Quotes of the Week: From a fond farewell for Ferguson to Burchill on the joy of punctuation
Mark Ogden in the Telegraph on Alex Ferguson and the press: "Many reporters have been
banned, myself included, for a vast number of random reasons. They have been banned for getting stories wrong and getting them right. Others
have been exiled for writing books about Ferguson or making oblique
references that have irked him deep within their articles. Yet Ferguson’s departure will be mourned by those who are employed to report
on United, regardless of the bans, the hairdryers and the flying voice
recorders. One sentence from Ferguson can carry more weight than a thousand words from
his managerial counterparts – which can be a negative as well as positive
quality – but being witness to the Ferguson years at United has been a rare
Greg Dyke in the Sunday Times [£] on the BBC row with the Government over the 'sexed up' dossier: "The
basic allegations were that they sexed up the dossier — I don’t think
there’s any doubt about that. Our story was fundamentally right. It was
not completely right, but then journalism is not an exact science. What
was clear was: did they sex up the dossier? Yes. Did they know they were
sexing it up? Yes. About the only person who I’ve ever come across who
doesn’t believe that is Alastair Campbell.”
Peter Preston in The Observer: "Northern newsrooms – like Midlands correspondents and the rest – have
all but vanished. Local news agencies feeding the nationals are
similarly diminished. London, reaching for its newspaper or clicking
online each morning, gets no consistent sense of what non-metropolitan
life is like."
Rod Liddle in the Sunday Times [£]: "Bullying is another word that has long since lost its original meaning. It no
longer refers to someone having his head put down the lavatory; it now means
to compromise someone’s opinion of themselves by suggesting that they might
have got something wrong."
The Guardian in a leader: "One of the final arbiters of press regulation in this country is likely to be a former military intelligence officer
who once successfully sued a British media organisation for reporting
that he was part of an SAS operation training allies of the dictator Pol
Pot in Cambodia. The libel trial was halted after the then defence
secretary granted authority for gagging orders – public interest
immunity certificates – preventing evidence about the security services
from being disclosed to the court. Too far fetched, even in the
feverish world of post-Leveson wranglings? Alas not. Under any proposal
for a press royal charter, the ultimate fate of media regulation would
be the subject of private conversations between the head of the privy
council (Nick Clegg) and the aforesaid individual – Sir Christopher Geidt, private secretary to the Queen (and, inevitably, himself a member of the privy council)."
Shami Chakrabarti, the director of Liberty, quoted in theDaily Mail: "Police briefing against arrested individuals to pressure or punish is clearly abusive but it’s equally chilling for officers to refuse to confirm names of those detained or charged."
Sun Royal editor Duncan Larcombe in a statement after being charged with bribery offences: "I hope to demonstrate that I am a responsible journalist who reported in the public interest. As a royal reporter I worked harder than any other at the Palace putting in place and ensuring the application of a series of criteria that had to be satisfied before a story would appear in my paper. For the past year I have had to remain silent but my aim now is to fight these allegations with every breath in my body in the hope that justice and common sense will prevail."
Grey Cardigan on TheSpinAlley: "I had expected great things of the re-designed websites of Local
World’s regional newspapers. Surely a company so wedded to digital
expansion would produce something useful and accessible, sexy and
sophisticated. So I was more than a little disappointed when I clicked on one of the
re-launched sites to find something that looked like it had been put
together by a 14-year-old kid in his bedroom… in 1996. Huge tabloid fonts smashing you in the face, negligible help with
navigation, poor or non-existent labelling – they’re a real mess and
about as sexy as an unflushed toilet."
Melanie Phillips in the Daily Mail on her days as a Guardian journalist: "Increasingly, I saw how journalists on highbrow papers write primarily for other journalists or to impress politicians or other members of the great and the good. They don’t actually like ordinary people — especially the lower middle class, the strivers who believed in self-discipline and personal responsibility. They dismiss them as narrow-minded, parochial and prejudiced (unlike themselves, of course)."
Michael Wolff on USA Today: "Murdoch survives. And his fortune has only increased. But the legacy he
has most wanted, a permanent patrimony for his papers, and the
conveyance of his company from his leadership to his children's, is
still a struggle that, at 82, he will not win."
Julie Burchill on her husband Daniel Raven in the Sunday TimesMagazine [£]: "Dan is
the only person who’s more obsessed with punctuation than I am. It’s the
secret of a good marriage, sex and punctuation.”
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 email@example.com You can also follow me on Twitter @jonslattery