Thursday, 9 July 2020

Media Quotes of the Week: From journalism job losses soar across the media to 'unencumbered capitalism' blamed for destroying newspapers

Press Gazette reports: "The UK’s largest newspaper group Reach announced plans to cut 550 staff (or around 12% of its workforce). The cutbacks are part of changes intended to deliver savings of £35m a year at a one-off cost of £20m. As of 2019 Reach employed 2,598 journalists and editorial staff across 150 national and regional press brands. Its national news brands include the Mirror and Express and regionally it publishes titles including the Manchester Evening News and Birmingham Mail."
  • Press Gazette also reports: "Liverpool Echo editor and North West editor-in-chief Ali Machray and Bristol Post editor and editor-in-chief for Reach West Mike Norton are both stepping down...At the regionals, four marketplace publishers will be responsible for the print titles and their market positioning. Working alongside them will be audience and content directors who have been appointed across different regions to run local newsrooms and work as part of the digital editorial leadership team. Local editors will report to them."

Reach chief executive Jim Mullen in a statement, quoted by HoldTheFrontPage: “Structural change in the media sector has accelerated during the pandemic and this has resulted in increased adoption of our digital products. However, due to reduced advertising demand, we have not seen commensurate increases in digital revenue. To meet these challenges and to accelerate our customer value strategy, we have completed plans to transform the business and are ready to begin the process of implementation. Regrettably, these plans involve a reduction in our workforce...Award-winning journalism and content will always be at the core of our purpose.”

Bureau of Investigative Journalism editor Rachel Oldroyd on Twitter: "Reach announces 500 job cuts, but says award-winning investigative journalism will remain at its core. The problem is that good local accountability journalism and constant scrutiny of local power doesn't win awards but is vital to democracy and local communities."

Chris Morley, Newsquest NUJ national coordinator, in a statement on  'substantial' redundancies at Newsquest: "We recognise that the pandemic crisis has badly impacted the economy and businesses are struggling to overcome sharp falls in their revenue streams. The government stepped in to provide massive support to commercial companies and to provide a financial bridge to head off mass redundancies. It is really disappointing that the so-called Job Retention Scheme (furlough) now appears to be fast turning into a waiting room for redundancy. So many of those roles being selected for redundancy in Newsquest are those that have been recently furloughed, particularly sport and photography."

The Stage announcing it has started consulting staff about redundancy due to the impact of Coronavirus on theatreland: “A high proportion of The Stage’s revenue is generated from recruitment advertising, which vanished overnight with the shutdown of theatres. The Stage is an independently owned family business and our small team achieves a huge amount. This is not the course of action anyone wanted or could have predicted. We have now spoken to the team members affected and are beginning to consult with them.”

Helen Thomas, director of BBC England, in a statement on plans by the BBC to cut 450 jobs in its  English regional TV news and current affairs, local radio and online news: “I’m proud people have turned to us for trusted news and information in huge numbers during COVID-19, proving the importance of our local and regional services. But those services were created more than 50 years ago, have changed very little and need significant reinvention. That has meant taking some difficult decisions."

Paul Siegert, NUJ national broadcasting organiser, in a statement on the BBC cuts: “There will be relief that the union’s campaign to save the Politics shows has paid off and that the journalism created by Inside Out has not been scrapped. But the hit to local radio – for staff and listeners – will be a major blow. Commercial radio has all but given up on providing any local news and radio has been a great mainstay for many communities during the crisis."

Ex-Northern Echo editor Peter Barron on the BBC cuts on Twitter: "Been through it with local newspapers & now radio. Seen so many brilliant, passionate grass roots journalists displaced in recent years. Local news, local campaigns, local investigations, local accountability are the bedrock of our democracy. So sad, so wrong to see it undermined."

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab, quoted by The Times [£] after announcing sanctions against 20 Saudi Arabians involved in the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi: “Those with blood on their hands, the thugs of despots, or the henchmen of dictators, won’t be free to waltz into this country to buy up property on the Kings Road, or do their Christmas shopping in Knightsbridge, or frankly to siphon dirty money through British banks or financial institutions.”

Ian Murray, executive director of the Society of Editors, in a statement on plans for televised Lobby briefings: “If the aim of the televised briefings is to enable greater transparency then it will be important that they are of sufficient length and inclusive in nature to ensure a broad cross section of the media is able to question the government. It is vital that the government gives assurances that journalists or media providers out of favour with the administration will not be barred from such briefings.”

Matt Chorley in The Times [£]: "No 10 is advertising for someone to front daily press conferences, having been impressed at the viewing figures for the coronavirus briefings, apparently misunderstanding that millions of people were a bit more interested in whether they were going to die than they will be in finding out which factory Alok Sharma is visiting...Key skills include an ability to feign interest all the way to the end of Robert Peston’s question, and then respond with one of four phrases chosen at random: 'We are doubling down on levelling up'; 'This is a typical Westminster bubble story'; 'I haven’t spoken to the PM about that'; or 'I think the public watching have had enough of these gotcha questions'."

David Simon interviewed in the Sunday Times [£]: “Wall Street figured out that if you put out shittier newspapers with a small news coverage and less talent, you could make more money than if you put out a quality newspaper with better news coverage and real talent. And they were right. For a short-term window, they were right, and they guided my industry into this shithole on that logic. It was unencumbered capitalism that disengaged journalism from its purpose. When The Baltimore Sun was at its height, when I was there, we were publishing an evening and a morning edition, and we had 500 reporters in the building. Then there were 90 people covering the same terrain, so, obviously, not covering it.”


Thursday, 2 July 2020

Media Quotes of the Week: From The Times they are a broadcastin' to we are ruled by a 'gobocracy' - a Government of ex-newspaper columnists

The Times [£] in a leader: "Times Radio is not merely a megaphone for the famous and powerful. It is an operation with the ability to conduct expert analysis, and pose hard questions, because of the resources it draws on from the news rooms of The Times and The Sunday Times. In the digital age, the division between print and broadcasting has long broken down. Readers and listeners are the same audience, and anyone, via blogs or podcasts, can address them. There is a space in this multiplicity of media for voices that are objective and informed, to counter current fashions for rumour or propaganda."

Roger Mosey, former head of BBC TV News and director of BBC Sport on the launch of Times Radio, on Twitter: "It’s been a decent start by @timesradio. The Mir/Abell combination works. The main thing to applaud is an investment in intelligent speech radio, which adds to the range of voices alongside the BBC and LBC."

John Crace in the Guardian: "Times Radio was looking for a big name to kick off the first show of its first day broadcasting, and interviews don’t come much bigger than the prime minister. And Boris Johnson was keen to drop a gentle reminder that Radio 4’s Today still was not forgiven for its lese-majesty, which was why he had not appeared on the programme for nearly two years. So shortly after eight in the morning Boris made his return to the first news organisation to have sacked him for lying."

Bill Grueskin in the Columbia Journalism Review on White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany: "When she pivots from reporters’ questions to go off on unrelated diatribes, she is seeking to undermine the credibility not just of individual journalists or outlets, but of journalism itself. When confronted with a tweet or quote that might work to Trump’s disadvantage, she tries to undermine the press rather than to address the substance of the story. That is why she comes armed to briefings with multiple examples of press failure—some valid, some fictitious—and draws White House reporters into a noxious tit for tat."

Lynda Moyo, head of what's on at Reach, on Behind Local News on Medium: "Anyone who knows me will also know I’m proud of my afro hair and its chameleon-like tendencies. Seeing me walk through the Manchester Evening News office with waist length jumbo box braids is nothing out of the ordinary. Yet I went out of my way to straighten my hair for that interview because I genuinely believed it could be the difference between 'you’ve got the job' and 'sorry you’re not what we’re looking for at this time.' That feeling stems from a lifetime of feeling like you don’t fit in, like you’re not quite good enough."

The Times [£] reports: "Facebook and Twitter were in turmoil yesterday as leading British and American businesses pulled advertising from their social networks, saying that the time had come for the companies to clean up hate speech and fake news. Unilever, the £120 billion British consumer goods group behind Hellmann’s mayonnaise, suspended US advertising on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter until the end of the year at least. Verizon, the £182 billion US mobile network provider, pulled adverts on Facebook and Instagram until an “acceptable solution” was found for policing harmful content."

Google's Brad Bender in a statement on the google blog: "A vibrant news industry matters—perhaps now more than ever, as people look for information they can count on in the midst of a global pandemic and growing concerns about racial injustice around the world. But these events are happening at a time when the news industry is also being challenged financially. We care deeply about providing access to information and supporting the publishers who report on these important topics. Today, we are announcing a licensing program to pay publishers for high-quality content for a new news experience launching later this year."

Rachel Sassoon Beer

Ann Treneman in The Times [£]: "Good news in my quest to honour Rachel Beer, the first female editor of a national newspaper in Britain who was at the helm of both The Sunday Times and The Observer during the 1890s. I discovered her story years ago when I wrote a book on graves of exceptional people. She lies in Tunbridge Wells, her headstone revealing only her date of death (April 29, 1927) and that she was the daughter of David Sassoon. Well now, with the help of members of the Sassoon family and money from both papers, there is a splendid white marble marker that notes her achievement on her newly renovated grave. I visited last week and felt a sense of pride. I know it is a relatively small thing but it is there for ever now."

Marina Hyde on Richard Desmond in the Guardian: "I see Desmond’s currently a property developer. Then again: he owns a massive newspaper-printing complex. What else are you going to do with it in this day and age? You know the drill for these pivot-to-luxury-flats redevelopments. Quick nod to the heritage in the form of: a coffee shop where a cappuccino costs £4 and people can read free newspapers via gazillionaire social media networks; a blow-dry bar (“The Head-Line”); a gym (“The Print Run”); and a fauxthentic pub called Ye Olde Livere Failyure. Before you take any satisfaction from this, do please remember that we have only gone and elected a journalist to run the entire country."

Nick Cohen in the Observer"As Boris Johnson is leading Britain’s first government of pundits, 'a gobocracy', if you like, it is worth repeating Humbert Wolfe’s scathing poem on the press: 'You cannot hope to bribe or twist,/ thank God! the British journalist./ But, seeing what the man will do/ unbribed, there’s no occasion to.' In a gobocracy, there’s no need to become too conspiratorial about why a prime minister betrays his country. Put a Telegraph columnist in charge, throw in Michael Gove from the Times and Dominic Cummings from Vote Leave’s propaganda arm, and their bottomless cynicism and instinctive charlatanism will bring ruin with or without foreign assistance."


Thursday, 25 June 2020

Media Quotes of the Week: Mail wins daily and Sunday circulation war in 'profound cultural shift' to why can't all newspaper readers be like this?

Dominic Ponsford on Press Gazette: "The Daily Mail has claimed victory in a 42-year circulation war with The Sun. The paper said it has overtaken The Sun’s monthly print circulation for the first time in that period to become the UK’s best selling daily newspaper."

The Mail on Sunday: "It’s a moment of newspaper – and social – history. Officially audited figures show that in May, The Mail on Sunday surged past The Sun to become Britain’s biggest-selling Sunday newspaper. It’s the first time a mid-market newspaper has been the market leader on a Sunday since Queen Victoria’s reign – a profound cultural shift...In this frightening new era of intolerance, the MoS has become a beacon for those who believe in free speech and who refuse to be cowed by the tyranny of the Twitter mob and hard-Left agitators who believe everyone should be forced to think like them."

BBC News presenter Clive Myrie, interviewed by the Guardian: “I could count on the fingers of one hand the amount of racist abuse that I received from when I started in journalism in 1988 through to about 2008, though there was a guy in the early 90s who would send faeces in the post. But it has picked up in the last decade and become incredibly more prevalent in the last few years. Why has that happened? I don’t know.”

An open letter to the Society of Editors from 50 BAME journalists: "We request you to consider positive recruitment campaigns from ethnic communities across Britain with a declared commitment; properly paid traineeships for BAME youngsters with adequate mentoring and equal promotion and pay for BAME staff already in newsrooms. A good start would be regular reviews of diversity in newsrooms and for an initial assessment and publication of current BAME representations in news organisations. We call upon the Society of Editors to urge its members to use this period of reflection to re-evaluate and reform past practices and move forward with a totally skilled workforce with appropriate BAME representation. Let’s all get the whole story."

Bristol Post editor Mike Norton in an editorial on why the paper won't carry police pictures of those alleged to have pulled down the statue of slave owner Edward Colston: "We think the majority of Bristolians accept that the years of frustration and offence at the statue’s existence mitigate what happened two weeks ago. That is why the Bristol Post or Bristol Live will not publishing the police photographs. We are not criticising the police and - unlike the council - have no influence over whether or not those responsible should be sought. But we do not agree that the actions of those young people should be reduced to a simple act of criminal damage which ignores the complex context and history around it."

Donald Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale on coverage for the poor turnout at the Tulsa rally, reported by the Guardian“For the media to now celebrate the fear that they helped create is disgusting, but typical and it makes us wonder why we bother credentialing media for events when they don’t do their full jobs as professionals.”

Eliot Higgins on Twitter: "In case you missed it overnight, the President of the United States tweeted a faked CNN video, literally fake news, to attack CNN for being fake news, and to warn people to look out for fake news. The brain worms must have been particularly hungry."

Big Issue editor Paul McNamee on Twitter on The Impartial Reporter's Rodney Edwards: "An incredibly worthy winner. Brilliant reporting of a very dark story. Rodney is one of best, most naturally born reporters I've ever met. He is evidence of why a vibrant local press is essential. More power to him."

Matthew Goodwin on UnHeard: "Not so long ago, after the brutal atrocity at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, the world pledged to defend freedom of speech. Now, only five years later, we seemingly do not have much of a problem with newspapers removing comment editors, publishers refusing to work on books they disagree with and students calling for the sacking of journalists whose views they disagree with."

journalismtips on Twitter: "Newsquest is now planning to take on school leavers as apprentices. Is this a good or bad thing for the industry? On the one hand there are many graduates who can’t string a sentence together; on the other much much cheaper reporters."

John Humphrys in the Daily Mail: "Magistrates’ courts in small towns are where journalists’ careers were forged back in the heyday of the local paper. It’s where you learned the only thing that mattered was getting it right. Especially names. Spell a name incorrectly and you were dead meat."

David Quantick on Twitter: "There's a certain style of Bob Dylan review where the reviewer seems to think they are Bob Dylan."

Alan Hawkes in a letter to The Times [£]: "Sir, There were several articles in Saturday’s comment section (Jun 20) with which I profoundly disagreed. Keep up the good work."


Thursday, 18 June 2020

Media Quotes of the Week: From editors condemn readers racist comments on Black Lives Matter coverage to petition calls for Guardian to be closed

Plymouth Live editor Edd Moore in a statement to readers: "Over the last few weeks we have run dozens of articles on the Black Lives Matter movement. While the vast majority of our readers, like all decent human beings, find racism abhorrent, we have been utterly appalled by some of the comments made by a vocal minority using our platforms to spread their hate. We have deleted hundreds of comments in the last few days and banned dozens of people from our websites and Facebook pages. But it is not enough. We recognise that we must do more. Black lives matter. That is not an opinion. It is a fact. As an independent publisher, we represent people of diverse backgrounds and diverse opinions. We are proud to be advocates of free speech and we want our readers to continue to comment on our articles. But hate speech is not free speech." 

Helen Dalby, editor-in-chief of Reach North East, on "Our work has been blighted by a backdrop of online and social media abuse against our journalists. It has always been a problem. But it is getting much worse. Sometimes this has crept into phone or email — I’ve had calls and messages over this period where I’ve been sworn at, threatened, told by one man that he hopes I ‘get coronavirus and die’ ...The increase in hate speech has come as we have been reporting on the Black Lives Matter movement in our region. That coverage has prompted some of the most shocking and offensive comments we have seen on our website."

Hull Live digital editor Jenna Thompson on Twitter: "Unfortunately I have just had to delete every post from our Facebook page about today's #BlackLivesMatter protest in Hull. Despite actively monitoring comments all day, we can't do it all night and they have been so bad I can't leave it. It's really disappointing."

BBC News home affairs correspondent Dominic Casciani on Twitter: "
Bottles, cans and smoke bombs thrown in the last half hour at police and their horses in Parliament Square by football firms/far-right protesters. Anyone who is thought to be media is also being threatened."

The World Association of Newspapers in a letter to Donald Trump: "Dear Mr President, We are writing on behalf of the World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum, which represent 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries, to express our deep dismay at the hundreds of reports of violence being perpetrated against journalists covering ongoing protests in the United States and to call on you to forcefully condemn these attacks and show unwavering support for a free press."
  • According to a report in The Washington Post, the new book by former national security advisor John Bolton alleges Trump suggested that more journalists should be arrested and jailed so the government could compel them to reveal their sources. 'These people should be executed,' Trump said in the meeting, according to Bolton. 'They are scumbags'."

Ruth Ben-Ghiat on CNN: "Americans who today support the beating of journalists and Trump's crusades against the press might reflect on this: authoritarians may start by demonizing one group, say, migrants, or African-Americans, but they inevitably expand to others. Those who today cheer at seeing journalists led away in handcuffs don't realize that one day they could be next."

Sunday World reporter Patricia Devlin, speaking to HoldTheFrontPage“In October last year, I received a message to my personal Facebook account in which the sender threatened to rape my newborn son. Another family member was also named in the message, which was signed off with the name of neo-nazi terrorist organization ‘Combat 18’. This occurred after members of a criminal gang posted a direct link to my personal Facebook page on a number of forums."

Maria Ressa, the editor sentenced to up to six years in prison for "cyber-libel" in the Philippines, on Twitter: "For journalists here and around the world, I can't remember a more dangerous time to be a journalist. We #CourageON because this time matters #HoldTheLine."

Ex-Sun editor David Yelland on Twitter: "Boris Johnson is a second-rater, fired by The Times for making stuff up, never good enough for the Murdoch stable; we are ruled by ‘a tabloid thinker’ who couldn’t get a job at a tabloid. Cummings too. Wannabe populists."

Yorkshire Post editor James Mitchinson on Twitter: "My reporters, sadly, attend court hearings regularly where domestic violence is raked over. Never, EVER, would I blast up the perpetrator's defence. Especially a boastful lack of contrition. If this is journalism, I'm starting to think I'm in the wrong job."
  • A spokeswoman for the Sun said: "It was certainly not our intention to 'enable' or 'glorify' domestic abuse, our intention was to expose a perpetrator's total lack of remorse. Our sympathies are always with the victims." 

Nic Newman in his summary of the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2020"This year’s report comes in the midst of a global health pandemic that is unprecedented in modern times and whose economic, political, and social consequences are still unfolding. The seriousness of this crisis has reinforced the need for reliable, accurate journalism that can inform and educate populations, but it has also reminded us how open we have become to conspiracies and misinformation. Journalists no longer control access to information, while greater reliance on social media and other platforms give people access to a wider range of sources and ‘alternative facts’, some of which are at odds with official advice, misleading, or simply false."

Petition calling for the Guardian newspaper to be closed on "The Guardian Newspaper was founded by John Edward Taylor from the profits of Cotton Plantation Slavery and therefore should be shut down."

Thursday, 11 June 2020

Media Quotes of the Week: What 'journalist-haters' don't understand, why 'fake news' is an oxymoron for morons and when rock star interviews go bad

Amol Rajan on the BBC News website: "The single biggest and most frequent mistake made by those currently attacking journalists as enemies of the people is the tendency to react emotionally to some provocation by a high-profile journalist by impugning the whole trade. It's as if, in the minds of these journalist-haters, one famous anchor is by default an ambassador for the millions of people who work in the trade around the world...Most people in journalism - though obviously not all - are decent, civilised, public-spirited people who enjoy elegant sentences, could get paid better elsewhere, and are in it more to scratch an itch for information than adulation."

Among the top entries in the Buzzsaw 2020 'hall of shame' for horrible phrases and jargon are these two beauties:

Fake news: Judge’s comment: “An oxymoron of such heft that only a moron could coin it. Unfortunately it has caught on.”

Mainstream media:  Judge’s comment: “A tedious blamefest, thinly disguising a lack of ability to debate properly.”

Ian Burrell in the i"It’s clear that many in the UK media have been taken aback by the strength of reaction in Britain to a story originating in Minneapolis...There are powerful voices such as Gary Younge, the BBC’s Clive Myrie and the New Statesman’s Stephen Bush, and rising stars such as Nadine White of HuffPost UK. But there’s a scarcity of non-white faces in the top tiers of British newspapers."

Will Hutton on Twitter: "We must keep saying this, and repeating this. The attempt by the British government in the middle of this pandemic to discredit, ostracise and delegitimise C4News, Newsnight and Good Morning Britain by refusing interviews is a democratic and civic outrage. We are all reduced."

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, calling in a statement for political leaders to stamp out escalating hostility to journalists: "When the US president decries journalists as enemies of the people, when he launches vitriolic attacks on the 'lamestream' media, when he talks of journalists as being part of a conspiracy against the public to disseminate fake news – this pollutes political and public discourse and fans the flames of hatred. We’re seeing the same pattern of polarisation here, particularly on social media where bullying and intimidation of journalists is commonplace, with particular vitriol directed against women and journalists of colour. Words have consequences. Intemperate and polarised rhetoric on social media has real-life results."

JPIMedia chief executive David King on plans to close 11 newspaper offices, as quoted by HoldTheFrontPage: “As part of the overall JPIMedia property strategy launched last year, we were already pursuing a modest agile working approach in many parts of the business. The lockdown has shown us that remote working could be beneficial in many more areas of our business.”

Emily Bell on Twitter: "New BBC DG Tim Davie (a former deputy chair of his local Conservative party) is seen as a ‘safe’ choice. Whilst Davie has the support of the staff, his lack of editorial credentials make his appointment imo a very high risk choice. The BBC’s biggest vulnerability is editorial."

Kent church advert for a journalist, via the Guardian"St Margaret’s Church are looking to recruit a fulltime Community Journalist because for thousands of years, it is story telling which has kept communities together. Now, more than ever before we need someone like you to tell our stories so that we might stay together even when physically we are apart."

Tribute to ex-Birmingham Mail journalist David on Birmingham Live"David operated from two offices. During the first part of the morning, he worked in the Mail’s then base in Weaman Street in the city centre. But from 10.31am most days, the timing being a throwback to old licensing hours, he moved to his “other office”, the Old Joint Stock pub opposite the Cathedral. That was where a constant stream of councillors and contacts alike arrived to talk with him, offer tip-offs and generally chew the fat, sometimes queuing for their turn."

Mark Beaumont on the NME"It was as Mark E Smith’s teeth closed in around my throat, lying on the floor of Filthy McNasty’s pub where he’d just thrown me, that I began to think that music journalism wasn’t all going to be MDMA cocktails by the Sunset Marquis pool with a jovial Keith Richards. Heaven knows Smith had form – a friend would often recall the time he sat down to interview Smith only to have the Fall singer immediately try to stub his cigarette out on said writer’s eye – but I never conceived he’d have any sort of problem with little old well-meaning me."