Starting a new blog is getting to be something of a habit for me. Last September, I launched the Daily Telegraph‘s first on-line law page. You can see what it looked like here. I wrote an introductory page setting out my plans for the years ahead. But it was not to be. The Telegraph decided to terminate my contract at the end of December. I think the paper was just trying to save money: several other long-serving correspondents also found last year that their services were no longer required. I signed off with a valedictory piece, looking ahead to the events of 2009.
To its credit, the Telegraph kept my law page on its website after I left. Not a word was changed. Nor, indeed, has the Telegraph taken down any of the columns or news stories I wrote for the newspaper after moving there from the BBC in 2000. At some point, I believe, a general cut-off point was introduced, limiting on-line access to stories that were more that a certain number of years old. But you should be able to find most of my recent work by going to telegraph.co.uk and typing my surname in the search box together with a few choice words.
In 2004, I set up a website of my own, mainly as a companion to my book Privacy and the Press. It carried updates after the book was published and links to nearly 20 reviews. The website also includes my CV. At the beginning of this year, I moved my blog there. But very few readers knew about it.
Now, I am moving my blog once more to the Standpoint website. I am delighted to be doing so.
Gone are the days when individual bloggers could host their own websites and still attract large audiences. My wife did just that when she launched her blog in October 2003. Four years later, though, everyone was blogging and she moved to a commercial site.
Nowadays, the best bloggers are to be found on sites run by magazines and newspapers. The benefits are mutual. New readers are attracted to the journals that host them. And the bloggers have the support of established journalists. Writing a blog and moderating readers’ comments leave most individual bloggers with too little time to read, to think and to talk to the people who make their blogs worth reading.
There is also a commercial side to all of this. Readers may prefer to see pages unencumbered by advertisements. But bloggers – especially those who regard themselves as journalists – prefer not to write for nothing.
As always, I shall aim my reports at the intelligent general reader who has no specialist knowledge of the law. But I hope that this blog will continue to interest lawyers too. My aim is to include commentaries and reports that readers will not find elsewhere – or, at least, not immediately. There will be links to other websites and I shall link to my own published work where appropriate.
You will be able to post comments in the normal way – though these will, of course, be moderated by Standpoint. I shall do my best to read these and respond, if appropriate, in future articles. Readers may also email me with stories, comments and suggestions; my address is firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope that this blog will fill a gap in the market for up-to-date news and comment on legal issues. It is a matter of deep regret to me that I was the last full-time legal correspondent at both the BBC and the Daily Telegraph. Neither of these news organisations replaced me – though the BBC did, at least, try. Serious coverage of legal developments in the national press has never been as sparse. In law, as in life, we rely on the internet.
Law may be serious – but nobody says it has to be dull. It has kept me interested and entertained for more than 40 years. I look forward to sharing some of that pleasure with a wider audience.
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