Thursday, 18 December 2014

Media Quotes of the Week: The BBC and local journalism, cover ups and downgrading editors



BBC head of news James Harding, speaking at City University:"We have renewed the case for the BBC’s contribution to the revival of local journalism. We have shown a willingness to take on the wrong-headed argument that the problems of the local newspaper industry are the BBC’s fault; and we have shown a willingness to work with the local newspapers in meaningful partnerships...Rich, old, white people are getting a better diet of news than poorer, younger and non-white people. And that’s increasingly true in national vs local news. Redressing the balance is one of the reasons we’ve doubled the regional news coverage in England in the 10 O’Clock news hour in the months ahead of the election."


SubScribe: "Men with machine guns set out on a mission. They are heading for a school where they intend to kill as many pupils as they can. They achieve their aim with a death toll of 132 children - and a teacher is burnt alive for good measure.  By any yardstick this is a big story. But not, to judge from today's front pages, as big as the NHS populating hospital wards with foreign nurses or slightly cheaper petrol. Indeed, the possibility of life on Mars is more compelling for the Telegraph than the real loss of life on Earth."


Tom Mangold in the Daily Mail on the Jeremy Thorpe scandal: "With the benefit of hindsight, it now becomes more than a mere suspicion that we investigative journalists at the cutting edge of the story were being gently manipulated by others in powerful positions — people who were anxious to know how much information there was about the developing scandal, how accessible it was, and what could be done to shut it down."

Pic:BBC
Peter Preston in The Observer on Christopher Jeffries: "It wasn’t reporters and broadcasters who lit the blaze. It was the police, yet again, making an arrest on vestigial evidence and then publicising it to attract witnesses – in short, scrappily setting up an innocent man as prime target for media destruction. Of course the press went much too far, too fast. But Jefferies, first and foremost, was a victim of pressurised policing."


Rod Liddle in the Sunday Times [£]: "Is history about to be made at The Guardian? The editor, Alan Rusbridger, announced last week that he would be stepping down next summer. And the chilling news for Guardian readers is that at least one of the frontrunners for the job was educated at a state school. This could be the first time a Guardian editor is drawn from the ranks of normal people — certainly since William Percival Crozier in 1932 and possibly ever."

Lena Calvert, NUJ equality officer, on Rod Liddle's "joke" about transgender Labour candidate Emily Brothers in the Sun [£]: “Is there no-one at the Sun who felt that this was a despicable piece which needed spiking as soon as it was thought of? This utterly vile comment is not an example of freedom of the press but is a dangerous type of bullying. Has the Sun every heard of the way hate crime stems from this type of nasty rubbish? A front page apology at least is required from the Sun and condemnation by all supporters of this so called newspaper.”


Committee to Protect Journalists executive director Joel Simon after Turkish authorities detained journalists they accused of conspiring against the state: "We are deeply concerned about the detention of journalists in Turkey: Turkish authorities, who have a history of politicized prosecutions against the media, do not tolerate critical reporting. The heavy-handed actions this morning smack of political vengeance."



alan rusbridger ‏@arusbridger on Twitter: "New life: as well as chairing Scott Trust I'm to be next principal of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford."



Juan Direction, Exeter, posts on HoldTheFrontPage about the axing of the two weekly editors in Gloucestershire: "Across the country, faceless (and in many cases witless) management types make these decisions with a) little or no regard for what this will mean to the quality and status of the papers in their communities and b) zero respect for journalism. It’s easy to sound precious when you try and defend journalism as a concept, but what these dunderheads don’t realise is that their extreme short termism is eating away at the very thing which gives their ‘product’ (as they are wont to call it) its USP – compelling, well presented, curated content, delivered with authority and adherence to standards."

Mike Lowe ‏@cotslifeeditor on Twitter: "Bad news for democracy in Gloucestershire. Two good editors get the push at a time when we need strong newspapers."


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Thursday, 11 December 2014

Media Quotes of the Week: From police vs press battle rages on to Alan Rusbridger stands down



Keith Vaz MP, chair of the the Home Affairs Select Committee: "RIPA is not fit for purpose. We were astonished that law enforcement agencies failed to routinely record the professions of individuals who have had their communications data accessed under the legislation. Using RIPA to access telephone records of journalists is wrong and this practice must cease. The inevitable consequence is that this deters whistleblowers from coming forward."


Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary: "The NUJ welcomes the Home Affairs Select Committee report and agrees that RIPA is not fit for purpose but we are urging political leaders and the Interception of Communications Commissioner to go further and agree there must be judicial oversight before journalists' records and data can be obtained by the police and other authorities."


Press Gazette: "A new draft Code of Practice on government spying powers has finally been published and states that police should continue to access journalists’ phone records without any outside approval. Not only does it make clear that police forces can continue to sign off their own RIPA requests for journalists' telecoms data, but it emphasises that such records are not privileged. The new code merely requires police forces to make a note of the fact they have accessed a journalists’ phone records."

Daily Mail: "The Home Office was embroiled in a fresh row over Press freedom last night after sneaking out proposals that would still allow police to sign off their own snooping into journalists’ phone records."


Lord Black of Brentwood in a letter to the Home Secretary requesting changes to the primary legislation to safeguard journalistic sources: “The industry is united in its concern about the threat to journalism, journalists themselves and to their sources from unwarranted use of state surveillance and enforcement powers. RIPA, counter terrorism and public order legislation are particularly open to abuse. These draconian legislative powers are being used without proper regard to the protection of freedom of expression and press freedom, an intrinsic part of which is the fundamental principle of protection of sources.”





Sun managing editor Stig Abell @StigAbell on Twitter: "Sun runs good story about MP playing Candy Crush. Parliamentary response: hunt the whistleblower. What is wrong with these people?"


The Sun in an editorial: "This is Britain since the Leveson Inquiry, that declaration of war on the Press by the elite we are here to hold to account. Leveson’s biased witch-hunt empowered them to try to stop the Press revealing inconvenient truths the public has a right to know.  One MP playing Candy Crush isn’t the biggest scandal ever — and we welcome that Mr Mills had the good grace to own up and swiftly apologise. The authorities’ reaction, though, is of graver significance."


James Harding, BBC director, news and current affairs, on the BBC blog"The BBC’s job is to keep reporting and analysing the news, questioning politicians, investigating the issues, and pressing for the real story. The election campaign has begun. The BBC will, undeterred, do its job. A meek BBC wouldn’t be fulfilling its role for the public.


The Guardian in an editorial: "In an era of digital revolution, the future shape of the BBC is of huge importance to every British citizen and its audience overseas. Narrow political squabbles must not be allowed to interfere with a mature discussion of what the BBC brings to Britain and its civic life."

The Sunday Times in an editorial [£]: "Do we need a reimagining of the role of the state? Yes, we do. And we need more imagination and realism in thinking about these things. As Mr Blair put it in another context, the talents of the British people need to be liberated “from the forces of conservatism” in Labour — and the BBC."


Roy Greenslade on his Media Guardian blog: "The very fact that a title has been around for more than a century and has archives containing the intimate records of cities, towns and communities stretching back several generations is no longer a selling point. It’s history. It’s not tomorrow."


Grey Cardigan on The Spin Alley"I keep hearing a suggestion that some kind of subsidy or central funding of the local press might be a good idea. Frankly, that’s bollocks. The fat cats in charge would just run off with the cash and continue to leave local papers under-staffed and under-resourced. And what would happen if one of these government-funded newspapers managed to upset the government – as we all should be striving to do on a daily basis? You could see that grant suddenly disappearing faster than any remaining talent at the Daily Telegraph."


Alan Rusbridger announcing his retirement after 20 years as editor of the Guardian: “It’s been quite an extraordinary period in the life of the Guardian. In February 1995 newspaper websites were, if they existed at all, exotic things: we were still four years off launching Guardian Unlimited. Since 1999 we’ve grown to overtake all others to become the most-read serious English language digital newspaper in the world."

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Thursday, 4 December 2014

Media Quotes of the Week: From police and press at war to dictator's son complains about obituary



Roy Greeenslade in the Guardian on the police and the press: "Not speaking to journalists is very different, however, from treating journalists as criminals or using their private phone conversations as ways of investigating crime. As many reporters have pointed out, the result will be to scare off whistleblowers. Who will dare to speak to journalists who cannot ensure the confidentiality of their calls and emails? Stories that should be told will not see the light of day. In effect, therefore, the war the police have launched on journalists is really a war on the public’s right to know."


Times journalist Andrew Norfolk after being named British Journalist of the Year, quoted by Press Gazette“Senior officers you once had a relationship with based on what you thought was mutual trust and respect suddenly too scared to speak to you, or perhaps it’s not that, they’ve just got so much on, the poor dears: planning your arrest, wading through your phone records, I think it’s 1,700 phones from my company alone. Cheers for that, Vodafone, by the way.”

Andrew Norfolk looking back at his days on the Yorkshire Post, as quoted by HoldTheFrontPage: "The Yorkshire Post's staffing levels are a skeletal shadow of those days.”


Tim Crook @libertarianspir on Twitter: "Why haven't journalism bodies been demonstrating outside the courtrooms where working journalists face prosecution for doing their job?"


Nick Cohen in The Observer: "Friends who helped break the Snowden revelations are close to despair. The British, who survived the First and Second World Wars, the cold war and IRA bombs appear willing to tear up their civil liberties because of Islamist murderers. The electorate greeted the Guardian’s exposé of mass surveillance with indifference. Neither Labour nor the Tories feels public pressure to reform the secret state."



Nick Cohen in Standpoint: "When James Harding was Editor of The Times he was a decent man who made some bad journalistic decisions. Now he has moved on to head BBC News he is still making bad journalistic decisions and his sense of decency appears to have deserted him."


George Osborne on BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I would have thought the BBC would have learned from the last four years that its totally hyperbolic coverage of spending cuts has not been matched by what has actually happened."



Daniel Finkelstein in The Times [£]: "I used to think (I feel a little ashamed about this now) that my colleagues in the press were spending too much time chronicling the disputes between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Now I think perhaps we didn’t spend enough time on it."


Kevin Maguire ‏@Kevin_Maguire on Twitter: "The Sun's Clodagh Hartley was prosecuted (not guilty) over Budget leaks. Meanwhile Treasury Ministers & staff leak like sieves."


Early day motion 585: CLOSURE OF LOCAL NEWSPAPERS:"That this House regrets the latest announcement from Trinity Mirror newspapers that approximately 50 editorial and non-editorial jobs will be lost as seven newspapers in the south of England, including the Harrow Observer, Reading Post and Surrey Herald, are to be closed; notes that the proposals will mean that the county of Berkshire will be served by a digital-only model; further notes that the latest closures come on top of the closure of 150 local newspaper titles since the financial crisis of 2008, with many more reducing the frequency of publication or the range of locally-specific news coverage; is concerned about the loss of such assets to local communities and the important democratic function they serve in reporting on public life including local and national election campaigning; welcomes the recent cross-party stakeholder seminar organised by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to consider policy responses; and joins the National Union of Journalists in calling for a short, sharp cross-party and inter-departmental government inquiry into securing a future for the industry, in order to protect the public interest and defend jobs in quality local journalism."


Hussein Amin from Kampala complains to the Guardian: “Allow me to raise my displeasure at a Guardian obituary about my father, Idi Amin.”

The Guardian responds by stating the obituary was supported by all the major sources the paper consulted and said it would not be revising it online, adding: "Perhaps the definitive view is that of Amnesty International, as set out in a report in June 1978.Amnesty International’s main concerns are as follows:
1) the overthrow of the rule of law;
2) the extensive practice of murder by government security officers, which often reaches massacre proportions;
3) the institutionalised use of torture;
4) the denial of fundamental human rights guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
5) the regime’s constant disregard for the extreme concern expressed by international opinion and international organisations such as the United Nations, which results in the impression that gross human rights violations may be committed with impunity.”

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Friday, 28 November 2014

Media Quotes of the Week: From trashing Tatler to why we need more not fewer journalists in the digital age via ex-Sun ed sorry for 'white van man'



Julia Raeside reviewing BBC 2's Posh People: Inside Tatler for the Guardian: "They all seemed like nice people but what they represented was a revolting, self-serving waste of everyone’s time and money."

Giles Coren about working for Tatler, in The Times [£]: "Newspapers in the 1990s were for the most part grim, windowless tram sheds in the middle of nowhere, full of angry middle-aged men trying to cling on to their jobs in a dying industry. But Tatler was on the second floor of Vogue House, slap in the heart of the West End and positively bursting with girls. The place was full of natural light and the smell of expensive perfume. And my desk was right by a window looking over the trees of Hanover Square towards Bond Street. Not that I ever looked out of it. Because the view inside was so much better. I just used to sit there all day in a puddle of my own drool, wearing three pairs of underpants just in case I was called upon to stand up."


Mr Justice Mitting finding in favour of the Sun in the 'plebgate' libel case: "For the reasons given I am satisfied at least on the balance of probabilities that Mr Mitchell did speak the words alleged or something so close to them as to amount to the same including the politically toxic word pleb."

The Sun [£] in a leader: "We must not forget the whistleblower who was the source of our original story. He also displayed courage by coming forward to expose Mitchell. Shamefully, and despite the clear public interest dimension  The Sun's story, he was sacked by the Met for gross misconduct."

Rupert Murdoch ‏@rupertmurdoch on Twitter: "Great for London Sun and freedom of speech. Journalist cleared on public interest grounds, top Tory snob minister loses libel action."


Dr Evan Harris, associate director of Hacked Off, on the release of Andy Coulson: “Like any other prisoner Andy Coulson is entitled to be released early on licence, but it will be interesting to see whether the newspapers make the same complaints about this convict being released after serving 5 months of an 18 month sentence as they usually do when they express outrage at the same treatment for other prisoners who aren’t their former colleagues. For too many papers when it comes to the criminal justice system it is one rule for them and one rule for the rest of us.”

Labour MP tom_watson ‏@tom_watson on Twitter: "Coulson: The repercussions of his time at News Corp aren't quite over but I hope he finds peace and a productive life."


Mike Darcey, chief executive of News UK in The Times [£], after it was revealed police had viewed phone data of 1,700 News UK staff which was mistakenly handed over by Vodafone: "A senior Vodafone executive has personally apologised to me for what he insists was ‘human error’. Vodafone accepts that the data was ‘wrongly disclosed’. They also recognise that the mobile phone records of journalists — and lawyers — contain privileged information and we have made clear to them that we regard this as a very serious issue. I am personally appalled that this could happen and have relayed this in the strongest terms when speaking with Vodafone.”


Ex-Sun editor David Yelland ‏@davidyelland on Twitter: "I think I helped invent the term white van man. I am most terribly sorry.."


Mike Lowe ‏@cotslifeeditor  on Twitter: "Did a news editor write this head?"


The Times [£] in a leader: "Facebook did not kill Lee Rigby. Adebowale and Adebolajo did. The organisation charged with watching them was MI5. Mr Cameron should bear these facts in mind before embarking on a quixotic crusade against the internet."


Emily Bell, giving the Reuters Memorial Lecture 2014: "Cover technology as a human rights and political issue as if it were Parliament. Maybe even with more verve and clarity ­were that possible. It is just as interesting and about ten thousand times more important. The beats of data, privacy and algorithmic accountability currently either don't exist or are inadequately staffed. We have to stop coverage of technology being about queueing for an iPhone and make it about society and power. We need to explain these new systems of power to the world and hold them accountable. It is after all what we do best."


Herald & Times Group managing director Tim Blott on the launch of The National in Scotland: "It is the first time in many years that a new daily newspaper has been launched in Scotland. The National is an exciting opportunity to meet the needs of a very politically-engaged section of the Scottish population. We recognise that launching a newspaper in 2014 is to some extent counter-intuitive but we consistently argue for the power of great journalism and informed opinion."


Paul Lewis ‏@PaulLewis on Twitter: "Reporters ordered what to wear in the presence of British Royals when they visit New York and DC next month should absolutely resist."

    Nick Cohen ‏@NickCohen4 on Twitter: "@PaulLewis And don't stand when they enter the room"


Malcolm Starbrook in InPublishing: "As revenues get slimmer, publishers will continue to try to run stripped down versions of their newspapers with a direct result on content. Increasingly, we seem to be in the business of curation rather than creation and the unique voice of the newspaper is lost in the competing and strident shouts emanating from the world wide web publishing the same stories, same photos and same tokenism approach to breaking news. We need web platforms that break stories and newspapers that explain and put that information into context. For that, we need more journalists not fewer. But then we struggle to convince people they need to value our journalism. The trend is for people not to pay for the news and information they can obtain though the web. However, as publishers, we need to continue to provide the news, views and information that impacts on people’s lives. By doing that, we will build the audience that our advertisers will want to interact with. It is still the journalism that matters and, internally, we need to support the importance of that basic function.”

[£] = Paywall

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

'Cut me and I bleed ink': Malcolm Starbrook


I've done an interview with Malcolm Starbrook in the latest edition of InPublishing. Malcolm started as a trainee on his local paper in the East End of London, went on to work for the Sun, edited the Milton Keynes Mirror, the Bury Free Press and the Croydon Advertiser and was on the Press Complaints Commission. He was editor / owner of the Milton Keynes Standard, worked in magazines for International Thomson, was chief sub of Press Gazette and ended up as group editor for Archant Essex and East London.

At a time of cutbacks in editorial staff in the regional and national press, I liked the way he argues more journalists are needed as newspapers face the challenge of the digital age and says it is still the journalism that matters.

Malcom says: “By love of, training in, and affection for… I am a newspaper hack: cut me and I bleed ink. So one of the biggest threats I feel facing the newspaper industry is our rush for web revenue without fully understanding what that is doing to the print business. Few of us have the power of the Daily Mail, Guardian or Bild to build significant audiences with little or no paywall. So we will always be playing catch up, and not very well at that."

He warns: “As revenues get slimmer, publishers will continue to try to run stripped down versions of their newspapers with a direct result on content. Increasingly, we seem to be in the business of curation rather than creation and the unique voice of the newspaper is lost in the competing and strident shouts emanating from the world wide web publishing the same stories, same photos and same tokenism approach to breaking news.
We need web platforms that break stories and newspapers that explain and put that information into context. For that, we need more journalists not fewer. But then we struggle to convince people they need to value our journalism. The trend is for people not to pay for the news and information they can obtain though the web. However, as publishers, we need to continue to provide the news, views and information that impacts on people’s lives. By doing that, we will build the audience that our advertisers will want to interact with. It is still the journalism that matters and, internally, we need to support the importance of that basic function.”

Friday, 21 November 2014

Media Quotes of the Week: From what they won't be reading in Reading any more to what's on the menu for readers of different national newspapers



Simon Edgley, managing director of Trinity Mirror Southern, on the move to close seven local papers in Berkshire, including the Reading Post, and focus on digital publishing around the getreading website: “This is a bold digital-only publishing transformation that will re-establish us as a growing media business that delivers the best quality journalism to our digital-savvy audience. We wholeheartedly believe that the future of our business here in Berkshire is online and this is an important and pioneering step that might, in time, be applicable to other existing markets or indeed new ones.”

The Grey Cardigan on The Spin Alley:"I think we all know what’s going to happen here. The 'best quality journalism' will turn out to be a roomful of kids with no journalism qualifications, cutting and pasting complete bollocks while uploading submitted content and mobile phone pictures with nary a glance at its relevance or even legality. 'Go out of the building and research and write a proper story? Sorry, don’t know how to do that.' It’s a sad day for the regional newspaper industry and especially for the journalists involved. It’s an even sadder day for the population of Reading."

Martin Shipton, chair of the Trinity Mirror NUJ group chapel, on the newspaper closures in Berkshire: "This is a watershed moment for the regional newspaper industry. Trinity Mirror is shutting down well-established titles and replacing them with an online news presence unattached to newspapers. So far there is little evidence that an operation of this kind can generate the revenues needed to sustain a workforce of sufficient size to provide a decent news service. The speed at which this transition is taking place is very worrying. It seems the remaining journalists will be used as guinea pigs for an as yet unproven business model. There are good grounds to fear for the future of the sector."

Steve Dyson on the Guardian's Media Blog: "Trinity Mirror, of course, is a plc and so is perfectly entitled – some would say legally bound – to employ strategies it thinks will best make the most profits for its shareholders. But if its ‘digital-only’ gamble is played out across the company’s regional portfolio, with fewer fixed costs, and fewer reporters, and if this is then looked at and emulated by other publishers, it could spell catastrophe for the local newspaper industry."


NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet on the legal challenge by six NUJ members who say they are being monitored by the Met Police: "It is outrageous that the police are using their resources and wide-ranging powers to put journalists under surveillance and to compile information about their movements and work on secret databases. There is no justification for treating journalists as criminals or enemies of the state, and it raises serious questions for our democracy when the NUJ is forced to launch a legal challenge to compel the police to reveal the secret evidence they have collected about media workers."


Guardian readers' editor Chris Elliott on the paper's decision to lead the successful legal fight to name 16-year-old murderer Will Cornick: "Whatever the legal arguments, the Guardian has to be sure that its decision to go to court to have the boy named is consistent with the values it espouses and for which it is often criticised, not least when it puts its faith in the capacity for rehabilitation. The next time we are faced with a choice, I hope we take a longer, harder look at the options."


Tatler editor Kate Reardon in the Observer: "When people are being cruel about Tatler, they say it’s the only magazine that tries to photograph every single one of its readers. Hell, yes! My God, if I could, I would!"


David Conn ‏@david_connon Twitter: "When Panorama exposed Fifa corruption in 2010, FA wanted World Cup & denounced BBC. Now Bernstein is on BBC saying FA should boycott Fifa..."


Rory Cellan-Jones @ruskin147 on Twitter: "PR email this morning starts 'Hi Rory, I hope you're both well..' I'm in two minds about this..."


YouGov profiles of newspaper readers, as published on the Guardian's Media Blog:

  • The top three favourite dishes of Guardian readers are likely to be antipasti, aubergine parmigiana and braised endive, they are into hiking and shop at Waitrose.
  • Chips, curry sauce, ham and eggs are a Daily Mirror customer’s dishes of choice. The favourite sport of this reader is football and they describe themselves as bighearted.
  • The Telegraph reader enjoys eating Vichyssoise soup, stinking bishop cheese and Tournedos rossini, is most likely to own a cat as a pet and describe themselves as analytical but arrogant on occasion.
  • Sun customer enjoys eating pork chops and chips, watches 36-40 hours of TV per week and describes themselves as big-hearted but headstrong on occasion.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Media Quotes of the Week: Will Bill of Rights protect journalists? to monstering Miliband



Culture Secretary Sajid Javid at the Society of Editors' conference: "I have agreed with the Justice Secretary that the British Bill of Rights will include specific protection for journalists and a free press.The Human Rights Act and the European Court of Human Rights have not done enough to protect journalists who play such a unique role in our society. Our British Bill of Rights will change that.”


Liberty in a statement: "Article 10 of our HRA, freedom of expression, and the Strasbourg court have long acted as vital defenders of reporters and their sources. However, the so-called 'British Bill of Rights' would diminish the rights of everyone in Britain, including reporters – leaving the already powerful freer to act with impunity. And it’s only the lax laws and lousy surveillance policies of successive Governments that have allowed the authorities to snoop on such sensitive sources in the first place. That’s precisely why The Sun is currently relying on Article 10 in its complaint over the Metropolitan Police’s obtaining of its journalists’ telephone records."


IPSO chairman Sir Alan Moses, speaking at the Society of Editors' conference“Proper, successful independent regulation will not be established by manic firing of a big bazooka (a fine)… and anyway we don’t know how to fire it.”

Eastern Daily Press editor Nigel Pickover on relations with the police, at the Society of Editors' conference, as reported by HoldTheFrontPage“We are lied to on a regular basis…we are made to feel like the enemy when really we are on the same side."


John Sweeney on why Panorama showed pictures of Mazher Mahmood: "We're identifying him  to make it more difficult for him to entrap people in the future."

Jack of Kent ‏@JackofKent on Twitter:

2012: News International figures warn Leveson of prior restraint injunctions.

2014: News International journalist seeks such an injunction.


The Grey Cardigan on The Spin Alley: "IN MOST towns and cities in Britain, the editor of the local newspaper used to be a man of significance; a figurehead of the community, a person to be looked up to. You could see it at school fetes and WI coffee mornings, town council meetings and business forums. This due – or perhaps undue – reverence gradually diminished as first children in suits began to get the top jobs, and then as the position itself began to be ‘rationalised’, leaving the local newspaper to be run by a stranger on an industrial estate 30 miles down the road."


Northern Echo editor Peter Barron blogs about his paper's special Remembrance Sunday edition "Newspapers still have their place, and it is an important place too. We should acknowledge their faults and apologise sincerely when mistakes are made. But we really should love newspapers, protect them, and never underestimate the work and care that goes into producing them - especially on days like this."


Olenka Frenkiel in the Guardian on women and ageism at the BBC: "Only Miriam O’Reilly – braver than the rest – had fought the enormously powerful BBC and won. And even after she’d won and the BBC had expressed contrition and promised change, inside the BBC, they were still doing it. Nothing had changed. Nothing except for the ever bigger and tighter gagging clauses BBC lawyers were demanding we sign preventing us from discussing why we’d left. Not to reveal how we’d been forced out. That’s when I protested. I loved the BBC. I still believed in it as a beacon of free speech and open debate. It was supposed to be an equal opportunities employer, opposed to discrimination of all kinds. This was now a matter of public interest ripe for a vigorous airing with participants from all sides.The gagging clauses were there to prevent exactly that."


Matthew Parris in The Times [£]: "The personal attacks on Mr Miliband are lazy, evasive and rather cowardly: a kind of displacement activity for people stumped for ideas as to what their dream leader would actually do, and falling back on shin-kicking an inexperienced and somewhat maladroit leader for a gap that he is powerless to fill. We in the media, too, are being shallow about this. Once the world has got it in for somebody, once their 'haplessness' is the big story and journalists clamour to reinforce it, there will never be a shortage of trivial incidents to giggle or gasp at. People must eat, and sooner or later the cameras will find a mouth and a bacon roll, just as with David Miliband (when we were casting him as hapless, rather than a lost leader) we once found a banana."


Roy Greenslade in the Guardian: "There is nothing new about pre-electoral anti-Labour propaganda in Tory-cheerleading newspapers. It is part of Britain’s post-war political history stretching back to Clement Attlee.Every Labour leader – with the single exception of Tony Blair – has suffered. Three modern leaders were subjected to especially harsh treatment. Gordon Brown was scathingly lampooned in 2010 as a ditherer, with papers giving huge coverage to supposed plotters within the party. Neil Kinnock was savagely mocked in 1992 as 'the Welsh windbag' among many other insults about his competence. Michael Foot was witheringly derided for his inappropriate dress sense as well as his political stance in 1983. There was a grain of truth in each case, but the attention paid to the various misrepresentations of their characters was disproportionate."

David Wooding ‏@DavidWooding on Twitter: "Ed Miliband's aides really must stop blaming the messenger over plight of their leader. Newspapers are only reporting what his MPs tell us."

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