Neil Wallis: The Leveson report

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Through the course of his career he has been shot at, arrested and had the nation at his front door during the phone hacking scandal. But Neil Wallis, former Deputy Editor at the News of the World started his guest lecture at the University of Westminster with this line:

“Don’t ever doubt, this is the greatest career”

Our parliament is currently considering and weaving its way around the Leveson Report. Something many of us have heard of, but a report, its fair to say, most of us can’t even begin to understand.

Neil Wallis came to the University of Westminster to discuss with students what the Leveson Report will actually mean for the press, journalists and the common citizen. On the whole, he doesn’t agree with plans that Leveson has set out. He pointed out that the laws being introduced following Leveson had become more than just a ‘complaints’ system underpinned by the statute (law) . His argument is that the government is trying to interfere with free press. Continue reading

The Changing Business of News #2MED633


With the world becoming ever more networked and brought closer together we looked at how different media companies have tried to enter the world of mobile apps and converged media.

We started by looking into ‘The Daily’ probably the biggest media #fail know to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. It was essentially the ‘1950s’ old style newspaper with moving images and videos. It was updated once a day and was a weekly paid service. It failed because it was an unnessacaery aggrorgater with limited sharing, only to Facebook, Twitter and emails. As it was only updated once a day, everyone was able to get more up to date information from all the other apps on their phone. It was mentioned that people go to specific apps for specfic type of news too, Sports fans will go to sports apps, not to a general newspaper app.

The other ‘convergence’ examples we looked at were what the BBC has done, News Corp and Google.

  • BBC – Has done well in the convergence sector, because as Public Service Media with a secure income, and therefore is able to experiment and spend money on things without worrying about a return. Things like the iPlayer, Democracy Live website and the wider BBC News & Sports apps are examples of this.
  • News Corp – Has really struggled. we discussed it was interesting how they had such a massive catalouge of companies doing all sorts of different media, but how they have yet to successfully converge and link them up.
  • Google – This may seem like an odd to comapny to name because they arent a traditional media company, But google News has brought a tottally new concept to news consumption. It uses algorithms to put the most recent News published to the tags of news you want to read. It starts you of with the standard UK, World, Politics ect but allows you to add your own subjects, From Donkey Kong to Slugs. What’s interesting about this is it puts recent over reputable first. Itg also allows you to pick your content first and provider second, completly flipping the old model.

The 3 C’s of Convergence (Content, Computing and Convergence) create a tension between these ideas of Journalism:

Monolouge          News As a Package       Distribution
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Conversation       News as a Database         Sharing

And what i thought was most interesting was at the end we finished by thinking, could convergence lead to an end to ‘Media’ Gate Keeping, by people doing “Random acts of Journalism” (Lasica 2003)

News & Public Opinion – Public Sphere #NAPO

Today’s lecture focused on the opinion Democracy, or indeed more specifically Public opinion.

At first we explored the two widely accepted forms of representative democracy Elite and Deliberative.

Elite is where citizens vote for the Elite, who then make decisions based on un elected officials and experts opinions because they are thought based to make decisions on their field, as they are ‘Experts’.

The other, Deliberative, is where citizens still vote for representatives but they are instead much more involved in the decision making processes as the citizens and their ‘public opinions’ influence and inform the representatives.

At first look deliberative seems to make more sense or it seems to be more democratic. But what shocked me was how i felt like our ‘Democracy’ was more elitist than deliberative. I did settle on the concept of democracy as a sliding scale as our government and system of MPs is not entirely elitist but the Upper House of Lords, the use of aides and experts are. Its fairer to say ours sits somewhere between the two. That said, it is defiantly closer to the Elite format.]

There are two main Theorists to back these concepts of democracy and as a branch off the public sphere. First is Walter Lippman who believed the best way forward was the Elite structure. He argued this because he didn’t think people were clever enough or have the time to assess the complete info to make decisions on governance. He also argued that because everyone’s perception of reality was different how could the Public in general be expected to come to make important decisions. The most interesting thing about Lippman was he was the man behind the modern-day form of stereotypes; he said ‘We perceive reality to fit our stereotypes’ As to the media doing anything about helping the ‘Public’ understand he dismisses this as impossible because of the concept of journalists being ‘professionals’ (The idea Newspapers and Journalists are bound by the rules and advertising restrictions set by their organisation)

The counter theory supports the more deliberative theory and that is Jurgen Habermas’ theories. His speak of the Ideal Public sphere, potentially like the one in the 18th century Bourgeois public sphere during the rise of trading, capitalism and the middle class. He thinks that the Ideal Public Sphere has Universal access, free from state or economic pressure, that is dealt with in a rational way with critical discourse based on evidence. Habermas accepts we are handicapped by our perceptions as Lippman said but argues that if we talk and exchange on these perceptions, we are able to listen and alter them. However his theories also go on to explain that after the 18th century a ‘Re-Fuedalisation’ of media took place. By this he means there was and is now a return to where media is dependant on advertising and serves private interests, much in the way Lords ruled during the feudal age, now Media Moguls do now. He was also particularly critical of Public Relations, management and Manipulation of public opinion.

His theories have been criticized, especially by the feminism movement for talking of the Ideal public sphere in the 18th century, because that was made up of mainly (ironically largely like today) White, Middle Class, Men. However his ideas are much more palatable than Lippmans, as a show of hands at the end of the lecture saw very few Lippman fans over Habermas. As to those who say he is ‘utopian’ modern examples of his Ideal speech and public sphere concepts can be found in movements such as the Occupy movement who successfully found ways to re-engage with politics in his way in an attempt to make our democracy more deliberative. However the evictions of these camps see the Elite system winning over for now.