Robert Hampton

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13th November 2012

Bloody Brilliant Correspondents

There’s been a lot said about the BBC in recent days. I’m not going to try to say much about the botched Newsnight stories. There is already far too much noise over the issue, with the BBC’s critics using it as a political football. While Tory MPs, egged on by the Murdoch press, queue up to call for the dismantling of the corporation, they forget completely about the victims of the sexual abuse who should be the focus of the story.

I’ll just leave you with a couple of audio/video clips to mull over. First, listen to this relentless interrogation of George Entwistle by John Humphrys over the affair.

Compare that interview with the deference this Fox News host shows to Rupert Murdoch over the phone-hacking scandal:

Now, which organisation is demonstrating more accountability and responsibility?

There will be much more fallout from this scandal, but… Continuing to trust the BBC as my main source of news? No worries Mr Chairman, that’s fine with me.

7th July 2011

It’s the End of the World As We Know It
Posted by at 11.25pm | In the News | 1 response

Wow, what a difference a week makes. The News of the World is to publish its final issue this Sunday after continuing hacking revelations, a Twitter outrage and an advertiser boycott.

You can argue (with some force) that this is a symbolic gesture; a stunt to try and draw a line under the affair. That may be so, but to suddenly close a profitable paper which has published every Sunday for 167 years is a massive step and one which News International won’t have taken lightly, even if the “Sun on Sunday” (or whatever) is waiting to fill the gap.

This shouldn’t be the end of the matter: there are still lots of questions to be answered. What about the allegation that police officers accepted bribes? Doesn’t David Cameron have too cosy a relationship with News International bigwigs? Shouldn’t the decision to allow the BSkyB takeover be reconsidered? Why is Rebekah Brooks keeping her job when staff at the News of the World (most of whom weren’t even working there when the hacks took place) are being sacked?

My parents used to get the News of the World until a few years ago when they switched without explanation to the Mail on Sunday. Is Captain Cash still in it? I liked that part.

4th July 2010

The Times, they are a-chargin’

Rupert Murdoch’s nefarious plans have come to fruition and The Times web site is now behind a paywall. As of July 2nd, anyone wanting to click past the newspaper’s (admittedly quite nice-looking) front page will now need to flash their credit card in News International’s direction.

Will this drive away punters? Almost certainly, and the Guardian wasted no time publishing a (slightly smug) “welcome” message to disaffected Times readers.

I’m guessing from the tone of that piece that the Guardian are sticking with the “free” model for the foreseeable future, but how long can that situation continue? Most newspapers are losing money and online advertising does not bring in enough revenue to compensate. New revenue sources will have to be found somewhere. Good journalism is not cheap, and it does seem a bit commercially suicidal of newspapers to give away their content for free.

On the other hand, hiding articles behind a paywall means that same quality product is at risk of being ignored by the wider internet. There will be no Google News alerts pointing to Times articles; bloggers will no longer have the option of linking to a Times article to back up their views; on Twitter, there will be few short URLs going to The Times. Overall, there will be a big drop in traffic: will there be enough people paying money to the Times to justify taking their web site out of the global conversation?

In fact, with so many other free news sources online (for now, at least) will anyone be prepared to pay? The Financial Times has charged for some time, but that’s a specialist publication for a niche market, offering in-depth coverage not provided elsewhere. The Times, on the other hand, is a mainstream newspaper — who will pay to access the Times when the same news can be found on the BBC, Telegraph, Guardian, New York Times and a thousand other sources on Google News? Is Jeremy Clarkson’s column a sufficient draw to tempt people to pay £1?

In summary, I’m sceptical. But if it stops overseas bloggers referring to “The Times of London” in their links (that’s NOT what the paper is called!) I’ll be happy.

1st January 2010

2009? More like Two Thousand and Fine!

July saw Merseyrail’s run of bad luck continue, as a train rolled out of the depot and derailed. To atone for their sins, they introduced a new day ranger ticket, but I wasn’t convinced. This was something of a train-y month for me, as I did my bit to help out the previous generation of Merseyrail trains. Trains were also on the Government’s mind, as they announced that the Liverpool to Manchester line would be electrified.

In London, the Police proved once again what a wonderful organisation they are. In Rome, a swimmer suffered an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction.

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19th November 2009

Net loss

I got home to discover that people who have no clue what they’re doing have been put in charge of the UK’s Internet policy:-

First, Lord Mandelson:

Mandelson says in his letter that he is concerned about “cyberlockers” – websites that offer users private storage spaces whose contents can be shared by passing a web link via email.

“These can be used entirely legitimately, but recently rights holders have pointed to them as being used for illegal use,” Mandelson writes in the letter.

As an astute Guardian commenter points out, people’s homes can be used legitimately, but also used to store stolen goods. Therefore, by Mandelson’s logic, we should ban houses as well.

Rupert Murdoch, on the other hand, holds no official Government position, but regularly gets sucked up to by those in power (and those who want power), so we need to pay attention to him. But why is he so angry at Google? The search engine directs web users to his content, on his web sites, with his adverts.

Anyway, if he’s really so unhappy about search engines “stealing” his content, all he has to do is insert a 2-line robots.txt file in the root of to prevent it being indexed… and then watch his traffic plummet.