Tuesday Noon Update 10/13/09


A gag order preventing British newspapers from reporting parliamentary news was dropped this morning after a Twitter revolt. Critics said the ban trampled on precedent which established that the reporting of parliamentary proceedings is privileged. From the Evening Standard:

MPs were celebrating a victory for press and internet freedom today after one of Britain’s fiercest law firms abandoned a bid to gag the media from reporting Parliament.

Lawyers Carter-Ruck had tried to prevent newspapers from revealing that Labour MP Paul Farrelly had tabled a Commons question about oil trading giant Trafigura and its alleged dumping of toxic waste in Africa.

But the firm relented today following widespread publication of Mr Farrelly’s question on the internet’s “blogosphere”.

The issue was also the most popular topic on social networking site Twitter, prompting TV star Stephen Fry to claim that it had forced Carter-Ruck to abandon its media gag.

The case rapidly became a cause celebre in the past 24 hours as it has long been a principle of Parliamentary free speech that MPs’ questions are protected by absolute privilege.

From Sky News: “Twitter users quickly identified the question and posted so many comments that the firm mentioned [in Parliament] – oil trading company Trafigura – was pushed to the top of the site’s list of popular topics. Within hours of the gag being revealed, [libel law firm] Carter-Ruck dropped its claim that to report Parliament would be in contempt of court, according to The Guardian.

[Guardian] Editor Alan Rusbridger wrote online: “Thanks to Twitter/all tweeters for fantastic support over past 16 hours! Great victory for free speech.” …

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg was among those tweeting about the row, commenting earlier: “Very interested concerned about this #trafigura / Guardian story the @LibDems are planning to take action on this.” …

Mr. Rusbridger had warned newspapers faced “a Kafkaesque world in which we cannot tell the public anything about information which is being suppressed, nor the proceedings which suppress it”.

Also: Twitter can’t be gagged. With Twitscoop video algorithm showing how #trafigura picked up momentum this morning.

Earlier reports: By Rusbridger [Sky News], on Twitter [Newser] and on the ban [Spector].

• • •     • • •     • • •

WAR ON FOX: Obama’s mistake [NY Magazine]; a foolish White House policy [Washington Post]; a “wing of the Republican Party” [In The News UK]. From NY Magazine:

Recognizing Fox as an enemy worth fighting is an admission of weakness for a president whose appeal has been partly predicated on the promise of unity.

Glenn Beck, with his 3 million viewers, has been called a “cultural phenomenon.” You know what? So is Glee, a show with well more than twice that many viewers. Hysterical conservative hyperbole isn’t America. A showtune-singing multiracial gang of hopeful high-school losers, including a gay kid and a pregnant teen — that’s America.

FOX ON FOX: Network covers its war with the White House.

• • •     • • •     • • •

‘MAD LIBS’ JOURNALISM: Take a look at a very different approach to citizen journalism. [Brooklyn Paper]

NJ PAPER QUITS DEBATE: After its head-spinning endorsement of independent candidate for governor (see Monday News Update 10/12/09). [Editor & Publisher]  Also: More Star-Ledger cuts. [NY Times]

HYPERLOCAL: “Czech these out.” [Greenslade Blog]

THEY WILL SURVIVE: A TargetCast study says newspapers must change (sic). [Editors Weblog]

“Newspaper ads were still the most likely to grab the attention of the consumer, with more than 40 percent saying they pay more attention to print ads than other mediums.”


One response to “Tuesday Noon Update 10/13/09

  1. Pingback: Friday Morning Edition 10/16/09 « Coney Media

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