Thursday, 4 November 2010

Could London’s East End be the centre of a media resurgence?

David Cameron, in the Evening Standard this week promised that, ‘something exciting is happening in east London — so exciting, in fact, that it means we could create another Silicon Valley. This isn't far fetched — all the elements are here too.' Later in his article he said: ‘Google and Facebook are all creating either research labs or innovation spaces in east London.’ Exciting times.

Meanwhile, also this week, novelist and journalist Clare Sambrook, has strong links with the East End through her work, won the Paul Foot Award for Campaigning Journalism for her work on ending child detention for asylum seekers. Announcing the winner, and quoted in journalism.co.uk, Private Eye editor Ian Hislop said: 'Investigative journalism is very much alive.' He backed this up in conversation with Steve Hewlett on BBC Radio 4’s Media Show.

As if this were not enough heady journalistic news for the area, there was more success for two other East Enders. The Times, covered by Roy Greenslade in The Guardian, claimed 105,000 online 'sales'. James Murdoch, chief of News Corporation, owner of the Times, was pleased: ‘We are very excited by the progress that we have made in a very short space of time. In the few months since we launched these new products, the total paid circulation of The Times has grown.’ The Sunday Times was also a runner up in the Paul Foot prize for reports, by Jonathan Calvert and Clare Newell, on MPs and peers seeking cash for influence.

With all this positive news for one of the poorest areas of London and for one of the poorest, but arguably most important, areas of the media - investigative journalism - it is a shame that Sambrook found her campaigning work had been 'financially catastrophic’, as reported in journalism.co.uk.

It’s also a shame for the Times online that estimates suggest that the Times and Sunday Times would gross about £5.5m a year, about the same that 12,000 print customers buying the paper every day would bring in for News Corp .

Then there’s the little matter of News Corporation seeking approval from the European Commission to buy the 61% of Sky's parent company, BSkyB, that it does not yet own. This would make News Corporation the biggest media company in the UK. Dan Sabbagh, in The Guardian, points out that it ‘would be able to tie the Times digital editions with Sky subscriptions in a way competing newspaper groups could not match’.

It’s been a good week for media in London's East End, but it could be better.

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