Archive for the ‘censorship’ Category

Spectator speaks out on Press control

November 28, 2012
Spectator December 1 2012

Spectator magazine cover

A day before the Leveson inquiry report is published, the Spectator has set itself against any statutory scheme to control the press apart from self-regulation. In an editorial entitled ‘Why we won’t sign’ (1 December 2012), it thunders:

‘If the press agrees a new form of self-regulation, perhaps contractually binding this time, we will happily take part. But we would not sign up to anything enforced by government.’

Magazines have been given little coverage in the controversy, but several were called to give evidence to the Leveson inquiry, including Hello!, Heat and OK!

The Spectator has lived under government control – it was founded in 1828 – with Stamp Duty, which was used to control distribution of newspapers and magazines, not being abolished until 1855.

This change created a free Press, enabled expansion and a way of meeting demand for reading material from the public – it’s easily forgotten that the works of many of the great Victorian writers were first published in magazines, from Dickens to Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. In the newspaper world, the Guardian went from twice weekly to daily publication.

The fortunes made by two magazine magnates – Alfred Harmsworth and Arthur Cyril Pearson – built on the invention of the New Journalism in magazines such as Tit-Bits to found the popular daily press – the Daily Mail, the Express and the Mirror.

Sam Delaney, a former editor of Heat, has warned that Leveson could end up muzzling the celebrity magazines:

Brace yourselves. By 2013, every title on the newsstand may well feature a gushing profile of Nancy Dell’Olio, lounging on a chaise longue ‘inside her beautiful home’

As the leaders of the political parties pore over the six copies of the Leveson report that were delivered to parliament this afternoon, the whole of the media awaits the next stage of the fallout from the phone-hacking scandal.

UK newspapers: Times readers run the country

Magazine timeline

IPC and the dangers of writing about Hitler

September 28, 2012

IPC has sent our press releases pushing the latest issue of NME, with the following at the bottom:

Please note, conditions apply to using the NME covers; the photographer and NME must both be credited, along with the copy ‘NME, on sale now’.

The company is on dodgy ground with such an approach. Who’s going to use the picture with that proviso? What happens next week when the issue’s no longer on sale?

The attitude of IPC was held up to ridicule after it claimed copyright over images of Hitler’s house from Homes and Gardens‘ November 1938 edition that the Guardian’s Simon Waldman had written about. IPC’s claims were exposed as spurious. The 1938 article, ‘Hitler’s mountain home’, by Ignatius Phayre describes the Berghof as ‘quite a handsome Bavarian chalet, 2,000 feet up on Obersalzberg amid pinewoods and cherry orchards’ with the funds coming from Hitler’s ‘famous book’ Mein Kampf, a ‘best-seller of astonishing power.

Ignatius Phayre wrote 5 pieces for the Catholic Herald in 1938-9 and did a profile of Edgar Wallace for Pictorial Weekly (‘Edgar – the amazing! A Henry Ford of fiction’, 16 Feb 1929). Amazon lists 6 books by that author, dating from 1911-33, with one being reprinted this year, America’s Day Studies in Light and Shade. The British Library gives his real name as William George FitzGerald. has Phayre writing ‘War-Work of the King and Queen of Spain’ in The Girl’s Own Paper and Woman’s Magazine in Oct 1916.

A company like IPC has commerical rights to protect, but its business is built on journalism – and the rights of journalists need protecting too.

IPC profile

Rant: Wikipedia needs to get out more

May 1, 2012

I discovered recently I’ve been blocked from editing Wikipedia since July last year.  The discovery came about when I tried to log on to complain about my articles on Magforum being ripped off. Apparently, my entries appear ‘to be mainly intended or used for publicity and/or promotional purposes’. What I thought I’d been doing was correcting some of the garbage about magazines that was up there (do they deliberately get the dates wrong so they can track their ‘facts’?) or adding a link to unique content on (it turns out this creates a tag: ‘possible conflict of interest’ because I had Magforum as my user name).

There are 48 pages that quote Magforum, but I didn’t create any of them and I’ve contributed to about a dozen of them. However, I stopped doing so about 18 months ago. Why? Because I got fed up of Wikipedia basing its pages on Magforum and ending up higher in Google searches. For example, I’ve written 1200 words onNot Private Eye with half-a-dozen page scans; Wikipedia created its page based on mine with 87 words. It has since expanded to 300 words and now I barely scrape above it on a Google search; in fact, it’s had 341 visits in the past 30 days compared with my 113. (By 2016 it had pushed me down to No 2 on a Google search.) The entries always have a link to my articles, but who reads to the bottom of a web page? – 1 in 100 according to my stats because just 3 people have come to from the Wikipedia Not Private Eye entry.

Another example:

– Wikipedia on Minx magazine: ‘Minx was a UK magazine aimed at “young, assertive, rather scary young women”. It was published by EMAP between October 1996 and July 2000 before being shut down. At the time of its closure, its circulation was 120,000 copies a month.’

The Magforum entry for Minx (to which the above gives an external link): ‘Emap Elan, London. Monthly. October 1996 – July 2000. Minx, which had been known as ‘Project Beryl’, was described by Elan’s managing director, Sue Hawken, as ‘the next step up from More!‘ It was backed by£1.5 million spent on TV and radio advertising. The editor was Toni Rodgers and the first issue – ‘For girls with a lust for life’- cost £1. The target circulation was 170,000-180,000 and 50,000 copies were given away in welcome packs to women at colleges. It was described as a cross between National Magazine’s Company and Loaded, that aimed to sell to ‘young, assertive, rather scary young women’. Emap closed Minx in 2000, despite sales of 120,000 a month.’

I could go on…

There are 48 Wikipedia pages that reference, from’1914 in art’; to Janet Street-Porter (I added the reference to Sell-Out); to bar codes; to MUD1 (the bit about Simon Dally and the skip); to Razzle; to Acorn User (I was editor of the thing!).

My first reaction was to appeal against what had been done, but boy do they make it difficult. I gave up.  The more I think about it, the more it’s clear to me that whoever/whatever did the blocking has: a) gone power mad; b) doesn’t look at what it’s doing; c) needs to get out more. Certainly not worth spending my time on.

Ryan Giggs, super-injunctions and Tiger Woods

May 24, 2011
Sunday Herald Giggs front page at

Sunday Herald front page reveals Ryan Giggs affair

There was a surprise for me when I looked at my server logs for Sunday. One page had a thousand hits – when it would normally only rate a few dozen. Why? It was about the launch of Glasgow’s Sunday Herald newspaper in 1999. And the Sunday Herald was the paper that revealed that squeaky clean Ryan Giggs was the man who had taken out the super-injunction to stop a former lover spilling the beans about him.

And that’s not all I have to thank super-injunctions for. When US golfer Tiger Woods took out a super-injunction in 2009 to try and stop news of his shenanigans getting out, it was revealed that his middle name is ‘Tont’ – his full name is Eldrick Tont ‘Tiger’ Woods. Not many people know that.

WikiLeaks and newspaper censorship

November 29, 2010

‘[T]here has been a lot of ill-informed comment (and sometimes downright lies) about the role of the Defence, Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee and the DA notice system which it regulates. Cries of censorship abound.’

So writes Simon Bucks of Sky, and vice-chair of the Defence, Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee, which issues DA notices to the media – commonly referred to as the D notice committee. The WikiLeaks story about the US diplomatic cables has kicked it all off. Guido Fawkes and WikiLeaks itself are cited as misrepresenting the system.

Bucks then goes on to cut through the garbage with a lucid explanation of what the committee does and how the D notice system works. Required reading if you blog on the topic.

Censorship in Venezuela

August 20, 2010

Response of a local newspaper

A Venezuelan court has cited the to protect the “psychic and moral integrity of children and adolescents” in banning newspapers and magazines from publishing images of violence in the country.

The Guardian quotes the ruling: “For the next four weeks, no newspaper, magazine or weekly of the country can publish images that are violent, bloody, grotesque, whether about crime or not.”

While there may be truth in the logic, the damage it does to free reporting should be given more weight.

Roy Greenslade says: “Chavez argues that newspapers are deliberately splashing images of violence in order to give his government a bad name.” Isn’t that what newspapers are for?

Censorship is alive and well, it just finds new justifications.

Slick Economist cover attacked

July 5, 2010

Economist’s Obama BP cover and the original image used on the NY Times website

The Economist has run into trouble in the US over its latest cover about BP, the Deepwater Horizon disaster and the Obama crisis. They’ve cropped two people out of an image to leave Barack Obama pondering alone in front of a rig in the background. There would have been no problem doing it graphically – and it’s a very literal position to attack such digital manipulation – but the US president’s spin doctors are no doubt trying to get in and rubbish the piece before it hurts. The agenda becomes the cover and not the damage done to Obama.

The Economist has been able to do no wrong in the US for decades, but opening itself to such criticism could be tricky – but then the ‘newspaper’ is a big boy and should be able to take care of itself.

I’ve seen figures suggesting sales at BP stations in the US are 5%-20% down because of a boycott (the high figure being in the Gulf of Mexico states hit by the slick), so the magazine will be hoping none of that rubs off.

Rivals try challenging the Economist

Oz obscenity film in 2010

December 10, 2009

Oz magazine's School Kids' issue

The Oz magazine obscenity trial from 1971 is to be the subject of a film scheduled for release in 2010.

Hippie Hippie Shake, from Working Title Films, is based on a memoir by Richard Neville, who launched the underground magazine in London after having been found guilty of obscenity in Australia and then released – as was to happen in London.

Although IMDB gives a May 2010 release, the film is almost invisible on Working Title’s website, though an item from 2007 describes it so:

Beeban Kidron (Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason) will direct Hippie Hippie Shake in August. Starring Cillian Murphy, Sienna Miller, Emma Booth and Max Minghella, the film will take the audience on a psychedelic journey through the late ’60s in London, with Murphy playing Richard Neville, the editor of the famous satirical magazine Oz. The screenplay is being adapted from Neville’s book ‘Hippie Hippie Shake: The Dreams, The Trips, The Love-Ins, The Screw-Ups: The Sixties’. Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Nicky Kentish Barnes are the producers.

Chris O’Dowd plays fellow editor and now multimillionaire publisher Felix Dennis. O’Dowd was also in Working Title’s The Boat That Rocked, loosely based on the 1960s pirate ship Radio Caroline – which was funded by Queen owner Jocelyn Stevens and run from the magazine’s office. I like to think that the Bill Nighy character Quentin was based on Stevens.

Hippie Hippie Shake at

Future of China’s Caijing in doubt

October 12, 2009

The future of Caijing – China’s most influential business publication – is in doubt after its general manager Wu Chuanhui resigned and rumours flew of the editor and other staff quitting, the FT reports.

Hitler in Mein Kampf part work

April 25, 2009
Mein Kampf came in 18 weekly parts

Mein Kampf came in 18 weekly parts

To me, part works conjour up images of knitting, dinosaurs and collections of Inspector Morse videos, so coming across Hitler’s Mein Kampf from the early years of the second world war in 18 weekly parts was a surprise.

The book – which is still banned in Germany – made its murderous author a millionaire, according to the New Statesman, though the royalties on this part work published by Hutchinson & Co seem went to the Red Cross and St John Fund says the cover.

This version appears to have been published during the war and ‘owing to paper rationing can only be delivered to those who sign the order form below and hand it to their newsagent’. It was the original edition, which, wrote the New Statesman, was ‘Stylistically turgid and filled with repetition … was improved to hide that it was written by a half-educated man.’

Hitler wrote the book while in prison in 1923 and the final instalment of the part work has a photograph of him revisiting the institution with some of his former fellow inmates (and what looks like Tony Robinson in plus-fours in tow!).

Comical-looking Hitler with Tony Robinson lookalike!

Comical-looking Hitler with Tony Robinson lookalike!