‘There’s been huge hysteria in some branches of the press in the last two days, saying we’re going down the road of Zimbabwe, that we’re going to be another Kazakhstan – that’s nonsense.’ So said Stephen Pritchard, readers’ editor of The Observer, in an interview with me last week in the aftermath of the Leveson report. He’s right, of course: feverish and emotional editorializing from so clear a vested interest as the tabloid press, particularly in light of the disgusting behaviour that presaged the inquiry, can easily be dismissed as fundamentally unserious. Yet the danger of allowing extreme examples advocated by discredited sources to cloud legitimate concerns over the independence and freedom of the press has been starkly illustrated today, in the story of Maria Miller and the Daily Telegraph that ought to serve as a cautionary tale for those inclined to take such freedoms for granted.
Daily Telegraph's reporters were wrong to use subterfuge to secretly record conversations with Liberal Democrats MPs during constituency surgeries last December, the UK Press Complaints Commission has ruled. The PCC is upholding the complaint against the paper raised by Liberal Democrat president Tim Farron, Journalism.co.uk reported.
Last December two undercover reporters secretly recorded MPs including business secretary Vince Cable, who at that time was charged with taking the final decision on News Corp's bid to take full control over BskyB. Cable was recorded saying that he had "declared war on Mr Murdoch".
The Daily Telegraph launched today an updated version of its iPad app, Financial Times reported. The new edition of The Telegraph for the iPad can be downloaded for a one-off fee of £1.19 or as part of a monthly subscription, priced at £9.99. The previous version of the app, launched last September, was free.
The app's new features include interactive crosswords, picture galleries and a seven-day archive of the paper's cartoons. Also added is the possibility to increase text size by "pinching", a 30-day archive of back issues and a night-reading mode.
The launch follows yesterday's news concerning Apple's deal with Hearst Corp, which saw the iPad manufacturer take a more flexible stance than before as regards its App Store terms. Financial Times's Tech Hub reported that Edward Roussel, The Telegraph's digital editor, described Apple as "co-operative and helpful" during the development of the app.
The debate is still the same: whether newspapers should offer readers free content online or ask for payment. That was the theme of the conference "Paywall Strategies 2011" held in London on February 24, which concluded that, although there are a lot of simple things in life, developing a paid content model - no matter from which angle you look at it - is not one of them.
And paywalls themselves are not straightforward: they could be strictly impenetrable, like those at Murdoch's News International properties, or permable, like the one The New York Times is expected to launch soon.
Mary Beth Christie, head of product management at the Financial Times, who attended the conference, said about the FT mutualised model: "Like the best systems, ours is simple. It gives users freedom of choice to consume media between the paper, the tablet and mobile. We allow our users complete freedom to read our content as they wish", adding that "the goldmine is not paying for the content, the goldmine is building greater reader engagement over time", the Media Briefing reported.
The Daily Mail's website Mail Online continues to attract more and more visitors: the latest ABCe figures show that the paper had just over 56 million browsers in January, more than 3 million a day. This puts it up 56% on last year, reported Press Gazette.
Lingering well behind are Mirror Group Digital (12.9 million), the Independent (12 million) and Metro (5.8 million). The former two attracted significantly more visitors than last year, however, up 21 and 24% respectively.
Press Gazette noted that Mail Online now only has the BBC to beat, which, according to industry estimates, has about 60m unique users a month to its journalism websites.
Trinity Mirror's regional web sites were the fastest growing in the regional sector, Press Gazette also reported, with a year-on-year increase of 46% across the network of sites.
The Telegraph might start to charge online in September, reported MarketingMagazine.co.uk. Telegraph.co.uk, which features content from the UK's Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph, is one of the UK's most-visited newspaper websites.
MarketingMagazine's sources suggested that the Telegraph Media Group is looking to introduce a hybrid strategy, similar to that at the Financial Times, where users are allowed to read a limited number of free articles before being asked to subscribe. This is the same kind of strategy that The New York Times is poised to launch, commonly described as a metered model.
A Telegraph spokesman said that "Absolutely no decisions have been made on the introduction of a paid-content model. Like all publishers, TMG continually evaluates the developments in the digital sector." However, MarketingMagazine said that its source claim that executives believe the hybrid model is the best way to offset falling sales of the company's printed newspaper editions. The Saturday and Sunday Telegraph have both just raised their cover prices by 10p, reported MediaWeek.
After the EU approved News Corp's bid to take over full control of BSkyB yesterday, a new aspect of the story emerged when it was revealed that UK business secretary Vince Cable, who was due to take the final decision on the bid, had been secretly recorded saying: "I have declared war on Mr Murdoch and I think we are going to win".
The two young undercover reporters who recorded Cable were journalists of the Telegraph, but Cable's fighting talk did not make the Daily Telegraph front page report this morning, nor was any reference included in a "transcript" of Cable's remarks that appeared on page four, the Guardian reported.
"So incensed was a whistleblower at the Telegraph, that he or she contacted Robert Peston, business editor for BBC News. It was Peston - a former business editor at the Sunday Telegraph - who broke the story at 2.30 pm", the Guardian wrote.
Furthmore, Peston later told the Guardian that the whistleblower had told him that the Telegraph "had made a commercial decision not to publish those remarks".
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