Friday, 16 March 2012

Quotes of the Week: From Labour fawning over Desmond to Murdoch titles, Cameron and the Met

Independent editor Chris Blackhurst (top), at the Bath Literature Festival, remembers the Richard Desmond takeover when he was at the Express: "We were trying to turn the paper into a more liberal and upmarket paper but management lost its nerve. They sold the paper to Richard Desmond... Within a fortnight, the heavy bulk of the Labour Cabinet was fawning over Desmond. We were really shocked by it."

The Sunday Times quotes "one top shareholder" in Trinity Mirror: “We have asked for Sly Bailey’s salary to be reviewed as it is excessive by most standards, let alone a company with a market value of about £100m.”

Martin Shipton, NUJ Trinity Mirror group chapel chair: "The union's Alternative Annual Report on Trinity Mirror exposes the reality behind the group board's yearly announcement of 'savings' totalling many millions of pounds. These cumulative cuts are having a devastating impact on the ability of newspapers to report on their communities with the consequence that readers are turning off in droves. The board's strategy in recent years has had nothing to do with producing excellent journalism that readers will want to buy, it is about slashing costs to pay off debts. By wilfully damaging the quality of its own papers, the board is destroying its chance to create a sustainable business for the future."

Press freedom campaign group Reporters Without Borders: "The Arab Spring has clearly shown, by creating new spaces for exchanging ideas, that the internet is a vehicle for freedom. In countries where the traditional media are controlled by the government, the only independent news and information are to be found on the internet, which has become a forum for discussion and a refuge for those who want to express their views freely. However, more and more governments have realised this and are responding by trying to control the internet and by stepping up surveillance of internet users."

Neville Thurlbeck on his arrest on suspicion of intimidating a witness: "CLEARLY, my blog was the cause of today's police activity. One minute I was sitting penning a new post. The next, I was in the police station, having DNA mouth swabs and my fingerprints and police mugshot taken. A complaint had been made and acted upon very swiftly indeed. It really didn't feel like England today!"

Sandra Laville, of the Guardian, on the police at Leveson: "They need to be held to account. We can't hold them to account by taking information from official channels only. They have the power to lock people up for a long time, we have had miscarriages of justice. Journalists have to be able to hold the police to account."

The Independent in a leader: "Of course, it is not unknown for the elite in any society to move in similar circles and for their paths to have crossed as they forged their upward paths. But the associations that are emerging between the Cameron coterie, the Metropolitan Police and the Murdoch newspapers raise questions that cry out ever more insistently for answers."

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