Friday, 18 April 2014

Media Quotes of the Week: From reporting death in the digital age to why journalists can't write

Janice Turner on the coverage of the death of Peaches Geldof, in The Times [£]: "The dilemma now is how we deal with death in a digital age. The press faces constant accusations of tastelessness or intrusion. But it was the US president and British prime minister who posed for a selfie at Nelson Mandela’s memorial; Diane Abbott MP who live-tweeted Tony Benn’s funeral. The more a famous person shares of his or her life, the closer the public feels entitled to be. The last of countless Twitter photographs Peaches shared was a childhood snap with her late mother, yet newspapers who republished it were condemned."

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden on the decision by the Pulitzer prize committee to give the Guardian and Washington Post its top award for the revelations on secret surveillance: "
I am grateful to the committee for their recognition of the efforts of those involved in the last year's reporting, and join others around the world in congratulating Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Barton Gellman, Ewen MacAskill and all of the others at the Guardian and Washington Post on winning the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. Today's decision is a vindication for everyone who believes that the public has a role in government. We owe it to the efforts of the brave reporters and their colleagues who kept working in the face of extraordinary intimidation, including the forced destruction of journalistic materials, the inappropriate use of terrorism laws, and so many other means of pressure to get them to stop what the world now recognises was work of vital public importance. This decision reminds us that what no individual conscience can change, a free press can. My efforts would have been meaningless without the dedication, passion, and skill of these newspapers, and they have my gratitude and respect for their extraordinary service to our society. Their work has given us a better future and a more accountable democracy."

Will Gore in the Independent on the way the Oscar Pistorious murder trial in South Africa is being covered, compared to cases in the UK where stricter reporting rules apply: "Readers may have noticed there has been more “colour” than would be the case if the trial was taking place in the UK. Our reporter in Pretoria has given fascinating glimpses into the personalities of the various characters in proceedings (witnesses, onlookers and lawyers) and has hinted at the impression left on the courtroom by some of the interventions, even some of the evidence."

Trinity Mirror's David Higgerson, on his blog, speaking up for User Generated Content in the regional press: "People take the pictures, shoot the video and their thoughts without a second thought thanks to social media – getting them to share it with the media is the challenge. It’s a challenge half-won if people are already aware you regularly deal with UGC. Getting people to think about us and send stuff to us is a much more rewarding relationship than just scouring social media looking for something which might be newsworthy – for all concerned."

NUJ national organiser Laura Davison on the closure by Trinity Mirror of the Fulham and Hammersmith Chronicle, Westminster Chronicle and Kensington and Chelsea Chronicle:“This announcement has come as a terrible shock to the hardworking staff of these titles.The speed of it means there is little time to look at meaningful alternatives to closure.Trinity Mirror should not simply be able to shut down these titles and lock them away after years of starving them of resources. It will leave some communities with no local paper, depriving them of a way to access information and hold local power to account. Readers and the Trinity Mirror journalists who serve them, deserve better.”

Newcastle's Sunday Sun hits back at Newcastle manager Alan Pardew for blaming local press for not backing his team's after a string of poor results.

Peter Preston on Maria Miller in The Observer: "Miller didn't have to make challenging speeches, so she didn't. Nor, whatever the conspiracy theorists may think, was she truly in charge of any power-tinged processes. Leveson and the royal charter? A wheeze cooked up by Oliver Letwin in the Cabinet Office and implemented in a dazed rush by David Cameron – and whatever Westminster says, it's dead in the water until way past the general election."

New Culture Secretary Sajid Javid on Maria Miller on Question Time: "I don't think you can blame this on Leveson or the media or something. The media are a cornerstone of our democracy, their freedom is very important and if they want to investigate wrongdoing by politicians or any other public official they should do that and nothing should stop them from doing that."

Grey Cardigan on TheSpinAlley"I KNOW it gets boring, but I have to keep asking the question of every regional editor I meet: 'Why have your bosses butchered your newspaper when it still makes 90% of your profits?' They smile ruefully at me and nod in silent agreement but nobody, nobody, has ever attempted to answer the question. I know, and they know, that their website is never going to make serious money."

Giles Coren in The Times [£] on the claims that people no longer read books because they are too busy skimming social media: "This is worst among journalists, who are without question the least well-read people you will ever meet (unless you regularly meet chefs). They spend all day 'reading' newspapers, shorthand notes, filed copy, newswires, blogs, and when they come home they reckon they’ve done their 'reading' for the day and now it’s time to drink cheap wine and watch Game of Thrones. Which is why the writing in news publications is getting worse and worse by the week: because the people who write the words only ever skim-read other, similar words, thus 'deactivating their deep-reading facility' and stunting their literary development. The result is that, with a few exceptions, the university-educated journalists of my generation write like swotty teenagers, while the straight-from-school-to-the-newsroom guys and girls write like policemen. Because they do not read (because they read too much), their ability with words does not develop over time."

Friday, 11 April 2014

Media Quotes of the Week: Maria Miller, gay kissing splash, Peaches Geldof and are the Guardian and national press now united?

The Daily Telegraph in a leader: "The irony that Mrs Miller is overseeing the efforts to make newspapers sign up to a state-sponsored regulatory system, while MPs seem to blithely ignore their own, has not gone unnoticed."

Polly Toynbee in the Guardian: "The nasty nexus of interests revealed in the Miller case shows why public opinion is right: neither MPs nor the press are fit to regulate themselves."

Raymond Snoddy ‏@RaymondSnoddy on Twitter:"So who thinks Maria Miller's Royal Charter on the press is such a good idea now? Can such politicians be trusted with press freedom?"

The Times [£] in a leader: "Relations with the media are already fraught because of Parliament’s insistence on trying to impose state intervention. A Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport need not agree with the media, but she should at least retain a minimal amount of trust. Sadly that trust has been broken. The only possible interpretation of the comments made by her special adviser at the outset of the expenses inquiry is that she was threatening newspapers, using her leverage as the Cabinet minister with the biggest say over the regulatory system."

Daily Mail in a leader: "Right up to the end, Maria Miller couldn’t bring herself to utter the word ‘sorry’. Indeed, she seemed unable to grasp that she had done anything seriously wrong. Instead, she sought to portray herself as victim of a media witch-hunt, mounted in vengeance for her role in implementing Leveson and legalising gay marriage. How childish – and how deeply offensive."

Patrick Wintour in the Guardian: "In opposition, guided by Andy Coulson, the former News of the World executive, Cameron proved ruthless with his errant MPs. In government cocooned in Downing Street, bonded with colleagues by the pressure of office and distracted by issues of state, he totally misread the public mood. Right to the end he was prepared to defend her. It will make his skin that bit thicker, and relations with the media that much more wary, but above all remind him how far the political class have yet to travel to restore trust."

  1. If Miller goes would become first editor to bring down a Cabinet minister AFTER leaving his paper
  2. Greetings Tony and well done. This is a Twitter moment: a former editor led a campaign and succeeded AFTER leaving job

Roy Greenslade on the coverage of the death of Peaches Geldof on his MediaGuardian blog: "Inevitably, we are bound to ask why a 25-year-old woman should engender so much coverage. What is it about our 2014 news values that dictated such a response? Yes, celebrity, is at its heart. It is also the case that when people die young and unexpectedly the uniqueness of the event affects the coverage."

Bristol Post editor Mike Norton on his gay kiss front page, as quoted by HoldTheFrontPage
“I’m a Bristolian, brought up in South Bristol. Real Bristol. One of the things I love about my home town is how characterful, tolerant and non-conformist its people are. So I thought Bristol was ready for that picture. But, boy, was I wrong. We lost thousands of sales of the paper. Which surprised me. Because, on the day, we received just nine phone calls of complaint."

Telegraph Media Group editor in chief Jason Seiken, on the future of journalism, as reported by Press Gazette: "A culture that is less top down and more about empowering journalists and holding them accountable. A culture where staff in their twenties and thirties rise more rapidly than ever because in areas such as social media they are the true digital natives."

The Grey Cardigan on TheSpinAlley on the departure of the editor of the Reading Chronicle following its football violence splash: "As far as I am concerned, this seems like a massively over-the-top, knee-jerk reaction to what was, after all, an innocent misjudgement made without malice. Maurice O’Brien is 64. This is a terrible way for his lengthy and distinguished career to end. Worse than that, it sets a very dangerous precedent for his successor. The Powers That Be, never slow to try to influence press coverage, now know that if they make enough fuss about a story that displeases them, then management in Reading is liable to cave in rather than support their editor. This will not have gone unnoticed and will almost certainly be exploited in future. A bad day all round.

Steve Hewlett in the Guardian: "Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger is on the record as writing off the whole idea of underpinning press self-regulation with a royal charter as 'medieval' and profoundly undemocratic, describing it as a 'constitutional pantomime horse'. And of course the paper's experience when running the Snowden revelations of being attacked by politicians – some of whom went as far as calling for Rusbridger to be arrested – impacted on these broader arguments in two significant ways. First it might be seen as having strengthened arguments for keeping politicians away from press regulation altogether (the current Royal Charter can be changed with two thirds majorities in both houses of Parliament), and secondly it brought other newspapers and the Guardian closer together than they have been in a long time."

Alan Rusbridger on Twitter: Not being paranoid, but new houseboat has moored itself under my office window for the past 24 hours

[£] =paywall

Friday, 4 April 2014

Media Quotes of the Week: From outrage over police threats to reporter who pursued fraudster to Alan Rusbridger's chilling warning on sources

Gareth Davies, chief reporter of the Croydon Advertiser, on what a police officer said as they served a harassment order on him for putting allegations to a convicted fraudster, as reported by Press Gazette: “Because you’re a journalist that doesn’t give you special privileges. You say you are just doing your job, but that’s what the News of the World said and look what happened to that.”

The Croydon Advertiser responds to the Police action against Gareth Davies: “NEELAM Desai – a self confessed fraudster – has said she feels 'persecuted' by articles written about her in the Advertiser. Those articles are the result of an extensive investigation through which our chief reporter has exposed a complex dating website scam, which cost one victim £35,500. Desai, 33, is accused of conning at least three men out of thousands of pounds after contacting them through Asian marriage site She used a fake identity and claimed to be raising money for homeless children, but the woman they fell for did not exist. As a newspaper we have a responsibility to put those allegations to Desai, to give her the chance to respond...Our reports have prompted two police investigations into her actions which, for one alleged victim, follows months of fighting for his accusations to be taken seriously. That progress has come from good old fashioned journalism – not ‘harassment’."

Daily Mail comment on the treatment of Gareth Davies.

Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors: "This is a ridiculous misuse of a law originally introduced to deal with stalkers. It is also extremely silly. It is time someone gave the police an injection of common sense. It seems some police officers do not understand that the media is simply a conduit to the public who they are supposed to serve and who have a right to know. If this is a reaction to critical headlines about the police they have only themselves to blame for increasing public concern about their behaviour."

Jeremy Clarkson ‏@JeremyClarkson on Twitter: "Nothing damages journalism more than the Mail online. They absolutely could not give a shit about the truth."

MailOnline headline: BBC faces £1MILLION racism lawsuit over Jeremy Clarkson's 'slope' quip on Top Gear Burma special

SubScribe blog on the Reading Chronicle and its football hooliganism story which caused outrage: "Call me an old softie, but it seems so sad. A local paper trying to do "proper" journalism and coming unstuck spectacularly. The editor is suspended, the reporter is under siege, the readers are outraged, the PCC and the Attorney-General are on their case. How much less trouble would it have been simply to have gone down the road of UGC and let the police, the council and the WI fill their pages?"

Grey Cardigan on TheSpinAlley: "So where are these Wunderkids going to come from? The truth is that nobody’s perfect. I am a good designer, a good headline writer, a half-decent columnist, a poor interviewer and a lousy reporter. I know this; the people who have employed me for 30 years have known this. The idea that we can suddenly produce a generation of multi-skilled journalists capable of excelling in all disciplines is just risible."

Western Morning News editor WMN editor Bill Martin on plans to publish seven days a week, as reported by HoldTheFrontPage: “The WMN on Sunday will build on established Western Morning News values and issues, and give our journalists the chance to tell West country stories differently - backed by quality design and pictures. It is a real privilege to be involved in a project that combines innovation, top quality design and investment in top quality journalism. The project is testament to Local World’s commitment to quality journalism and the regional press.”

Nigella Lawson on the Michael McIntyre Chat Show:
 "If anything all I’ve done is stop reading newspapers. Which is a bit of a shame as I’m a bit of a print fanatic. But of all the things to go, that’s relatively alright."

Nick Cohen on his Spectator blog on job cuts at Index On Censorship: "Among the recipients of redundancy notices are Padraig Reidy who was Index’s public face and its most thoughtful writer, and Michael Harris, who organised the lobbying to reform England’s repressive libel laws, the most successful free speech campaign since the fight to overturn the ban on Lady Chatterley’s Lover in the 1960s."

Index in a response to Nick Cohen: "Index almost alone among similar organisations, took the position after Leveson that we should campaign against state involvement in the regulation of the press. This almost certainly cost us donors and continues to be a highly controversial position...The result of the shortfall was a retrenchment and some redundancies, inevitably involving very valuable and respected staff members. This was painful and necessary but there was no other credible way of safeguarding Index’s position. The financial outlook for Index is now much more robust."

Alan Rusbridger, at the London School of Economics, as quoted by Press Gazette: "Every journalist should understand that there is no such thing as confidential digital communication. None of us have confidential sources. Peer to peer encryption is difficult for most journalists and it is quite time consuming and most journalists don't do it. We are all going to have to work on this in this world where people can intercept everything."

Alan Rusbridger after Guardian named Newspaper of the Year at The Press 
Awards: "It's a great honour for the Guardian to be named newspaper of the year by a jury of our peers. The story was not, in the end, publishable out of London and I want in particular to thank colleagues on ProPublica and the New York Times for collaborating with us. The support of editors and press freedom bodies around the world was also crucial. I want to acknowledge the personal cost to Edward Snowden involved in his decision to become a whistleblower. I must thank a team of extremely talented colleagues on the Guardian. And I dedicate the award to our friend and former deputy editor, Georgina Henry, who died recently."

Friday, 28 March 2014

Media Quotes of the Week: Are subs vital or a luxury? and let's put journalists first not digital

Fraser Nelson on the Spectator blog: "I’ve worked for newspapers that have unwisely cut back on sub-editing. It seems to work, at first, because there is no immediate cliff-edge drop-off in quality. But the rot accumulates. Errors creep in that would have been unthinkable a few years ago. Sloppy writing goes unchecked, flabby ideas go unchallenged. And even then, the newspapers don’t suffer immediate penalty – readers who have been with the same title for years put up with a lot, before cancelling their subscription. But when they do, the reputation for quality is hard to win back. The management respond to falling revenues with even more cuts, which sends even more readers into despair. This is what I call the cycle of doom."

Neil Fowler in InPublishing: "If we are to have a sensible view of the role of sub-editors, we must acknowledge that the funding model of news has changed. The luxury of having time and resource to rewrite and fact check every reporter’s story has gone. That doesn’t mean that copy should not be checked and revised when necessary, but it does mean that there needs to be a great deal more of ‘right first time, every time’."

David Yelland ‏@davidyelland on Twitter: "Kudos to Editor @davedins for reminding us The Sun is about fun (not boring politics like what I filled it with!)"

Comedian Mark Steel blogs about his disastrous gig at the Sports Journalism Awards: "There all sorts of reasons why a comedy gig becomes a disaster, some of which are beyond your control and some of which aren’t. It can’t have helped that John Inverdale introduced me with the words 'He’s just completed a sell-out tour of Croydon.' But maybe it’s fitting that sport, with its inbuilt uncertainties and fluctuations, should provide such a stinking 16 minutes. And just as the most viewed sporting clips on youtube are disastrous goalkeeping errors, shambolic run-outs, and athletes tripping over, in its way this night was funnier than if it had gone to plan. The image of Terry Venables frowning with part derision and part extreme bafflement is comedy at its purest. So I suppose afterwards I should have done an interview in which I apologised to my fans, promised I would get back to the training ground to prepare for the next gig, insist I wasn’t even considering resigning, and then blame everything on the referee."

Catherine Bennett in The Observer: "But how does Hacked Off's brilliant exploitation of celebrity, for its own sake, help advance the case against media celebrity exploitation that is, in the opinion of Hacked Off's star supporters, so severe as to require the end of the free press? Mick Jagger's right not to be ignorantly gossiped about could depend upon the answer."

Steve Hewlett in the Guardian: "The idea of decriminalising TV licence fee evasion is hardly new. After all, the idea of poor people being locked up for not being able to pay for television – I mean, it is only television – will strike most people as at least too harsh and quite possibly really wrong."

Harold Evans tweets on plans to sub the Northern Echo in Wales:

Piers Morgan ‏@piersmorgan on Twitter: "Tell me about it.. > RT @BBCWorld American dream, which promised the good life, is now a nightmare for the unemployed"

Roy Greenslade in the Guardian on local tv: "In a near 50-year career, I have watched people retreat from news, and most notably local news. The idealists, and there is nothing wrong with idealism, seem to think that, if people are turning their backs on print, then give them the news on TV. History suggests otherwise, as the regional television news programming offered by the BBC and ITV down the years has shown. Gradually, audiences have deserted and, as a consequence, the resources devoted by mainstream broadcasters to such output have been reduced."

The Grey Cardigan on coriander and the Guardian, on TheSpinAlley: "I AM beginning to think that the Guardian, now allegedly safe for perpetuity after selling off its holding in AutoTrader, is now just taking the piss. I refer the honourable reader to the front page blurb of today’s newspaper: 'Do something,' it implores. 'Go busking. Bake macarons. Forage for cocktails. Play ping pong.' Click on the website and one of the most-read articles is: '17 recipes for leftover coriander'. Forage for fucking cocktails? Worry about leftover coriander? Don’t these hipster twats realise that normal people are far too busy drinking beer and playing bingo to be concerned with such humdrum matters?"

Neil Benson, Trinity Mirror's regional editorial director, in a statement: "In an era when audiences want access to live-up-to-the-minute information across a variety of platforms, our working day will no longer be built around our print products. The new structure gives us the capability to produce more digital content all day and every day, while still producing brilliant newspapers."

GuardianObserver NUJ on Twitter: "Web first? Digital first? Put quality first - by employing journalists rather than cutting jobs"

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Print journalists who don't use Twitter are as out of touch as the judge who asked 'who are the Beatles?'

I've written an article about why print journalists should be using Twitter for the latest issue of InPublishing magazine. You can read it here.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Media Quotes of the Week: From police make their own news in local press to UK papers slammed over 'callous' coverage of L'Wren Scott's death

The Grey Cardigan on TheSpinAlley:"TORQUAY Police tweet from last night: 'An Historic momentfor the team. We have just published our own story directly to @TQHeraldExpress website with a picture. Amazing.' So that’s the police, posting their own stories directly onto the website of the Torquay Herald Express, without any intervention or examination by journalists. Amazing? No, fucking terrifying."

Roy Greenslade on his MediaGuardian blog: "I can see some virtue in the women's institute posting about their latest jam-making exploits or the scout troop reporting on its takings at the annual fete. And it could prove a boon for the myriad of sports teams anxious to see their players' names and faces up in lights. But the police are different. It may be fair enough to post stories on road detours and missing dogs and warnings about weather conditions. But this story was ill-advised on so many levels - libel and contempt (quite apart from leaden copy and bad picture-cropping). Really, I think the Herald Express and Local World need to think more deeply about allowing the police free access to their websites."

David Montgomery chief executive of of Herald Express publisher Local World, on HoldTheFrontPage: "What it illustrates is that communications is no longer the preserve of professional media owners. It’s just facing up to reality. The local publisher has a responsibility to orchestrate and manage content in different ways. You have to provide a gateway for communities and community institutions. We should give them a platform."

NUJ Ethics Committee in a statement: "The NUJ is strongly opposed to the idea of the police, or any authority or commercial organisation being able to publish directly to the local newspaper. It is the job of journalism, through local media, to hold local authorities, including the police, to account to local people. It is not its role to act as a conduit for the views and opinions of those authorities. If local authorities or the police wish to communicate directly with local people they should set up their own channels of communication."

Will Hutton in The Observer: "No university worries that it is incorporated under a state-backed royal charter. Rather, a charter protects academic freedoms. A charter-backed Independent Press Standards Organisation would offer the same for journalism and the flow of free information. Accusations that this ends centuries of press freedom hide an uglier truth. The British press does not want to be the provider of trusted information for citizens in the public square: rather, it wants to be free to shape the square and the character of the information it supplies, with as little redress and accountability as possible."

Garry Kasparov ‏@Kasparov63  on Twitter: "All the major opposition news websites were just wiped off the interet in Russia. No court order, simply blocked. Welcome to China."

John Harris in the Guardian: "Can you imagine what would have happened if Twitter was around when John Lennon was shot? What great blizzards of nonsense will eventually mark the deaths of Bob Dylan, Bill Clinton, John Major or David Bowie? And might it be the mark of true greatness to breathe your last and somehow escape all this, remaining as controversial in death as in life? That certainly applied to Margaret Thatcher. It will also surely be true of Arthur Scargill. And, come to think of it, Tony Blair."

Alison Hastings, Chair of the BBC Trust's Editorial Standards Committee, on John Sweeney's undercover Panorama programme on North Korea: "Discovering stories in difficult or dangerous places is one of the BBC's greatest strengths. There was a real public interest in making this programme in North Korea but, in the Trust's view, the BBC failed to ensure that all the young adults Panorama travelled with were sufficiently aware of any potential risks to enable them to give informed consent. This was a serious failing, and the BBC is right to apologise to the complainants."

Vincent Peyr├Ęgne,WAN-IFRA CEO, on the organisation's press freedom report on the UK: “The lack of any real guarantees enshrining press freedom continues to expose journalism in the United Kingdom to great uncertainty, as there is nothing benign in a system that invites even the possibility of tighter restrictions on freedom of expression.”

Joan Smith in the Guardian on the coverage by UK newspapers of the death of L'Wren Scott: "Several of them actually boasted about the fact they had obtained photographs of Jagger as he was told of L'Wren Scott's death. The Daily Mail's front page showed Jagger, his mouth set in a rictus of grief, alongside a headline declaring: "Moment Mick heard L'Wren was dead". What looked like the same picture appeared on the front page of the Daily Mirror ("The moment Jagger heard girlfriend of 13 years had hanged herself") and the Daily Star ("Moment Jagger was told of lover's suicide"). Whether this was the precise moment that Jagger heard the news or a short time afterwards, as seems more likely, hardly matters. It's as if the intense public debate about media ethics over the last three years never happened. Fourteen months after the Leveson report accused sections of the press of wreaking "havoc" with people's lives, some editors are behaving with the same callous disregard for grief which was highlighted during the inquiry."

US tabloids also came in for criticism from HuffPost Media: