1. Phone hacking trial
As the trial is ongoing, so there is only so much that can be said. The BBC has published a helpful Q&A describing the trial as: ‘the prosecution of seven people at London’s Old Bailey in relation to criminal allegations that emerged from the investigation into the News of the World newspaper before its 2011 closure. Some of the allegations in the trial also concern alleged activity at its sister newspaper, The Sun.’
The big-name defendants are former editor of the News of the World Rebekah Brooks and her successor, David Cameron’s former director of communications, Andy Coulson.
The trial has already created a number of headlines, including: Chelsy Davy ‘blitzed’ Prince Harry with calls, Queen scolded police for eating royal wedding nuts, Wayne Rooney massage parlour sex stories untrue, and Brooks and Coulson’s ‘six-year affair’ revealed. The case could run until Easter.
2. Edward Snowden
NSA computer analyst, Edward Snowden, became one of the biggest whistleblowers of modern times, providing a number of global news outlets – including the Guardian – with top-secret NSA documents. Among these were evidence of US surveillance of phone and internet communications. While the story hasn’t provoked as strong a reaction as elsewhere in the world, it continues to evolve and deliver new angles including the UK’s detention of David Miranda and the destruction of Guardian hard drives after the UK government threatened the paper. Expect this story to continue delivering into 2014.
3. Press regulation
The top story from 2012 is rumbling on as agreements over press regulation are still up in the air. There are too many facets to this story to fit it all in a short summary but to paraphrase:
The government came up with a system which the publishers didn’t like, the publishers came up with a different system that the government rejected. Then the government pushed through their plans for a new watchdog established by royal charter and backed by legislation. The publishers weren’t thrilled and many are still seeking legal advice to determine whether they have to/want to comply with the new rules. Again, this story will continue well into 2014.
4. BBC management
Following the controversy that surrounded George Entwistle’s short tenure as the BBC’s director general, the BBC Trust swiftly replaced him with Tony Hall who has fared better. Starting on 2 April, Tony Hall was optimistic about the future of the corporation, emailing BBC staff with the subject line, ‘The BBC’s best days lie ahead of is’. One of his earliest actions was to appoint James Harding, former editor of The Times, as director of BBC News and Current Affairs.
5. John Witherow and Martin Ivens
Following James Harding’s resignation, John Witherow was chosen by News Corporation to become editor of The Times. Martin Ivens was chosen by News Corporation to replace Witherow as editor of The Sunday Times. The Independent National Directors of Times Newspapers Holdings did not accept the nominations as permanent appointments so both were appointed to the roles on an acting basis in January. Nearly nine months later, the appointments were made permanent after the Independent Directors ‘received new written assurances that satisfy them that the company remains fully committed to maintaining the titles as separate newspapers’.
6. The Sun’s paywall
The Sun erected a paywall in August, calling its digital offering Sun+. The first tabloid to adopt any sort of paywall, The Sun charges £2 a week for access and offers exclusive Premier League clips as one its range of benefits. At the beginning of December, the first subscriber numbers were released revealing that Sun+ had reached 117,000 since launch. Of those, 102,000 are digital subscribers and 15,000 prepay for Sun+ as part of their daily print purchase.
7. BT Sport and Sky
2013 saw BT Sport taking on Sky Sports for football viewing dominance. BT adopted a heavy marketing approach around July/August offering free sports viewing, including a number of Premier League games, to its broadband customers. The move didn’t seem to pay off as BT Sport’s first live game was no match for Sky. As the competition between the two channels continued, BT secured the rights to the Champions League and Europa League matches in a move which saw BSkyB’s share price drop, wiping £1.5 billion off the value of the company.
8. The Sun’s editor
In the surprise appointment of the year, David Dinsmore replaced Dominic Mohan as editor of The Sun. Mohan was appointed to a senior role advising News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson, in a move described by Roy Greenslade as a ‘kick upstairs to a non-role’. In July it was reported that Mohan would leave the company entirely and was in line for a £2m severance package. Dinsmore is seen as good replacement by some and savvy to the paper’s needs.
9. Ed Miliband, his father and the Daily Mail
The Daily Mail went on the attack against the Milibands, calling the leader of the opposition’s father ‘The man who hated Britain’. In a bizarre move, Ed Miliband was allowed a right to reply in the same paper explaining why his father loved Britain. The story raised questions over accuracy, context and press intrusion with various levels of apology and non-apology coming from Daily Mail staff. The man at the top, Paul Dacre, called the article justifiable.
10. Lloyd’s List and the death of print
The world’s longest-published newspaper will become digital-only this Friday, in a move announced back in September. The paper, which started in 1734, is bringing an end to its 279 years in print after months of research and preparation. While not the paper with the highest circulation, its switch to digital is still indicative of the age the media industry is in.
In October, the Financial Times announced it was going to launch a single edition, global print product in 2014. Editor Lionel Barber said in a memo to staff that the FT’s print product will derive from the web offering, not the other way round, and production journalists will publish stories to meet peak viewing times on the web rather than old print deadlines.