It was the NS wot got it . . .

We were first with the story of the "secret ballot" plot

So, who broke the story of the failed coup yesterday? The Guardian and the BBC have both jumped to claim it as their own.

The Guardian does so on the basis that, at 12.15pm, it had a ticker line at the top of its website saying that a statement was due from Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon. It didn't report the full story till later in the afternoon.

With rather less justification, the BBC last night said it had broken the story at 12.30pm (actually, according to Guido Fawkes, the Beeb had it at 1pm).

Guido joins in, too, to say that he had the story straight after the Guardian, "just after half past".

Well, sorry, everyone -- as Sunny Hundal concludes at Liberal Conspiracy today, the story was actually broken by my colleague James Macintyre.

He published his story online at 12.17pm -- a full account of how the gruesome twosome were co-ordinating a letter to MPs calling for a secret ballot on Gordon Brown's leadership (as opposed to the Guardian's one-line teaser). James's piece was certainly the first Iain Dale had heard of it.

Why the two-minute delay our end? Well, having been sitting opposite James at the time, I can confirm that he received the tip-off around 11.30am but was told to hold off until after PMQs. The full story was sitting, ready to go, and we hit publish as soon as we saw that the Guardian were on to it, too.

Case closed.

 

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Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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The economics of outrage: Why you haven't seen the end of Katie Hopkins

Her distasteful tweet may have cost her a job at LBC, but this isn't the last we've seen of Britain's biggest troll. 

Another atrocity, other surge of grief and fear, and there like clockwork was the UK’s biggest troll. Hours after the explosion at the Manchester Arena that killed 22 mostly young and female concert goers, Katie Hopkins weighed in with a very on-brand tweet calling for a “final solution” to the complex issue of terrorism.

She quickly deleted it, replacing the offending phrase with the words “true solution”, but did not tone down the essentially fascist message. Few thought it had been an innocent mistake on the part of someone unaware of the historical connotations of those two words.  And no matter how many urged their fellow web users not to give Hopkins the attention she craved, it still sparked angry tweets, condemnatory news articles and even reports to the police.

Hopkins has lost her presenting job at LBC radio, but she is yet to lose her column at Mail Online, and it’s quite likely she won’t.

Mail Online and its print counterpart The Daily Mail have regularly shown they are prepared to go down the deliberately divisive path Hopkins was signposting. But even if the site's managing editor Martin Clarke was secretly a liberal sandal-wearer, there are also very good economic reasons for Mail Online to stick with her. The extreme and outrageous is great at gaining attention, and attention is what makes money for Mail Online.

It is ironic that Hopkins’s career was initially helped by TV’s attempts to provide balance. Producers could rely on her to provide a counterweight to even the most committed and rational bleeding-heart liberal.

As Patrick Smith, a former media specialist who is currently a senior reporter at BuzzFeed News points out: “It’s very difficult for producers who are legally bound to be balanced, they will sometimes literally have lawyers in the room.”

“That in a way is why some people who are skirting very close or beyond the bounds of taste and decency get on air.”

But while TV may have made Hopkins, it is online where her extreme views perform best.  As digital publishers have learned, the best way to get the shares, clicks and page views that make them money is to provoke an emotional response. And there are few things as good at provoking an emotional response as extreme and outrageous political views.

And in many ways it doesn’t matter whether that response is negative or positive. Those who complain about what Hopkins says are also the ones who draw attention to it – many will read what she writes in order to know exactly why they should hate her.

Of course using outrageous views as a sales tactic is not confined to the web – The Daily Mail prints columns by Sarah Vine for a reason - but the risks of pushing the boundaries of taste and decency are greater in a linear, analogue world. Cancelling a newspaper subscription or changing radio station is a simpler and often longer-lasting act than pledging to never click on a tempting link on Twitter or Facebook. LBC may have had far more to lose from sticking with Hopkins than Mail Online does, and much less to gain. Someone prepared to say what Hopkins says will not be out of work for long. 

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