The Media Satchel - Charles Dickens Edition

Charles Dickens (Source: Amazon)

What the Dickens? Charles would have been mildly mortified to find himself, on his 200th birthday, celebrated so ostentatiously in the press and Arts community, such was his humility (in his will, he stipulated, "On no account make me the subject of any monument memorial or testimonial whatsoever").

But we love an anniversary, much more a literary one of such monumental significance. Dickens' work resonates through the ages: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," he wrote. A freelance newsman by trade (he taught himself shorthand with a copy of Gurnsey's Brachgraphy), who worked the court and parliamentary beats, he had little time for pomp but admired those MPs who were interested in making Great Britain a greater place. In 1942, while travelling America, he condemned slavery – social reform was high on his agenda.

He contributed to a radical newspaper, the True Sun, using his work to campaign for parliamentary reform, and for a time published his own paper, The Daily News, based on the principles of progress and improvement, education, civil and religious liberty and equal legislation." It was a commercial failure, so he invested his time into editing the journal Household Words (19850-1859), with its stories on politics, science and history, short stories and humour. The journal was later replaced by All The Year Round (1859-1870), a more literary journal that also covered social issues.

Household Words (Source: Spartacus Educational)
His father was a poor man and spent time in prison after he was unable to repay his debts, released after a relative died whose will enabled him to settle his accounts. Some of this money was used for Charles' education at private school. A moderate student, he found work at 15 as an office boy in a firm of solicitors (no doubt inspiring his fictional characters) before settling on his career in reporting, editing, short story and novel writing.

He penned short stories for the Morning Chronicle and the London Evening Chronicle (collected into the book Sketches by Boz) followed by The Pickwick Papers (a 20-part series), Oliver Twist published in Bentley's Miscellany and Nicholas Nickleby and used Household Words to serialize novels including Hard Times. His novels included The Old Curiosity Shop, Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities and A Christmas Carol.
A prompt copy of A Christmas Carol c/o The New York Public Library (Source: Levenger Press)
What would Dickens think about the current state of journalism in the UK? Journalists guilty of "gross malfeasance" should be struck off by a new regulatory body enforcing newspaper standards, the Daily Mail's editor and chairman of the Editor's Code of Practice Committee, Paul Dacre told the Leveson inquiry yesterday. Dacre believes journalists who break the rules should be stripped of press cards giving them access to press conferences, briefings and other sources of information just as doctors are de-registered. The idea has been backed by The Independent; The Guardian asks if the plan is really credible. (Source: The Australian)

Source: The Tribune Express which says, "We’re supposed to be cautious, just, balanced – not take our liberty and step over common courtesy’s borders."
We like the idea of press cards, which give journalists and their publications an incentive to do good work and the public a confidence in the system. But should the Daily Mail – one of the highest trafficked news sources on the web – also be held accountable for journalistic crimes against women (see the sidebar of guilt, shame, misogyny, discontent and self-loathing)? And what of Sun editor Dominic Mohan's suggestion that Page 3 is a "British institution"? Back in October, British PM David Cameron proposed a crackdown to help protect children from internet porn... will news sites and newspapers who draw in traffic and readers by trading in soft-porn be included? Or is this another burdensome parental responsibility?

On that note, today is Safer Internet Day 2012. Information for parents can be found at the CyberSmart website or at Bravehearts is committed to ensuring that young people and their parents or carers are informed on how to ensure the Internet is a safe experience. You can also visit Captain Cybersafe at

Meanwhile, Europe's human rights court has rejected an invasion-of-privacy complaint by Monaco's Princess Caroline in a landmark ruling that upholds the media's right to report on celebrities, reports The Australian. The court had to weigh up the media's right to expression and the individual's right to privacy. The Princess has taken particular issue with German magazines, including Frau im Spiegel, which have published photos of her private life, including photos of her children at a Monaco beach club. The court's ruling err towards the right to freedom of expression. But where do you draw the line between expression and exploitation?
Source: Strathfield History Images
Newsagencies are feeling the pinch as the printing press becomes less of a player in the new media environment. As newsagents adapt their retail business models to reflect declining sales of newspapers and magazines and attract consumers, an IBIS World Industry Report has found industry sales will contract by 2 per cent in Australia to $7.8 billion over 2011-2012. However, a small increase of 1.4 per cent per annum is expected as the sector evolves."Newsagents are playing to their strength – that is the community," Australian Newsagency Federation head of communications Carolyn Doherty told AdNews. "In most towns, the newsagency is central to the community and newsagents are adapting to provide many of the products and services that have been lost to the community when specialist shops close."

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War and The Atlantic, a journal Dickens would have found some solace within, has it covered with a commemorative issue. With an introduction by President Barack Obama, essays by the journal's stable of current affairs writers and retrospective pieces by the likes of Louisa May Alcott, Frederick Douglass, Ralph Waldo Emerson and James Russell Lowell, print copies of the special issue are available but it's also out in e-format for the iPad, Nook and Kindle. Founded four years before the American Civil War broke out, The Atlantic's aim was to be a source for abolitionist perspectives on the growing divide over slavery. You can also read a review of Dicken's Great Expectations penned in September 1861 via the website. (Source: Min Online)

A global protest against Amsterdam-based publisher Elsevier has been supported by more than 4,540 academics who have put their names to the website, The Cost of Knowledge, which has taken the publisher to task for jacking up the prices for individual journals so that libraries have to buy bundles of journals including titles they don't want.

Monica Attard has launched the not-for-profit news site The Global Mail this week with a view to serving the public, not others in the business, and amping up coverage of foreign affairs, she tells Mediaweek. The contributor lineup includes Bernard Lagan, national affairs correspondent and former Fairfax journalist; Sharona Coutts, head of the investigations unit and formerly of; and Ellen Fanning, the youngest person to host a current affairs program as host of the ABC's PM in 1992.

Gaven Morris, head of continuous news for ABC News 24 has defended the oft-criticised public station in a Mediaweek story. "We had a lot to learn in those early months. I think the ABC had a big adjustment to make in doing a lot more live broadcasting, a lot more news on demand. The first six months were tough, but we got through that period and then hit the early part of last year where we had the Queensland floods and Cyclone Yasi and the tsunami and on and on we went. That period for us was a really valuable learning curve. We had to get to grips much more quickly with more live continuous broadcasting in front of the audience, but it got our team into gear in relation to how to do it."

The station has introduced a new Weekend Breakfast show, The Business, which replaces Lateline Business, and Grandstand, a sports program building on the Grandstand brand that airs four nights a week. To come are News Exchange ("an attempt to bring different platforms together in one news program tied in with a website connected to social media") and Planet America ("a Drum-style discussion program which is looking at US politics and affairs in this year of the presidential election").  

Erica Davis has joined the team at Hope 103.2 Sydney ("This is definitely the right timing for this next chapter in my life as I juggle work and family commitments, and such a great fit in using my talents and doing what I love to do!"), while Ticky Fullerton is hosting The Business on the ABC, Emma Alberici has joined Tony Jones on Lateline and Karina Carvalho has replaced Virginia Trioli, who is on leave, on News Breakfast. (Source: Mediaweek).
Source: Christopher Wink

The Walkley Foundation is calling for entries for the inaugural Walkley Award for Best Freelance Journalist of the Year. "This is a very exciting new award that is designed to highlight the important role that freelance journalists play in the media. Increasingly, media outlets look to freelancers for content and this award aims to reflect that need," said Laurie Oakes, Chair of the Walkley Foundation Advisory Board. Open to residents of both Australia and New Zealand and in its first year the winner will receive $3,000 in prize money, $500 worth of professional development training and/or conference attendance through the Walkley training and conference program and two tickets to the prestigious Walkley Awards Gala Dinner. Enter here.

And 7:30 host Leigh Sales has her baby on January 20, reports The Australian. A big congratulations.

Girl With a Satchel


Liz said...

Thanks for the heads up on the Global Mail website - what a great concept!!