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Jemima Kiss
The Guardian today published its fourth annual list of the 100 most powerful people in the media.

The list was compiled by a panel of nine media experts including Guardian Unlimited editor-in-chief Emily Bell and Jeff Randall, BBC business editor.

Top of the list is Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News Corporation that controls one third of broadcaster BSkyB and owns News International, parent company of the Times, Sunday Times, the Sun and News of the World. News Corporation employs 35,000 staff globally and records annual revenues of $17.5 billion.

Trevor Kavanagh, the Sun’s political editor, has risen to number eight in the list as the Sun is regarded as an increasingly influential element in the forthcoming UK general election.

Following dramatic events at the BBC, former director general Greg Dyke has fallen from number one in 2003 to number 89. The Hutton Report heavily criticised BBC management and editorial procedures and Mr Dyke, as well as chairman Gavyn Davies, lost their jobs.

New BBC chairman Michael Grade is a new entry to the list at number two, with the panel describing him as “the only figure who could have put – almost at a stroke – a smile back on the public face of the BBC.”

Mark Thompson, Greg Dyke’s replacement as BBC director general, has moved from number 23 in 2003 to number six. In his first few weeks as director general, Mr Thompson announced a new journalism school for the BBC’s 7,000 journalists and a 135-page manifesto outlining the future of the corporation.

“For all its travails over Hutton,” says the Guardian, “the BBC remains an immensely powerful force, home to the most popular TV channel, a radio audience of more than 32 million listeners every week and a vast internet operation.”

Larry Page and Sergey Brin, founders of Google, are a new entry at number 20. Both men are on the verge of becoming paper billionaires, says the Guardian, after developing the world’s largest internet search engine.

Further new media figures include Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Computers at 29, BBC director of new media Ashley Highfield at 33 and Crispin Davis, chief executive of publishing group Reed Elsevier at number 55 on the list.
Al Jazeera adopts a new code of accuracy and good taste
Washington has criticized Al Jazeera’s coverage of the invasion and occupation of Iraq as inaccurate and anti-American, saying its broadcasts of wounded Iraqis, destroyed houses and slain American troops were tasteless or inflammatory.

From Reuters, July 14, 2004
The Arabic satellite television channel Al Jazeera, accused by the United States of graphic, anti-American coverage of fighting in Iraq, released a new code of ethics on Tuesday that it said would ensure balanced and sensitive reporting.

The channel defended its right to report “the ugly face of war” but said the guidelines would take account of Western and Arab sensitivities when considering whether to broadcast explicit images of violence.

Washington has criticized Al Jazeera’s coverage of the invasion and occupation of Iraq as inaccurate and anti-American, saying its broadcasts of wounded Iraqis, destroyed houses and slain American troops were tasteless or inflammatory.

The channel pledged to treat its audience “with due respect and address every issue or story with due attention to present a clear, factual and accurate picture.”

It said it would also respect “the feelings of victims of crime, war, persecution and disasters, their relatives, viewers and individual privacy.”

The code was announced at the end of a two-day media conference in Qatar, the Persian Gulf state that has been the base for the channel since it began operating eight years ago.

In Washington, Richard A. Boucher, spokesman for the State Department, welcomed Al Jazeera’s announcement of the ethics code. “We’ve always felt it was important for high standards of journalism to be put in place,” he said. “And so we welcome the action. We look forward to reading the actual guidelines.”

The conference also discussed what one delegate called an abhorrent and growing trend of violence against journalists, pressure on the news media to suppress some news in conflict zones and a rift between Western and Arab media since Sept. 11, 2001.

Al Jazeera won over millions of Arab viewers before and during the American-led war on Afghanistan in 2001 after broadcasting exclusive images of Osama bin Laden after the attacks on the United States. The station has irritated authoritarian Arab governments as much as it has Washington.

During the invasion of Iraq last year, it showed images of bloodied Iraqis and captured American troops rarely seen in the Western news media. Along with Islamist Web sites, Al Jazeera has been a principal medium for militants announcing the capture or killing of hostages in Iraq.

Its journalists defended their record, saying they had a duty to portray the horrors of conflict.

“Some people say we are taking the nightmares into people’s houses and we are putting too much blood on the screens,” said a news editor, Ahmed al-Sheik. “If we don’t report the ugly face of the war, would that mean we abided by the criteria? Would we be embellishing the face of the war?”

Mr. Sheik said the channel also had to consider competition from Web sites.

Al Jazeera’s code promises to adhere to honesty, fairness and balance, to “distinguish between news material, opinion and analysis” and to “avoid the snares of speculation and propaganda.”

Who wants yesterday’s papers?

Posted: 16 June 2004 By: Jemima Kiss
Email: jemima@journalism.co.uk

A digital archive of nearly two million 19th century newspaper pages is being developed by the British Library, believed to be the largest project of its kind ever undertaken.

Announced by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), the project is funded by a �million grant from the Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCE) and is designed primarily to be an educational resource.

The British Library’s current archive contains more than 52,000 newspapers, most of which are print and only accessible to visitors to the library’s reading rooms in north London.

“These historical newspapers are perhaps the single, most comprehensive resource for the study of 19th century British history,” said Stuart Dempster, JISC programme manager.

“Traditionally students, teachers, lecturers and researchers have had to access these titles on microfilm, but from late 2006 many of these titles will be fully searchable and available on your desk top 24/7.”

JISC will be working with education communities and news organisations throughout the summer to decide which publications will be digitised. A range of regional and national newspapers will be selected and could include the Morning Post, which published articles by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth, and the Morning Chronicle where Charles Dickens once worked as a reporter.

The research team will have to address issues of how to index dense 19th century text and headlines not comparable to modern news structures. Such newspapers were often read all the way through, and were not designed to skim read.

Project organisers expect it will take around two years to digitise the newspaper pages from microfilm records. The archive is expected to be launched in September 2006, with a pilot scheme planned for early next year.

A number if similar initiatives are underway around the world, including the national digital Newspaper Programme in the US.

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