Friday, 3 August 2012

Quotes of the week: From the dangers of press laws to Gore Vidal on writers and journalists

Daily Telegraph leader on Leveson: "Once there is a press law on the Statute Book, however benignly phrased, its powers can be ratcheted up by future governments and parliaments if they are unhappy with their treatment at the hands of the newspapers. Politicians sometimes profess their commitment to press freedom, but they are hardly disinterested parties and more often resent the way it is exercised. Nor do we believe it is possible or desirable to define the public interest in law, which would inevitably be along high-minded lines that assume the interest of the popular press and its readers in the lives of celebrities or sports stars is to be deplored."

Andrew Sullivan in the Sunday Times: "We need to remember this in the age of Leveson. The only thing worse than a disrespectable press is a respectable one. Respectability means a concern for the established order over the truth. In the legitimate attempt to root out abuse — phone hacking isn’t journalism; it’s stenography — we need to ensure we don’t make journalism something great and good that people aspire to. The very disreputable nature of our profession is what keeps freedom alive. Some pillars of liberal democracy must have foundations in the dirt."

Jonathan Chait in New York magazine: "The British press is an outrage-generating machine the likes of which we American reporters can only gaze upon with awe. The very best outrage we can gin up comes from Andrew Sullivan — who occupies the ideal pro-Cameron, anti-Romney sweet spot — and Andrew still can’t match the offense-taking theatrics of the British media, expressed in such outlets as the Guardian ('Mitt Romney's Olympics blunder stuns No 10 and hands gift to Obama') or the Telegraph itself ('Commentary: if Mitt Romney doesn’t like us, we shouldn’t care')."

on Twitter: "News this week: if it's not Olympics, the boss isn't interested. If it is Olympics, it's all 'but we've got too much Olympics.' SIGH."

on Twitter: "London Olympic opening surprisingly great, even if a little too politically correct. Danny Boyle a creative genius."

Grey Cardigan on Northcliffe's legal action against the spoof Twitter account UnSteveDorkland: "The legal bill is likely to be enough to save the jobs of a couple of journalists in the next round of cost cutting. And to what end? To protect the fragile ego of a man who, frankly, should know better. I do hope that UnSteveDorkland survives to tweet again. Not least because one can only imagine the bucket of shit he’s been storing up to unload on his tormentors."

Part of UnSteveDorkland's defence submission in US, as reported by Press Gazette: "The underlying identities of anonymous critics of powerful and public figures have a long and constitutionally-protected history in America. Plaintiff, ironically a British newspaper holding company, seeks to avoid those protections in its quest for the identity of an anonymous critic who has parodied its CEO on Twitter.”

HoldtheFrontPage reports: "Regional publisher Northcliffe Media has dropped its bid to unmask an anonymous tweeter who was parodying the company’s chief executive Steve Auckland."

UnSteveDorkland in statement to BBC News: "By withdrawing the case against me they have, finally, recognised the futility of their heavy-handed approach and the entirely baseless nature of all the accusations they threw at me in a vainglorious attempt to divert attention from the real issue, namely their idea that by throwing money and bullying tactics at someone you can throttle freedom of speech."

Northcliffe in a statement, reported by Press Gazette: "Since the beginning of this case, Northcliffe Media  has been clear that its approach to Twitter was not about freedom of speech, but about a barrage of anonymous tweets that amounted to cyber-bullying and harassment."

Gore Vidal, who died this week: "A writer must always tell the truth, unless he is a journalist."

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