press in particular were telling them has been hard to ignore by anybody who believes the press can still make or break a general election.
Writing on Twitter, Charlie Beckett, director of Polis, wondered how the Tories had engineered their worst headlines in 38 years. The Sun's political editor Tom Newton Dunn went less far, though suggested these were still Cameron's darkest days in the media since coming to power. The PR man was finally being unravelled by the headline writers and picture editors he once courted so eagerly.
Other commentators struggled to see the way back for the beleaguered Tories:
Some of the most interesting Tweets however came early in this bleak chapter for Cameron, from the puppetmaster pulling the strings behind at least three of Cameron's biggests detractors. Rupert Murdoch was clearly revelling in catching Cameron upon the Sunday Times' hook. His pointed reference to a "full independent inquiry" removed any doubt this might be Leveson related:
So how long will it last? Until Murdoch has unseated Cameron, until he has caused the Tories some election misery in early May or until he is happy that Cameron has received a suitable reminder as to who is boss?
Certainly there is more to come. The Sunday Times this weekend is coming back for a second bite of the 'Cash for Cameron' story which will likely spill over into next week's papers:
The most obvious problem with a 'fight to the death' between Cameron and Murdoch is that once it is over, we'll still be left with Murdoch.
Disgraced journalist Johann Hari has resigned from the Independent. Writing on his own blog, Hari explained:
"I'd like to thank the Independent for the privilege of working for them over the past nine years, and for offering me my job back... But after nearly six months living in New York City, and plenty of time to reflect, I've decided to not take them up on their kind offer."
Hari's resignation follows Independent editor Chris Blackhurst's appearance in front of the Leveson Inquiry less than a fortnight ago, when it soon became clear Hari was still seen as damaged goods in the eyes of the media and newspaper readers.
In his post, Hari went on to allude to the continuing criticism of the Independent and its editor over their failure to sack him for a string of offences:
"I'm willing to take the flack [sic] for my errors myself: when you screw up, you should pay a price. But I'm not willing to see other people, who are [sic] played no part in those errors and are unimpeachably decent people, take the flack [sic] too. It's not fair on them. The Independent has been great to me, and we need its principles in the public arena without distractions."
How convenient... but I might not pre-order it just yet.
The Guardian has today unveiled a new look with a dramatic pic above the masthead, however many people commenting on social networks have been drawn to the juxtaposition of the stricken Costa Concordia and the paper's other main story about Michael Gove generously volunteering taxpayer money to buy the Queen a new yacht.
The Guardian's deputy editor Ian Katz said on Twitter the paper was not making a deliberate statement with the coincidence, adding they even considered dropping one to avoid the clash.
Meanwhile, also on Twitter The Times crime editor Sean O'Neill wondered whether a sinking ship might be construed as an unfortunate metaphor for any newspaper relaunch.
Here are The Media Blog's very unofficial end of year awards...
'Scoop Of The Year' 2011:
The New Statesman wins one of the few honourable awards in this rundown of 2011's highs and lows for Hugh Grant's sting on former News Of The World journalist Paul McMullan (The Bugger Bugged, April 2011). Nick Davies' leg work over at The Guardian won him Media Hero Of The Year for 2011, but Grant's one article did much to take the phone hacking story to a whole new level. It was the second time Grant had met McMullan and the actor took advantage of an open invitation to visit McMullan's pub in Kent, when asked by New Statesman guest editor Jemima Khan to come up with some content for her issue. From the pictures below, it's clear which one was taken when Hugh Grant knew payback for the deeds of McMullan and his tabloid peers and employers was imminent:
The 'Non-Story Of The Year' 2011:
2011 was the year when the Daily Mail's pursuit of the BBC stretched as far as making up a story about a BBC-wide ban on the use of AD and BC dates. The Mail desperately flogged this particular dead horse over the course of multiple articles, to the embarrassment of all onlookers.
The 'Media Blunder of the Year' 2011:
It's been a year of blunders but none was bigger or more widely relished than the Daily Mail publishing an entirely fictitious article about Amanda Knox losing her appeal against murder - the problem, Knox actually won her appeal and cleared her name. This minor detail didn't stop the Mail reporting:
Amanda Knox looked stunned this evening after she dramatically lost her prison appeal against her murder conviction...As Knox realized the enormity of what judge Hellman was saying she sank into her chair sobbing uncontrollably while her family and friends hugged each other in tears.
The 'Phone It In' Award for Uninspired Editorship:
This year the Daily Star lead with Ryan Giggs on its front page on 14 consecutive days, with a story many people were tired of even before the papers were allowed to report it. Highly Commended: The Daily Express for its heavy rotation of "miracle cures", health scares and weather related 'news'.
The 'Johann Hari Award' for Misleading Readers 2011:
This year Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips truly excelled herself with an article about how penguins could turn children gay. She topped-up this level of apparent stupidity with her continued insistence that Muslims have made us all celebrate "Winterval" and perpetuating the nonsense about the BBC banning AD and BC. Highly Commended: Johann Hari.
Hypocrite of The Year 2011:
Not content with being the editor of The Sun who presided over that paper's most hateful and hurtful dalliance with fiction, MacKenzie actually picked this year to start lecturing others about ethics. To add insult to injury he even claimed Rupert Murdoch was the real victim of the phone hacking scndal. Fortunately most people stopped listening to MacKenzie many years ago.
The 'Utter Nonsense' Award 2011:
Despite writing for a mature and well educated audience it seems The Telegraph still lives in fear of printing swear words that might offend its delicate readers. That's all well and good, of course until a story comes along about which swear words people can or can't say to the police. At that point the Telegraph published a story which claimed:
"Courts do not accept that police officers are caused harassment, alarm or distress by words such as ----, ----, -------, or ------."
If you say so.
The 'My Eyes! My Eyes!' Award for Horror 2011:
If you ever wanted to be haunted by the image of Daily Mail columnist Liz Jones stealing sperm from a discarded condom and trying to inseminate herself on the bathroom floor, then November held a real treat in store. If however you're a well adjusted human being then it was probably one of the most awful things you've ever read. Highly Commended: The infamous dancing end credits from BBC's This Week.
'TV Low Point of the Year' 2011:
Put Matthew Wright and Channel 5 together for any length of time and the end product is bound to be crass and awful, but at least relatively few people are watching. However, when Amanda Knox was cleared of murder and Wright decided to ask viewers if they'd still have sex with Knox - during a section called 'Foxy Knoxy: Would ya?" they managed to plumb an all new low:
Highly Commended: Red Or Black, Channel 4 Athletics, Celebrity Big Brother.
TV Presenter Of The Year 2011:
Matt Baker did a lot to raise money for Sport Relief this year but he will be best remembered as the presenter who asked David Cameron how he can sleep at night. Anybody who thinks this was scripted would do well to listen to Alex Jones, his co-presenter, and her sudden intake of breath when he asks the question:
The 'David Mitchell Award For Over-Saturation on TV:
Anybody channel hopping on a Friday or Saturday night could be forgiven for thinking some horrific accident had robbed Britain of all comic talent except for affable Geordie Sarah Milican. The only other explanation is that there is more than one Sarah Milican. Special Commendation: David Mitchell.
TV Ad of the Year 2011:
Nando's inspired, though slightly controversial advert featuring an array of dead dictators certainly got noticed around the world despite originally being made for the South African market:
It's time to reveal who Media Blog readers have voted as their Media Hero and Villain of 2011 - a year dominated by the issue of phone hacking.
Media Hero Of The Year:
1st: Nick Davies - The Guardian journalist was shortlisted for this award in 2009 when he first lifted the lid on phone hacking at the News Of The World. Since then he has worked tirelessly to uncover the full extent of a scandal which has been the dominant media story of 2011. It should be noted that during the voting period for this award Davies was criticised by News International employees past and present, after doubts emerged as to whether the News Of The World was indeed responsible for deleting certain voicemails from Milly Dowler's phone, as Davies had initially alleged. However, this criticism appears not to have affected the voting, not least because the point stood that Dowler's phone, along with many hundreds of others had been hacked by people acting for the News Of The World, as exposed by Davies.
3rd: Hugh Grant - Grant's extraordinary New Statesman article helped push the phone hacking scandal into the mainstream. The actor exposed the methods of News Of The World reporter Paul McMullan using a hidden dictaphone.
Media Villain Of The Year:
1st: Rupert Murdoch - As far as voters were concerned 'The buck stops here' for phone hacking, at the very top of the News International tree. Given the chance to give his side of the story in Westminster, Murdoch said "people I trusted let me down, and I think they betrayed the company", but the public clearly sees things differently and feels Murdoch must shoulder the blame for what happened at his company, carried out by people in his employ.
2nd: Rebekah Brooks - Brooks' initial refusal to resign and her attitude - described as "arrogant" during an angry exchange with staff - while the News Of The World died of shame did little to rescue a reputation inextricably linked with a period of scandal at News International.
3rd: James Murdoch - Murdoch Junior's defence appears to rely on his ignorance about much that took place at News International, including claims that he did not read in detail a key email which undermined the 'one rogue reporter' defence.
It's well known The Telegraph will bend over backwards to shoehorn criticism of the BBC into even the most tenuous of stories, but blaming the Beeb for editing Jonathan Ross's ITV chat show seems a stretch too far:
One of the biggest media stories of the spring was undoubtedly Pippa Middleton having a bottom. The Mail and the Telegraph in particular have continued to find this a most newsworthy fact throughout the year to the point that the Telegraph has now actually reduced Pippa and her sister to nothing more than a pair of bottoms, as this caption from today shows: