40 years from ’68, the revolution goes digital (or why Daniel Cohn-Bendit will be forever hip)

Danny the Red
Danny the Red



While googling for information on participating in the European Parliament (who would have guessed Zoe to be a Europhile) came across news of a petition to make the European Parliament switch its IT systems to Open Source which has atteacted the support of a hundred MEPs.

Who’s behind such a bold measure? None other than Daniel Cohn-Bendit (and, to be fair, a few other MEPs) better known, back in the day, as Danny the Red .

They’re not only are asking for a migration of the whole European Paliament computer network to Open Source software”, they also want the European Union to finance public research on this type of software.

For the petition to be adopted, more than half the members of the European Parliament should sign the document. This means the petition needs some two hundred more signatures.

Links to the petition in all languages of the member states of the European Union can be found at website of the Open Source advocacy group

Funny. One of my lines of thought last week was on the paralells between the revolution of ’68 and the current digital revolution.



Samsung Tocco – camera phone nightmares

So finally, the unveiling of my the fruits of my new camera phone. Mighty underwhelming is my verdict. So much for those 5 mega pixels! The focus is lame and the white balance.

The reviews said  “it feels more like a smart phone then a regular mobile”. Hmm, won’t be trusting that site again but then C-Net also raved about the picture quality. Wish there was a try before you buy service available.

Still whatever happened I was bound to be disappointed because I was actually holding out for the Nokia N96. To die for!

Maybe I need to play around with the settings… Meanwhile here’s a selection from my brief trip to Oxford.

Reuters Journalism Fellowship, Oxford

Enough of these frivolous postings Zoe!

To redress the balance between the vacuous and the worthy, here’s the text behind an address I made last Saturday at the Reuters Journalism Fellowship Programme’s 25th anniversary event at Oxford University.

I took part in a Moral Maze style debate (yes there is more to be than blogging about boys). The topic was “Good journalism is in crisis“. I was on a a team alongside Charlie Beckett, Mehdi Hassan and Bill Dutton that opposed the motion.

Not the easy call that you’d imagine, is there is much to lament about the current state of British journalism. But ultimately I’m optimistic… anyway, enough rambling from me. Below are my thoughts.











Firstly, I take issue with the question. The suggestion that journalism is NOW in crisis implies there was a time when all was well and good.

I admit my daily experience of our trade is a far cry from the exploits of those who inspired me like Hunter S Thomson, Joan Didion and Harold Evans.

But I’ve read Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop and you can call it the arrogance of youth but really I don’t believe there ever was a Golden Age of journalism.

If there WAS ever a time for journalism to sit on its laurels and feel contented with itself, surely THAT was the moment when it needed to engage in a bit of introspection.

A trade that consists of people who ask questions for a living is always going to go through changes.

The advent of commercial television broadcasting, Murdoch’s moves at Wapping and the boom in 24-hour news are all examples of the seismic changes journalism has gone through over the past century.

These testing times are not crises, they’re opportunities that, when embraced, force journalism to raise its game.

“New media is killing journalism” was the plainly hysterical title of a World Press Freedom day debate that I thankfully missed earlier this year.

But as reporter at Press Gazette I did sit through my fair share of hand-wringing lectures on how the internet has stuck the knife into the heart of journalism.

It’s wrong to blame the internet for our woes. It’s the democratising potential the web offers to journalism that keeps me in this trade.


In 1960 journalist AJ Liebling said – “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own it”. 

That potential liberty is now within reach of the masses, anyone can with access to a computer can publish content.

But this reality, which I personally find exciting, shouldn’t cause journalism to have a nervous breakdown.


Journalism is not in crisis, rather the public has sent us to sit on the naughty step.

Instead of indignantly stamping our feet and wailing about how unfair it all is, we should use it as an opportunity to learn from our past mistakes, embrace new opportunities and ditch some of our unacceptable behaviours.

It’s serves no purpose to be resentful that users are deserting what we’ve traditionally sold to them.

If they’re not distinguishing between ‘Journalism’ and ‘Content’ we must focus on the message as much as the medium.

The public remember our failings over WMDs, the controversies over Hutton, the New York Times’ Jayson Blair incident and allegations of TV fakery in Britain.

The old order of journalism has many questions it has to answer.


The digital revolution is a phrase that I’ve long loathed. But the more I think about this question, the closer I come to the conclusion that this is what we’re going through.

Whether a revolution appears as a crisis depends on where you’re standing.

For the bourgeoisie, the French revolution was a crisis, for the disadvantaged, it was an opportunity to change the status quo.

 Similarly while it may be a catastrophe for some older correspondents who take issue at the idea of having to blog, or self-edit their packages on Avid, for skilled young journalists who been cutting video they’ve shot on their mobiles for years, new technology offers another medium to tell great stories.

We ARE in a new age.  And it’s not going to be the last challenge we face.

But good journalism is not in crisis. This period of self-assessment we’re in has seen the rise of a much needed academic assessment of our trade.

Combined with the process of trial and error with new media I’m convinced this will lead to a much needed maturity in journalism that will help distinguish GOOD journalism from the masses of content that is on offer.

Quality will always be at a premium.

Cast Jude Law’s in your own Dior Homme ad campaign

Jude Law doesn’t have a patch on David Gandy (the Dolce & Gabbana model featured in a post below) but the Dior Homme online ad campaign is genius. It encourages users to edit their own version of the ad online, with the best submission being rewarded with a trip for two to the Bahamas.

Just stumbled across this on Corriere‘s front page so not sure if it’s an international campaign or not but loving the combination of creativity, interactivity and new technology. Pretty cutting edge for a fashion brand.

The hipster is dead, long live the hipster

I’ve never really got the point of Adbuster. I decided to give it another shot a couple of weeks ago while sipping a delicious Dark Mocha Frappucino (love those crunchy bits) at Borders and in the process came across a fascinating article on the death of the hipster.

Admittedly it pooh poohs the whole ethos that this site represents but it was so darn well relevent that I can’t help urging you to read it.

Nat Weller – a chip off the old block

I love Paul Weller. You Do Something To Me is one of the most beautiful songs ever, definitely a contender a first wedding dance list (very square to have such things in mind, I’ll admit).

So I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that is son Nat is so hot. So I start googling him to find out more then stumble across a clip of him on YouTube. In the space of three seconds I went from mad lust to complete disillusionment.  

Video lays bare all your flaws. If a picture is worth a thousand words then video surely equates to a million pictures.

Party time


Off topic again but this time I’m unapolagetic. It’s my birthday tomorrow and I can’t wait! The past 365 days have been fabulous. Admittedly it’s been an epic journey.

I’ve learnt a lot about life and myself and others. Best of all it’s been a year in which I been able to put lessons learned from past mistakes into practice.

I’m ecstatic about the potential that the next year will bring. The one thing that’s certain is that it’ll be a hard slog but to be honest, I wouldn’t wish to be any other way. 

Here’s a toast in celebration of life’s unending potential.

Why being a pseudo hip Brick Lane joint doesn’t excuse bad coffee

Oh dear. The rants are lining up! Popped into the coffee store on Brick Lane that has free WiFi. Nice that isn’t it – free WiFi? But since when does free WiFi justify undrinkable coffee?

Really, the dudes who run this place are already taking the mick by decking out what is basically a former sweatshop with hipsterish (read battered) furniture and passing it off as a trendy coffe joint. To then charge £2.50 for a hideous brown liquid they claim is coffee is obscene!!!

Don’t make the same mistake I made, go to Coffee@ Brick Lane at 154 Brick Lane instead.