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SoE beats news blackout on Harry deployment

The Society of Editors has helped local and national newspapers to report on Prince Harry’s deployment to Afghanistan today.

News of the third in line to the throne’s arrival at Camp Bastion in Helmand was announced at 11am this morning following what the SoE says was “weeks of careful planning.”

A Press Association team and broadcasting pool teams provided breaking news stories, pictures and video with a simultaneous release time so that newspaper websites could reveal the story at the same time as 24-hour news channels.

The Prince’s last tour of service in the war zone in 2007/08 was accompanied by a news blackout – but the SoE sought to broker a deal to enable the latest deplopyment could be reported.

Said the SoE today:  “Earlier in the year it was quickly established that a second news blackout of the kind used when the prince was last in the war zone in 2007/2008 would not be appropriate.

A new ‘understanding ‘ was drawn up by the society and the MoD for the approval of all news outlets agreeing that there would be no detailed reporting or speculation about the deployment until the prince had actually arrived.

Executive director Bob Satchwell added: “News organisations kept to the understanding for operational and personal security considerations surrounding Prince Harry and those serving with him.

“They knew for some time that he was likely to be going to Afghanistan but the details were not reported even when the row broke about the Las Vegas naked prince pictures.

“It would have been so easy to say he was partying before flying out to war but the secret was kept until the time agreed.

“The public and the Leveson Inquiry should take note of yet another example of how the media behaves responsibly.”


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  • September 10, 2012 at 9:53 am

    I have mixed feelings about this … good job by SoE

    But, it also highlights the total arrogance of our newspapers. In this case, it’s the Royals who are saying there could be a danger, etc etc so everyone bends over to help.

    What happens when it’s Mrs Miggins who is pleading with her local paper not to print the address of her criminal son for fear of getting a bottle or worse through her window. Then the papers become all arrogant and high and mighty, refusing to listen to her reasonable plea for safety, spouting the usual guff about treating everyone the same. (Which is not the case, I should add – far from it)

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  • September 10, 2012 at 10:50 am

    I don’t know which paper Steve works for – if any – but everyone going through the courts was treated exactly the same in our stable of papers.
    We’ve all heard the `it’ll kill my granny’ excuses but we made a point of putting in every court story that someone asked us to keep out.
    As for equating that with the security necessary to protect an heir to throne, get real. He’s a prime high value target and isn’t in danger of getting a brick through his window… more like a rocket-propelled grenade.

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  • September 10, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    I don’t know which paper you work for but I can guarantee you definitely do NOT treat everyone the same. First of all, you make editorial decisions so different stories get different prominence. Second, and especially these days, you don’t have reporters in every courtroom so some (most) cases are missed. The very idea that everyone is treated the same is so laughable it is barely worth discussing.

    “We’ve all heard the `it’ll kill my granny’ excuses but we made a point of putting in every court story that someone asked us to keep out.”

    Love this quote … in one sentence you sum up the whole problem. Is it any wonder the ABCs are so dire? Let me ask this … you seem proud of your philosophy … but I bet you wouldn’t announce that.

    The Daily Tosh
    If you ask us not to print, we’ll print it.

    No, I thought not

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  • September 10, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    I am proud of our even-handed approach – and backed it up to its logical conclusion when I was ‘done’ for driving without due consideration to other road users!
    I took a short cut across a roundabout as there was bit of a jam, I was in a hurry and the exit was clear. It went on the front page (down the side) under the headline ‘Roadhog editor fined’ – and an explanation that there no exceptions to our court coverage. So that’s your bet lost.
    It’s clear you know nothing about how newspapers work as 99% of the time people only ask to keep a court story out of the newspapers when they see a reporter in court.
    Yes, we give different treatment to different people. A vicar convicted of anti-social behaviour would get more column inches than a yobbo.
    It’s called news judgement.
    I regret the lack of staff to cover the courts properly now – but the formula worked very well when newspaper sales were booming.
    The circulation problems of the last few years have nothing to do with court coverage policy.

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  • September 11, 2012 at 9:53 am

    You don’t get it … it’s not even handed at all.

    There are exceptions to your court coverage – all the cases that don’t get covered. You just admitted that when you say you don’t ‘cover them properly’.

    Accept that you pick and choose on a whim (or news judgement, call it what you like) usually based on some tawdry notion of what the public need to know. In reality you pick and choose based on selling papers which, as the figures show, isn’t working. I accept court stories are not the whole problem.

    I’ve sat in news conferences for 20 years and I know how it works. Believe me, it’s nothing to do with fair coverage.

    The fact you reported yourself is irrelevant.

    PS Why would they ask to keep a story out the paper if there was no reporter in court?

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