Tuesday, 25 November 2008


Many congratulations to The Journalist, magazine of the National Union of Journalists, which has just released a centenary issue. It's been standing up for hacks over 100 years, and does so in the current issue with an interesting insight into the Press Association's Yorkshire base in Howden. A former worker describes a "battery hen atmosphere" with "the air of alienation and control freakery", which is highly amusing seeing as I recently spoke to Margaret Hicks, PA Head of Production, who said her organisation is "fast, fair and accurate" and that Howden is a great place to work. Don't think I want to end up there, then, but stranger things have happened...

Anna Politkovskaya, the Russian journalist murdered in 2006, is a benchmark professional for her trade. The judge ordered the court to be closed to press and public for the trial over her death, but now it has reopened again and we hear a Russian politician was behind the assassination, according to a defence lawyer quoted in The Guardian today. If this is true, we have a prime example of how censorship can get out of hand - yes, military D-Notices are a pretty good idea so as to protect tactics and weather forecasts from the enemy, but look at how many countries still rely on the BBC World Service for their news, as they know it's impartial. If it weren't for investigative journalists like Politkovskaya, we'd never get to find out what goes on behind closed doors. She has had a fair amount of publicity since her death, but deserves even more.

And finally, there's a bunch of young lads and lasses in my very own Sheffield who are upset because they've been handed Acceptable Behaviour Contracts for playing football in the street. But their parents have refused to sign the contracts because they claim their children were doing nothing wrong. Look at the kids in this picture, they would never step outside the law - it's not as if they come from a council estate in South Yorkshire or anything.
PICTURE: Dean Atkins (The Star)