Sadiq Khan reads out racist tweets in call for tighter tech regulation

London mayor tells SXSW event that online abuse puts BAME people off political careers

Sadiq Khan has revealed he was called a “muzzie terrorist” and faced death threats in a string of racist social media messages that he warned could put black, Asian and minority ethnic people off a career in politics.

The mayor of London used a speech in the US to read out six abusive tweets, saying he “could go on and on”, as he accused the government of a “dereliction of duty” for leaving big technology companies unregulated.

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OJ Simpson seems to ‘hypothetically’ confess to murder in archive TV footage

  • Simpson says in 2006 interview he was at the scene of the murders
  • Ex-NFL star acquitted of killing Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman

In an interview aired by Fox on Sunday night, OJ Simpson seemed to “hypothetically” confess to the 1994 murder in Los Angeles of his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman.

Related: Review: If I Did It, the words of OJ Simpson, published by the Goldman family

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OJ Simpson seems to ‘hypothetically’ confess to murder in archive TV footage

  • Simpson says in 2006 interview he was at the scene of the murders
  • Ex-NFL star acquitted of killing Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman

In an interview aired by Fox on Sunday night, OJ Simpson seemed to “hypothetically” confess to the 1994 murder in Los Angeles of his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman.

Related: Review: If I Did It, the words of OJ Simpson, published by the Goldman family

Continue reading…

Out of print: NME’s demise shows pressure on consumer magazines

The closure of NME magazine after almost seven decades is the latest warning sign that the shift to digital media is threatening to kill the British love affair with print magazines. continues but stopping the presses on the print edition after 66 years was the first decision made by the magazine’s new owners, the private equity firm Epiris, after its £130m deal to buy NME’s parent company, Time Inc, at the end of last month.

The closure of the weekly title is symbolic of the issues facing the wider consumer magazine market.

NME is just the latest once mighty magazine brand to cease regular publication in print, or to have embarked on a digital-only path in recent years, joining titles including Loaded, Maxim, FHM, The Face, i-D, Sugar, Bliss, Nuts and Arena.

UK and Ireland magazine sales
UK and Ireland magazine sales

While a number of these were shut when their print fans had already largely abandoned them, many were stunned at the news that that the magazine malaise had also spread to Glamour. The title, the 10th most popular paid-for magazine in the UK, halted its monthly print run last year.

The outlook for the UK magazine market is not good with the decline in sales and advertising figures making for grim reading.

Sales of the top 100 actively purchased print titles in the UK – those that readers buy or subscribe to – fell by 42% from 23.8m to 13.9m between 2010 and 2017. Since the start of the internet era in 2000, the decline is 55% from 30.8m, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

Similarly, advertising in consumer titles will have more than halved from £512m in 2010 to £250m by the end of this year, according to Group M, a media buying agency.

“Are magazines dead? No,” says James Wildman, the UK chief executive of Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping owner Hearst. “We sell nearly 5m a month, that’s hardly dead, and we have 20 million unique UK users online a month, and more than double that on social media.

“But it is true to say that some of the 1 million millennial women every week that look at Cosmopolitan on Snapchat don’t know we also have a magazine of the same name.”

The reinvention of magazine brands online is all well and good, but the problem is that the £268m fall in print advertising is nowhere near being replaced by the growth of digital ad revenue, a key factor as magazine sales income also falls.

By the end of the year, digital ad spend on consumer magazine brands is projected to be well under half that shortfall, at £111m. “The ad market is a fairly brutal place right now,” says Wildman.

Google and Facebook account for 65% of the $6.5bn (£4.7bn) UK digital display ad market. They are also strangling attempts by magazine and newspaper publishers to build their digital ad revenues by taking about 90% of all new spend.

This is without the added competition for readers traditional publishers face online from digital media startups such as BuzzFeed.

Taylor Swift on the cover of British Vogue, January 2018

Taylor Swift on the cover of British Vogue, January 2018. Luxury titles are proving resilient. Photograph: British Vogue

“Magazines do still play an important part in client schedules – if circulation is holding up,” says Phil Hall, the chief commercial strategy officer at the media buying agency MediaCom.

“But the issue at the moment is there is a glut of titles that are too similar, too generic. Reaching audience at scale is key to many advertisers and if readers are falling away then that’s a major issue.”

Not all sectors of the magazine market are under such pressure. Luxury titles such as Vogue and Tatler, where the advertising is often a big reason readers buy them, are proving resilient.

Specialist magazines, catering for more niche audiences with interests ranging from shooting to model railways and ponies, are likely to always have a print fanbase.

Wildman says for magazines to survive they must build a brand beyond the core print publication.

“It is overly simplistic to say it is just digital versus print,” he says. “Magazine businesses are much more diverse. We ran 100 events related to our magazines last year – [a] Harper’s Bazaar [event] sold out in hours at £600 a head.

“Endorsement, accreditation and licensing are increasingly lucrative. DFS sell House Beautiful and Country Living [named after titles] range sofas. And the bestselling premium home gym at Argos is branded after our Men’s Health magazine.”

Nevertheless, mounting pressure on the traditional print magazine business, which still drives most revenues, is forcing consolidation as publishers seek scale to survive.

Time Inc in the US, which publishes People, Fortune and Sports Illustrated, has just been sold to rival Meredith for $1.8bn; the UK arm was picked up by Epiris.

Last year, Immediate Media, which publishes 60 titles including Radio Times and Top Gear, was sold to the German publisher Hubert Burda, owner of Your Home and HomeStyle, for £270m.

Despite the gloom, magazine publishers, like their newspaper counterparts, sense an opportunity as brand safety and measurement issues have prompted advertisers to closely scrutinise the once unquestionable value of investing in digital media such as YouTube and Facebook.

“With issues such as fake news, we are seeing the pendulum swing back because of two things: trust and context,” says Wildman.

“They are two things that went out of fashion in recent years as media agencies pivoted to buying audiences but weren’t worried about where ads were running. Now we are seeing readers and advertisers leaning back towards trusted brands.”

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Durrells TV drama revives the dying ritual of family viewing

Common wisdom says family viewing is over: children play video games while teenagers watch YouTube on their phones, then, late in the evening, parents binge on violent thriller box sets. Yet The Durrells, back for a third series, is sunnily bucking the trend.

The show, set on Corfu and starring Keeley Hawes as the mother of naturalist and author Gerald Durrell and novelist Lawrence Durrell, is one of a small group of television hits that have re-established cosy evening dramas that can still appeal across the generations.

The first series of the surprise ITV ratings success won eight million viewers, while the second was close behind. Like other gently comic dramas such as Doc Martin, Death in Paradise and Call the Midwife, The Durrells is reviving a forgotten age, one when families sat on the sofa together on a Sunday evening to be jointly amused or moved.

“Sometimes I wish The Durrells was shown on a Wednesday night, when we all really need a lift from the working week,” said Simon Nye, who has adapted the series from Gerald Durrell’s classic memoir My Family and Other Animals and its two follow-up titles, and who is best known for his sitcom Men Behaving Badly.Nye’s latest show has already made a new star of one of its younger cast. Josh O’Connor, who plays eldest son Lawrence, was a Bafta contender last Sunday in recognition of his role in the acclaimed independent film God’s Own Country.

Now the two actors who play the lesser-known Durrell children – second son Leslie and daughter Margo – are also in demand, thanks to their clever portrayals of two English eccentrics. Daisy Waterstone, 23, will take an 18-year-old Margo through a love affair in this third series. “She is still tottering around, trying to find out who she is,” Waterstone said this weekend. “It is that age when you think you have grown up, but you haven’t.”

Waterstone, who grew up in west London and went to the exclusive Francis Holland School for girls before appearing on stage at the Old Vic in The Crucible in 2014, has also been seen on television in Testament of Youth, Silent Witness and the Agatha Christie adaptation And Then There Were None. It is The Durrells, however, that has boosted her career.

“I do get recognised when I am looking grumpy or angsty on the Tube,” Waterstone said. “That is when I must look most like Margo. But I am flattered, because she is such a great character. She is made of steel and yet with so many flaws. She doesn’t take advice and sort of enjoys her mistakes.”

Waterstone is now choosing other work but hopes she can play Margo for as long as possible. A fourth series is in preparation but has not yet been confirmed by ITV. “I had a feeling when I was auditioning for the part: I felt very connected to Margo, and that I’d be annoyed if someone else got it. That hasn’t happened before or since.”

The appeal of the show, Waterstone thinks, is the mix of light and shade, as well as the beauty of the island. “Margo has actually grown up more than I have in the time we have been filming. She has surpassed me in her maturity now, which is interesting.”

Nye weaves Durrell’s books together with the facts of the family’s rackety lifestyle on the island in the 1930s. Notes of real pain and difficulty are sometimes sounded in his dialogue.

“There are hints of an underlying darkness because they had lost their father. They all share a feeling of incompleteness,” said Waterstone. “And, sadly, it was Leslie in the end who was on his own. None of the others even went to his funeral.”

Whatever the bleak truth of Leslie’s later life, 24-year-old Callum Woodhouse plays him with an oddball comic touch that has earned him fans. The Geordie actor, who has also appeared in Cold Feet, said he feels “a very strong connection” to the real man, although he is wary of sounding pretentious. “I felt it from the word ‘go’. It wasn’t something that built up. I remember just falling into his skin, and it is horrible that his real life was so tragic,” he told the Observer.Woodhouse, who trained at Lamda, is now writing a comic television series with a group of fellow former students as well as auditioning for serious roles.

“I always play Leslie straight and it is still funny. I am never trying to make anyone laugh. I hope we portray the family as they would be, with a lot of bickering and arguments. This series starts off with Leslie having three girlfriends, making up for lost time, but it blows up in his face, in typical Leslie fashion,” the actor said.

Although Woodhouse had not heard of My Family and Other Animals before he took the role, he now identifies so much with Leslie that he has learned his onscreen skills: he can take apart and rebuild a shotgun, milk a goat and keep bees. “Unwittingly I have got into the Leslie thing so much that I find myself looking at Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet of novels and thinking, ‘I am not reading my brother’s boring books’.”

Nye produces a new series of The Durrells each year (“Harry Potter style”) and promises that Leslie has “a particularly strong story line this time”.

Although Nye has been criticised by some fans of the books, the writer said he feels licensed to play with the truth because Gerald Durrell did the same – largely excluding Lawrence’s first wife Nancy from his memoirs, for instance. His main aim is to avoid “going all American” with too much sentiment. It would be anachronistic and un-English, Nye believes.

Family classics

A Family at War

Beginning in 1938, the series follows the Ashtons in Liverpool through the second world war.

The Family

The 1974 BBC documentary series followed the everyday life of the Wilkinses, a working-class family in Reading. The series is seen as a precursor to reality TV.

All Creatures Great and Small

Based on the books by James Herriot, it was set in a Yorkshire veterinary practice in the 1930s.

The Darling Buds of May

Set in rural 1950s Kent, it follows the Larkin family, whose rural paradise is shattered by the arrival of tax inspector Cedric Charlton. Adapted from the books by HE Bates, it was first aired in 1991.

The Royle Family

A sitcom about a television-fixated working-class family from Manchester, starring Ricky Tomlinson and Sue Johnston as mum and dad.

Ai Weiwei on the project that awoke his political voice – The Start podcast

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In 2008, an earthquake devastated Sichuan province in China, claiming the lives of more than 69,000 people. Following accusations from parents that substandard construction caused the collapse of schools across in the region, the artist Ai Weiwei set upon a political investigation that would name every missing student and call the government to account for their deaths.

In the fourth episode of The Start, we hear how this investigation brought about Remembering, an installation of 9,000 school backpacks on the Munich Haus der Kunst, that both commemorated pupils and engendered a new sense of political duty within Ai Weiwei’s work.