How the UK got a ‘world-leading’ surveillance law

Last week saw the adoption of the Investigatory Powers Act – a comprehensive legislative framework that regulates the surveillance powers of intelligence agencies and other public authorities. While the government has maintained that the new law is “world-leading”, critics have pointed out that it allows for some of the most far-reaching and intrusive surveillance practices in the world, and have asked: “What part of the world are we leading exactly: North Korea, Cuba, China and Saudi Arabia?”

The development of what was initially the Investigatory Powers (IP) Bill took over a year, was preceded by several other attempts to create what has been called a “snooper’s charter”, and was accompanied by strong criticism from civil society, industry and several parliamentary commissions. Yet it survived significant opposition largely unchanged and eventually became law “with barely a whimper”. How did this happen? As part of an ESRC-funded research project at Cardiff University, we interviewed politicians as well as representatives of industry, security agencies, and campaign groups during the development phase of the IP Bill, and we explored the dynamics that led to its adoption.

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Magazines and Media History

This post is by Tim Holmes

Marcus Morris founded The Eagle comic, still remembered for Dan Dare and cutaway illustrations of exciting mechanical artefacts like racing cars and jet aircraft. He followed this with Girl, Robin and Swift; he became the managing director of the National Magazine company, introducing Cosmopolitan to the UK; the British magazine industry’s most prestigious annual award is named in his honour – and Cardiff University has his personal archive!

I have worked at the university for 20-odd years and I had no idea this material was in our collections until last night, at the launch of the Tom Hopkinson Centre for Media History when head of the Special Collections & Archive section Alan Vaughan-Hughes revealed the riches available to researchers in the field of popular journalism.

Apart from Morris – a treasure trove for researchers and scholars in the field of Magazine Studies – Cardiff holds the archives of:

• Hugh Cudlipp – editor of the Mirror, chairman of IPC (one of the most significant magazine publishing houses in the UK)
• Joan Reeder – the first full time royal correspondent for a national newspaper
• Trevor Philpott – the Picture Post journalist-turned-broadcaster and onlie begetter of The Philpott File
• Keith Waterhouse – journalist, author, playwright, champagne drinker; this material is already being researched by Cardiff Magazine MA graduate and freelance journalist Will Ham Bevan for his PhD
• Richard Stott – editor of the Daily Mirror who stood up to Robert Maxwell

The Tom Hopkinson Centre for Media History aims to bring together “scholars, research students, journalists, photojournalists, documentary-makers, archivists, media activists and practitioners into an international, interdisciplinary network focusing on the evolution of media forms, practices, institutions and audiences within broader processes of societal change.” (Source)

It is also a great opportunity to push Magazine Studies further onto the research and scholarship radar, as launch guest and distinguished visiting fellow Professor John Hartley noted. Citing his own connection with the Welsh radical magazine Rebecca

In the 1970s and early 1980s Rebecca took the form of “a radical magazine for Wales” and gained a reputation as an investigative, campaigning title.
The magazine — and its uncompromising Corruption Supplement — documented the decay of Labour politics in south Wales and helped to bring about a long series of corruption trials which resulted in many politicians and businessmen going to prison.
Rebecca was also in the forefront of UK investigations into the relationship between the Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan and the Welsh multi-millionaire banker, Sir Julian Hodge.
Many Rebecca articles were reflected in coverage in newspapers like the Sunday Times and in television programmes including Man Alive, This Week and Nationwide. (Source)

and the historic example of The Clarion,


This cover illustration was drawn by Walter Crane, an associate of William Morris

Professor Hartley noted that social movements often brought with them their own kinds of journalism and studying the archive reveals many different types of journalism and different ways of producing and supporting journalism. The Clarion certainly had a widespread influence on many areas of social life – the National Clarion Cycling Club (motto: Fellowship through cycling) is still very active, as is the People’s Theatre in Newcastle. In an age when live events and brand extensions are becoming increasingly important sources of revenue, looking back to a time when they had a social and political purpose gives us a fresh perspective.

Other guests at the launch were Amanda Hopkinson, Sir Tom’s daughter and a distinguished scholar in her own right, and Magnum photographer David Hurn.

Dr Glenn Jordan, director of the Butetown History & Arts Centre, was in the audience for the launch. Glenn’s book Down The Bay

re-used Bert Hardy‘s photographs from Picture Post in a new context. I used it as the basis of a feature exercise for students on the PgDip (now MA) in Magazine Journalism for many years – it was a great way of introducing very nice middle class students to the past and present of a genuinely multicultural working class area of Cardiff and a lesson in how to use photographs creatively but for a purpose.

Lego vs Daily Mail strikes at paper’s weak spot: its advertising revenue

Perhaps providing a welcome diversion to all the apocalyptic press reaction following the election of Donald Trump is the news that Lego, the Danish manufacturer of plastic bricks, has announced its intention to cease advertising in the Daily Mail.

Responding to tweets from social media campaign group, Stop Funding Hate (SFH), and a letter from a concerned parent on Facebook, Lego tweeted on Saturday: “We have finished the agreement with the Daily Mail and are not planning any future promotional activity with the newspaper.”

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Trump and Brexit: where did the media go wrong?

This post by Professor Richard Sambrook originally appeared in The Conversation. It underlines the importance of strong vocational education for journalists. 


In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election, the US media has embarked on a flurry of self recrimination. Much of what they discuss applies equally to the UK media and the problems with news coverage of the EU referendum.

There is no doubt the two big political campaigns of 2016 have thrown into stark relief some failings of both traditional and digital media. But campaigning which disregards facts in favour of hyperbole and emotion has proved so successful we can expect more of it – so the media must adjust. The problems are more complex than the easy accusations of liberal bias and elitism, although those come into it, too.

First, big media has too easily become part of the political/celebrity bubble and tends to forget that journalism is meant to be an “outsider” activity – outside the halls of power, but not outside the communities it serves. The lure of celebrity status has taken too many journalists into the arms of those they should be challenging. True independence – political, corporate, cultural – is rare and hard to achieve. It is to be prized for that reason.

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News UK, journalism and Politics…plus ça change

The reciprocal closeness in the relationship between journalism and power is a prominent feature of British political history. In times of war or national crisis media organisations are expected more often than not to behave as if they were an arm of government  and in recent peace times the willingness of various governments to yield to the demands of Rupert Murdoch’s news empire have been exhaustively documented. We know by the media mogul’s own admission that he often entered Downing Street ‘by the back door‘ and as journalist  Anthony Hilton noted in February of this year:

I once asked Rupert Murdoch why he was so opposed to the European Union. “That’s easy,” he replied. “When I go into Downing Street they do what I say; when I go to Brussels they take no notice.”

It is increasingly clear that the influence of News UK (the rebranded News International whose titles include the Sun, the Sun on Sunday, The Times and the Sunday Times) has not diminished in the aftermath of the Leveson Inquiry or the phone hacking scandals. Far from it, when Theresa May visited New York in late September (mere months after becoming PM) she found time in her hectic 36 hour schedule to meet with Rupert Murdoch. Perhaps, as the Guardian hinted, the previously media reticent May was just performing a realpolitik quid pro quo because in the Conservative Leadership battle the Sun was unequivocal. Its leader of July 6th stated:

The final choice for who will be our next Prime Minster must be between Theresa May and Michael Gove

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JOMEC’s Hidden Talent: An Interview with Landscape Photographer Daniel Alford

Guest post from Hiu Chan

It was only through a brief encounter that I came to discover a hidden talented photographer in our School. Besides working as a Technical Staff member at JOMEC, Daniel Alford (known to all as Alfie) is also a landscape photographer who has travelled the world. Currently a promoted landscape photographer on Instagram, Daniel will have an exhibition in Shanghai later this year. Let’s hear what he says about his passion in photography. ….











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Students in a radio studio

Students in the news room

Posted by Sian Morgan Lloyd

Last week we highlighted opportunities for you to use Welsh in your studies, including choosing modules taught in collaboration with the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol.

Find out about the experience of three Cardiff students who experienced life at the heart of a real-life newsroom, working with Radio Cymru as part of their studies.

Abbie Bolitho, Anna Griffin and Elin Lloyd are students in the School of Welsh, who also study the ‘Yr Ystafell Newyddion’ (The News Room) Welsh modules in the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies. Continue reading

Journalism shines a light.

Debates about the ethics and validity of investigative journalism have been very much to the fore recently. Last week’s news agenda was to a large extent devoted to the downfall of England football manager, Sam Allardyce and the role that undercover Daily Telegraph reporters played in his demise. This week we have seen “the biggest mystery in modern literature” appear to be solved as investigative journalist Claudio Gatti revealed that he knew the real identity of the novelist Elena Ferrante. Writing for the ConversationTom Geue argued that this was a violation of anonymity which brought with it ethical and political issues which were of deep concern to us all. In the Guardian, Suzanne Moore labelled Gatti an appalling, “idiotic bin rummager” whilst the journalist himself told Radio 4’s Today programme that because millions of people bought Ferrante’s books, “In a way I think readers have the right to know something about the person who created the work”.

As these arguments ebbed and flowed it would have been easy to miss a joint report by the Sunday Times and City University’s Bureau of Investigative Journalism  which revealed that British PR company Bell Pottinger had been hired by the Pentagon in Washington to coordinate a covert propaganda campaign in Iraq following the “end” of hostilities in 2003.The investigative team revealed, through interviews with former Bell Pottinger employee, Martin Wells, that the firm was hired to create short TV reports in the style of Arabic news networks. Other tasks included the scripting of soap operas and the distribution of fake insurgent videos which could be used to track the people who watched them.

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Sam Allardyce ‘sting’ is the latest chapter in a new era of investigative reporting

The manager of the England football team, Sam Allardyce, has resigned just five months into his job, apparently “by mutual consent” – whatever that means – after being splashed all over the pages of the Daily Telegraph which linked him with allegations of impropriety.

The Allardyce “sting” was the first part of what the Telegraph says is a series of stories yielded by a ten-month investigation into corruption in British football. The paper has alleged that Allardyce, who was only appointed to coach England in July, had used his position “to negotiate a £400,000 deal and offered advice to businessmen on how to ‘get around’ FA rules on player transfers”.

As is now so often the case in these newspaper investigations in the digital age, the Telegraph used hidden cameras to procure footage without the knowledge of Allardyce or his associates. The results led the morning news on Tuesday as the paper’s rivals scrambled to play catch-up on this apparent gotcha.

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