Tag Archives: journalism

➤ The curious high-pressure timeline of Tom Daley’s coming out

Tom Daley,Plymouth, Zeros, gay club

Saturday night out: the Facebook page of Plymouth’s Zeros gay club pictures Tom Daley with their shot girl

◼ QUIZ QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Which of these statements came first?

1 – “Hello, is that The Sun? Would you be interested in a photo of Tom Daley at our local gay club in Plymouth?”

2 – “Hello Tom, Sun newsdesk here. Do you want to tell us what you were doing in Zeros club Plymouth on Saturday night?”

3 – [via Twitter] “Got something I need to say…not been an easy decision to make, hope you can support me! :) ”

❏ On Monday morning at 11 o’clock Britain’s 19-year-old Olympics diver Tom Daley posted his confessional video on YouTube telling the world he was “dating a guy”. The global media coverage has been massive and the video has clocked 6 million views in two days. In it he said: “In an ideal world I wouldn’t be doing this video because it shouldn’t matter. But recently I was misquoted in an interview and it made me feel really angry… Now I feel ready to talk about my relationships.” Throughout the brave five-minute video message, recorded on his own phone, he was understandably nervous, and by the end seemed palpably relieved.


The interview that had angered him appeared in the Daily Mirror on September 8 when he was quoted denying the suggestion that he was gay.


At about 2am this Sunday, Dec 1, after the Sunday papers have gone to press, Tom Daley visits the gay club Zeros in his Devon hometown with some friends and is photographed at the club with a shot girl, also described as a “drag artist”. That morning the photograph is published by Zeros nightclub on its Facebook page with the message: “Let’s hope Tom Daley survived meeting our very own J******* last night !!!” (The shot girl later complained about her picture being published and her name was removed).

At 1pm Sunday the first of several Facebookers shares this picture.

At 3pm Sunday Daley tweets “So lucky to have such a supportive mum! I love you!” and – out of the blue – he posts a smashing picture of himself with Debbie Daley at Instagram.

Then at about 5pm Sunday Daley makes a special visit to his grandparents nearby in Devon to break his news to them, which they tell the Daily Mail the next day also came “out of the blue”.

Early on Monday morning he tells the rest of his family. “I can count the number of people I’ve told on my hand,” he says.

At 11am Monday, Daley goes public with his outing video on YouTube. It is immediately reported by BBC News and the rest of the media and Daley is soon trending on Twitter.

At 7pm Monday The Sun, Britain’s biggest selling tabloid newspaper, is going to press with its detailed “exclusive” report for Tuesday’s issue revealing the name of the “Pop hunk pal who helped dive star come out”. The new news here claims that Daley was inspired to do so after “developing a close friendship with gay former S Club Juniors idol Aaron Renfree”. Mike Spencer, the gay TV producer of the Only Way is Essex, is reported to be another of Daley’s “close friends”. And a Zeros barman reports that while in the nightclub Tom was “not surprisingly being quite flirty”. In this cloud of gay innuendo, nowhere does The Sun cite Daley as a source of information.

It would have taken some very nifty footwork to pull that lot together had the Sun’s exclusive research been a same-day response to the video as breaking news! As it is, the so-called exclusive is swamped by coverage in every other newspaper following up Monday’s outing video.

Eight weeks had passed since the Mirror interview angered Tom. Yet suddenly within a single day this weekend our hero decided that he not only felt ready to share his secret with the world, but first had to share it at high speed with his mother, his grandparents, his extended family. Then record and upload. All with immaculate timing. Here was a man with a plan – though it’s hard not to believe pressure was being brought to bear on the teenage sports star to spill the beans. The Sun generously placed an editorial beside its exclusive report hailing Tom for his guts as the “diver who broke the news”.

Tom Daley

Tuesday’s Sun: inside story of his gay connections

Tom Daley

Tuesday’s Sun, Dec 3: photographs from Zeros nightclub where Daley posed with a barman and a shot girl


Tom Daley❏ Wed Dec 4 update: The Sun follows through with a massive second chapter in the Daley outing saga by front-paging the name of Tom’s purported lover “who is almost 20 years his senior”, complete with pictures and quotes from “friends”. These are all the hallmarks of a well-prepared major investigation to steamroller a celeb into making a “He’s so brave” confession in advance of publication. What choice did our hero have at the weekend? What better strategy could his management have endorsed but to out himself first and wrong-foot The Sun?!

Jonathan Ross Show , ITV, Tom Daley, coming out,

Daley tells Wossy: “I’ve never felt anything like it” (on ITV next Saturday)


Tom tells Jonathan Ross: “It was love at first sight. I’ve never felt anything like it – and I made the first move. At the end of the night I wrote in his notes with my number and put ‘call me’ with a wink face and then I had a text in the morning.”

“To be honest, everything is all pretty new and I don’t see any point in putting a label on it – gay, bi or straight.”

Tom Daley, coming out, Los Angeles, Lance Black

Sweatshirt day, T-shirt day: budding boyfies Tom and Lance papped in Los Angeles


❏ Thur Dec 5 update: BRILLIANT! The clockwork spins and the teen star sings – on TV, not in The Sun – confirming suspicions that a very sure-footed strategy to “protect the brand” has been executed by Team Daley. The Olympic Bronze medallist diver is said to be worth £2m and is tipped to double that sum through sponsorship deals in the near future. At 19 Tom faces many more years of earning potential which PSG, his Weybridge-based management company, is committed to capitalising on, not putting at risk.

The complete absence of further Sun exclusives today, plus the choice of an interview with the A-List Jonathan Ross Show where again Tom speaks for himself without misrepresentation, indicate astute Team intelligence at work. To cap it all, last night they leaked contents of the Ross interview exclusively to the Daily Mirror just as it was going to press.

The Team knew the TV cook Nigella Lawson was going into the witness-box mid-week to account for her troubled marriage and would commandeer all newspaper front pages. They knew Daley was booked in soon for Ross’s TV chatshow and got him bumped up the queue onto this week’s recording as a special guest. They have been nudged in recent weeks by The Sun to respond to rumours circulating about the boyfriend’s identity.

So in hindsight the Saturday night visit to a Plymouth gay club – accidentally on purpose lifting the lid on Tom’s private life – can be seen as the Brand Daley start-line for a three-day masterplan. He outs himself on Monday morning and comes out of it a smiling hero, while all The Sun could do in the wake of his statement is to package its unconfirmed rumours for Tuesday’s paper with papped pictures and quotes from unnamed “friends”. Ross’s show wins the trusted follow-up interview because on TV Tom can speak for himself. Inevitably, its content cannot remain secret until the Saturday transmission at 10.45pm on ITV so, as The Sun’s rival tabloid, Wednesday’s Mirror is exclusively gifted advance text of Tom’s Tigger-like romantic revelations on TV, leaving all other papers to rehash them the next day.

Yet a mystery remains. Most curious of all is that in both the UK and the USA neither Tom nor his supposed lover Lance Black have confirmed themselves as partners. Throughout the Ross interview Tom talks emotionally about his new lease of life yet does not mention Lance by name, while going into intimate detail of how he, Tom, made the first flirtatious move. At his home off Sunset Boulevard, Lance unceremoniously rebuffs a Mail reporter.

Why are both men staying schtum on this score when Tom is so out and proud? The LA gay grapevine is convinced the pair are lovers, so might there be personal reasons? Rumour suggests that 39-year-old gay activist Lance Black (nobody calls him Dustin in LA) was in a long-term romance with his heart set on marriage when bushy-tailed Tom bounded into his circle. Tom might well have worked powerful magic and who can guess at the repercussions?

Let’s assume the Brand Daley team will sensibly have reserved still more fire power, to be released under its own terms when the next chapter unfolds.

Tom Daley, Lance Black, Los Angeles,

Transatlantic romance: “I didn’t know if he was gay,” says Tom


❏ FINALLY! Tom and Lance are officially papped together to mark the first time that the guys have stepped out as a couple at a public event. Here below we see them on April 30, 2014, attending the Battersea Power Station Annual Party. A few days later they announce they are setting up home together in London. Congratulations, boys.

➢ 5 May update: Tom Daley and Lance Black move in together near London’s Olympic Park

Tom Daley ,  Lance Black ,papped, Battersea Power Station, London

Officially a couple, April 30, 2014: papped at the Battersea Power Station Annual Party (Getty)


➤ The most ferocious Today grilling despatches the Beeb’s top cat

John Humphrys , Today,

Gotcha! John Humphrys in the Today studio (photo: BBC)

❚ HE’S TENACIOUS, HE’S FORTHRIGHT, his reputation rests on being the toughest interviewer in British broadcasting. And yesterday he claimed the scalp of his boss, the director-general of the BBC. At 8:30am, the nation dropped their marmalade in a united splat on the breakfast table, as John Humphrys humiliated the recently appointed chief of the BBC for not reading the newspapers or listening to his own news service, and for being badly out of touch. That evening, the hopelessly outgunned George Entwistle resigned from the job he had held for 54 days. His own internal report into failures of journalism within the corporation was due to be delivered today.

This was the most rousing interview in memory to be aired by the Today programme, Radio 4’s current-affairs flagship renowned for its rigorous journalism. It was historic. Here was the BBC mired in a continuing controversy over investigations into child-abuse and the calibre of its editorial decision-making. Humphrys the grand inquisitor has a cupboard full of industry awards, and this bout was a model case of having the facts on his side, and of an interviewee, the BBC’s “editor-in-chief”, floundering like a novice because he had not marshalled his defence. On and on and on, Humphrys pressed him, and his quarry had nowhere to run. It was a rout.

➢ BBC Today interviewer John Humphrys to his director-general, George Entwistle:

So you’ve no natural curiosity? You don’t do what everybody else in the country does, read newspapers, listen to everything that’s going on and say, What’s happening here? Do you not read papers, do you not listen to the output?

The most disgraceful admission by the hopeless Entwistle was that neither had he read, nor had he delegated a minion to tell him the news of the BBC’s latest crisis broken by The Guardian’s front page hours earlier. Not only that, but he had embarked on the most important interview of his career unprepared.

Robin Day

The knack: Robin Day interviews Margaret Thatcher live in 1984

Anybody remotely experienced in pulling the levers of power, from prime ministers to chief executives, rehearses every high-profile interview with an adversarial colleague before entering the arena. On the eve of every interview with prime minister Margaret Thatcher, the hard man of a previous TV generation, Sir Robin Day, rehearsed the burning issues with the Evening Standard’s political editor, Robert Carvel. “Sometimes I played Thatcher,” Carvel reported, “sometimes he did.”

As for how a busy man reads the papers, my own mentor Charles Wintour, editor of the Evening Standard, had to be ready to chair the key editorial conference at 9:10am, after okaying his paper’s first edition. How? He would skim three national papers in the car before reaching the office daily at 8am. An early-bird journalist was employed solely to greet him with the day’s key stories cut from from the entire national press – an instant digest of the burning issues in an era before the internet was invented. That’s how, Mr Hopeless Entwistle. At 10am Wintour read the morning mail: “To help maintain standards of accuracy, I insist that all letters complaining of error [in the Standard] should be shown to me.” That how, Mr Hopeless.


David Dimbleby

David Dimbleby: nailing leaders who lack the stomach to lead. (Photo: BBC)

➢ Broadcaster David Dimbleby talking to Humphrys today about the DG who resigned:
The fact that he didn’t fight back against you on Saturday shows he wasn’t the right man to lead the BBC

❚ TODAY’S TODAY WAS ALMOST AS HISTORIC. Coruscating, trenchant, yet scrupulous. One of the most resonant names in British broadcasting, David Dimbleby, damned the corporation’s management for having “gone bonkers” and speaking “gobbledegook”. He faced John Humphrys in the same studio seat that had helped jettison the director-general, and as a veteran TV journalist he nailed the failings of the BBC’s top brass. “The fact that [Entwistle] chose to resign rather than fight showed that he wasn’t the right choice for director-general, admirable man though he may be. If you are going to be the director-general you have got to fight for the organisation.”

The BBC’s jargonised bureaucracy does not produce good director-generals, he said. “You get people who have played the system carefully, who rise through the ranks and they don’t have the stomach for the kind of leadership that’s needed. The man at the top has to make sure there are systems that tell him: Have you read The Guardian this morning?”


➤ Prof Brian Cox riotiously funny at stand-up debut, just in case the TV career doesn’t work out

Prof Brian Cox , Institute of Physics, video, media,science,journalism,education,

Are we going to die next Wednesday? Brian Cox talks of “a new golden age of physics” while lampooning idiot coverage by the press. Click picture to open video in a new window

❚ SCIENCE’S TV SUPERSTAR effortlessly passed his audition last night to become a stand-up comedian. After receiving a deeply serious medal at the Institute of Physics, Prof Brian Cox OBE made a highly intelligent yet laugh-out-loud speech attacking rubbish journalism and various politicians, while pouring scorn on homeopathists and other dreamers in la-la land.

The 44-year-old particle physicist has spent the past few years building a media career, explaining the universe from the tops of mountains in a string of TV series including Wonders of the Universe, plus The Infinite Monkey Cage on Radio 4 and as a live stage show, while popping up on 6Music’s breakfast show. Cox’s prodigious and wide-ranging efforts to popularise science persuaded People magazine to include the former the keyboard player for the pop group D:Ream in their list of Sexiest Men Alive. Last night’s speech also threw down an epic challenge to the British government to wake up to the needs of education in science and technology.

➢ Professor Brian Cox’s own website

➢ View Cox’s webcast at Institute of Physics website

➢ Q: If you put your hand in the beam of the Large Hadron Collider what would happen to your hand? A: “It would hurt quite a bit” — Boffins respond at the Sixty Symbols website


➤ Sir Harold’s memories of Fleet Street: cut and thrust, or be cut dead

The media “sale of the century”: Rupert Murdoch announcing his purchase of Times Newspapers on Jan 22, 1981. He is flanked by Harold Evans, editor of The Sunday Times, and William Rees-Mogg, editor of The Times. Captured here in what the photographer © Sally Soames calls her “best shot”

❚ HOW EXCITING THAT HARRY EVANS can still recount his rows with Rupert Murdoch in 1982 were as if they were “the day before yesterday”. The legendary former editor of The Sunday Times yesterday regaled the Leveson inquiry into British press standards via a video link from New York where he lives. He described one row almost ending in “fisticuffs”.

Murdoch had transferred Evans from The Sunday Times to its daily stablemate, The Times, once he had purchased the UK’s two most important newspapers in 1981. Evans told the inquiry there followed a year of constant editorial interference from Murdoch. Under the headline “Harold Evans tells Leveson of conflict and ‘vindictive’ atmosphere at Times”, today’s Guardian was impressed, 30 years later, that the ex-editor seemed to be “replaying the events as if they had occurred the day before yesterday”.

An insight into why the memories remain so fresh is delivered in an irresistible report elsewhere, at The Daily Beast website, doubly spiced because its editor-in-chief is Sir Harold’s wife, Tina Brown. Amid a blizzard of other Murdoch coverage, we see this headline:

➢ Sir Harold Evans Fights Back Against Rupert Murdoch
At Leveson Inquiry:

Evans described how he and Murdoch “almost came to fisticuffs” when Murdoch disagreed with a story published in The Times by an anti-monetarist writer. Evans resigned after only a year, over what he has long described as disagreements with Murdoch’s editorial interference. “I was disgusted, dismayed, and demoralized,” he said today… The vitriol between the two men has festered ever since Evans’s departure from The Times.

Sir Harold might as well have been reading Chapter 15 from the rip-roaring book Good Times Bad Times that he wrote the moment after resigning in 1982 and exiling himself to America soon after. The fireworks turn to warfare in the chapter headed “Plots” when Murdoch is giving Evans a dressing-down at The Times:

Murdoch: “Whad d’ya stand for? Nothing! The Times has no convictions.”
Evans writes: I accepted the provocation. I was glad to have it out in the open. I outlined five policy lines…
Then [Murdoch] added acidly: “Of course, I’m not supposed to speak to you like this. I’m supposed to ask the national directors” … [Murdoch] was not looking for debate. He was looking for weapons.

Today’s digerati will seldom experience the adrenaline rush produced by such instinctive cut and thrust.† It was survival of the fittest on a daily basis which was the lifeblood of old Fleet Street — or Print as we used to call it.

➢ 1981, The day they sold The Times, both Timeses
— read more at Shapersofthe80s



books, journalism TOUGHING IT
➢ Good Times Bad Times
by Harold Evans

The best account ever of the pitiless manners and mores of British newspaper executives and those they serve. The 525-page paperback is a thriller that starts with the Foreword: “Early in 1982, 10 months after he had taken over The Times and The Sunday Times, Rupert Murdoch went to see the prime minister Mrs Thatcher. They shared a problem: it was me.” The book is unputdownable. As my former editor Charles Wintour wrote in his review: “Enthralling… the narrative pace is tremendous… an immediacy and an excitement worthy of le Carré.”

Scoop , Evelyn Waugh, TV, films,Gavin Millar, DVD,Michael Maloney, books, journalism

Gavin Millar’s TV film of Scoop, 1987, now on DVD: Michael Hordern as Uncle Theodore, Michael Maloney as William Boot, Denholm Elliott as Salter

➢ Scoop by Evelyn Waugh

A satire so lithely comic that it prompts tears of mirth on almost every page. Though published in 1938, every one of its sublime characters is alive and well and working on national newspapers today. More, the all-too-plausible gaffe on which the entire plot tilts — a dinner-party name-drop sends wrong reporter off to cover a war — is true to the serendipitous decision-making that lands journalists in the least suitable of jobs. The novel’s inspiration was the dynastic rivalry between the best-selling newspapers of their day, the Daily Mail (owned by Lord Northcliffe then his nephew Lord Rothermere) and the Daily Express (Lord Beaverbrook), all fictionalised in the megalomaniac universe of Lord Copper of The Beast and Lord Zinc of The Brute. Most famous line: When Lord Copper was right, [the foreign editor] said: “Definitely, Lord Copper”; when he was wrong: “Up to a point.”

books, journalismTOOTH AND CLAW
➢ Slip-up: How Fleet Street Found Ronnie Biggs and Scotland Yard Lost Him, by Anthony Delano

Verdict of playwright and columnist Keith Waterhouse: “Perhaps the best analysis of Fleet Street at work ever written.” Every word is true (allegedly) in this preposterous page-turner, starring Fleet Street’s finest, Scotland Yard’s finest, and the Great Train Robber. The sheer guile, grit and ratlike cunning displayed by newsroom hacks from the 14 rival national newspapers is breath-taking as they try to second-guess each other during the manhunt for Ronnie Biggs, the most infamous of the villains who had pulled off what was then the greatest robbery of all time. During his 30-year sentence he escaped from jail. Years later, in 1974, the Daily Express discovered the fugitive in Brazil.

This was the scoop of the century and the 4million-selling Express endeavoured to keep the scoop secret from everybody except Detective Chief Superintendent Jack Slipper, head of the legendary Flying Squad. He was invited to join the hacks in Rio to deliver his best line: “Hello Ronnie. Long time no see.” Then a bombshell exploded. The secrecy of the mission meant nobody had applied for Biggs’s extradition. Fact was: Brazil had no extradition treaty with Britain. Slipper’s humiliation was crowned by the picture stealthily snatched by Mike Brennan of the Daily Mail showing him flying back home asleep beside the empty seat that should have held Biggs. Still, the exclusive Express story had already scooped the world. And Delano’s book became a £1m BBC TV drama in 1988.

Detective Chief Superintendent Slipper flies home from Brazil: photographer Michael Brennan snapped him asleep in flight. The caption was “The Empty Seat”

➢ The story behind the story of Slip-Up — In a 2008 update, Anthony Delano spilled more beans: keep scrolling to find Revel Barker’s account, more by Delano himself and by Keith Waterhouse who scripted the 1986 TV version titled The Great Paper Chase.

➢ Ten of the best books about journalism — As Vincent Mulchrone said: “Journalism is the only human activity where the orgasm comes at the beginning.”


cut and thrust, swordplay,debate,conflict,competition

Point over edge in swordplay: attacks with the point rely more on speed and finesse while those with the edge rely more on strength and momentum. Different swords do one or the other better. The fact is that thrusting requires much less strength to make a lethal wound while an effective cut can require a powerful blow. Both demand skill. Both will kill. You decide which one suits Rupert and which suits Harold

➢ Napoleonic Flame War by Richard Marsden — During the late 18th and early 19th century the definition of a proper sword varied from nation to nation. Initially, nations sought to choose the “best” sword for their light and heavy cavalry units so that on the battlefield they would be more effective. Tests and studies were done, data collected and proposals put forth. Somewhere along the line, however, the matter of the cutting sword or thrusting sword became more than one of facts and figures — it became one of national pride.