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Newspapers Accepted Money to Publish Positive Environmental Stories About Saudi Arabia Around COP26 Climate Change Summit

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 29/11/2021 - 11:11pm in

UK Newspapers Accepted Money to Publish Positive Environmental Stories About Saudi Arabia Around COP26

A special investigation by Byline Times raises concerning questions about editorial independence and transparency at the Independent and Evening Standard newspapers


The Independent and Evening Standard newspapers have been accused of greenwashing after they accepted an undisclosed sum of money from Saudi Arabia to publish dozens of positive environmental stories about the country before, during, and after the COP26 UN climate change summit in Glasgow.

In the days preceding the summit and during its initial days, the Independent published at least 50 stories and videos under a commercial deal with Saudi Arabia, an investigation by Byline Times can reveal.

The bulk of the stories published as part of the deal highlighted positive environmental actions related to the country and failed to mention negative contextual details – such as the fact that Saudi Arabia is the world’s biggest oil exporter and its domestic emissions are nearly three times the G20 average.

80% of the stories either presented Saudi Arabia’s energy ministry or an environmental scheme in the country in a positive light. Just three of the 50 pieces identified under the commercial deal provided contextual details about Saudi Arabia’s oil production. None of them mentioned its plans to increase oil production capacity from 12 million barrels per day to 13 million barrels a day by 2027.

One story was headlined: ‘Saudi Arabia Spearheads New Era of Climate Action’. Others were titled: ‘Saudi Arabia Repositions Towards a More Sustainable Future’ and ‘Princess Reema Calls for Global Leaders to Deliver On Climate Action’.

After COP26 concluded, dozens of further stories and videos were published on the websites of the Independent and the Evening Standard, under commercial deals with Saudi Arabia.

‘Partner Content’

Newspaper content that has been paid for is regulated by the Advertising Standards Authority and is subject to consumer protection law. Under existing legislation, newspapers are required to make it clear that the content has been paid for.

While most of the stories covered by the commercial deals were labelled ‘Partner Content’, Byline Times identified 12 articles on the Evening Standard’s website that did not have any tag informing the reader that the content was paid for by Saudi Arabia.

These included an article and a video titled: ‘Saudi Leaders Are Embracing “Unappreciated” Ways of Facing Climate Crisis, Says Researcher’. Another such story praised a conference organised by Saudi Arabia in London, calling it the ‘COP of Doers’.

Stories that were part of the Independent’s commercial deal with Saudi Arabia were also reproduced on the websites of other news organisations, such as Yahoo News, where they did not carry any label to inform the reader that Saudi Arabia had paid for them to be created.

The Independent and the Evening Standard’s commercial deals with Saudi Arabia raise questions about editorial independence.

Jamie Peters, interim director of the environmental organisation, Friends of the Earth, told Byline Times that news organisations taking money from oil exporters need to provide increased transparency about their dealings.

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“If news outlets are going to take money from entities that profit from polluting activities, such as oil exports, it seems right and ethical that they make their readers aware of how much was paid to secure that coverage,” he said.

The environmental group Fossil Free London called the deals “massively problematic”.

A spokesperson said: “People should be very concerned about Saudi Arabian money pouring into publications like the Evening Standard and the Independent and the potential impact on editorial impartiality.”

The Independent confirmed to Byline Times that it was paid by Saudi Arabia to publish stories and videos ahead of COP26, as part of a partnership with the Saudi Green Initiative (SGI) – a Saudi Government entity that is focused on climate change and sustainability. However, the newspaper refused to reveal how many stories it had published under the deal and how much it had been paid, saying that it was “not obliged to share details of commercial relationships”.

A spokesperson added: “The Independent was a partner on the SGI. As part of this partnership, SGI paid for content to be published by the Independent on the SGI website. As per industry protocol, both the site and the content were clearly marked as sponsored or partnership content.”

The Evening Standard did not respond to Byline Times‘ request for comment.

‘Unconventional, Complex, Clandestine’ Deals

This is not the first time the newspaper group has been accused of blurring the line between sponsored and editorial content.

In 2018, the Evening Standard agreed a £3 million deal with companies, including Google and Uber, promising them ‘money can’t buy’ content, according to an investigation by openDemocracy. One insider told the investigative site that “what was being offered was clear – theatrically constructed news, showing everything good being done”.

The London publication’s former editor – former Chancellor and Conservative MP George Osborne – was also accused of a serious conflict of interest in relation to its often positive coverage of the private taxi firm Uber. In 2017, the National Union of journalists took the rare step of publicly calling on Osborne to declare to his readers his own £650,000 job with the fund manager Blackrock, which held a major stake in Uber.

Byline Times‘ latest revelations also raise further questions about the ownership structure of both titles.

In July 2019, the Independent and the Evening Standard were explicitly accused by the Government of being part-owned by the Saudi Arabian state, with a series of “unconventional, complex and clandestine” deals used to hide the sale of stakes in the news outlets to a Saudi Government bank.

Evgeny Lebedev, who controls both publications, sold 30% stakes in the two newspapers to offshore companies fronted by a Saudi businessman, Sultan Mohamed Abuljadayel, in 2017 and 2018. The Independent and Evening Standard said that they were unsure who ultimately employed the businessman.

David Scannell, the Government’s legal representative, told a court that the Saudi Arabian Government could now potentially exert editorial influence over the news outlets. He said that the sale of the shares has “public interest considerations”, citing “freedom of expression and accurate news reporting” as “relevant to this merger”.

He also accused Lebedev of going out of his way to avoid answering questions about the deals.



Help to expose the big scandals of our era.

Public’s Media Literacy

Fossil Fuel London is calling for newspapers to provide more information about content that has been paid for.

“In this ecosystem transparency is key,” a spokesperson told Byline Times. “The fact that the Standard and the Independent are refusing to reveal how much they are being paid to publish greenwashing articles is very worrying. If the public are told how much money is changing hands, they will be able to make their own informed opinions about how much influence Saudi Arabia has at these intuitions – and whether the editorial content is being swayed or diluted due to sponsorship deals.

“As is often the case in fossil fuel financing, there is very little transparency here and we are being forced to connect the dots to try and drag shadowy deals out into the light. If we know categorically that a newspaper has a policy to refuse sponsorship from entities that make huge profits from fossil fuels, then we can trust it much more as an independent news source on climate change.

“It’s really sad that, just weeks after COP26, business leaders and newspaper editors are continuing with business as usual.”

The campaign group also believes that clearer labelling is needed to identify content that has been paid for in newspapers.

“The system as it exists today makes huge assumptions about the media literacy of the general public,” the spokesperson said. “The way that these newspapers use the labels ‘Partnered By’ and ‘Partner Content’ create ambiguity and it won’t be clear to a lot of normal people that this is being directly paid for by Saudi Arabia.”

Duncan Meisel, director of Clean Creatives – a US-based group that campaigns against advertising by fossil fuel companies – believes that the newspaper content paid for by Saudi Arabia is damaging to society.

“It’s obvious that the advertisements that the oil-connected countries and oil industry itself run are designed to claim social licence, and to mislead the public about their commitment to climate action,” he told this newspaper. “That is the purpose of these ads – and the fact that you’re seeing so many of them around COP26 demonstrates that the role is to mislead the public at these moments of highest attention on the possibility of action.

“This is a perfect example of the function of advertising for fossil fuel companies being, not just misleading, but misleading with a very specific agenda in mind, which is: to delay climate action. The value of these ads to Saudi Arabia is that they look like normal impartial news articles – that’s why they bought them.”




Byline Times is funded by its subscribers. Receive our monthly print edition and help to support fearless, independent journalism.




The post Newspapers Accepted Money to Publish Positive Environmental Stories About Saudi Arabia Around COP26 Climate Change Summit appeared first on Byline Times.

What the Asian media are saying: ASEAN, JI returns, ping-pong diplomacy

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 27/11/2021 - 4:59am in


Asia, Media

Xi Jinping’s appearance at ASEAN this week, a question mark over China’s naval power, concerns about Jemaah Islamiyah rebuilding, and more news from our region. This article is part of a new, regular series by David Armstrong summarising the news as reported by the news media in Asia. It is part of Pearls and Irritations’ Continue reading »

Not just the corners: ABC assault on Assange undermines foundations of journalism

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 27/11/2021 - 4:56am in



Demonised by governments, abandoned by his homeland, Julian Assange ends another year in captivity, a living rebuke to double standards in the media. The persecution of Julian Assange by the UK and the US governments is an issue I have reported on frequently over the past decade. Like Assange, I am a member of the Continue reading »

The Israeli lobby and the disturbing SBS board appointment

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 26/11/2021 - 4:56am in



The Morrison government ignored the mandated independent appointment process to choose its own candidate who brings an aggressive pro-Israel agenda.  The reputations of our national broadcasters rely on their independence. And yet independence appears to be the quality the Morrison government fears most — along with transparency. Independence means the political views of the governing Continue reading »

Sanders Foundation Announces New “Philosophy in the Media” Fellows

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 25/11/2021 - 1:26am in



The Marc Sanders Foundation has announced the inaugural class of fellows in its recently launched “Philosophy in the Media” program.

[Laura Owens, untitled, 2015]

The program “aims to increase the presence of philosophy in print, audio, and video media by training philosophers to write and produce for the public and by connecting philosophers to editors and commissioners in the media industry.” The fellowships each focus on one of three types of media: op-ed writing (workshop led by James Ryerson of The New York Times), longform journalism (workshop led by Joshua Rothman of The New Yorker), and podcasting (workshop led by Alix Spiegel of This American LifeNPRInvisibilia, Alison MacAdam of NPRAll Things Considered, and Barry Lam of Hi-Phi NationSlate).

There were 264 applicants for the 2021-22 fellowship class. 29 were selected. Each will receive workshop training, connections to industry professionals, and a $1500 honorarium. The program is funded in large part by a Public Engagement Grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

You can see who the new fellows are here.

Kyle Rittenhouse Is Not the Enemy. He’s the Latest Product of the Outrage Industry

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 24/11/2021 - 4:24am in

The Kyle Rittenhouse furor is a fascinating illustration of how US politics has become mired in self-consuming tribalism. It shows how non-conversations, non-thinking now posture as serious political and social engagement. And it demonstrates once again the success of a practice beloved of elites the world over: offer bread and circuses to keep the masses from seeing the big picture and rising up.

Let me preface this post by pointing out that I have very little interest in what is being treated as the substance of the Rittenhouse story. It seems glaringly obvious that 17-year-olds – or anyone else, for that matter – should not be wandering around with big guns, or small ones, whether in moments of calm or during highly charged confrontations. That is simply insanity.

But that is not, apparently, the consensus in the United States, where for historical reasons guns are invested with a strange moral and legal sanctity for much of the population.

The descendants of the armed settler colonists who went to the Americas to steal the resources of the native people feel compelled to continue the tradition of bearing arms, long after the surviving natives were locked away in reservations.

The descendants of the new “Americans” who rebelled against their mother country, shaking off the yoke of British imperialism through force of arms, cherish their weapons in case they are needed once more to face down the tyranny of an elected government or their fellow citizens.

And the descendants of the white founders of the country, many of them slave owners who needed arms to keep their black chattel enslaved, demand the right to continue carrying guns to avert any threat from the descendants of those slaves.

This is America’s version of sanity. This is America the brave.


American madness

So why are so many exercised – either for or against – by Rittenhouse’s acquittal last week of charges relating to the shooting dead of two men and the wounding of a third during a night of unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin on August 25?

Why are so many focused on the fact that Rittenhouse was carrying a semi-automatic rifle during protests and looting in a small city where part of his family lived? Was Rittenhouse the only one who was not supposed to be armed that night – and if so, was that because being angry and armed is a right that should be restricted to those aged 18 and over?

And why is the issue of colour so clearly the context for judging Rittenhouse when all those involved – Rittenhouse and the three men he shot – were white? He was not involved in the lethal shooting two days earlier of a black man, Jacob Blake, by a white police officer that served as the trigger for the unrest in Kenosha.

Rittenhouse claimed self-defence – and the jury found in his favour. That was because the videos they saw, taken from all sorts of angles, show that, in a night of mayhem and a special kind of American madness, Rittenhouse did indeed give every appearance of defending himself. They show that, had he not had a gun that night, one of the three men he shot might well have ended up in the dock accused of murdering him.

But none of that is apparently relevant in the rage-filled polemicising about Rittenhouse – polemics that already miss the bigger picture of what is going on in the US.


Tribal divide

For each tribe, Rittenhouse is guilty or not, irrespective of the evidence. The legal matter the jury needed to resolve was whether he genuinely feared for his life each time he pulled the trigger. And the video evidence suggests he did. He was repeatedly chased. By a man with mental health problems shouting out that he would cut out Rittenhouse’s heart, backed by the sound of gunfire, who lunged at him to take his rifle. As Rittenhouse fled that shooting, he was knocked down and hit across the shoulder by a man with a skateboard who also tried to seize his rifle. And finally, he was leapt on by someone pointing a handgun at him. However we look at it, the jury had more than enough reasonable doubt to work with.

So why the continuing furore at his acquittal?

Because the Rittenhouse case has nothing to do with the law or the facts. Like so much else in the US nowadays, it was and is about emotion. It is about history. It is about identity. It is about a widening tribal divide.

It is, in other words, a continuation of the spring and summer of unrest, of riots, of Black Lives Matter protests – but relocated from the street into a courtroom. The unfocused, unresolved political tensions in the US in the wake of those protests have been invested in the prosecution of a 17-year-old. One who owned a big rifle.

Even in writing this piece, because it does not simply denounce Rittenhouse, I find myself trapped inside this manufactured tribal divide, forced to take a side when each side is spouting empty slogans meant only to further alienate and antagonise the other side.

Rittenhouse’s crime – or his triumph, depending on which tribe you belong to – was not shooting three white men that night. It was the crime of being seen to be a Trump supporter. It was the crime of being seen to be on the wrong side of the Black Lives Matter protests. It was the crime of being acquitted in a law enforcement system that systematically discriminates against people of colour.

Rittenhouse has been made into a symbol of white supremacy. He is a hero or a punching bag – depending on whether you are with the Jets or the Sharks. And you must be a Jet or a Shark. There is no opting out.


Wreaking vengeance

It may be true that, had Rittenhouse been black, he would not have hurried towards police lines, seeking protection. And had he chosen to approach those lines, it is also true that, were he black, he might well have been shot by police officers. And it is possible too that, had he made it out of Kenosha alive, his trial would not have led to an acquittal, especially if a black Rittenhouse had shot three white men. The video evidence might well have been ignored in favour of a narrative of that night that tapped in to white fears of the entitled, armed black man.

All that is true. But it has nothing to do with the real human being – not the abstraction – called Kyle Rittenhouse. He is not personally to blame for the political, social, economic and moral mire that is the modern United States, even if he is suspected of being a Trump supporter.

Our expectation should not be that Rittenhouse is treated by the police and the legal system the same way as a black man. It is that black men, and women, should be treated like a white Rittenhouse; that police forces should treat the black and white population alike; that legal facts should count whatever your skin colour.

If we call for vengeance against Rittenhouse – of the physical or verbal variety – then the truth is we are no better than the person we presume Rittenhouse to be. He is not the problem. And to think he is is to make ourselves the problem.


Profit from outrage

The intensifying tribalism that has beset the US – that the polarised reactions to the Rittenhouse case exemplify – is not accidental. It is deeply tied to the turbo-charged system of capitalism that seeks to extract profit from every last seam of our internal and external worlds. Just like an oil industry desperate to squeeze tar out of sand or frack oil out of rocks, the corporate media needs to suck our attention ever more keenly into conflict, into hatred, into blaming and shaming.

In our soundbite-driven, attention-deficit present – one where the stop-motion, clay creatures of Ray Harryhausen’s imagination in the 1960s have been replaced by the immersive CGI effects of technicians employed by mammoth corporations – our appetite for greater drama, greater sensation, greater pay-offs knows no bounds. We are too busy, too consumed, too triggered to pause, to stand back, to doubt, to think.

Matt Taibbi wrote a book, Hate Inc, on how the modern corporate media has monetised hatred, growing addicted to the profits the outrage industry generates. [ ] Trump was the ultimate product of that trend, elevated by a modern, corporate media that mostly despised him. He was the president the bulk of the media loved to hate, and needed us to do the same, so we kept tuning in, we kept watching, we kept resisting or we kept cheerleading.

That hatred meant more eyeballing by viewers and more money from advertisers. The drama of the unpredictable provided endless work for pundits and analysts as they tried to make sense of the madness. The confrontation meant heightened emotion and greater personal investment in the news. The pro-Trump media and the anti-Trump media were not on our side. They were both on the side of milking profit from our rage.


Fires of hatred

But the power-elite does more than simply make money from our hate. It gains in important, ideological ways. Because the more we hate, the less able we are to discriminate, to think clearly, to strategise, to see who are our real enemies.

And this is where the Rittenhouses prove useful.

Trump is gone, for the time being at least, but the fires of tribalism and hatred still need to be stoked to keep the population divided, distracted and demoralised. There are reliable external enemies like China and Russia, but when you are a lone, global superpower like the US – outspending all your enemies combined many times over – there is only so much external fear you can credibly marshal.

Enemies within – supposedly working hand in glove with those external enemies – are a much more plausible bogeyman. You don’t need evidence that Russia is planning to invade the US mainland when it is running the president, or infiltrating social media and poisoning our children’s minds, or rigging the elections, or destabilising democracy. And China doesn’t need to invade either, when it owns the US economy and seeks to control its communications systems.

The maintenance of that heightened paranoia by the corporate media is good both for business and for fomenting division. It is not Russia and China destabilising the US. It is the fabulously wealthy US power-elites – and their media – destabilising the US public to keep everyone feuding over the latest domestic outrage, the latest Rittenhouse.

Nothing can change without solidarity. The unsustainable, planet-destroying, donor-captured and corrupted system we call US democracy survives because the vast majority are too busy hyperventilating over whoever is deemed to be today’s Rittenhouse. Should he be jailed because he is white? Should he walk free because he is a patriot? Facts be damned either way.

Rittenhouse is a mirage, a manufactured repository for our outrage, our self-righteousness, our fear and our guilt. He is a phantasm conjured up by the corporate media to feed its bottom line and feed our egos. While we play along with this charade, compassion withers a little more, the planet expires a little quicker, and our species moves a little closer to the cliff edge.

Time to let the phantasmal Rittenhouse go. Think of the real 17-year-old, remember that he too is as much a product of a corrupt and corrupting system of power as you and me. We cannot defeat it without him. And time is not on our side.

Feature photo | Kyle Rittenhouse enters the courtroom to hear the verdicts in his trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on, Nov. 19, 2021. Sean Krajacic | The Kenosha News via AP

Jonathan Cook is a MintPress contributor. Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). His website is

The post Kyle Rittenhouse Is Not the Enemy. He’s the Latest Product of the Outrage Industry appeared first on MintPress News.

‘The Toughest Regulator in the World?’ – IPSO Stares Failure in the Face

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 19/11/2021 - 9:00pm in

‘The Toughest Regulator in the World?’ IPSO Stares Failure in the Face

As the Independent Press Standards Organisation prepares to discuss the standards crisis at the Jewish Chronicle next month, Brian Cathcart explores how early indications of the outcome do not bode well


Four months after its chair received an appeal for urgent action to address a collapse of journalistic standards at the Jewish Chronicle, the board of the corporate press complaints body – IPSO – is finally set to discuss the matter. 

IPSO (the Independent Press Standards Organisation) was put on the spot in the summer by a public call for a formal standards investigation issued by a group of people who had either won libel settlements from the newspaper or seen their complaints against it upheld. 

After a long delay, the group has been told by IPSO’s chair, the former Conservative minister Lord Edward Faulks, that the issues it raised were on the agenda for a board meeting on 8 December – although he did not specify that a full investigation was on the table. 

Even this is a landmark moment for the so-called press ‘regulator’ – which in its seven years of existence has never once come close to using its powers of investigation and never imposed a fine, no matter how small. 

Its problem now is that the Jewish Chronicle – a slim, London-based weekly – has been engaged in unethical conduct that cannot be denied or covered-up. It has been found by IPSO itself to have committed 33 breaches of its code of conduct in three years, while in the same period it has also been forced to admit libel and pay damages on four occasions. These are rates of offending rivalled only by big press groups producing big national daily titles. 

The newspaper was first referred to IPSO’s standards department in late 2019 by the IPSO complaints committee, which had declared the paper’s conduct “unacceptable”. But, on that occasion, no action appears to have resulted and the breaches and libels continued to pile-up. 

Despite the promise that the matter will reach the board next month, however, emails from IPSO staff to the complaining group strongly suggest that board members will be told that there is no need for a standards investigation into the Jewish Chronicle because the problem has supposedly been solved in recent months by delivering training to its editor, Stephen Pollard, and his staff. 

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Jo Bird, a Labour activist from the Wirral who was the first to urge IPSO to act, has received an email from the organisation’s head of standards, Jane Debois, which said that contacts with the newspaper continue but “at this time, IPSO is satisfied with progress”.

The flagrant defiance of IPSO’s authority by the Jewish Chronicle over three years and more nonetheless constitutes an important test for an organisation that struggles for public credibility. 

IPSO has frequently been criticised for failing to investigate big newspapers accused of, for example, Islamophobia, distortion in election and Brexit reporting, transphobia and anti-vaccine activism. It claims to prefer discreet and low-key interventions to deal with problems among its members, and to rely on the supposed shaming effect of adverse complaints rulings, which must usually be published by offending newspapers.  

But these claims from IPSO will look all the more threadbare if it will not even investigate a small member publication that still raises two fingers to it after an entire stream of adverse rulings, as the Jewish Chronicle has done.

Failure to investigate in this case will provide confirmation that there is no realistic possibility of IPSO ever investigating any member under any circumstances. And, if it mounts no investigations, its rules say, it can never impose any fines. 

All of which is sharply at odds with the claims made to the public when IPSO was launched in 2014 in open defiance of the findings of the Leveson Inquiry into press standards. Back then, its promoters laid stress on the importance of its powers to investigate and fine – and even described it as “the toughest press regulator in the Western world”.

Brian Cathcart is Professor of Journalism at Kingston University London and the author of ‘The Case of Stephen Lawrence’ (1999)




Byline Times is funded by its subscribers. Receive our monthly print edition and help to support fearless, independent journalism.




The post ‘The Toughest Regulator in the World?’ – IPSO Stares Failure in the Face appeared first on Byline Times.

All Change at the Mail: Political Machinations or Publishing Priorities?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 18/11/2021 - 11:59pm in

All Change at the MailPolitical Machinations Or Publishing Priorities?

Mic Wright looks at the replacement of Geordie Greig as editor of the Daily Mail, and whether the shadow of Paul Dacre has blighted his successor


When the news broke yesterday that Daily Mail editor Geordie Greig is stepping down by the end of the week – shunted into a non-job as the newspaper’s news “consulting editor” – to make way for Mail on Sunday editor Ted Verity and a combined seven-day operation at the two titles, many people’s response was to cry: Ah-ha! Greig criticised the Johnson Government in a series of front pages and now he’s gone…

These theories often included references to Verity as ‘Paul Dacre’s man’, as if the newspaper’s former editor – who left his position as chair of the Daily Mail’s parent company Associated Newspapers at the beginning of this month – was the puppet-master. 

In truth, the explanations are probably more prosaic, less about external politics, and more about internal cost savings at the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday, as the papers’ proprietor – Lord Rothermere – moves to finalise the deal to take the Daily Mail and General Trust holding private.

The notion that Conservative anger at Greig would lead to Lord Rothermere bouncing him out of the editor’s chair was laughed-off by one former Mail staffer, who said: “As if Associated lets the Government pick its editors!” 

Oxford-educated Edward ‘Ted’ Verity – a former editor of the Irish Daily Mail who replaced Greig at the Mail On Sunday in 2018 – is a company man. He’s been with Associated since 1990 and was variously described to me by people who have worked with him as “a pleaser”, “astonishingly awful”, “keen to demonstrate how hard he was”, “a total nightmare”, “obsessed with waging a ‘war on woke’” and “old school”. 

That Paul Dacre – a man whose morning briefings were described as “the vagina monologues” by Nick Davies in Flat Earth News due to his tendency to pepper them with the word “c***” – was headmaster of that ‘school’ for 26 years should provide some idea of Verity’s training.

When Verity was promoted to executive editor of the Mail On Sunday in 2008, Associated sources described him as “Dacre’s golden boy”. 

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Former Labour MP David Miliband was one of Verity’s contemporaries at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. When the elder Miliband brother failed to win the party’s leadership in 2010, the Mail man penned a reminiscence about the university years.

He wrote: “I sat in the oak-panelled dining hall of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, munching toast and marmalade for breakfast and agreeing with my fellow first-year students that one of our number was a future Prime Minister: David Miliband… None of us had ever met anyone like him – steeped in politics, burning with political ambition and know-how and seemingly born to be leader of the party he’d been campaigning for since the age of nine.”

If Miliband was “born to be leader” but whiffed it, Verity has been more astute in his career. As well as being a close ally of Dacre, he is on the right side – the hard-right side, you might say – of Martin Clarke, the equally demotic MailOnline boss. A company source told the Guardian’s media editor Jim Waterson yesterday that the move to sideline Greig was a “power grab by Clarke”. 

There are also other potential reasons for Greig’s ousting that go beyond the (no) fun and games of Associated Kremlinology.

Greig, like Verity, is Oxford-educated but he is also a product of Eton and a courtier family (his father Sir Carron Greig was a gentleman usher for Queen Elizabeth, as well as a former army intelligence officer and businessman; while his twin sister Laura was lady-in-waiting to Diana, Princess of Wales).

Despite describing his first stint at the Mail – his second job after starting out as a reporter on the South East London and Kentish Mercury newspaper – as being “its most junior reporter on the graveyard shift”, Greig has never actually been an ordinary hack. 

An Old Etonian with an Oxford education and royal connections, Greig worked his way through the British media with inherited courtier’s finesse. After a brief period at Sunday Today (where Alastair Campbell was briefly the news editor), he moved to The Sunday Times in 1987, quickly becoming its arts correspondent then its ‘man in New York’ in 1991. He came back to London in 1995 to take up the post of literary editor before jumping to his spiritual home – the toff’s bible, Tatler, in 1999. 

A decade later, in 2009, Greig became a courtier to a new branch of aristocracy when he became editor of the Evening Standard after the Lebedevs acquired a controlling stake. Greig was friendly with Alexander and Evgeny Lebedev before he was hired. His previous boss, Conde Nast’s Nicholas Coleridge described him to the Guardian at the time of that move as “the world’s greatest networker”. 

That is why despite the nothing title – consulting editor – bestowed upon him in the Mail’s early evening of the sharp elbows, it is highly likely that Greig will quickly reappear in another senior editorial role elsewhere soon. And, unlike his recent nemesis Dacre, his next career move is unlikely to be an attempt to secure some government sinecure – he’s in with a more permanent establishment. 

As for Verity, he’ll be a far more pugnacious editor of the Daily Mail than Greig has been and will be far more likely to side with the Government. He reset the Mail on Sunday to a hard-Brexiter line after Greig’s Remainer years and made it markedly more Islamophobic in its coverage. He is currently – alongside Martin Clarke – enmeshed in the newspaper’s court battle with Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex. 

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Verity is also less of a delegator than Greig. In November 2020, Private Eye reported that seemingly innocuous images of Carrie Symonds – now the Prime Minister’s wife – in fancy dress during her university days had been set to appear on the Mail on Sunday’s front page.

They were allegedly spiked after a phone call from James Slack – an ex-Mail political editor who was Boris Johnson’s official spokesperson at the time and is now the Sun’s deputy editor – alongside an intervention from the Sun’s political editor and former boyfriend of Carrie Johnson, Harry Cole. Finally, there was a call from the Prime Minister himself. Verity was on holiday but is still said to have stepped in to overrule the decision of his then deputies, Leaf Kalfayan and Dave Dillon, to run the photos. 

But, while Verity is considered far more amenable to Boris Johnson’s Government than Greig by both observers and Associated insiders, several former Mail staffers made the same point to me: it is a mistake to think that politics is the main driver of sales for the Daily Mail. It is not. Even under Dacre, the newspaper had periods of hammering the Conservative Party.

The Mail often has an agenda of its own and enjoys giving a Conservative Government a bloody nose. 

Boris Johnson may have talked about ‘borrowing’ votes from the so-called ‘Red Wall’ but, when it comes to ‘Middle England’, the Daily Mail considers itself eternally elected as its champion. The person in the editor’s chair at any one time is almost incidental – particularly when another promotion during the Associated reshuffle went to Lord Rothermere’s 27-year-old heir, Vere Harmsworth. 

Described by Tatler as “a chihuahua-obsessed, polo-playing hunk with a heart”, Harmsworth – who has worked as a “consultant” – has one true qualification for becoming a managing director in his father’s new pride and joy, Mail+: his DNA.

Ted Verity has worked for Associated for 31 years, but he is a useful servant. Lord Rothermere is taking the company private because he thinks in legacies rather than editorships or the lifetime of mere governments. 




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The post All Change at the Mail: Political Machinations or Publishing Priorities? appeared first on Byline Times.

Under fire: Ita Buttrose goes into battle for ABC independence

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 18/11/2021 - 4:59am in



For the current government “the enemy” appears to be anyone trying to hold that government to account — and right now, that’s the ABC. Her statement was explicit. “The fact that these powers [legal responsibility for the gathering and presentation of accurate and impartial news and information] are given to the board, not to the Continue reading »

Cartoon: Ghost channels

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 16/11/2021 - 11:50pm in

I should note that all shows and subjects mentioned in the first three panels of the comic are taken from actual programming on these channels. Most readers will view this strip as non-political, but I think the increasingly unscientific and dumbed-down programming we're seeing on cable ties directly into politics. It represents a total breakdown of Enlightenment empiricism. If all of this supernatural stuff is happening while scientists say it isn't real, why trust them about anything? Obviously THEY are hiding something they don't want you to know! Why believe what THEY say about COVID or climate change? Or who won the 2020 election, for that matter?

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