Friday, 7 December 2012

Media quotes of the week: The summoning of the editors to Downing Street - plus more Leveson

Telegraph editor on Twitter on the post-Leveson meeting of national newspaper editors in Downing Street: "It felt like the summoning of the Five Families in The Godfather "

 Peter Preston in The Observer: "Of course, everyone has been very nice to Lord Justice Leveson   Well, they would be, wouldn't they, as Baroness Rice-Davies might add. But, in truth, this report is a sloppy, elephantine piece of work that relies on nobody having the time to read it before taking sides."

Brian Cathcart of Hacked Off: "When it comes to themselves and their vested interests, the editors and proprietors of most of our national papers know no shame...No heads are rolling after Leveson’s verdict. There are no apologies. There is no soul-searching. Instead they just bitch, bully and complain."

Dan Hodges on his Telegraph blog: "The Guardian leader [on the Leveson Report] is one of the most craven pieces of writing ever to appear on its pages. Undermined by its own self-righteousness and sense of moral superiority, a once-great paper has this morning become everything it once professed to hate. It has ceased to be the Guardian and formally relaunched itself as the Vichy Evening News."

Stephen Glover in the Daily Mail: "Expect a lot of sound and fury over the coming months as the enemies of a free Press, many of them in Parliament, continue their destructive work. What I draw from yesterday’s proceedings, though, is that the Prime Minister, as well as Cabinet colleagues animated by principle, dearly want to protect it."

Matthew Syed in The Times [£]: "Freedom of the press is simply too important to be hijacked like this. Sympathy with victims, however sincere, cannot be the sole basis of policy; neither can the opinions of victims be given a weight they do not merit. We must remember that there are other victims, less tangible but no less important. Namely, citizens whose capacity to resist the power of the State will be weakened by statutory restrictions on the press. In other words, all of us."

Simon Jenkins in the Guardian: "As Leveson said, the press is 'irreverent, unruly and opinionated'. It is also tasteless, infuriating, biased, unfair. Ask many of its victims and the gag and the gallows are too good for it. But the press has not made a hopeless mess of self-policing. If a law passed by parliament had closed the News of the World, there would have been a national outcry. As it was, the task was brought about by the press, initially by the Guardian."

Liberty’s director Shami Chakrabarti, one of  the panel of assessors who advised Lord Justice Leveson, in the Independent: "The majority of Britain’s journalists do a fantastic job in holding the powerful to account and serving the public interest. The unethical and criminal acts of a select few cannot be allowed to erode centuries of press freedom."

Boris Johnson in the Telegraph: "When you read Leveson in full, you are left to ponder the mystery of how people can behave like this. Are these journalists that much nastier and more cynical than the rest of the human race? Why do they seem to have got out of control? The answer is simple. The press are no nastier than anyone else; quite the reverse. On the whole, journalists are highly intelligent, amusing and frequently idealistic."

John McDonnell MP , NUJ Parliamentary Group chair, in Parliament on a 'conscience clause' for journalists: “Leveson has recommended that the editors and proprietors now consider adopting a conscience clause. Bizarrely, when Rupert Murdoch was interrogated, he accepted that proposal and now supports it. There should therefore be no reason for such a clause not to form part of a journalist's contract. The Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister also said last week that the matter should be given serious consideration, as did the Leader of the Opposition"

Lord Justice Leveson speaking in Australia, as reported by Guido Fawkes: "Just as it took time for the wilder excesses of the early penny press to be civilised, it will take time to civilise the internet. The internet does not trade in gossip. It simply publishes it online, conveys it on Facebook, uploads it onto Youtube, tweets and re-tweets it . It is likely that new legal norms and new laws will need to be developed.”

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