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Campaigning Journalism

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  1. Campaigning Journalism

  2. Campaigning Journalism as opposed to investigative journalism • Investigative journalism uncovers material that was previously secret, or at least hard to find • Campaigning journalism does not necessarily uncover anything new – but collates information, often over lengthy periods of time • Campaigns can be for: social justice, anti crime, more resources for Afghanistan troops, anti dog poo, anti plastic bags, better school dinners etc etc; going back a few years, Harriet Martineau one of the earliest female journalists dedicated her life to campaigning for equality for women in the C19 press; Quaker journalist Emily Hobhouse campaigned against the English army’s incarceration of Boer women and children in concentration camps in the Manchester Guardian. • Often, individual journalists will spend years, decades of their lives on their pet cause • Can be hypocritical/ politically focussed (Mail anti immigration/Sunday Telegraph anti Labour) and manipulate data – lies damned lies and statistics • If a campaign strikes a chord with the audience, then it can be a useful tool to generate readers/listeners • Many non-traditional journalists now use social media for their campaigns such as the current very successful No More Page Three campaign

  3. Often investigative journalism leads to a campaign or vice versa • W T Stead’s investigation into child prostitution on the streets of London in the 1880s lead to a successful campaign to raise the age of consent from 13 to 16 • The Sunday Times thalidomide campaign to compensate the victims lead to an investigation of drug company protocol

  4. Campaigning: goes to the heart of justification for a free press? • ‘All the fabricated scandals and intrusive stories written to titillate are more than balanced by the work of generation after generation of journalists who are serious about the integrity of their job, whether they work for popular or broadsheet nationals, regional or local papers [and radio and TV]…Across the enormous range of journalism produced every day, stories that are factual, informative, thought-provoking outweigh those that are tawdry. Journalism that defends the innocent, campaigns for reform, challenges unnecessary secrecy and even sometimes changes politicians’ minds.’ Raymond Snoddy, The Good, the Bad and the Unacceptable, 1992

  5. types of campaigns • The personal campaign, often waged by one journalist on the cause they truly and utterly believe in – Rachel Carson in Silent Spring, Charles Clover and Over Fishing, Nell McAfferty and peace for Northern Ireland, John Sweeney and justice for ‘cot death’ mothers and the Church of Scientology; Lucy Holmes ‘No More Page 3’. • These journalists will, if they are fair and accurate, become respected authorities on a subject, give evidence at official inquiries and make it beyond the daily newsround. • Rachel Carson, Nell McCafferty handouts • A common theme is the passion with which some journalists get involved with their subjects • Occasionally they will get so involved in their campaign that they fail to distance themselves enough from it. • •

  6. Newspaper campaigns • The newspaper campaign, while there have been many well-focussed and noble ones, can be cynically motivated, not from the journalist, but the editor - and the first question an editor asks before launching one is ‘Can we win it?’ What a paper wants most is to claim responsibility for a ‘Government U turn.’ • Examples include: the Daily Mail campaign to ban plastic bags; News of the World campaign to publish addresses of paedophiles;

  7. Why so few TV ones? • Television, because it has to adhere to much stricter rules of impartiality, steers clear from any campaign than can appear to be politically motivated, for fear of falling foul of Ofcom. • One recent high profile campaign was the ‘Great British Property Scandal’ by George Clark. This was on Channel Four, which has a slightly looser remit for this kind of campaign. •

  8. Daily Mail’s campaign, how it should be done • Handout • Elements: • Support of respected scientific body • Pictures of cute animals in peril • Big guns lines up to support in the following days (M and S was on side before) • PM’s support probably on side before too)

  9. Day 2 • Marks & Spencer joins The Mail's campaign to Banish the Bags by charging for them • By SEAN POULTER • Last updated at 16:37 28 February 2008 • Read more:

  10. Day 15: triumph! • Banish the bags: Darling promises new law by 2009 if shops do not act themselves • By SEAN POULTER • Last updated at 00:02 13 March 2008 • Read more:

  11. News of the World’s – how it shouldn’t be done • The campaign was launched in the aftermath of the abduction and murder of an eight year old girl in West Sussex, England, who went missing on the short walk across a field to her grandparents’ home after playing with her siblings. Every day the national media reported on developments in the search to try to find her, and her parents and siblings made appeals to her and to the public to help in her safe return. • The discovery of Sarah Payne’s body on July 18 was met with widespread sorrow, and an estimated 30 000 people visited the site where she was found, many to lay flowers in her memory. In this period of heightened emotion, the News of the World published photographs with the front page headline reading: ‘If you’re a parent you must read this: Named, Shamed’ and the text continuing ‘There are 110, 000 child sex offenders in Britain, one for every square mile. The murder of Sarah Payne has proved police monitoring of these perverts is not enough. So we are revealing WHO they are and WHERE they are …starting today’

  12. News of the World contd • This was the beginning of the campaign which saw the weekly paper publish the photographs, names • and locations of convicted child sexual offenders and which it vowed to continue: ‘week in week out we will • add to our record so that every parent in the land can have the RIGHT to know where these people are • living.’(23/7/2000, p2). Despite the newspaper’s request for readers not to engage in vigilante actions, one group of • mothers on the Paulsgrove housing estate in Hampshire received much media attention as they organised • local parents in nightly marches, holding ‘vigils’ outside the homes of those known ‘paedophiles’ on their • estate and protesting at the housing of those convicted of child sexual offences in their locale. One mother • explained that in the wake of Sarah Payne’s murder ‘The mums decided we had to do something. Someone • said that one lived there and we started marching.’(The Mirror, 11/8/2000, p9).

  13. Each night over the course of the next week, they marched through their housing estate. Over the next few weeks, stories of the actions of mothers ‘turned vigilantes’ were widely reported, mostly focussing on Paulsgrove estate but also elsewhere, as well as stories of convicted sexual offenders fleeing their homes, being confronted by angry mobs, having property or relatives attacked and, a fortnight or so after the News of the World campaign began, taking their own lives.

  14. We now know of course that at the same time Rebecca (then) Wade was handing out sympathy to the parents of Sara Payne, she was ordering for her phone to be hacked. • Child abduction by paedophile is still one of the rarest – although one of the most shocking – crimes in this country.

  15. Some famous campaigns • The Sun’s campaign on behalf of 81-year-old Rose Stamps who was asked by BT to pay a phone bill of £1,395.57 – a bill run up by intruders at her old flat. Rose said she had asked BT to cut off the line when she moved out. Just 24 hours after the Sun ran the story, BT scrapped the bill. • John Tyas of The Times, 1819: travelled to Manchester to report on a meeting called to demand parliamentary reform. Some 60,000 people had gathered at a place called St Peter’s fields to demand universal suffrage. On August 16, Government soldiers attacked the demonstration, which became known as the ‘Peterloo Massacre’. Tyas was jailed, but sent his despatch from his prison cell: • ‘…the Manchester Yeoman cavalry rode into the mob, which gave way before them…Not a brickbat was thrown at them – not a pistol was fired during this period…’ When released from prison Tyas and the Times continued to campaign for justice for the Peterloo dead, and for reform, which eventually led to the 1832 Reform Act – some say the most important date in British history since 1066, which widened the vote.

  16. Newspaper campaigns against the MMR jab • Following the publication in July 1997of a potential link between the MMR and the rise in autism in children, several news organisations ran campaigns against the jab in their areas. • The South Wales Evening Post ran a protracted campaign, ‘The MMR parents’ fight for facts’ campaign with five front page splashes, three opinion pieces and 18 inside stories. A survey published in medical journal Epidemiological Health reveals that uptake of the vaccine declined by 13.6 per cent in the South Wales Evening Post distribution area and by only 2.4 per cent in the rest of Wales • Cases of mumps and measles are still higher now than they were prior to the 1997 scare. How much are news organisations to blame? • (handout) • Recently a public campaign to boost MMR jabs in south Wales has been undertaken, to make good the damage.

  17. From Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science book • The MMR scare has created a small cottage industry of media analysis. In 2003 the Economic and Social Research Council published a paper on the media’s role in the public understanding of science, which sampled all the major science media stories from January to September 2002, the peak of the scare. It found 32% of all the stories written in that period about MMR mentioned Leo Blair, and Wakefield was only mentioned in 25%: Leo Blair was a bigger figure in this story than Wakefield. • And this was not a passing trivial moment in a 10-year-long story. 2002 was in fact the peak of the media coverage, by a very long margin. In 1998 there were only 122 articles on MMR. In 2002 there were 1,257. MMR was the biggest science story that year, the most likely science topic to be written about in opinion or editorial pieces, it produced the longest stories of any science subject, and was also by far the most likely to generate letters to the press, so people were clearly engaging with the issue. MMR was the biggest and most heavily covered science story for years. • It was also covered extremely badly, and largely by amateurs. Less than a third of broadsheet reports in 2002 referred to the overwhelming evidence that MMR is safe, and only 11% mentioned that it is regarded as safe in the 90 other countries in which it is used.

  18. When newspapers distort the facts for their own ends • Sunday Telegraph’s Make Britain Safe campaign to get more police on the beat • Headline: homicides soar under labour • Stats: while in the early 1990s, murders per year were on average 601, since 1997 they went up to 737. • "The figures deal a further blow to Tony Blair's reputation on law and order after he came to office pledging to be 'tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime.'"

  19. Martin Kettle, the Guardian • Powerful stuff. Or it might be it was true. In fact, neither the figures themselves nor the inference that Labour is responsible for these rises stand up to scrutiny. • I've done the maths several times, totting up the annual deaths since 1997, subtracting the 172 cases attributed to Dr Harold Shipman that inflate the total for 2002-3 (as the Telegraph claims to have done) and I can still only get an average of 723. Does that 14-strong difference matter? In one sense no. It's still a lot of deaths. But it means that the average "under Labour" is actually only 20.3% higher than the 1990-96 average. And that's not a rise of "a quarter" as the Telegraph claims. It's a rise of a fifth. There are some important footnotes to consider to the figures given to Mr Wright too. Fifty-eight of the cases counted by the Telegraph for 2001 were Chinese nationals who collectively suffocated in a lorry en route to the UK. Homicides? Yes, but not quite of the kind that the Telegraph article and campaign imply.

  20. Case Study: Charles Clover, The End of the Line • Charles Clover is a columnist on the Sunday Times. Previously he had been the Environment Editor of The Daily Telegraph since 1987. He won the British Environment and Media’s National Journalist of the Year award in 1989, 1994 and 1996. Previously, he was an editor at The Spectator and a features writer for the Daily Telegraph. He is a frequent contributor to BBC TV, Sky and BBC Radio news, as well as Newsnight on BBC2. • Story Type: Over-fishing, fish stock depletion, biodiversity • Medium: Originally a series of newspaper articles; then a book, The End of the Line, how over-fishing is changing the world and what we eat (Ebury Press 2005) and a film (2009) • Big Break: I was covering the North Sea Conference in 1990 for my then newspaper, the Daily Telegraph and watched a Dutch presentation about the impact an industrial beam trawler had on the North Sea ecosystem. Its effect on the sea bed was like a tractor ploughing a field five times a year. This type of destructive large scale fishing means that for every 1 lb of marketable sole, 16lb of marine organisms are destroyed. For me it was a Damascene moment and I began following fish stories with a more critical eye.

  21. Clover continued • Top Tips: Basic journalistic intuition based on personal interest and immersing yourself in a specialism so you can follow your hunches like a detective. I was able to link reports of vast sand eel catches in Denmark to the decline of bird populations and the Atlantic salmon off the Scottish coast. • Most helpful contacts: The RSPB, which tipped me off that the Danes were catching so many sand eels (a stock that is now collapsed) that they we're burning their oil in power stations, something we would now regard as an obscenity; independent ecosystems biologists too. • Most unhelpful contacts: Government fishery scientists. They think it is their job to make industrial fishing possible and are pathologically secretive. • Outcome: The book The End of the Line has won a number of awards including the Derek Cooper Award for Campaigning or Investigative Food Journalism (2005) and the film, which has been an international success won the One World Media Environment Award (2010).

  22. Clover was sacked • In the middle of his award-winning campaign against industrial fishing, Clover was sacked by the Telegraph. He had to finance his own book for a while by setting up a charitable trust, before getting a job on the Sunday Times.

  23. No More Page 3 • This is the first truly internet-based campaign using the power of social media to try to make change. • Lucy Holmes is a freelance journalist and writes for the Independent but it is her enormous twitter following that is really behind her power. Has more than 21.5k followers on twitter and is never shy of grabbing the limelight •

  24. Campaigning Journalists • Need the support of the editor and news editor • Need to be absolutely solid on their facts • Need to be obsessed about their subject and be prepared to dig in places where other journalists won’t go • May end up leaving day to day journalism to work on documentaries, books and films; they may even leave the profession altogether to pursue their passions: Annabel Ferriman, former health correspondent of the Observer newspaper campaigned about organ donation; eventually left the newspaper to campaign; she recently founded a charity Give a Kidney: One’s enough three years ago donated one of her own kidneys. • Many journalists who cover humanitarian crises end up working for organisations such as Oxfam and Save the Children.