Author Archives: Society of Editors

Google is not a publisher and should not be regulated as such

Google is not a publisher and should not be regulated as such, says UK Managing Editor

SoEGoogle is not a publisher in the same way that newspapers are and should not be regulated in the same way, its Managing Editor in the UK and Ireland  said today.

Delivering the prestigious Society of Editors’ Lecture at The Tamburlaine Hotel in Cambridge this evening, Ronan Harris said that while the company recognised that it has many responsibilities, it did not believe that it should be regulated in the same way the news industry is.

He said: “We undertake to give you an answer to an infinite number of questions – 15% of which we’ve never seen before – in a fraction of a second. On Youtube we provide a platform on which more than 400 hours of video are uploaded every minute.

“Now think about what a newspaper or a news programme does every day. Whether it’s 100 pages or a 30 minute programme, your products and polished and curated. They have rigorous editorial processes and an editor who is ultimately responsible. They have a beginning and an end…almost the opposite of the open web. If every piece of material on the open web had to be checked and lawyered before we surfaced an answer or showed a video that would – quite simply – break the internet.

“We agree that we have many responsibilities. But, as the FT wrote the other day, we’re clearly not publishers in the same way that newspapers are. “

Speaking as part of the first day of the Society of Editors’ sell-out  ‘Fighting for Real News’ conference, Harris said that Google took its responsibility seriously in relation to the content that it showed online and measures were in place to tackle extremist material on its services.

He said: “I often hear Google referred to as an ‘unregulated wild west” but that’s just not right – it’s based on misunderstandings of who we are and what we do.

“First, that we avoid our responsibilities with regard to controversial content because we can’t be bothered, or because it would hurt our bottom line. On the contrary, a relatively easy and economical thing for us to do would be to take down any content that anyone complained about. The reality is that we’ve employed thousands of people and invested millions of dollars on systems that evaluate every removal request thoughtfully – because we believe that is the right thing to do.”

Harris added that while Google was fundamentally in favour of free speech, it did not support extremist content and, as such, mechanisms were in place such as ‘machine learning’ to identify and remove vast swathes of such material before it reached the consumer.

At present, Google employs teams to evaluate content that has been flagged up to the company as problematic but uses machines to actively root out and remove problematic material.

He said: “We are fundamentally on the side of free speech but we agree, of course, there are limits. Violent extremism and hate speech should have no place on our services. We are doing more every day to tackle these complex issues – through technology, human review and in partnership with governments and NGOs. Last month 83% of the terrorist content we removed was identified by machine learning, without needing the viewer to flag this to us as problematic.”

Harris went on to say that Google considered itself a partner to the news industry and did recognise that it had made mistakes in the past in its relationship with publishers.

He said: “Google and publishers share a common cause.  We both believe in enabling access to information.  At Google, we strongly believe in the power of news to record the truth, hold institutions and businesses to account, and make for a better-informed, freer, more open society.

“We have always seen ourselves as a partner to the news industry. But we accept that we haven’t always got it right.

“In the past we introduced – or cancelled – products in the news space with little warning. We were not as receptive as we might have been to calls to help solve some of the problems that were holding newspapers back online. And we were not well organised in our conversations with publishers – so you didn’t always feel you could rely on us as a partner. We learned our lesson, and today our approach is to engage early and engage often.”

While Google had set up projects such as the Digital News Initiative to support and boost paid content by news publishers, Harris objected to the idea that the company was monopolising advertising revenue away from traditional publishers and that, as well as driving traffic to news websites, it continued to share revenue with publishers.

He said: “The majority of Google’s revenue comes from showing highly relevant ads when you search for a particular term. This form of online advertising has allowed hundreds of thousands of UK businesses, of all sizes, to reach customers around the world at the very moment they’re looking for something.  Search advertising is not a market that news publishers have ever been in.

“Also – and this is important because we haven’t explained it clearly enough in the past – there is no advertising on Google News.  Zero.  Indeed you will rarely see advertising around news cycles in Google Search either.

“In display advertising, Google is a supplier of ad inventory to newspaper websites.  In every deal we do, without exception, the publisher keeps the majority of ad revenue — typically more than two thirds but often more.  In short, we only make money if you’re making money.

“Every year we share billions of pounds in revenue with publishers globally. We also drove more than 10 billion clicks a month to publisher websites — for free — from Google Search and Google News.

Both services are designed to get people off our site and onto the publisher’s so that you can make money from that audience.”

On the subject of tackling fake news, Harris said that Google was working to reduce its prominence online and reiterated the importance of working with the journalism community on fact checking.

He said: “While we can’t prevent fake news being uploaded to the Web, there are certain things we can do – and are doing – to reduce its prominence online, such as cutting off revenue to misrepresentative sites, improving the visibility of high quality content and ensuring our reporting and feedback tools are as effective as they can be.

“We haven’t always got this right but we’re continually working on concrete actions to tackle this complex issue.”

The ‘Fighting for Real News’ conference will continue with the main day of conference sessions at the University of Cambridge’s Clare College tomorrow (Monday 13 November). Speakers include the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, Chris Evans, Editor of the Telegraph and Lionel Barber, Editor of the Financial Times.

The Society of Editors conference is supported by Camelot, which has sponsored the Society of Editors since 2001, United Utilities, Google, BBC News, JTI,  Foot Anstey, PCS, NLA Media Access, Waitrose, Cambridge News, Visit Cambridge and Beyond, Lidl and HoldTheFrontPage.

Read the full text of Ronan’s speech here.

Notice of Society of Editors Annual General Meeting


Any full or deputy member who wishes to put a resolution or raise a matter under any other business should advise the executive director by Friday 30 September 2016. Full and deputy members are entitled to vote and qualified members may appoint a proxy to attend and vote in his or her stead in accordance with the Memorandum and Articles of Association. A copy is available on the website or from the executive director. To be valid a proxy must be received at the Society office no later than on Friday 30 September 2016 or at the Halston, Carlisle by 12 noon on Sunday 16th October 2016.

R E Satchwell Executive Director and Company Secretary


  1. President’s opening remarks
  2. Apologies for absence
  3. MINUTES: To adopt, if approved, the minutes of the Annual General Meeting held on 18 October 2015.
  4. ACCOUNTS: To receive and, if approved, adopt the accounts for the financial year up to 31 December 2015.
  5. ANNUAL REPORT 2015/16: To receive and, if approved, adopt the Annual Report for 2015/16.
  6. To record the Society’s thanks for service on the board to Graham Dudman, Simon Bucks, Chris Elliott and
    Robin Esser who retired from the board during the year.
  7. To confirm co-option of Charles Garside as an ordinary member of the board for three years. This is the unanimous  proposal of the board.
  8.  To re-elect Fran Unsworth and Donald Martin as ordinary members of the board for a period of three years.
    This is the unanimous proposal of the board.
  9. To note and approve the appointment by the board of Jonathan Grun as chairman of the parliamentary and legal committee for a period of three years. This is the unanimous proposal of the board.
  10. To note and approve the re-appointment by the board of Moira Sleight as Honorary Treasurer. This is the unanimous proposal of the board.
  11. To note and approve the re-appointment by the board of Bob Satchwell as Executive Director and Company Secretary.
  12. To elect the President for the year 2016-2017:  Ian MacGregor, Weekend Editor of the Telegraph, is the unanimous proposal of the board.
  13. DATE OF NEXT MEETING: The next meeting will take place in the Autumn of 2017 at a time and venue to be confirmed.
  14.  Any other business.

Rusbridger, Whittingdale, Sorrell, Fairhead, Sands, MacGregor . . . and now Dinsmore!

Don’t miss them plus a host of other top speakers

David Dinsmore, will make his first key speech as the new chief operating officer for News UK at the Society of Editors’ annual conference next month.

In a speech billed as “The enduring relevance of newspapers”, Dinsmore is expected to reflect on the lessons of how a big year in British politics has been reported.

Dinsmore’s contribution will be the final session at the conference. It will be his first major speech since moving up from the editorship of the Sun following the return of Rebekah Brooks as chief executive.

He will follow Alan Rusbridger’s Society of Editors Lecture, Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport, John Whittingdale’s keynote speech and Sir Martin Sorrell and Rona Fairhead in conversation with Steve Hewlett at the UK’s biggest gathering of editors at the conference at the Grange St Paul’s Hotel in London between October 18 and 20.

They will be joined by a stellar cast including the French Ambassador, Sylvie Bermann, Sir Christopher Meyer, former PCC chairman and Ambassador to the USA, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, Head of Counter Terrorism and Mark Bailey, the Chief Constable leading for the police on child abuse and protection.

After 20 years at the helm of The Guardian and its commanding website what is Rusbridger’s verdict on the media and his predictions for the future?

Will Whittingdale and Fairhead find common ground or open warfare on the BBC?

What lessons can advertising and PR guru Sorrell give us about raising revenue to pay for the news?

How can the media help the police fight terrorism and protect children? And how can top policemen help restore sensible relationships with the media in return?

What is the French take on the UK media’s view of Calais and the European Union?

How do editors see the future as they gaze into the crystal balls on their desks? How can we beat off attempts to weaken the Freedom of Information Act?

Is there money in all that wonderful content and who is best at social media?

And let’s celebrate the industry’s efforts to promote diversity in newsrooms.

View the Full conference programme (opens in new window)

Other top speakers will include Amol Rajan, Editor, The Independent, Sarah Sands, Editor, London Evening Standard, Eleanor Mills, Editorial Director of The Sunday Times and chair of Women in Journalism, Sue Ryan, former Managing Editor of the Daily Telegraph, Jonathan Levy, Director of News Gathering and Operations, Sky News, Caroline Diehl, Chief Executive, Media Trust, Matthew Kelly, Digital Director of Local World, Tiffanie Darke, Commercial Content Director, Method At News at News UK, Jonathan Grun, Emeritus Editor of the Press Association, Darren Waters, Social Media Editor at the Press Association, Stephanie Himoff, Director Brands, Agencies & Head of PR Partnerships at Outbrain, Doug Wills, Managing Editor of the Independent titles, Alison Gow, Digital Innovations Editor at Trinity Mirror, Steve Hewlett, Presenter of BBC Radio 4’s The Media Show, Sarah Pinch, President of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, John Battle, Head of Compliance, ITN, Maurice Frankel, Director, Campaign for Freedom of Information, Simon O’Neill, Editor, The Oxford Mail, Steve Anglesey, Digital Content Director, Local World, Matt Cooke, Manager, News Labs, Google, Richard Evans, Head of Social Media & Audience Engagement, Sky News and Sarah Marshall, Social Media Editor, EMEA, Wall Street Journal.

Sponsors include Camelot which has supported the Society of Editors since 2001, BBC News & Current Affairs, Google, Gorkana, Foot Anstey Solicitors, Outbrain, the Shard, UK Power Networks and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.

Book now at

For details of rates for the whole or parts of the conference email


Top names for editors’ conference

A quintet of top names will head the line-up of speakers at the Society of Editors’ annual conference in London in October.

Alan Rusbridger will deliver the prestigious Society of Editors Lecture and Culture Secretary John Whittingdale MP will open the main conference with a keynote address. They will be followed by advertising guru Sir Martin Sorrell in conversation with the BBC Media Show presenter Steve Hewlett, BBC Trust chairman Rona Fairhead and Mike Darcey, chair of the News Media Association and CEO of News UK, will look to the future.

Whittingdale, long-serving chair of the Parliamentary media watchdog committee turned government minister for the media will launch the main day of working sessions on Monday 19 October. He will be followed by Sorrell, CEO of British multi-national advertising and PR company, WPP, and Fairhead will follow in other major highlights of the biggest annual gathering of editors and media executives. Darcey, who chairs the now combined organisation for national and regional newspaper publishers, will look to the future at the end of the conference on the morning of Tuesday 20 October.

Previous Society of Editors lecturers have included Sir Alan Moses, chairman of the Independent Press Standards Organisation, Lord Michael Grade, former chairman of the BBC and ITV, Alexander Lebedev, owner of the Independent titles, Paul Dacre, Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Mail, Stewart Purvis former chief of ITN and broadcaster and former editor Andrew Neil.

The conference, Making News Pay, which will be based at The Grange St Paul’s Hotel from 18-20 October, is the key arena for media debate on the major issues facing editors, journalists, broadcasters and publisher in all sectors of the media.

The event, which is open to all, will include sessions on raising revenue from content and using social media. There will a significant emphasis on professional skills and knowledge development, the business of journalism and digital initiatives. Attendance as part of a CPD plan for the future stars of our industry is strongly recommended.

Other confirmed speakers include Matthew Kelly, Digital Director of Local World, Tiffanie Darke, Commercial Content Director, Method At News at News UK, Simon Bucks, Associate Editor of Sky News, Darren Waters, Social Media Editor at the Press Association, Stephanie Himoff, Director Brands, Agencies & Head of PR Partnerships at Outbrain, Doug Wills, Managing Editor of the Independent titles, Alison Gow, Digital Innovations Editor at Trinity Mirror, Steve Hewlett, Presenter of BBC Radio 4’s The Media Show and Sarah Pinch, President of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.

Other speakers will be announced shortly.

Sponsors include Camelot which has supported the Society of Editors since 2001, Google, Gorkana, Foot Anstey Solicitors, Outbrain, UK Power Networks and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.

The Society’s annual black tie Gala Dinner will take place in the Grange St Paul’s hotel on the evening of Monday 19 October.

Society of Editors president Doug Wills, managing editor of the London Evening Standard and Independent titles said: “The conference spotlights the opportunities for journalists to turn their ingenuity to the business of making brilliant content and building revenues to help pay for the costs of news gathering.

“High profile speakers and panel debates on the major issues facing journalism will make it a must conference for all who need to keep abreast of developments in the industry.”

Places at the conference and tickets for the black tie Annual Gala Dinner can be booked online at or by emailing

For more information or comment please contact SoE executive director, Bob Satchwell, on 07860562815 or at


Sports News: Protecting Valuable Content and Access coming up next

Following a short tea break we have our next session  – Sports News: Protecting Valuable Content and Access. Panel as follows:

Tony Husband, Sports Editor, BBC South Today (chair)
Andy Moger, Executive Director, News Media Coalition
Julie Palmer, Regional Managing Partner, Begbies Traynor Group.

Police and the media will follow at 4.00pm and the final session of the day will be Digital Opportunities scheduled at 5.00pm.

Full Steam Ahead!

The Society of Editors conference has now broken for lunch. The next session, New threats to the media, will start at 2.00pm and will be chaired by Steve Hewlett, Writer, broadcaster and media consultant.

The panel will include Peter Barron, Director of Communications and Public Affairs for Europe, Middle East and Africa, Google, John Battle, Head of Compliance, ITN, Caroline Kean, Litigation Partner, Wiggin LLP and Matthias Spielkamp, Founding Editor,

High resolution photographs are now available to download from the Society of Editors website.