ANALYSIS: BIG QUESTION; Have the broadsheet newspapers abandoned quality journalism?

The traditional bastions of serious news have been accused of turning lightweight

The traditional bastions of serious news have been accused of turning


Geoff Mulgan; Demos

‘I think the price war had the effect of putting more emphasis on

titillating home news as well as features. And the broadsheets are

competing for a younger, more TV and computer-based audience which

thinks it can’t cope with heavy news. But if you look at British

broadsheets what is extraordinary is the sheer amount of comment and

analysis. It’s there to the extent it was ten years ago, but it’s

perhaps more buried away. One thing that has disappeared a little, and

will disappear even more, is investigative reporting.’

Alan Rusbridger; The Guardian

‘Some have, some haven’t. I don’t think the Guardian has. We do all the

things that broadsheet newspapers always did. The Neil Hamilton verdict

is the result of two years of investigative journalism by five

journalists. We have as much space dedicated to foreign news and

analysis as ever. G2 gives the opportunity for more serious feature

writing than was ever the case when I joined the Guardian in 1979. But

generally, people are right to be concerned.’

Rodney Brooke; Association of Metropolitan Authorities

‘One of the sad things about the papers is that there has been a

tremendous reduction in the specialist reporters. The knowledge of

issues like local government has been very badly eroded. And that

affects the depth of the reporting.’

John Lloyd; New Statesman’

‘The Mail, the Telegraph and the Times are all fighting to increase

their share of the middle market. A greater emphasis is being put on

people and lifestyle and things you can relate to, and there is a

downgrading of stories on people whose names we can’t pronounce and

countries we know little about. Foreign coverage has suffered in

everything except the FT. The Guardian has played both sides

brilliantly, keeping its upmarket liberal readership while boosting its

lifestyle features, while the Independent is targeting the metropolitan

market with opinion because it’s cheaper than news.’

Neil Churchill; Policy Studies Institute

‘There is a lot of quality journalism about but they’re not always

asking the hard questions. Often the big issues are being shunted out of

the news pages into special sections or left out altogether to be

tackled by elite channels like the Economist, the New Statesman and

Newsnight. There is a need to entertain and perhaps amuse and often the

important detail is being subordinated to these two desires.’


PRW # 06:12:96

CAMPAIGNS: AUCTION PUBLICITY; Success for sale of the century





Photograph (omitted)

Client: Christie’s International

PR Team: In-house and Hobsbawm Macaulay Communications

Campaign: Mauerbach Benefit Sale

Timescale: December 1995 - November 1996

Cost: Undisclosed

The Mauerbach Benefit Sale, held in Vienna on 29-30 October 1996, was

unquestionably one of the most emotionally charged auctions ever to take

place. The 8,000 lots on offer had been plundered from Austria’s Jewish

community by the Nazis immediately before and during the Second World


In 1995 the Austrian Government transferred ownership of these items to

the Federation of Austrian Jewish Communities which arranged to put them

on sale through Christie’s International. Christie’s worked on a non-

profit basis and proceeds from the auction are being used to help

victims of the Holocaust and their families.

It was the first restitution art sale of its kind in the world and as

such was of international significance in terms of historical, political

and cultural issues.


To raise the profile of the auction worldwide and thereby boost sales.

To communicate the art-specific and broader historical/human interest

stories arising from the auction.


Hobsbawm Macaulay developed the communications strategy for the

Mauerbach sale. The campaign was run out of London, New York and Vienna,

with support from Christie’s offices in other countries where


Israel and the German-speaking countries were given pre-eminence. And,

reflecting the international nature of the campaign, material was

published in five languages (English, German, Hebrew, French and


In all, the team targeted 3,000 media contacts but, because of the

sensitivity of the sale, made sure the Jewish press was given

information first. An International Honorary Committee was established

to encourage bidding from Jewish organisations and 1,000 key opinion

formers around the world were sent information at the same time as the


Art correspondents were given personal briefings and Christie’s

organised a series of small talks and events relating to Mauerbach. A

VNR was produced in June - the fragile nature of some of the lots and

the cramped conditions in which they were stored made it unwise to offer

every film crew access to the works prior to the sale.

Christie’s published the ‘largest ever sale catalogue of its kind’ -

with photographs of over 95 per cent of the lots on sale - which was

launched at three press conferences held on separate days in New York,

London and Vienna.

Throughout, the team had to take pains not to offend either Holocaust

survivors and their families or the Austrian government. On the eve of

the sale the Jewish community of Vienna hosted a reception for VIPs and

the media.


The first day of the sale was attended by 1,000 members of the media.

Two additional overflow rooms had to be provided and access was limited

to ten film crews who supplied other broadcasters with pooled footage.

Coverage was obtained in print and broadcast media around the world,

including front page stories in the Times and FT. There was further

publicity the week after the sale when the Sunday Times ran a story on

Greta Fattal, a Holocaust survivor who saw the sale catalogue and

recognised (and reclaimed) two paintings belonging to her father.


Evening Standard features writer Mark Honigsbaum attended the sale. He

says: ‘I don’t think PR often coincides so effortlessly with a good

journalistic subject. I don’t want to detract from the logistics, but it

wasn’t hard to sell this story.’

The sale received a huge amount of publicity, in the process storing up

a great deal of goodwill for Christie’s. Moreover, every lot found a

buyer. The sale raised over pounds 9 million - five times its original


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