On Thursday London gets a new mayor. It will be one of two men: Sadiq Khan, the candidate for the left-wing Labour party, or Zac Goldsmith for the Conservatives. The betting seems to be on Khan taking over from the incumbent Boris Johnson. But after a bruising campaign in which Khan has been accused of sharing platforms with Muslim extremists and Goldsmith has been pilloried for being a privileged toff, nothing can be taken for granted. It’s a shame because London has tough problems around housing, social capital and transport that should have had better airings before the vote. “There’s not much money about and London is suffering a real growth crisis in transport, schools and housing,” says Ben Rogers from the independent think-tank Centre for London. “Whoever wins is going to have to work much closer with business and in the long run win the argument with central government about greater devolution so we can stand shoulder to shoulder with New York and Paris.”
Beginning today, Berlin will be hosting the annual Media Convention – one of Europe’s leading conferences in the industry – in conjunction with digital culture symposium Republica. The two-day event held at Station Berlin, a repurposed 19th-century railway station, will be opened by mayor Michael Müller, followed by appearances by the likes of whistleblower Edward Snowden, Twitter’s vice-president of media in Europe and Africa, Mark Little, and Monocle’s Berlin correspondent Kati Krause. At a time when the freedom of expression and the press is called into question on a daily basis – a topic that will feature heavily in the programme – this year’s conference promises to give some insight into how to navigate the media landscape in 2016.
As far as social networks go, Wattpad has rather old-fashioned sensibilities. The Toronto-based tech start-up, established in 2006, wanted to solve a simple problem: how to share well-written fiction with an audience increasingly glued to its smartphones. Battling ever-diminishing attention spans, Wattpad has done rather well: some 40 million users have joined the service since it began and spend, collectively, an average of 13 billion minutes reading texts every month by emerging writers. (It helps that author Margaret Atwood is a prominent supporter.) Wattpad’s founders are now betting on film and TV to enhance its scope. Wattpad Studios will identify the threads that are most popular in its storytelling sphere and turn them into films and TV programmes.
Labour Day usually sets the stage for demonstrations in support of workers’ rights around the world. But in Hong Kong a protest is being held today in support of one particular worker: the former executive chief editor of the well-regarded Chinese-language newspaper Ming Pao. Keung Kwok-yuen was dismissed last month – ostensibly a financial cutback but many of his ex-colleagues suspect that his robust coverage of China conflicted with the ownership’s pro-Beijing stance. The rally at Ming Pao’s headquarters will unite Hong Kong’s journalism community behind a pledge to bring back gutsy reporting. “We will deliver a message to the owner that he is destroying the credibility of the paper and the industry,” says Sham Yee-lan, chairwoman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association. Freedom of expression may be under threat in Hong Kong but today’s show of solidarity is the latest example of the city’s long and rich right of protest – a reassuring sign to the BBC, which is planning to relocate its Chinese service from the UK to the former colony.
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