Archive for the ‘Media’ Category
Interesting exchange on Twitter with Edmond Terakopian this morning about the Leveson inquiry and its refusal to engage with the British Press Photographer’s Association. Edmond feels very strongly that the inquiry should engage, I’m not so convinced that the issue that is important to the BPPA is central to the business of the inquiry.
Firstly, I absolutely agree with Edmond and the BPPA that a distinction has to be made between the honest professional news photographer and the opportunistic, semi-legal paparazzi. This is a question of preserving the integrity of a profession. A profession which is under threat in the public perception from the amount of negative coverage attracted by the activities of the paparazzi. News photography is a serious profession and like any other serious profession, the consideration of ethics is a fundamental part of the practice. Many of the great photographs of our time have been taken by news photographers. Not so many by the paparazzi.
Paparazzi are rarely illegal. There are ethical questions around privacy and confusingly, the letter of the law differs depending what country you happen to be in. The hounding of reluctant participants is abhorrent, however we should not forget that many celebrities, including some members of the royal family, actively collude with the press in order to maximise their exposure. There is an argument that says that the only way to stop the paparazzi is for people to stop buying the magazines that feature their work. Interestingly enough there are signs that the public’s appetite for photographs of so called celebrities on the wane. Big Brother’s ratings were a shadow of their former glory, I hear that the circulation of Hello is down on last year.
I do believe that the Leveson inquiry is doing an excellent job of unmasking the culture of illegality that apparently pervades the tabloid press. There are powerful corporate interests with very clever lawyers and a lot of money at stake here. The inquiry cannot afford to lose focus for a second. It is here that my thinking diverges from Edmond’s. I believe the vested interests behind the tabloids would welcome the inclusion of the BPPA in the inquiry because it would shift the focus onto an issue which is non-threatening to them.
Although the testimony of Hugh Grant, Sienna Miller and the McCanns has been highly critical of and raised serious concerns about the antics of the paparazzi, I see this as being of secondary focus to the main job of the inquiry which is surely to establish whether or not there is a culture of illegality in the tabloid press. I believe that the issue of recognition for a serious profession can be given the attention it merits only after the layers of obfuscation put up by the executives and lawyers of News International have been stripped away (for example, James Murdoch’s ludicrous assertion when faced with the irrefutable fact of an email advising him of concerns about the practice of hacking – that he didn’t read it because it was on a Blackberry, at the weekend.)
The confusion in the public mind between professional and paparazzi is doing serious damage to the profession, of that there is no doubt. Some members of the public are also policemen and security guards who may choose to treat a serious professional (or even a serious amateur) like a paparazzi for example. however, I’m concerned that while the attention of the inquiry is focused on the machinations of the business that supports that profession, there is a risk that the inclusion of testimony from the BPPA may distract from the central purpose of the inquiry and that would only help let the perpetrators of these activities and their employers off the hook. My hope is that the Leveson inquiry will call the BPPA in due course. I believe, notwithstanding the concerns I have set out here, that the BPPA’s voice should be heard and in Edward Terakopian they have a practitioner of sufficient stature and influence to ensure that that voice will be heard.
Reference: Edmond Terakopian – http://photothisandthat.co.uk/2011/12/14/leveson-inquiry-says-no-to-the-bppa/
Originally posted on Electrical Image by Chris Wright
I’ve had a great time this week building a web site for my photographic adventures – Electrical Image. This was precipitated by 500px falling out with their fulfilment guys, Fotomoto. I figure that if anyone is going to buy a picture through the site, it will be between now and Christmas. I still love the 500px site and will keep adding to it periodically, but for reasons that I write about on the new blog, I think Electrical Image is the way to go. One thing I learned – web building technology has realy moved on apace since I used to to that for a living.
The new site is a self hosted WordPress site using a theme developed by Photocrati, especially for photographers. The site was up and running in a couple of hours, literally, so full marks to all parties. The population of the site will take a little longer, but I’m pleased with the look of it so far and will spend some time tweaking it and adding content over the next couple of weeks.
Primarily, the intent of the new site is to provide a gallery for my photographs, or at least the ones I think are any good! I’ll also be blogging over there (Electrical Image) about a broad range of things that are of interest to photographers, from Kit to promotion, photowalks, events and techniques (assuming I discover any!).
There’s an awful lot of bollox that gets talked about brands these days. Personal brands, global brands, build your brand, sell your brand. Sits neatly next to the instant gratification culture we seem to be hell bent on creating. I wonder what happened to craft?
In Brighton, the capital city of quirk, brand led ventures tend to lose out to home grown adventures. Quirky little restaurants with massive followings based on providing excellent service and a brilliantly original food beat the out of towners for both value and entertainment. Which is kind of ironic since it’s the “experience” that a brand is all about.
An example. A reasonably well known Pattisserie just opened a branch in Western Road, Hove. I’m anonymising the establishment purely for the sake of the staff, who were charming. Anyway, I decided to check it out for brunch on Sunday. Out of curiosity I trawled their web site and to my horror encountered a load of old guff about “the brand”. As in “Every ***** Café has its own individual style and decor, but all of them have the same continental atmosphere. A trip to ******* is a unique experience.” Unique as in same? Huh?
If you want to find out what’s really important to a company, look on their “Careers” pages. *******, established 1926 is in fact an “Exciting brand expanding across the UK” with a “Passion to develop great people across the business” providing “Fast track career progression” etc etc.
I’d seen enough, but not wanting to seem like a curmudgeon, wandered down anyway. The cakes looked lovely and the staff were very friendly. So far so good. I ordered Eggs Benedict and Coffee. The coffee was delicious. The Eggs Benedict arrived, inexplicably served on Brioche rather than Muffin. Alarmed by the prospect of sugary brioche clashing with the poached eggs and salmon, I queried it with the waitress. The menu it seems is handed down from head office. Part of the unique experience I guess. The eggs were raw on the inside, to the point of being inedible. The staff were mortified and knocked it off the bill without any fuss. On the way out the manageress asked me if everything had been ok for me today…
My point, and I do have one, is that if the service or the product or whatever damn thing you are selling is not good enough, then all the brand savvy in the world isn’t going to make your business successful. This notion that the brand is more valuable than the product is as foolish as the emperor who paraded through the streets stark naked. As a consumer of products, I expect a product to do what it says on the tin ie. work. As a consumer of services I want the service to succeed in delivering. If it doesn’t I will exercise my right to move to another provider. The brand and the service or product line should interlock, the two are stronger than the one. but if I had to choose just one, it would be a product every time.
It seems to me that building a brand, whether it’s personal or professional has to be done on firm foundations. The perception of quality cannot and should not be bought. Ferrari have a history of creating excellent motor cars. Apple a history of innovation and design excellence. These people have spent many years perfecting their craft and building slowly but surely, a brand that really is valuable. In the current economic climate, hype is yesterday’s news.
OK this is shameless self publicity, but what the hell, its my blog! Finally, I’ve got around to putting a portfolio of my photography up on the web. It can be found at Electrical Image, hosted by the very wonderful 500px.
Should anyone become so enthralled as to wish to purchase any of my work, on postcard, print or some such, then the very best images are all for sale in a variety of formats at the online store.
Buy with no inhibitions – it will make me a very happy man!!
The view from Holloway is probably quite different to that from Chipping Norton, the tory stronghold where the likes of Rebekah Brooks and Jeremy Clarkson hobnob with hapless Prime Minister David Cameron. Yet it is the view from Holloway with which Ms.Brooks may become most familiar.
The Phone Hacking scandal is shaping up nicely. If the allegations are true, then the cover concealing a web of influence extending from Wapping to Scotland Yard via Downing Street has suddenly been torn away, sending both practitioners and victims of the dark arts of persuasion scuttling for cover.
There are a lot of questions to be answered, but the one that is top of my list is this. If Sir Paul Stephenson deems it necessary to resign over his acceptance of a £12,000 stay at Champneys (represented at the time by News of the World journalist Neil Wallis who was also ‘advising’ the Metropolitan Police), then why does David Cameron believe that he has no cause to apologise for his staggering bad judgement in accepting Brooks’ advice to appoint Wallis’s sometime boss, ex New of the World editor Andy Coulson as spin doctor in chief to the government? And just as an afterthought, why is it also deemed OK for Cameron to accept the hospitality in 2008 of PR guru Matthew Freud (husband of Elizabeth Murdoch), being flown half way across Europe at a cost of £34,300 to meet the rest of the Murdoch cabal aboard their yacht in the Mediterranean? (see original story in the Independent)
Contrary to the Prime Minister’s assertion that the public are only interested in the phone hacking scandal, this member of the public is becoming increasingly interested in the extent of the influence exerted by Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks over his government. Parliament is about to go into recess and it’s possible Cameron hopes this will all be brushed under the carpet – indeed the timing of the arrest today casts doubt on Rebekah Brook’s appearance before the parliamentary committee on Tuesday. Conspiracy or Clouseau? The answer to that question is far from clear.
So, after all the politics, chicanery and tripe, some magic. Instagr.am, as you probably know is a popular app for the iPhone which piggybacks on the Camera and allows you to share photos with friends. Better yet, you can apply a selection of filters to the said photos in the app. I was messing about with this on Sunday at the old Goodwood race track and after arriving at the effect featured in the photo here, decided I’d quite like to share it on my photoblog. How to do that was not immediately obvious, short of synchronising the phone with iTunes and downloading the photo there seemed to be no easy way. Since it’s the convenience of Instagr.am that really appeals, I quickly abandoned the idea.
Until now. Copygr.am has been in action for just ten days and does exactly what it says on the tin. Copies your Instagr.am photos to your desktop. Well, in fact it emails them as an attachment, but what the hell it’s easier than synching the phone! Highly recommended. Simple, straightforward, unpretentious and it works.
Is the phone hacking scandal David Cameron’s personal Watergate? We appear to have all the ingredients necessary to topple an unelected government for whom cynicism and self interest appear to be the only identifiable characteristics. So why is the press tip toeing around this story like cattle avoiding an abattoir?
For those who haven’t been paying attention, this dismal tale began to look interesting when News of The World Editor Andy Coulson was appointed chief spin doctor to Downing Street at a time when the paper was already under investigation by the police after allegations of phone tapping were made public. The official line was that the phone tapping was the work of a single private investigator operating under his own initiative and that Andy Coulson could not possibly have known about it. Fast forward six months and amid allegations that senior police officers were wined and dined by the News of The World, that David Cameron spent Christmas Day dining with Rebekah Wade-Brooks and James Murdoch, and the kind of connections started to be made that rendered Andy Coulson’s position at the heart of the government an embarrasment. Quite where the appointment of Murdoch acolyte Jeremy Hunt to oversee the sale of BSkyB to News International, and the editorial support for the Tory party adopted by the Murdoch owned newspapers fits into all this is a question that newspapers apart from the Guardian seem curiously unwilling to ask. And as revelations concerning the hundreds of thousands of pounds allegedly paid to senior police officers stack up, it seems extraordinary for News International to continue to claim that their executives were innocent of any wrongdoing.
The phone tapping scandal reached its nadir with revelations that the mobile belonging to Milly Dowler was tapped and messages deleted from the voicemail service to make room for more by private investigators. These people were employed by News of the World journalists under an editorial regime presided over by current chief executive Rebekah Wade-Brooks. The cynicism and cruelty of this act beggars belief since relatives desperately trying to contact Milly were given false hope by the fact that it appeared that she had deleted the messages herself. A full mailbox accepting no further voicemails suddenly became accessible. This demonstrates a level of cynicism matched only by Wade-Brooks fatuous excuse that she was ‘on holiday’ at the time this happened. The fact is that as editor at the time she should be held to account for the culture of journalism prevailing in the company. It almost seems appropriate to quote Bill Shankly on the offside rule: “If he’s not interfering with play, what the F*** is he doing in the area!” Even if Wade-Brooks did not personally order that telephone to be tapped, she was responsible for the culture that did.
On Tuesday David Cameron performed another of his wonderful U-turns. Initially declaring that it would be inappropriate to order a government inquiry into the affair while an ongoing police investigation was erm ongoing, by the afternoon he had decided the affair could not be ignored and declaring the actions of the private investigators to be ‘dreadful’ he ordered the inquiry to take place. Meanwhile, BSkyB will be delivered to Murdoch on a plate, giving him control of approximately 50% of the media channels in this country.
The opportunism of Murdoch closing the News of the World absolutely demonstrates why we should be so concerned by the prospect of this company becoming the dominant force in the UK media. Before the scandal caused advertisers to pull out en masse (interesting that Tesco, Vodaphone and Orange saw no reason to protest), Rebekah Wade had already laid plans to merge the workforces of the Sun and the News of the World, and News International had already bought the domain name for the proposed Sunday Sun. All that has happened is that Murdoch has swung the axe more quickly and more widely than he had planned. This scandal has been opportunistically exploited to save Rebekah Wade Brooks at the expense of hundreds of jobs. Of course an executive with close ties to the Prime Minister is a valuable asset to the Murdoch enterprise.
Sometimes it feels as though the british public are like sheep being led to a slaughter. We are force fed salacious nonsense about second rate celebrities while unemployment rises, prices rise, inflation rises. The government ensure that what little money remains in the economy is channelled into the hands of the private sector, while peddling the line that all of this is somehow the fault of a Labour Government. David Cameron’s trade is public relations lest we forget. It is the one thing he really does excel at.
“The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was persuading the world he didn’t exist.” appropriately, that quote comes from a film entitled “The Usual Suspects”.
Bastard, bloody rain b*****s Brighton bike ride. The Naked Bike Ride is one of Brighton’s most eccentric spectacles, and today I had hoped to rattle off an impressive collection of outstanding natural….photographs. Imagine if you will, the bemused expressions of the daytrippers as, out of nowhere, a cavalcade of body painted, butt naked enthusiasts hurtle towards them from the Old Steine, bicycles, tricycles, monocycles, tallbikes and all, glinting in the sunlight. What a picture that would make.
The reality was rather different. The rain, accompanied by a wind I can only describe as bracing began at around 11am. A full two hours before the procession was due to start. And it got worse, much worse. We decided to take a cab to the meeting point, a journey made all the more bizarre by the cabbie’s insistence on recounting the lurid tale of some unfortunate he had seen astride a tallbike, testicles apparently hanging….well the words sack, spuds and knees probably tell you more than you needed or wanted to know. We bundled out of the cab at the new pier, figuring that we would be well situated to see the cavalcade. It was only after several minutes had elapsed that we discovered from a hapless passing film crew that the route had been changed because of the weather. Only noone seemed sure of the new route.
We eventually caught sight of a police cordon forming about half way up the Palace Lawns and realising that the new route would take the parade up through Kemptown set off at a brisk canter with cameras and tripod towards the upper road. From that point on the afternoon descended into farce. Seeing our movement, a small posse of photographers and film crews broke ranks and pursued us as we made the bottom of the upper road. Through the sidestreets we caught fleeting glimpses of the intrepid nudists pedalling briskly east towards the naturist beach. On foot, there was no competition and with each successive street, the glimpses returned fewer riders, until, exhausted, frustrated, red faced and ridiculous, we gave up the chase.
Life? An endless sequence of torments, designed solely for the amusement of some higher power? Surely not?
Last night I found myself watching for reasons that escape me now, a vacuous parade of teenage nincompoops parading some half baked storyline involving kidnap, unrequited love, murder most foul and erm more kidnap on catch up TV. The pace was fast and as furious as if it were directed by someone suffering from St. Vitus Dance. My nightmare was complete when the titles revealed this horrorshow to be none other than Coronation Street.
Now, I’m not a regular viewer of Corrie, but I have admired it’s witty self referential scripts, the way it meanders gently through the cast’s lives and the fact that it harbours two of television’s most inventive villains in Tracy Barlow and David Platt. Indeed the horrors visited upon the family Platt by son David and various husbands to the hapless Gail were the stuff of legend. Coronation Street was a series about people, it was cross generational and like life, sometimes these people’s lives were boring and sometimes interesting. It was a much loved institution and more importantly, it was very, very good.
So what the hell happened? The current incarnation looks like Hollyoaks and behaves like a delinquent teenager. Far from ‘sexing it up’ as producer Phil Collinson declared his mission to be before sacking just about anyone over the age of twenty five, it has been reduced to a turgid morass of unlikely and implausible dramas involving the remnants of the cast that survived his initial cull, supplemented by a procession of hapless non-entities restricted by dreadful writing to acting as wooden as any seen since the golden days of Crossroads.
Phil Collinson has enjoyed a decent career in TV, rising from a lowly writing post on Emmerdale to producing Doctor Who, into which he introduced the dream team of Billie Piper and David Tennant. Incredibly successful and one of my favourite Dr. Who series of all time. So the logic in handing him Coronation Street seems to be basically sound. Sadly though he appears to be in thrall to his own publicity, announcing to the world that he now relies on ‘instinct’ instead of actually erm paying attention to research and feedback. Sadly, this instinct of his appears to be on the blink, because this incarnation of Corrie is, quite frankly, bollocks.