Last month technicians from GCHQ, the UK electronic surveillance agency, stood over journalists from The Guardian newspaper to make sure that they destroyed a computer containing files leaked to them by Edward Snowden, the former contractor to the US National Security Agency. This week the British police abused anti-terror legislation to detain David Miranda, the partner of Glenn Greenwald, a Guardian journalist, and seize his files. Coming up next: officials from the NSA and GCHQ bang their heads against a brick wall in frustration at having allowed Mr Snowden to abscond with their secrets. It would be as effective, and legal.

Emma Jacobs

Tim Armstrong, chief executive of AOL, has apologised for firing Abel Lenz, creative director at the company’s Patch, in front of 1,000 co-workers.

It comes on the heels of a leaked recording that was published by Business Insider, in which Mr Armstrong is heard dismissing Mr Lenz in strong terms followed by an awkward silence. The recording went viral. Read more

Ravi Mattu

I had an interesting reader email to my column today on why the improved relevance of the recommendations sent to me by social networks such as Twitter and LinkedIn is not a good thing for managers. If you are only fed information based your likes and previous behaviour, you aren’t going to stumble on to ideas that challenge your assumptions, and that is surely bad for innovation and creative thinking.

So, the reader asked, does this mean he should also “stop reading the FT obsessively?”

Quite the opposite – but I suppose I would say that.

But this does highlight another risk for how you access news and information. Where in the past, readers relied on editors and trusted brands to do the curating for them, increasingly readers are doing this for themselves. Read more

John Gapper

Alfred Marshall, the economist, wrote in 1890 that changes in technology and trade meant that “the operations in which a man exceptionally favoured by genius and good luck can take part are so extensive as to enable him to amass a large fortune with a rapidity hitherto unknown”.

Andrew Hill

Seen from outside France, the country’s “cultural exception” – which protects its art, music and movie industries in trade negotiations – is like a long-running film franchise.

In the new sequel – Exception Culturelle 3D, if you will – Pierre Lescure, author of a government-commissioned report, has given the story a great new twist by suggesting a tax on smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles and e-readers to fund French cultural output. Read more

Andrew Hill

If you’re on Twitter, you’ll know by now that Warren Buffett is – to quote his first and (at time of writing) his only tweet – “in the house“.

His appearance on the social media service is apparently linked to a Fortune forum in which the Sage of Omaha is due to participate. It has already garnered him (again, at time of writing) 40,000 followers and prompted some Twitter wit from his bridge partner, Bill Gates. Read more

Andrew Hill

The digerati are having fun with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s ruling that US companies can use social media to distribute market-sensitive information such as earnings reports. “Facebook Flap Forces SEC Into 21st Century,” says Forbes.

Not so fast. The US regulator’s decision to drop its inquiry into Reed Hastings, Netflix’s chief executive, who boasted about new viewing figures on his personal Facebook page, is only an incremental advance into the new millennium. It makes sense for the SEC to acknowledge the growing use of social media (I’m guessing more people saw Mr Hastings’ Facebook post than have viewed any regulatory announcement in corporate history), but I don’t think the decision will prompt fearful CEOs to tweet their earnings much more than they do already – and, even if it does, it won’t make much difference to investors. Read more

Pascal Soriot, AstraZeneca’s new chief executive, has just laid out a new strategy to “focus, accelerate and transform” the pharmaceutical company. Mark Thompson, newly arrived at the helm of The New York Times Company, has promised to “concentrate [the group’s] strategic focus” on the core business, putting The Boston Globe up for sale and rebranding the venerable International Herald Tribune.

Infuriated by Fleet Street’s tabloids, the House of Lords this week nodded through a law to curb the British press. It authorised a Royal Charter that defines how self-regulation will work after the Leveson inquiry into phone hacking.

John Gapper

Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine won Oscar for best documentary short. Getty Images

This Oscars had many surprises, including the winner of the best actress award tripping over her dress on the way to collect it. But one interesting innovation was that for the first time, an Oscar went to a crowd-funded film.

Inocente, winner of the best short documentary award, was funded through Kickstarter, the crowd-funding platform on which creative projects solicit donations. The film raised $52,527 in this way.

Inocente was one of three Kickstarter-funded films nominated for Oscars this year, all in the low-cost short film categories. Read more

Greetings from Davos, the annual shindig of world leaders and chief executives in a valley by a Swiss mountain. Or perhaps the site of a global conspiracy of the power elite. Or perhaps the place where a Swiss professor imposes his quaint euro-views on “stakeholder capitalism” on US corporations. Or perhaps one giant cocktail party.

John Gapper

Sony sells its New York HQ. Getty Images

Sony’s sale of its New York headquarters, 550 Madison Avenue, is one of those moments that have deep symbolism, whatever the substance. It is a neat reversal of Mitsubishi Estate’s purchase of the Rockefeller Center in 1989, which led to an outbreak of concern that the US had lost its edge.

The second event that promoted the idea that the surging Japanese economy was enabling a US takeover was Sony’s purchase of Columbia Pictures in the same year, for $3.4bn. Sony still owns the Hollywood studio, although its problems with its electronics operations have weighed the whole down. Read more

John Gapper

The death of the internet activist Aaron Swartz at the age of 26 has rightly evoked tributes to his creativity and selflessness. Swartz, who faced jail for illegally downloading millions of academic papers from an electronic library, committed suicide last week.

It takes an Orwellian sense of irony – or a complete lack of it – for a censor to ban the phrase “freedom of speech”. Yet that was among the search terms blocked on Sina Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, in the row over censorship that erupted in Guangzhou this week.

The Tribune Company, owner of the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times and other down-on-their luck newspapers, emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy after four years this week. Its first move will probably be to sell off the papers cheaply and focus on cable television.

John Gapper

BlackBerry phones by RIM. Getty Images

We are about to find out whether Research in Motion can re-establish itself as a serious competitor in the smartphone world, or will go the way of Palm and others, crushed by Apple and Google.

Judging by alleged leaked photographs of the new BlackBerry London phone that will run BlackBerry 10 software, it seems as if RIM has gone through the full five stages of the Kübler-Ross grief model in response to the iPhone, arriving at “acceptance” and abandoning its illusions.

Having initially protested that few people would want a smartphone without a physical keyboard, and continuing to display a lot of anger and resentment, RIM has changed its management and adjusted to the world as it is. Read more

Only two individuals’ pictures feature in Cable & Wireless’s online corporate history. One is Sir John Pender, the Victorian subsea cable pioneer; the other is Sir Richard Lapthorne.

John Gapper

With the Leveson report into the UK press published, the tectonic plates are shifting inside Rupert Murdoch’s empire, with a series of interlocking reshuffles underway. The outsider remains Elisabeth Murdoch.

The restructuring, in which Robert Thomson is to become chief executive of the new News Corp publishing company, with Gerard Baker succeeding him as editor-in-chief of the Wall Street Journal, is already causing ructions. Tom Mockridge has resigned as chief executive of News International, the UK publishing arm.

All this coincides with a lengthy profile in The New Yorker of Elisabeth Murdoch, Mr Murdoch’s daughter by his second marriage, who fell out with her brother James over the phone hacking affair. In Ken Auletta’s article, News Corp resembles Dombey and Son, the Charles Dickens novel. Read more

John Gapper

Ofcom could oversee press. Getty Images


Lord Justice Leveson’s report on the ethics and culture of the UK press is generally sober and carefully considered, but it confuses matters by proposing giving a big role in press oversight to Ofcom, the UK telecoms and broadcast regulator.

“I am firmly of the view that the goal here is voluntary independent self-regulation,” writes the judge. His core proposal is for a new press oversight body established by the industry, with powers of arbitration in disputes.

In many ways, this fits with my column setting out a way in which a new arrangement with statutory underpinning could enhance the freedom of the press, while cracking down on Fleet Street’s abuses.

But he allocates an important oversight role to Ofcom; an independent regulator whose chairman is appointed by the government and that is ultimately accountable to parliament. That strikes me as badly misguided. Read more

Some years ago, when I was the media editor of the FT, I used to deal with one David Cameron, the public relations executive of Carlton, a large broadcasting company. Since then, Mr Cameron has become prime minister of the UK while I have stayed roughly where I was.