Matthew Norman's Media Diary

He's got them right in his pocket

ANother Action-Packed week in the life of News International, with Rupert Murdoch in town to give a lecture in which he observed that newspapers - I paraphrase slightly - are stuffed. "Power is moving away from the old elite in our industry," was the soundbite, "the editors, the chief executives and, let's face it, the proprietors." Let us face it indeed. One of the great things about this country is the ever decreasing influence Mr Murdoch exerts on the Government. One widely ignored aspect of Tessa Jowell's BBC white paper was the decision to give the media regulator Ofcom a hugely significant role assessing the market-impact of new BBC services. Last November the Freedom of Information Act was used to get the minute of the meeting between Tessa and Mr Murdoch's son James at which the Sky boss lobbied the culture secretary to renege on a deal to keep live Test cricket on terrestrial TV. As, of course, she duly did. Although Tessa's department censored all detail of this on grounds of "commercial sensitivity", included in the released version was the revelation that James - have you've guessed it yet? I think you have - "strongly believes the BBC should be brought within the ambit of regulation by Ofcom". Since Ofcom is a club for New Labour economists, it must be expected to steer the Beeb away from any activity that might impinge on Sky's profits. If only James's old man had any real power left... but let's not seek escapist refuge in the past. That golden age is gone.

MR MURDOCH is doubtless right in foreseeing our future as a service industry for websites, but there's fight in the old dog yet. The Sun and News of the World prove this by reserving the right to drag the gay website PinkNews into the libel action brought against them by Ashley Cole. PinkNews's alleged offence was to out Mr Cole as the subject of innuendo-laden reports about the Arsenal fullback, a radio DJ and a very lively party in London, by reproducing photos without the pixelation used in the papers. Admittedly it looks a catchweight contest, but we wish plucky little News International well in any battle with the mighty Goliath that is If newspapers pruriently fascinated with the sexual preferences of footballers can no longer circumnavigate libel law by the fiendish ruse of dropping unmistakable hints about their identities without actually naming them... well, you wonder whether this industry is worth preserving, even in the ever so 'umble form of blogtastic pilot fish for the great white shark of the net.

THANKS TO Libby Purves for last week's letter about our recent exchange, and apologies for not including every word, including my rude and self-important replies. Assuming that the public appetite for our adventures is far from sated, we may publish a supplement in early May. Incidentally, there are a couple of minor corrections. I did not threaten to e-mail Libby every day, but every four to six hours each day. And I addressed her not as a minx, but as a coquettish minx.

THE DAILY MAIL'S expanded four page Coffee Break- an enticing collation of puzzles, sudokus, crosswords and quizzes - continues to delight. If there is one minor quibble, it's the Connections game, in which you have to work out what six pictured celebs have in common. Last Wednesday, the sextet was Tom Cruise, Eddie Murphy, Paul Hogan, Rodney Dangerfield, Bette Midler and Sylvester Stallone. The answer is, of course, that they were the six top box-office film-stars of 1986. An insult to the intelligence.

IN TODAY'S extract from Son of PC Gone Mad!, we find Simon Heffer in a state after a row with Mam. "May 1 1979: Mayday, Mayday... that's just how I feel - in need of rescue by someone who understands me! When I got back from the library, she was stood by the door waving a copy of my letter wishing Margaret luck for Thursday's election. She must have found it when she changed the pillowslip. 'Simon, I'm worried about you,' she said. 'What is all this nonsense at the end about us being a cadet branch of the family? You've not joined the army, have you?' 'Now Mam, it's a private matter between me and Mrs Thatcher,' I said. 'And who is this Baron Gaston D'Heffeur of Honfleur we're related to? Your Dad never said.' 'Now don't take on, Mam, or you'll be wanting one of your red pills.' 'It's you that needs the pills, Simon,' she said. 'You've flipped your wig, telling Mrs Thatcher you belong to the oldest family in Essex. And what's this about coming over with William the Conqueror? You've only ever come over from France the once, and then you were sick as a dog on the ferry. All these airs and graces...' Well, I stalked up to my room, and she stalked off to hers, and we've not come out, neither of us, in four hours. I'll fetch her a cup of cocoa and a couple of Bourbon creams in a while, and we'll make up as usual. But more and more I suspect I must have been a foundling. I just don't seem to belong here any more."

FINALLY FOR today, we end on a positive note about the industry by observing that at least one newspaper maintains its purist standards. Germany's gravitas-laden Sueddeutsche Zeitung pioneers a new form of interview in which the subject is asked 10 questions, and must respond to each not with words but with a different facial expression. With innovative genius like this, perhaps there is hope for us yet.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
Jay Z
businessJay-Z's bid for Spotify rival could be blocked
The spider makes its break for freedom
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle v United player ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger & Credit Control Assistant

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Ledger & Credit Control...

Recruitment Genius: Junior PHP Web Developer

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Guru Careers: Front End Web Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: Our client help leading creative agencies ...

Christine McCleave: FP&A Analyst

£36,000 - £40,000: Christine McCleave: Are you looking for a new opportunity a...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot