The Media 50: Newsmakers of 2007

From Her Majesty to Facebook via Google, Bebo, the Government, Channel 4 and adland, Ian Burrell takes a close look at the people who drove the year's top 50 media stories
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The Independent Online


The chosen son is appointed heir to the empire

Having proved wrong those critics who cried "Nepotism!" when he was appointed CEO of BSkyB in 2003, James Murdoch was earlier this month dramatically promoted to a position that puts him at his father's shoulder and makes him the most powerful newspaper executive in Britain. He now heads up News Corp's operations in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, giving him responsibility not only for giant broadcasting networks such as Star TV in Asia and Sky Italia, but also for The Times, The Sunday Times, The Sun and the News of the World. Having just turned 35 he has no real experience of the print business, save for being the son of the most powerful press baron on earth. In his first interview after being appointed he claimed that the newspaper titles were in "pole position not simply to react to change but to drive it, to genuinely set the pace". As the News International papers develop their online presence, Murdoch senior has clearly been impressed with his son's efforts at repositioning BSkyB as a multi-platform player. James has spent much of this year at BSkyB jousting with Richard Branson's Virgin Media, but has delivered sound business results and, as non-executive chairman, he will retain a strong interest in the broadcaster. afp/getty


The King of Search grows in profits and profile

The Google CEO has emerged from the shadow of founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page to become the figurehead of the ubiquitous internet search engine, which turns over more than $10bn a year. Greater use of mobile phone-based searches helped give Google a 46 per cent lift in profits in the third quarter of this year. In November, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama visited the Google headquarters in Mountain View to address staff. Schmidt also has a good relationship with David Cameron, who was flown to California in October to address the Google Zeitgeist conference. "You should be proud of the amazing things you accomplish every single day," said the Tory leader to his hosts. Cameron was accompanied in San Francisco by advisor Steve Hilton, whose partner is Rachel Whetstone, Google's European director of communications and public affairs. The trip followed Schmidt's address to the Conservative party conference at Bournemouth in 2006, a speech which had shadow chancellor George Osborne thanking the Google CEO for offering Tories "your extraordinary vision of the future". reuters


The DG wields the axe

As he celebrated his 50th birthday this year, Mark Thompson had to drive through the painful process of reforms that many of his staff blamed on his own failings in negotiating a better licence fee settlement from the Government. The man who as chief executive of Channel 4 had accused the BBC of having a "Jacuzzi of cash", was left to make cuts at the corporation to meet a 2bn funding shortfall. In October he announced his six-year strategy, cutting 2,500 posts, making 1,800 people redundant and reducing original programming by 10 per cent to make a "smaller but fitter BBC". There were plenty in the television industry who thought such reform at the corporation was long overdue but, as the year ended, Thompson faced the prospect of widespread industrial action by BBC staff. reuters


A right royal disaster

Her Majesty's decision to allow RDF Media to make a landmark fly-on-the-wall documentary about the work of the monarchy was significant in itself. But no one could have foreseen that the venture would lead to the downfall of RDF chief Stephen Lambert, previously one of the most respected figures in Britain's independent production sector, and force the resignation of Peter Fincham, the similarly admired controller of BBC1. The root of the problem was a publicity trailer, edited by Lambert, that falsely suggested that the Queen had a hissy fit while being photographed by Annie Leibovitz. The ensuing uproar became the chief focal point for a much wider crisis in a television industry rocked by phone-vote scandals and other fakery. The programme itself, when it was finally screened last month, was an insightful piece of television. reuters


Watchdog forced to get tough

After being appointed chief executive of the broadcasting watchdog, Ofcom, in October of last year, Richards far more than his predecessor Stephen Carter has been obliged to wield the big stick in 2007 as television has undergone its annus Horribilis of lax standards and fakery. In January he had to react to Ofcom's biggest complaints response, more than 44,000, following the bullying of Indian actress Shilpa Shetty on Channel 4's Celebrity Big Brother. In May, the watchdog forced C4 to undergo the humiliation of three times broadcasting the damning adjudication on its handling of the affair. In June, Channel Five was hit with a 300,000 Ofcom fine for faking winners of a phone-in quiz, and the following month the BBC was fined 50,000 for faking a competition on Blue Peter. Before Christmas, Ofcom fined C4 for duping viewers who phoned in to Richard & Judy and Deal or No Deal.


The biggest media tycoon of them all finally gets his hands on a coveted prize, The Wall Street Journal

In 2006 Murdoch gave a speech in which the owner of MySpace expressed his belief that newspapers had a place in the future, in spite of the new media revolution. This year he was as good as his word as he skilfully and triumphantly concluded his relentless stalking of Dow Jones, the media company that publishes The Wall Street Journal, following a charm offensive on the Bancroft family, which has owned the company for a century. Murdoch, who paid 2.7bn for Dow Jones in August, promptly angered those who feared for the Journal's future by appointing 27-year-old Natalie Bancroft, an opera singer, to represent the family on the WSJ board. He is expected to use the Journal's name to re-brand the business channel of his Fox television network. This month he reconfigured the News Corp management structure to bring his son James to his right hand as his heir in waiting.


The first chairman of the BBC Trust

Sir Michael was made chairman of the body that replaces the BBC Board of Governors in May and his appointment was soon being criticised because of his background in Labour politics. He pledged his "absolute independence", even though trade unions were soon criticising the trust's "rubber stamping" of a six-year BBC plan to cut 2,500 posts. Lyons argued last month that "genuine efficiency does not affect quality". In a letter to director general Mark Thompson in December, Sir Michael warned the BBC not to allow big entertainment shows to crowd out other quality offerings that it might offer. He is now working with Ofcom and the other public service broadcasters to establish new "best practices" for the industry.


Not quite zero tolerance

No one expected him to turn this one round overnight and in September, 10 months into his new role as executive chairman of ITV, Grade outlined a five-year strategic plan for the broadcaster, putting entertainment at the heart of its offering. It has been a difficult year for Grade, save for his coup of snatching England and FA Cup football rights from the BBC. In March, amid industry-wide concerns over the duping of viewers who phoned shows to participate, he closed down the ITV Play channel dedicated to such interactive content. Speaking to MPs in July, Grade talked of a "one strike and you're out" policy for dealing with TV deception. Then in October, the accountant Deloitte uncovered serious failings in ITV shows including Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway. No one was fired.


New Culture Secretary

Still only 37, Purnell, who came up with the idea of a converged media and telecoms watchdog (ie, what has become Ofcom) when he was a 24-year-old research fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research, was made Culture Secretary in June. He and the Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards are friends and former colleagues, having worked together as Downing Street advisors. Purnell impressed the media industry with his grasp of the big issues during an earlier spell in the department as a parliamentary-under-secretary, though his reputation for being media astute was undermined somewhat in September when his superimposed image appeared in a photo released to mark the launch of a hospital in his constituency. It was claimed that he had given permission for the doctored picture, though Purnell, who had arrived late for a photo-call, denied this.


Finding new space to network

Ignoring claims that their MySpace operation has lost credibility since it sold out to Rupert Murdoch's News Corp for 332m in 2005, DeWolfe and partner Tom Anderson have concentrated on tailoring their offering to more and more countries around the world. Despite intense competition, MySpace has grown to more than 10 million users in the UK. This year the company set up a new European headquarters off Tottenham Court Road in London, and launched new indigenous sites in countries such as Spain and Sweden. The company made its next big play in June with the launch of MySpace TV, an attempt to wrest away YouTube's claims to be the home of online video content.


In the pink

While his predecessor Andrew Gowers departed the editor's chair at the Financial Times with gloomy predictions about a medium produced on "dead trees", Lionel Barber has not only continued to develop the title's presence online but actually sold more copies of the newspaper as well. Last month's ABC circulation figures showed the FT sale was up by 12,000 on the same time last year, no mean feat in the current market. The pink 'un has come into its own covering the Northern Rock crisis and the credit crunch. Judges at the What The Papers Say awards this month named it Newspaper of the Year and described it as a "truly 21st-century newspaper" a triumph for Barber, who became editor of the FT in November 2005.


How could you all be so beastly?

A Prime Minister would not normally be on a list of media movers and shakers, but Tony Blair, ahead of leaving Downing Street, took it on himself to take a parting shot at what he termed "the feral beast" that was damaging the democratic process by "just tearing people and reputations to bits". In the speech delivered in June at Reuters' offices in Canary Wharf, Blair complained of the pressure of having to cope with the "sheer scale, weight and constant hyperactivity" of the modern media. But having hinted at the need for external regulation of the press, and complained that the hunting-in-packs mentality was driving down media standards, he then picked out The Independent, a paper that tries to take a different approach from its rivals, as his only named target. epa


The man of the moment in London's adland

Having already built Britain's hottest ad agency in Fallon, Senior this year took up a dual role where he is also head honcho at the London offices of Saatchi & Saatchi, possibly the most famous name in advertising. Fallon had another stupendous year, filling Manhattan with Play-Doh bunnies to complete a memorable trilogy for Sony Bravia and then creating the quirky Gorilla ad for Cadbury (see Juan Cabral).

But Senior's greatest triumph was probably at Saatchi's, where he led the successful "Not Flash, Just Gordon" pitch which saw Baroness Thatcher's favourite advertising agency win the Labour Party account shortly after Gordon Brown became Prime Minister.


Walks out on the BBC to go to Five, then comes right back to take plum role at the corporation

The new controller of BBC 1 was only weeks into her new role as director of programmes at Five, when she found herself being sounded out to take control of the nation's biggest television channel and waving goodbye to her new bosses. The Australian-born former head of BBC Daytime had just started at the Covent Garden offices of the commercial broadcaster when Peter Fincham, her predecessor at BBC1, was advised of the untenable nature of his post in the wake of Will Wyatt's "Crowngate" report, and quit. Hunt, who has a strong journalistic pedigree as a former editor of the One and Six O'Clock News bulletins, had indicated that she was committed to Five but changed her mind to take her "dream job". director of BBC Vision Jana Bennett praised the new controller for her "impeccable credentials".


Youngest-ever editor of The Times

He speaks Chinese and Japanese, not to mention French and German, and at the age of 38 he is the 21st and most youthful occupant of the editor's chair at The Thunderer. He has been promoted from the role of business editor, meaning he is the latest in a succession of business journalists being named editor (Will Lewis of The Daily Telegraph was another, as was Patience Wheatcroft, though she didn't last at The Sunday Telegraph). Harding appears well-liked by colleagues and is clearly admired by Rupert Murdoch, whom he interviewed over three hours in 2002 when he was media editor of the Financial Times. Like his predecessor Robert Thomson, and indeed Murdoch, Harding has a special interest in China, having been the FT's China correspondent and opened that title's Shanghai bureau in the late Nineties.


The Bongs are coming back where they belong, and so is Sir Trevor

Nine years after making the calamitous move to drop its late evening bulletin from its appointment-to-view slot throwing the audience into the confusion of "News at When?", and sending ratings through the floor ITN has admitted its error. As it turns back the clock, it has called upon the presenter most closely associated with the programme, Sir Trevor McDonald. Often cited as the most trusted journalist in Britain, Sir Trevor, 68, left ITN in 2005 to concentrate on his current-affairs show Tonight, which he has anchored since 1999. ITV's executive chairman Michael Grade admitted that moving News at Ten had been "a shocking mistake" that had "damaged ITV more than anything". Sir Trevor will present alongside Julie Etchingham, a recruit from Sky, which is tough on the current host, Mark Austin. The new bulletin launches early in the new year. PA


Kidnapped correspondent emerges with astonishing dignity from 114 days in captivity

Having won admiration from his peers for defiantly remaining in Gaza as the BBC's correspondent, Johnston was abducted by militants in March, days before his three-year stint in the region was due to finish, and held at gunpoint for more than three months. His colleagues at the BBC campaigned ceaselessly for his release, leading a protest that was taken up by fellow journalists and supporters around the world, including in the Palestinian territories. During his ordeal, Johnston was buoyed by having access to a radio, from which he learnt of the attempts to secure his release. He was finally set free in July, whisked through crowds in the company of gunmen soon after Hamas had seized control of Gaza following a brief civil war. He has since published a book, Kidnapped and Other Dispatches. reuters


Quits from the News of the World only to reappear as the new spin doctor for David Cameron

The year started disastrously for Coulson, when he was obliged to stand down in January over the phone-hacking scandal that led to the jailing of the News of the World's royal correspondent Clive Goodman. His departure was less unseemly than that of his friend Piers Morgan from the Daily Mirror and some speculated that he would be brought back into the News International fold at a later date. But Basildon boy Coulson, a former editor of The Sun's "Bizarre" entertainment column, surprised everyone by landing the role of director of communications for the Conservative Party in May.

So far, his efforts have been largely inconspicuous, though his job has been made much easier by the inability of Gordon Brown and his colleagues to avoid bumbling from one mishap to another.


Rupert gives favourite lieutenant a top New York role

Liverpudlian Hinton has come a long way since starting out in newspapers at the age of 15. Having overseen News International during a period of intense competition (pouring 600m into new printing presses, launching thelondonpaper, turning The Times compact, among other bold moves), he crosses the Atlantic to become CEO of Dow Jones, the company that owns The Wall Street Journal. In some ways he will be going home. Though he was born in Bootle, emigrated to Australia and honed his journalistic skills on Murdoch's Adelaide News, he showed his management mettle during two decades working on press, magazines and television in the US. The former Times editor Robert Thomson will be going with him as publisher of the Journal.


The master of the talent show is never idle

Another big year for Cowell, largely thanks to the Got Talent format, which was a godsend for Fremantle and for ITV1's Saturday schedule. Building on the success of America's Got Talent, which he executive produced for NBC, Cowell, 48, launched the Brit version in June, appearing as a judge alongside Piers Morgan and Amanda Holden. He continues to earn 20m per series as a judge on American Idol, which has made him a coast-to-coast celebrity, and is contracted to ITV for 6.5m a year, giving the broadcaster rights to The X Factor, on which he is also a judge and mentor. Through the vehicle of his television production and music publishing empire Syco, he is one of the richest men in television. When This is Your Life relaunched this June with Sir Trevor McDonald as host, Cowell was chosen as the first subject.


Survives a big party and a year of storms

The 25th anniversary year for Channel 4 was not quite the long celebration that it had hoped for. The broadcaster, which likes to say it exists to provoke, was mired in an endless round of controversies that it could not laugh off. Andy Duncan faced calls for his head over the Celebrity Big Brother racism row, which led to Channel 4 being ordered by Ofcom to make an on-air apology. The channel stood its ground during rows over its undercover investigation of Islamic extremism and its use of photography from the scene of the death of the Princess of Wales. It largely won the argument on both. But by the end of the year it was rapped by Ofcom again, with a 1.5m fine over phone-in fakery on Richard & Judy. Duncan meanwhile pressed ahead with plans to transform C4 into a multi-platform offering.


Queen of the airwaves

Having been in charge of SMG radio (which gave her control of a roster of stations that included Virgin Radio) for less than two years, the high-energy Hazlitt was poached as the new managing director of GCap London, giving her the tough task of sorting out the ailing Capital Radio, as well as having responsibility for the black station Choice FM. She took up her post in May and in August dealt a further blow to Virgin Radio by hiring its chief executive Paul Jackson. Then this month Hazlitt, a former UK and Ireland managing director of Yahoo!, was promoted to chief executive of GCap Media.


Young Argentinian creative hotshot behind two of the most talked-about campaigns of the year

Juan Cabral's best advertising draws on the memories of his childhood. Having come up with the wheeze of bouncing rubber balls down San Francisco streets to sell colour tellies, the London-based Cabral followed that this year by flooding Foley Square in Manhattan with 200 primary-coloured rabbits made from Play-Doh. The ad, directed by the great Frank Budgen and set to the music of the Rolling Stones, was the latest in the "Colour Like No Other" series by Fallon for Sony Bravia. Not only that, Cabral developed the surreal notion of using a man in a gorilla suit, drumming along to Phil Collins's "In the Air Tonight", to sell Cadbury's Dairy Milk without so much as a mouthful of chocolate in sight.


Radio boss goes from Five to Four

The biggest transfer in the radio world this year was of the Liverpool-supporting former BBC Sport executive, who caused a considerable stir earlier this month by quitting Radio Five Live, which he had run for the past seven years, and heading off to run Channel 4's planned radio operation. Shennan, who also had responsibility for the BBC's Asian Network, had increased the Five Live audience to more than seven million, though recent ratings had been disappointing. Nevertheless, the launch of C4's three radio stations, starting with E4 Radio in July, is expected to lift the entire commercial radio sector and represent a serious challenge to the BBC. Nathalie Schwarz, originally appointed to head up the operation, was promoted to the C4 board.


Shoulder to shoulder with Sir Trevor

In the frenzy of musical chairs that has gone on among Britain's community of newscasters this year, Etchingham has been one of the big winners, landing the plum role of presenting the soon-to-be-relaunched News at Ten on ITV alongside Sir Trevor McDonald. But the Cambridge graduate and former BBC Holiday programme and Newsround presenter does not leave her post at Sky News with her record completely unblemished. In October this year Etchingham left her microphone on while she was listening to David Cameron outlining Conservative Party proposals on immigration. She was clearly heard muttering the word "extermination". Sky described the comment as "regrettable".


The new face of Facebook

The undoubted social networking phenomenon of the year was the brainchild of Mark Zuckerberg, 23, back in 2004 but the task for maintaining its position in the UK, where it has taken an extraordinary hold, falls to Blake Chandlee, an American marketer who was recruited this year from Yahoo! Facebook has amassed 12 million active users in the UK and in spite of fears over identity theft, Vodafone ads appearing on a page linked to the BNP and the frustration of British bosses at social networking costing them millions of pounds in lost office time, it looks set to continue to expand, with 200,000 signing up around the world every day. London is now Facebook's largest city network globally.


Returns to top role with commercial broadcaster after a failed business adventure

Iostar was to be a brave new experiment in "multi-faceted, multi-media" production, embracing television, theatre and film and including a model agency and a talent management division. For Dawn Airey it represented a fresh challenge after heading up Sky Networks for James Murdoch. But in May, Iostar was heading into liquidation after failing to raise the 30m it needed for acquisitions. Airey, who quickly realised Iostar was not what she'd hoped, and left, was promptly snapped up by ITV executive chairman Michael Grade and unveiled as ITV's director of global content. "It's an incredibly exciting time to be joining ITV and I'm looking forward to working with some of the UK's best production talent," said the former chief executive of Channel Five. channel 5


The host of Dragons' Den lands a prized berth as a presenter of the Today programme

Rumours of tattooed arms and multiple body-piercings have not hindered the career path of the shaven headed BBC economics editor, who has used the platform of a difficult subject to build a reputation as one of the corporation's most-accomplished news communicators. A former economist at the Institute of Fiscal Studies, Davis, 45, combines an acute ability to detect the salient points in complex stories with an engaging presentational style that bears comparison with that of Andrew Marr. The popularity of Dragons' Den, which has driven a new vogue in business-based television since its launch in 2005, has given him a much broader profile. Davis, who will take up his new position in the spring, replacing Carolyn Quinn, is expected to bring a fresh perspective to the Radio 4 breakfast flagship.


Golden girl of Middle England wins lucrative new job at Five

Kaplinsky departs the BBC after a five-year spell in which she has become a familiar face on the Six O'Clock News, to where she graduated from BBC Breakfast last year. But it was her twinkle-toed efforts on Strictly Come Dancing that marked her out as the new Angela Rippon. Her role at the BBC also included being one of the presenters for the Children In Need appeal. Kaplinsky, 35, who grew up in South Africa, formerly worked at Sky News. She was lured to Five reputedly on a 1m- a-year contract by the director of programmes, Jay Hunt, who promptly quit the channel to take up post as the new controller of BBC1. Kaplinsky's task will be to match Kirsty Young's record in helping Five to punch above its weight in news coverage. joel ryan/pa


The low-profile editor of the Rottweiler of the Sunday newspaper market

With its crack political team of Simon Walters and Jonathan Oliver (who has now jumped ship to The Sunday Times), Wright's Mail on Sunday became the place to look for exclusives in 2007. Oliver's revelation of the web of donations made to the Labour Party by David Abrahams was reckoned by many to be the scoop of the year. On the commercial side, the MoS also pulled off the marketing ruse of the year by giving away three million copies of Prince's latest album Planet Earth with the newspaper, to coincide with the musician's multiple appearances at London's O2. The stunt lifted sales for the week by 600,000. Controversially, an MoS investigation into Lord Browne's private life led to the BP chief executive's resignation, when he lied to the court after bringing an action against the paper. The MoS was also obliged to publish an embarrassing apology after making false claims about the personal life of the Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow. LES WILSON


The first woman of British advertising shows how to run a big and successful agency

Thirty years after the launch of the now legendary Abbott Mead Vickers by creative titan David Abbott and account men Peter Mead and Adrian Vickers, Cilla Snowball, group CEO and chairman of AMV, presides over the biggest agency in Britain, with a client portfolio that includes Sainsbury's, Guinness and The Economist. The agency is responsible for some of Britain's longest-running campaigns, including Jamie Oliver's work for Sainsbury's, Gary Lineker's with Walkers crisps and the multi award-winning Guinness work "Good Things Come to Those Who Wait", which continued this year with Nicolai Fuglsig's epic film of domino toppling in a South American mountain village. It's also a successful business. Snowball, assisted by AMV CEO Farah Ramzan Golant, has grown the agency to the point where billings have topped 400m this year, which is 100m more than any other agency.


The bloke next door becomes the BBC's number One

The year didn't start well for Chiles when he was one of a number of BBC presenters targeted with parcels of soiled toilet paper, but he has gone from strength to strength presenting The One Show, which has proved surprisingly successful in reviving the magazine-style format formerly associated with Nationwide. After a four-week trial last year, a revamped version of the show launched in July, broadcast every weekday at 7pm, and became one of the highlights of Peter Fincham's tenure as controller of BBC1. Chiles, who this year published a book on the dubious pleasures of following West Bromwich Albion, also continues to present Match of the Day 2 on BBC2.


Cashing in on social service

Having set up Bebo with his wife Xochi in 2005, British-born Birch has built a global community of 40 million users. Aimed at a younger demographic than rivals such as MySpace and Facebook, it has been particularly successful in the UK (it is visited by 12 per cent of Britons online, compared with 1 per cent of Americans). Bebo's advertising revenues are threatened by concerns that junk food manufacturers are using such sites to target children. But Birch has had an active year, hiring senior Google executive Joanna Shields to run Bebo's operations in the UK and Australia, launching the Bebo Bands downloading service and enjoying success with KateModern, the British version of American web drama Lonely Girl 15. Launched on Bebo in June, KateModern has had more than 25 million views.


Directs his wrath at his own BBC bosses

Though occasionally compared to a pantomime dame for the theatrical facial expressions he adopts to express astonishment at the response of Newsnight interviewees, Paxo tends to keep a comparatively low profile away from that BBC2 show. This year, however, he agreed to deliver the James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture at the Edinburgh International Television Festival in August and used that occasion to speak out in defence of his colleagues, saying Newsnight could not withstand further reductions in its staffing levels as Mark Thompson prepared to reveal his plans for delivering the efficiencies that would allow the BBC to cope with a 2bn shortfall in licence-fee income. The intervention seemed to work, as Newsnight escaped pretty much unscathed.


Yet another Harper's re-launch, but this time the rest of the industry is applauding

One of the most glamorous and best-connected women in magazine publishing, Yeomans has completed a long journey to reposition her title, Harper's Bazaar, taking it step by step from society handbook to a fashion bible for aspirational young women. Two years ago, Yeomans's magazine dropped the name "Queen", which was synonymous with the well-born of Sixties London. This latest relaunch, in August, saw the name "Bazaar" take centre stage to bring the title into line with its famous American cousin. The launch issue glittered with Swarovski crystals and drew envious comments within the industry. Last month, the British Society of Magazine Editors rewarded Yeomans's efforts by naming her as its Editors' Editor of the Year. Jonathan Evans


Mr new at Sky

After five years on the BBC Breakfast sofa, Murnaghan was poached by the Sky News head John Ryley, who had admired him since the pair worked together at ITN, where he anchored coverage of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. The switch, soon after the announcement that Murnaghan's former Breakfast colleague Natasha Kaplinsky had been snapped up by Five, prompted speculation that BBC News was losing presenting talent as a consequence of shrinking budgets.

For the award-winning Murnaghan, however, who will host Sky News between 9am and 1pm every weekday, the move represents an opportunity for him to show that he can translate his bulletin-presenting skills to a rolling-news format. He starts there in January. Justin Downing/Sky News


Wisecracking for all he's worth

The man whose 18m-over-three years salary deal helped to fuel the notion that the BBC was awash with cash and not worthy of a more favourable licence fee settlement became a target of criticism as the director general Mark Thompson wielded the axe on the corporation's news operation and other departments. An article in The Daily Telegraph in October, which claimed that Middle England had turned against the presenter, described him as a "sleazy, self-indulgent, foul-mouthed, middle-aged doppelgänger of a man". Wossy chose to laugh it all off, joking at the British Comedy Awards in December that he was "worth 1,000 BBC journalists".

This year he presented Comic Relief and Live Earth, made a show for BBC4 reflecting his love for comics and picked up a fourth Bafta for Friday Night With Jonathan Ross. And with Parky stepping down, he now has no obvious rival for the chat show throne.


No fainthearted film chief

Despite its sometimes troubled past, Film4 marked its 25th anniversary along with Channel 4 this year and Tessa Ross, the C4 controller of film and drama had plenty to celebrate.

Film4's Last King of Scotland picked up an Oscar in February and the releases of This is England, Hallam Foe and a Julien Temple film documentary on the life of Joe Strummer were further successes. Film4 is also backing the extraordinary MySpace internet movie project Faintheart, which is being made by the director Vito Rocco, with the help of the film's own online community.

Ross also revealed plans for a five-year Michael Winterbottom drama project to reflect the long-term experiences of a UK prison inmate and a film about the death in Gaza of the British peace activist Tom Hurndall.


Newsnight's political editor switches media to take centre stage as the new presenter of The World at One

Although her supporters had been outraged that she was overlooked in favour of Nick Robinson as the new BBC political editor, Kearney was happy enough to be given "a show of my own", she told these pages on taking up her new post in April.

As she pointed out, The World at One known within the corporation as WATO ("what-oh") is one of "the BBC's big brands" and often commands audiences of a size that Newsnight would dearly love.

Kearney, who faces the great challenge of inheriting a programme that is closely associated with the late Nick Clarke, was replaced as Newsnight political editor by the irreverent maverick Michael Crick.


Conductor in chief

Henley lives and breaths Classic FM, having worked at the station since its launch in 1992, starting as an overnight newsreader while still a student at Hull University. Last year he was made managing director of Classic FM and its sister station The Jazz. This year Classic FM won the Sony Gold as the national station of the year. He has written more than a dozen books on music, manyof them branded to the station. He is known for being self-effacing but has assembled a schedule with names such as Simon Bates, Myleene Klass and Lesley Garrett, and regular appearances from Richard E Grant. Henley also knows his audience and has built up the Classic empire to include a strong online offering, a TV channel, books, DVDs and CDs.


Blair's comms chief gets back to business

When Tony Blair finally stood down from office this summer, it was time for his Downing Street communications head to move on too. David Hill, a lifelong Labour activist, chose to go and work for Lord Bell, the marcomms supremo behind the Bell Pottinger group and diehard Tory. The pair get along famously, enjoy debating politics with each other and have worked together before. Hill, who was regarded as the straightest bat in the world of political spin and is a skilled mediator, began his new role by PRing an historic appeal in October from Muslim scholars calling for closer relations with Christians.


The king of chat abdicates his throne, probably for the last time

After 35 years spent mastering the art of the television interview, Parky put together his wish list for his two-hour farewell show and every one of those guests agreed to appear. What a line-up it was: Sir Michael Caine, Sir David Attenborough, Dame Judi Dench, David Beckham, Billy Connolly, Peter Kay (who used to be the warm-up man for the show) and Jamie Cullum on piano. More than 8 million tuned in to watch. Parkinson, 72, the son of a miner, was given a standing ovation by his star-studded audience and will spend this year working on his autobiography.


The Week goes from strength to strength

It has been a difficult year for the magazine sector, as hopes have dimmed that it is less vulnerable than newspapers to the challenge of digital media because modern consumers are happy to pay for their glossy treats.

One title that increasing numbers of consumers happily shell out for is The Week. This dinner-party briefing document, a digest of some of the best journalism of the previous seven days, is overseen by the editor Caroline Law and her husband Jeremy O'Grady, with a guiding hand from founder Jolyon Connell. Circulation has risen for 18 consecutive bi-annual audits and currently stands at 143,700, up by 19 per cent on the year before: a clear vindication of publisher Felix Dennis's decision to rescue the project from financial oblivion when it was struggling to get established.


Observer editor wins top honour but then announces his resignation

Rumours had been circulating that Roger Alton was on his way out, long before the news emerged in October that he was stepping down after a decade at the helm of the world's oldest Sunday newspaper. Although Alton's departure was presented as a graceful stepping down to coincide with his 60th birthday, the tensions between him and senior figures at the paper's proprietor, Guardian Media Group including the Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger were an open secret in the industry. The Observer's support of military action in Iraq had angered some on its sister paper. Under pressure to bring The Observer within The Guardian's plan for 24-7 publishing, Alton, despite having won the accolade of Newspaper of the Year in March and having increased circulation, chose to quit. He is replaced by John

Mulholland. David Sandison


Documentary veteran caught up in "fakery" row ends the year with a batch of awards

Watson pioneered fly-on-the-wall television with 1974's The Family, back when the term "reality TV" didn't even exist. But he found himself in the eye of the faking storm that engulfed the television industry this year after it emerged that a shot which purported to capture the dying moments of subject Malcolm Pointon, an Alzheimer's sufferer, had in fact been the moment when he slipped into a coma. Watson argued his corner but felt he had been let down by an ITV legal inquiry, which ruled against him. Last month Watson was given a lifetime achievement honour at the Grierson documentary awards, only days after picking up awards in Berlin and Leipzig for his BBC documentary on alcoholism, Rain in My Heart.


The "Saviour" finds things a little more difficult

For radio's Mr Big, this year probably wasn't as big as last year. His standing was reflected by his being chosen to present Live Earth from Wembley Stadium in July and he followed up last year's autobiography with Chris Moyles: The Difficult Second Book in October. His radio show broke the seven million listeners barrier in the spring Rajars and he was nominated for a Sony, even though he failed to match last year's Gold Award. His audience dipped slightly in the autumn but remains close to overhauling that of his breakfast rival on Radio2, Terry Wogan. Nonetheless, Moyles was generous enough this year to comment that Wogan is "doing the best he's ever done", having previously threatened to "tear that wig off his head and shove it up his arse".


Drink up thy cider!

One of the marketing success stories of the year was alcoholic apple juice being repositioned from the insalubrious surroundings of the urban park bench to the picnic hampers of the young and upwardly mobile. Presented as a fashionable drink to be taken over ice, Magners was at the forefront of this trend, moving rapidly to capture 75 per cent of the UK bottled cider market and driving up profits by 77 per cent. In London it became the top bottled alcohol brand, overtaking such names as Stella Artois and Budweiser. As a consequence, Maurice Breen, the Magners marketing director, picked up the best new brand prize at the Marketing Society's Awards for Excellence. The company's advertising was also heralded by Marketing Week.


The one-time doctor gets ahead of the pack

Snubbed by Capital radio as the successor to long-time breakfast presenter Chris Tarrant, the motormouth Foxy has managed to have the last word, even after moving to a station with the slogan "more music, less talk". Now less chatty, he has gone to the top of the London commercial breakfast ratings, beating rivals such as Jamie Theakston, Christian O'Connell and Capital's own Johnny Vaughan. The Harley Davidson-riding presenter, who no longer refers to himself as "Dr Fox", also runs a television production company and is working on the production of two feature films.


It's not all about expense accounts

Although it was her Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy colleague Jonathan Durden who had adland transfixed by his appearance in Channel 4's Big Brother, Helen Calcraft, the agency's managing director, led the way in proving that the business of advertising could have a higher purpose than just flogging stuff. Most notably, MCBD's Stop The Guns campaign for the Metropolitan Police, featured the music of grime collective Roll Deep and the directing talent of Jake Nava in making the "Badman" viral ad that scored 363,000 views on YouTube and drove traffic to the anti-gun crime Operation Trident site at 10 times the normal rate. MTV named "Badman" its video of the year. Marketing Week gave the agency's campaign an award for effectiveness. Calcraft and her do-gooding colleagues have also been working to help teenagers to find suitable vocational training, assisting smokers to

quit the habit and improving the benefits system.


Editor quits Barclays to join Barclays

The much-admired business journalist began the year as editor of The Sunday Telegraph and finished it working for Barclays Bank, whilst watching James Harding, who succeeded her as business editor of The Times rise to become editor of that title, a role for which she had once been tipped. Wheatcroft parted company with the Barclay brothers' Telegraph Group apparently because she did not share Daily Telegraph editor Will Lewis's enthusiasm for digital integration. She starts on 1 January as a board director of Barclays Bank, earning 65,000 a year for five weeks' work as a non-executive. She will no doubt take up other opportunities in business but has sadly ruled out any freelance journalism.