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Riding the news cycle…

BBC sounds music Radio podcasts hello, I'm leaving Azhar and this is the media show from BBC Radio 4 hello the new site the news agenda.

Why is the news told like it is I'm thinking about how the media covers the election results last week new mayor new councillors new MPs but all I remember is a giant inflatable Boris Johnson you must have seen a 30-ft blow-up version of the prime minister that appeared outside the Hartlepool count at 4 a.m.

And then magic reappeared at the marina when he came to meet the winning candidate in front of the visiting Westminster journalist that became the narrative a gigantic Triumph for Boris Johnson the next day of the the journalist were gone and onto the next thing today.

I'm asking why does the media fall for these gimmicks.

Why is the new cycle so fast and so fickle?

Great bunch of guests to help as answer all these questions Thomas Cook is digital editor of Bristol live the online offshoot of the Bristol post Katrina Stuart is Chief reporter at the Glasgow Stephen Bush is political editor at the New Statesman Katy balls is Deputy political editor of The Spectator and Michael friedenberg is also here.

He's president of reuters news agency now Michael we're going to talk to you a little bit later on in the show but first of all I just want to hear a little bit about the the story of reuters a little bit of history once upon a time if I'm not mistaken there was a Mr writers wasn't there a trait absolutely the Baron so 170 year old media company from producing news via carrier pigeon to today's feature of producing news in artificial intelligence so we've gone the entire gamut from carrier pigeons 2AA

€170 history and very proud of having $2,500 and over 200 locations and they think of it in a kind of traditional telegram messages kind of way they think about breaking news, but you do a lot more than that as well.

Don't you right now? You're very gay pride in producing independent of the Vampires news that brings together global and local coverage and is really at the intersection of general news public service journalism as well as market moving news, so you look at stories recently the passing of Prince Philip was taking place right now the Gaza strip the European super soccer league debacle either or stories that had global and local interests in cut across general news in market moving news capabilities a little bit more in the second.

I want to start by talking about the idea of the news cycle.

It's something that.

Learn about a lot we usually think about it in terms of how long the story holes our attention before we want to move on to something else Stephen you from the New Statesman how would you define the news cycle in terms of the British Media today for me so I think of these cycle primarily in terms of our daily morning email is a daily guide alter what the biggest story in British politics is with small items from around the world which kind of the look of the really he's you need to know about the civil war and you need to know about the potential breakout of War on the Gaza strip and I think I think of the new kind of Monday through Friday thing right.

Let's give us reach out your Monday emergency the prime minister has an unpaid unpaid debt against him Tuesday the

Wednesday the Labour Party does something to try and extend the news story Thursday I of the story is moving to a point of crisis for the Prime Minister or it is as know when you to go Friday and something will happen in the Sundays and axes of Fire breaks all the political news, so that's how I think about it.

That is a very very Parochial definition based around my I think that's probably a good thing about the new cycle is really the workflow cycle for a story right.

It's beginning its middle of the end and the publications I call the send cycle of whatever your news product is of course and ktuu also work for a weekly publication you have for The Spectator do you think of the new cycle in a similar way, then we have the website and that will dominate so you have your weekly workout.

Will still be relevant on a Saturday and times of the bigger political.

And have it at the beginning of the day and how it transforms that those people who are political geeks or had a job.

Is it and I'll be following minute by minute hour by hour, but I think the bulk of our readers are people who wants to know it's happening in the morning and know what's happening evening and it's your job.

It was cut through the plaster and then always and then there's a lot about an appetite so Stephen from you.

How easy do you think it is to sway the news? I mean there is an argument that journalist.

I just very fickle and have a very short attention span that how is your difficult? Do you think it is to change the news agenda?

Why I think that's one of the things which is interesting about politics right isn't the advantage of the governing party house whether you are the English Conservative Party the Welsh labour party all the Scottish National the governing party can change the news again because it gets to do stuff right it passes legislation changes people's lives and I actually think of the art of being a good journalist is being distracted by is being in is being a bit like you know the dog the dogs are not going but the advantage and the governing party always has it can produce squirrels On Demand the problem and opposition parties have this is the interesting thing in total combat is how they deal with the governing party often wants the spotlight to go away and it can't make it do so opposition often desperately wants to spotlight and it struggles to drag attention to it and say that.

I think is the Essence I think actually we are often very easily distracted by think that's something and has benefits as well as drawbacks mentioned this.

I referenced earlier the the blow-up Boris Johnson doll which was huge and made a huge impact it has all the hallmarks of your Move and so Katie I want to know from you.

Is is there anything to suggest that Boris Johnson seen you about this in advance everything they didn't you know it's not a conservative piece of branding.

I think the prime minister quickly turned it to his advantage and the result men there.

It will be a metaphor for something quite nasty and because of the Tory gains in seats like Hartlepool on the by-election and the council bins.

I'll be here the prime minister offer to buy it for his personal collection, but it does feel as though it was a fairly comments but I think it's an interesting one because they know you will fix from that wasn't important thing, but I think what it did was almost some Daft a moment which is and lots of ministers.

Looking at those results and take another 10 years of Tory rule that I think that's getting ahead of themselves, but that was image of no big huge inflatable Boris Johnson did show you that it's hot air or just in the Domination of the Tory Party and it did it did learn to kind of hammering that image home ask you I know you actually early election right up.

So there was obviously a taste for that image.

Do you think it just spread like Wildfire because it's a great image or do you actually an issue here with journalist and depressed having a kind of groupthink and one of the things that we always Struggle Within Broadley most of them.

Look like Boris Johnson's big glasses.

He doesn't look as much like the default politician as a lot of the rest of them do.

I'm look alike.

It's hard to illustrate political stories and I want to drive out labels overly sentimental rising the most is losing and had a slightly naive approach.

So it out with the usual narrative but the evolved image of this by-election is that huge inflatable now of course the thing is is that imagine the Conservatives have lost I suspect that huge inflatable will also come the image of the by-election Aldi in the Conservative Party would not have like I think the interesting question though is we probably get onto the symbol DJs was the focus of these elections far from England in an offer election in the height of the biggest public policy success any government has known basically since the wall and not on the future of the United Kingdom I think that is more difficult question immediate answer even on that point specifically do you think there was too much of a focus on on a very narrow set of issues.

I think you might be on mute.

Are you and meet by any chance?

I can hear you now going over it.

No Thomas Katrina will try to get your line sorted out in the second Thomas if you could answer that question do you think there has been in terms of the reporting too much of a narrow in the selection?

well, I do think that and folks for us in Bristol our Focus has been away from the big national story which was the Labour failing to make progress and being sort of plunged into a bit of a crisis over the weekend and conservative winning Hartlepool we we had a 4-day period from the election going through with the results of four separate local elections are spread out over 3 days, so we had a real marathon telling the story of the results and the first the first result was the Conservatives winning the police and crime commissioner election and a course national we were looking at what was happening in Hartlepool so we were beginning to wonder what that really meant for Labour in Bristol but actually drilling into the

Into the into the figures the story in Bristol was different to the story that was that was being talked about nationally in Bristol it was very much about what will happen Labour and I think when Dan Norris actually won the regional mayor election and it went from conservative to labour.

We we knew the label was the sound in Bristol albeit under quite a big challenge from the Green Party in Bristol City Council so a very very different local picture actually to the National story and all the talk about Keir starmer reshuffle and that kind of thing probably quite lost on the on our audience which was very concerned about you know the local issues.

I just want to stay with the issue of kind of gimmicks and photo opportunities as well you mentioned an artist who won the the Metropolitan mercy.

He had.

Winners picture we posed with his pet dog I think the dog is called Angel it is a very photogenic dog it has to be said is that the kind of stuff that readers and is it in the website get behind does it does it get eyeballs on it yes, yeah.

I think no question and I mean actually we can visit we are able to collect some data on that on people want to see and yes clearly and their that is very eye-catching and for the regional manager in Bristol who is in many ways a more significant figure and more powerful figure certainly access to a lot more money and then he has suffered from a bit of problem to the previous original Boris Johnson famously wasn't able to name in even though he was a conservative that was Tim Bowles at which that was a bit of a

Visit Gloucestershire in the election campaign the the labour addicted and seems to be taking a break different tack and is a lot more prominent and that way so seem to be hearing a lot more from him straight from the outset.

So so yeah and clearly that photo.

You know again.

We don't know how contrives was I mean we know that his dog does feature quite heavily his dog has been on circles and it seemed to have worked either way, whether it's pictures of dogs or inflatables or in fact about statements.

We are talking about tools that politicians have to set the news agenda of course on the big stories that broke on the weekend was about Keir starmer wielding an axe and it's kind of proposed reshuffling format Angela Rayner in particular later, Stephen do you think that was an attempt to try to?

the new cycle

yeah, I mean and self-defeating way at work right.

He literally wield the axe exactly as Dan Norris was standing up and going I would like to thank you mama kiss download respond to this was I'd like to thank down Norris by making sure no one outside of the Bristol or I will need outside of the Bath and Bristol area ever writes about about his quite impressive result right, but that was an attempt to control the news agenda.

Should be using these terrible results as a catalyst for change with yeah, I'm wielding the axe time a strongly to hear me roar because the problem succeeded in moving the story on from the results but goes by demonstrating that he is not at present a strong leader hear him.

Lol but a leader who is struggling to manage diverse groups in his party.

Yes, they received and I think it was immediately actually that completely backfired on the labour leadership and the leaders offers you had a situation when I think one of the issues in terms of covering and is it came in so many stages Friday was good news for the Tory Party and a certain parts of being than actually.

It's more complicated picture of the nuance and Times of labels doing better lots of Shia Tories additional Tory seats losing votes to various parties that was harder to come across and it was completely than over by those self-inflicted box restart by cursed armour which then that was the became the main focus was both sides are talking about it and I think it was in and damaging to kiss time does never even just kept quiet didn't fire anyone for a little bit longer at I think that you would have to see a more comprehensive picture and at last bad picture for the Labour Party

36-in taking over the news cycle, but perhaps not in the way that was intended.

I'm going to bring you back in hopefully the text Mum failures tell us about strata, please for the for the SNP what was their broad strategy during the election to control the new cycling.

Do you think do you think the successful?

Oh no Katrina I'm so sorry I can see I can't hear you I can see you moving but I will try to get you in on the programme at some point so that's the political news cycle.

When is zoom out for a second and talk about the forces that shape what we call news today.

Michael friedenberg present reuters.

Let me bring you and this is your specialist area your company is in the business of feeding the new cycle essentially you're supplying news outlets on a daily hour by hour basis.

Give us a sense of the scale of that operation.

Score so we have 2500 journalist across the globe in 200 locations and partnering with close to 3000 media companies and broadcasters.

Who are you say mobina providing they use the day then distributed to the rest of the outlets and On R&B the seaside we reach 81 million people died on platform of Pi 4B dividers are more serious channel, so we're eating billions of people eating everyday and somehow somewhere there touching reuters news in some man.

How do you make money? What is the business model a simple as people just paying for for the content they use we have three customer bases first of pharmacies.

We serve refinitiv who was recently acquired by Elsa in exclusive market moving news that they compete against others in the market moving data and natural world on the beat beside as I said we supply close.

Media companies and broadcasters with with news from across the globe and then on the B side we have our events as well as content marketing arm so primarily the three areas of business that we do we talking talking a lot about the recent election and one of the kind of defining images of defining video from the election was wearing remember this when Keir starmer.

I think went into a pub and was effectively got into a bit of a ding dong and this story broke primarily not a News website to broken on Twitter and Michael you be aware.

Of course it increasingly.

We are seeing everyone has a smartphone everyone has a camera so the model of p generated content and therefore breaking their own use is that a threat to the writer's model no, I don't see there's a thread.

I think it's an amplification and I think it's something that is.

Great used for writers and as well as I think it's really important that you think about the supply chain of content either creation verification and distribution so the ladder misinformation on social media platforms and rotors does a lot of work in making sure that we are verifying the news that is going across those platforms to make everybody feels comfortable that they're being able to make the smartest decisions possible with accurate information so to me.

I think this is the ecosystem that were living in right now.

We have to be used to it in and work around it and also make sure that it is safe than understanding everybody just be able to make the best decisions possible either personally or professionally is still one of the USPS of reuters because of course traditionally people sorry as a a news wire service and it was many outlets would go to for breaking news is

That's still part of the cell without a Dell accuracy and speed or absolutely essential so we want to make sure that we are accurate.

If no one is getting there in the time that they needed to in order to make the decisions possible and that is not doing public this service that we feel that we need to be providing so accuracy and speed of paramount.

Is there a tension documenting those two things in parallel accuracy and speed is there sometimes a pressure to get things out so quickly that accuracy is is under pressure and is threatened in some ways and how do you straight that balance unfortunately there is and you see news outlets battling that each and every day.

There was an episode.

I just last week in which there is inaccurate report within the states that proliferated because unfortunately do that race of getting at the news out into the market as quickly as possible.

We want to make sure that we are accurate first then after is absolutely speed is essential so we were pride ourselves on making sure that we are at the end, but we want to make sure we argue.

I just want to know what do you think there's going to be a shift in the reuters audience so do you think you could end up in a place in a few days where you're selling news directly to members of the public broadcasters in news agencies.

Do you want that to happen? Yes, we are in fact.

We've made the announcement that we're going to be watching subscriptions on in the very near future so I think the ways that you get reuters news the either other media companies are broadcasters or directly through or we had OTT stations in partnership with other companies like Samsung you know the various ways in which you can engage with weirdos consent and I think that's the most important thing is making sure that were getting unbiased contend out into the mark.

People can make the best decisions possible.

Thank you Michael I want to go back to the election Katrina your line has failed is that I'm really hoping you can hear me now and I can hear you.

I really hope yes Katrina's in the house.

Thank you so much for your house successful asked you little while you got house it says would you think the SNP were at being able to decide the news agenda? And what was their strategy stand against during her Glasgow Southside constituency because this is the first time that we had two party leaders standing in the one place and she was very the election.

Obviously there were lots of coronavirus related constraints, but she did a really good job of being out about in the community and up against Anna and I think initially when Alex Salmond launched his Halloween party.

There is concerns that the election was just going to become.

Ongoing Rami between Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond but she also managed to get through a lot of talk about the SNP getting a majority the SNP themselves downplayed that really was that was that strategic an and what was the benefit of that well, it's not in Scotland watching coverage downside is that the SNP field to win a majority in it's just to come with someone will say that someone else then it's up to correct it.

That was meant to happen and that she wasn't expecting she is not sorry to hear that this one more story that I want to squeeze in before the only got a few minutes left.

It's really about the Downing Street briefing room which will show you all be aware of probably remember this was the plan have a government spokesperson.

It was meant to be allegra Stratton address the media directly given politicians another way to control the news agenda.

Really is the shiny studio.

They took it out ready to go at the cost of 2.6 million quid it got cancelled at the last minute during the election period what happened on here at the televised press briefings with the brainchild of retain at the former director of communications and he left because

Overall about an appointment allegra Stratton situation where the pasta come up with the idea was no longer in the building and I think from Lennon there is lots of speculation over whether it's and there is an increased you that for all the controlling the narrative and getting out the front foot on the news agenda.

It carries a high level of risk stories on.

I think is stories that you on the numbers on a flat refurbishment acts as a reminder as to how a televised press briefing may help the government set the tone but could also go in many damaging just very briefly I want to ring Stephen and Thomas for you.

Do you think people in in Bristol would have cared would they have have liked to have seen the news coronavirus briefing room.

They're interested in the briefings and they and they are very interested to know when we tell them that there's going to be a briefing.

I'm not sure how important it is to them that comes from all the cost.

I think there are bigger issues for our local audience and it's not happening in the media right opportunity in the government down on the record when there's video footage and that's the reason why the idea from the nothing.

That's why I ended up dead in the water because it would have been brilliant brilliant for accountability, but unfortunately part of the game of this is they don't like accountability and we have to continually try and drag it out of them and that's true regarding what the colour of the river in which had a bit of money is have made any impact on Scottish politics.

Boris Johnson he just can't seem to do anything right.

That's less than 30 seconds, but I appreciate your brother to you.

Thank you so much and thank you to all my guests today Katy balls spectator Michael friedenberg present of reuters news Thomas Cook digital editor of Bristol live Katrina Stuart from the Glasgow times and Stephen Bush from the statesman.

I am back with you next week.

Thank you all for listening and if you're watching.

Thank you for watching to take care.

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