Quotes of the Week: From the Savile scandal to Superman quits newspapers and Malcolm Tucker
Liz MacKean (top), one of the Newsnight journalists who investigated sex abuse claims against Jimmy Savile, in an email to BBC director general George Entwistle, as reported by the Independent: "To see what began as a BBC story running large on ITV is a hard thing.
For it not to be mentioned in any way on Newsnight is another, quite
absurd, thing. But worst of all has been what seems like a concerted
effort to make it appear that our story was about something else,
something that could be dropped and forgotten ahead of fulsome tribute
programmes. It is this which seems to be fuelling the damaging claims of
Mark Damazar in the Guardian: "In fact the BBC has an entrenched need to kick itself hard when under
editorial attack. Every senior editor has a gene that makes it a major
worry if his or her programme isn't leading the media pack when the
corporation has apparently done something wrong.The noble reason
for this acute and sometimes embarrassing navel- gazing is the need to
protect the BBC's impartiality and integrity."
The Sunday Times (£): "With [Andrew] Mitchell’s resignation, a Ministry of Defence inquiry into The Sunday
Times revelations and Starbucks facing calls for a boycott, it has been a
good week for British newspapers.After a year of almost constant derision
and condemnation from the celebrity moaners Hugh Grant and Steve Coogan, the
press is back doing what it does best: exposing wrongdoing among the
Peter Preston in the Observer: "Two sorts of peas don't always fit in the same pod. And, almost
invariably, this means regional and national papers can't flourish
within a single management structure."
Toby Young in the Sun: "Celebrities like Hugh Grant and Steve Coogan have been campaigning for
statutory Press regulation on the grounds that, unlike politicians, they
don’t have any real power and, therefore, the state should be able to
prevent the tabloids from scrutinising their private lives. But the Savile case illustrates that, on the contrary, celebrities do have
power and in some cases they use it for the most malignant of purposes. To prevent such abuses from happening in future, we need to strengthen the
freedom of the Press, not reduce it. Lord Justice Leveson, please take note."
Tim Luckhurst in theTelegraph: "Since newspaper journalism holds government to account, government must not regulate newspapers. The constitutional objection is plain: if politicians regulate newspapers, they will make sure they get the press they want, not the press they deserve."
Camilla Long in the Sunday Times (£) interviewing Conrad Black: "He confides that he is always 'astounded' by what people say about him — 'how
self- important I am, whereas you can see I am not'. Obviously, he is the
most pompous man I have met."
Conrad Black on Rupert Murdoch in the Mail on Sunday: "He is a psychopath, a person of no emotional or ethical thought, governed entirely by an expedient analysis of what his self-interest requires and oblivious to any other consideration and any other attachments. He’s an astonishingly cold man, like Stalin except that he doesn’t kill people."
Leader in the Sunday Times (£): "Even a touch
of statutory regulation would signal the end of three centuries of press
freedom. Legislation has a habit of evolving as it is interpreted by the
courts and seized on by politicians. Supposedly independent bodies get
stuffed with placemen and women who frequently do the government’s bidding.
It is the feared slippery slope. Nobody envies Lord Justice Leveson’s task. Enhanced self-regulation is a model
that can work but would be seized on by press critics as a soft option.
Criticism would rain down on him. Yet he should stand tall. A free press is
too important to be so easily surrendered."
Brian Cathcart on the Hacked Off blog: "The Sunday Times is very persistent in its cause, which is its right.
But it also surely has an obligation to reflect other views, so that
its readers have an idea what the debate is about, and an idea of the
breadth of the arguments. That obligation is all the greater when it is
the press that is under scrutiny. Imagine how the Sunday Times
would feel if the BBC failed to report criticism of its own behaviour
over the Savile affair. Now imagine how it would feel if (improbable I
know) all the other leading broadcasters also buried the story. That is
what is happening now, with the story of press regulation, in the press."
Clark Kent (aka Superman) on quitting the Daily Planet to become a blogger, as reported by the Telegraph: "Why am I the one sounding like a grizzled ink-stained wretch who
believes news should be about – I don't know – news?"
Malcolm Tucker in The Thick Of It: "The Guardian...a newspaper that hates newspapers."
I am a freelance journalist based in the UK and was deputy editor of Press Gazette, the journalists' magazine, from 1993 until 2006. I want to give an independent view on media matters.
You can contact me with stories, ideas and comments by email at firstname.lastname@example.org You can also follow me on Twitter @jonslattery