Friday, 26 July 2013

Media Quotes of the Week: From tweeting about the Royal baby to what's the difference between a tabloid journalist and a posh lawyer?

 Royal baby on Twitter:

: "Breaking: Nicholas Witchell is now fully dilated."

"Royalty is essentially quite a medieval notion, and this huge, overheated, overexcited press pen does have a medieval town fair feel to it."

: "Ok Kate, you have 12 hours before 1st editions go to press. No pressure."

The BBC informs us that there will be no further news of the Royal baby for several hours. And will now spend several hours telling us that."

"Sunday newspapers everywhere start their working week knowing they need to find a Royal Baby line people will still want to know in 5 days."

: "Celebrate the royal birth. Storm a palace."

: : Has there been too much coverage about the arrival of the ? We'll discuss whether there has at 0740.” Hahaha

: "21 pages of Royal baby coverage in the Mail today including an article headed "Was the BBC over the top?".

Simon Jenkins in the Guardian: "The media's job is to mediate reality. It is to say why the dead body in the road matters. Journalism has long struggled with the paradox that good news is unsurprising and therefore not news. Fifty planes landing safely at Heathrow is as boring as 50 celebrities sleeping soundly in their own beds."

Guardian report on YouGov poll commissioned by Media Standards Trust on press regulation: "Trust remains high in Lord Justice Leveson, with 61% saying they trust the judge a great deal or a fair amount, compared with 17% who trust the major newspaper publishers...Asked who else they trust in the debate on newspaper regulation, 34% of those polled trust David Cameron; 7% trust Rupert Murdoch; 17% the major newspaper publishers; 33% Ed Miliband; 61% BBC News; 44% Hugh Grant, the actor who campaigns for stricter press regulations; 27% Nick Clegg; and 41% the campaigning group Hacked Off."

Harriet Harman in a letter to Fleet Street editors: "How many of the staff journalists you employ are over the age of 50? How many of these are women?"

Daily Mail in a leader: "The Serious Organised Crime Agency admits having details of numerous blue-chip companies, insurers, legal firms, and wealthy individuals who routinely used the services of corrupt private detectives to hack phones and otherwise illegally acquire private information on rivals. Yet instead of hammering on doors at 5am and dragging senior executives to the police station for questioning, SOCA is actively defending them."

The Sun in a leader"We now know that the police have had evidence for years that lawyers, accountants and other blue-chip companies also hired investigators. Lord Leveson also knew. But he chose to ignore it all. So has David Cameron called for a similar inquiry? There’s not been a peep from him.  And none of them has ever been charged. As if that wasn’t hypocrisy enough, the Serious Organised Crime Agency has now rejected demands that it release the companies’ names. It says that would damage their “financial viability”. No one is falling for that one. A free Press holds people in power to account. That often includes lawyers, accountants and the others who are now being protected. Double standards? That’s the least of it."

The Independent on Sunday in a leader:  "The companies concerned should have nothing to fear from fair reporting of the facts. If they have been investigated by Soca, it is up to them to explain that they have not knowingly employed private investigators to engage in criminal activity on their behalf.In October, the unloved Soca will be merged into a new National Crime Agency. Let us hope this change of name will signify a change in the organisation’s culture, so that it sees openness as a means of fighting crime and not a distraction from it."

Stephen Glover in the Daily Mail: "Although some of the response to the antics of the News of the World has been overblown, I’m not going to complain if its former executives are found guilty after a fair trial, and led away. But it would be an outrage if people who have done far worse were let off scot-free — an outrage which showed what the powers that be really think about a free Press." 

Neil Wallis, former deputy editor of the News of the World, in the Independent: "When I was arrested and questioned over alleged phone hacking, none of the evidence produced was anything remotely other than circumstantial at the very strongest. I spent 19 nightmare months unemployable on bail before being cleared. So why is it that executives on the Soca list are not being treated in the same way? Because I can’t see the difference between me and a posh lawyer who worked for companies who allegedly paid private investigators to break the law. Except, of course, I’m a tabloid journalist and apparently not a respectable businessman.”

Friday, 19 July 2013

Quotes of the Week: Daily Telegraph backed over Huhne and Trimingham prison pics to a reporter's most useful tool in Alan Whicker's World

Press Complaints Commission ruling on complaint against Daily Telegraph by Chris Huhne and Carina Trimingham over prison pics: "While the Commission acknowledged the complainants' position that the publication of the photographs was intended to embarrass them, Mr Huhne's trial, conviction and imprisonment - and the indirect but central role that his relationship with Ms Trimingham had played in the crime's coming to light - had been the subject of wide publicity. [Huhne's] incarceration and the existence of their relationship were already matters well-established in the public domain...neither the photographs nor the articles revealed any additional information about the complainants or their relationship which was intrinsically private. The Commission concluded that the publication of the material did not represent an intrusion into the complainants' private lives. The complaint was not upheld."

Rupert Murdoch in a letter to John Whittingdale, chairman of the Commons' culture and media select committee, following leaking of his comments at a meeting with Sun journalists: "Even without a reliable transcript before me, I am sure I made overly emotional comments about the MPS at the March meeting. But the frustration that drove those comments was real, and rooted in the events that have taken place after I appeared before you. This has now gone on for more than two years. Nearly 200 police officers have been involved. They have conducted pre-dawn raids with as many as 14 officers entering journalists' homes in front of terrified families. And most troubling, in many cases the arrests were followed by no charging decision one way or another, for as long as two years. There has been at least one suicide attempt."

Exaro News website: "Media mogul Rupert Murdoch told friends that he feels hurt by the leak of secret recordings of his private comments in a meeting with staff."

The Financial Times in a leader gives its backing to the industry's proposed Independent Press Standards Organisation: "The industry’s proposals are not perfect. Tweaks may be needed as the media landscape changes. The costs and future membership must be defined. But overall they are the best hope of achieving Lord Justice Leveson’s vision."  

Trinity Mirror secretary and legal director Paul Vickers in the Guardian: "Time for a little sunlight. To ensure that the completely new body – Ipso (the independent press standards organisation) – has the trust of the public and those it regulates, we have been insistent that every appointment is made according to public appointment principles of merit, fairness and openness."

Barrister William Irwin in the Guardian: "The Ipso proposals do not address a fundamental problem with the old PCC system. In shorthand, the Desmond Problem. So-called because Richard Desmond – the proprietor of the Express and Star titles – withdrew them from the PCC in 2011."

Rolling Stone defends its controversial cover on Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, via Huff Post: "Our hearts go out to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, and our thoughts are always with them and their families. The cover story we are publishing this week falls within the traditions of journalism and Rolling Stone's long-standing commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day. The fact that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is young, and in the same age group as many of our readers, makes it all the more important for us to examine the complexities of this issue and gain a more complete understanding of how a tragedy like this happens."

Charles Moore in the Telegraph: "In its great scheme of things, the BBC knows how to report clearly defined victims – pensioners cheated by PPI, formerly abused children, 'whistleblowers'. What it cannot understand is the position of the great majority of the people watching it – that they pay tax, and they keep paying more of it. Seldom do they see the story in a tax rise, in energy bills or planning delays, in their own stupefying executive pay-offs. Seldom do they expose the rise in the national debt or investigate why it is that, despite “cuts” every day, government spending still grows bigger all the time. The one entity, in short, in which the BBC feels permanently uninterested is the individual citizen."

J.K. Rowling on her website after being outed by the Sunday Times as the crime writer Robert Galbraith: "I hoped to keep this secret a little longer, because being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience! It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation and pure pleasure to get feedback from publishers and readers under a different name. The upside of being rumbled is that I can publicly thank my editor David Shelley, who has been a true partner in crime, all those people at Little, Brown who have been working so hard on The Cuckoo’s Calling without realising that I wrote it, and the writers and reviewers, both in the newspapers and online, who have been so generous to the novel."

Douglas McCabe, analyst at Enders Analysis, in the Financial Times on the way local papers are using more content provided by readers:  “In a way, it’s just a massive expansion of what used to be the letters page.”

on Twitter: "Sharp drop in Guardian N&M losses as digital revenues soar nearly 30%. Dig gain exceeds print decline."

on Twitter: "Interviewing the high & mighty or the lowly & humble, Alan Whicker once said a reporter's most useful & adaptable tool was - a blazer."

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

NUJ backs local council newspapers against new crackdown by Eric Pickles to limit publication

Michelle Stanistreet: 'Council papers should be able to campaign' 
The NUJ has come out against attempts by Communities and Local Government minister Eric Pickles to limit the frequency of publication of local authority newspapers.

It puts the union at odds with local newspaper publishers who claim the so-called "Town Hall Pravdas" are unfair competition to the established regional press.

The new measures, under the Local Audit and Accountability Bill, would ban local authorities from publishing more than four newsletters a year and seeks to give the government greater powers of intervention by trying to place the local authority publicity code – currently a guidance document for English councils – into legislation.The code, established in 2011, lists a series of recommendations regarding the political content and value for money of council communications.

The NUJ claims the new powers for the Secretary of State in the bill are not necessary. "There is no evidence that extra statutory powers are required to strengthen the code of practice, as any council which fails to meet its obligation to be balanced and uses publications as political platforms already face sanctions. The NUJ disagrees the extra provisions are necessary. However, if they were enacted it is crucial that there should be a route of appeal. It is a principle of natural justice that there should be a right of appeal and this is absent from the proposals."

The new publicity code proposed in the bill “includes specific guidance about the frequency, content and appearance of local authority newspapers, including recommending that principal local authorities limit the publication of any newspaper to once a quarter and parish and town councils limit their newsletters etc. to once a month”.

The bill is now at Report stage in the House of Lords.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: "The NUJ sees no case at all for Eric Pickles and future secretaries of state to be given extra statutory powers to decide when local authority newspapers are published. We do not believe that this element of guidance reflects the needs of many communities, nor the practicalities of providing prompt, accurate advice and information to them. In areas where there are no, or limited local newspapers, then sharing planning details, service changes and details of consultations on a quarterly basis is insufficient.

"PR officers in local government act on behalf of the authority they represent and not the political party. Their job is to promote the democratically-agreed decisions of the authority and defend its reputation when unjustifiably attacked. Councils which attempt to use these publications as political platforms already face sanctions and all members of our union follow a code of conduct which says: 'Members working in local and national government shall maintain professional political neutrality at work, unless their conditions of employment specifically allow otherwise'."

The NUJ also says council newspapers should be able to campaign on behalf of their residents, for example on closure of a local hospital.
  • The NUJ is warning peers against supporting an amendment to scrap the requirement for councils to place public notices in local newspapers. It said: "The current obligation on public bodies to advertise traffic orders in newspapers recognises the public good that the press performs in providing public information. We have no doubt this still holds true, despite the decline in newspaper circulations of recent years. Local newspapers have very strong brands and have a high level of trust within their community."
  • Pic of Michelle Stanistreet (Jon Slattery)

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

UN Security Council to debate journalists' safety

A Day Without News? , which campaigns for greater protection for journalists covering armed conflicts, says one of its key objectives has been achieved.

It reports: "Following our meetings with both the UK and US UNSC missions urging them, during their respective presidencies of the council, to adopt a motion to discuss the protection of journalists and debate the strengthening of resolution 1738, the UN Security Council will hold an open debate on the protection of journalists on July 17, 2013, which will feature briefings by representatives of the media.

"A Security Council Report states: 'This will be the first time the Council considers this issue in a separate meeting since the adoption of resolution 1738 on the protection of journalists on 23 December 2006. . . . A key issue for the Council is whether further steps can be taken to enhance implementation of resolution 1738 and improve protection of journalists on the ground. . . .

‘It appears that the idea of having a meeting on the protection of journalists initially came from the UK. For practical reasons it preferred not to schedule such a meeting during its own presidency in June and therefore proposed it for July instead.’

A Day Without News? adds: "Bravo and thank you to all of those who supported our campaign. We are proud to have played a part under the guidance of Sir Daniel Bethlehem and to help The Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders and Human Rights Watch in their continuing efforts.

A Day Without News? was first commemorated on February 22 of this year, the first anniversary of the deaths of journalists Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik while covering the Syrian conflict.

It's aims are:
  • to draw sharper attention to the growing numbers of journalists who have been killed and injured in armed conflict, in some cases as a result of direct targeting by the belligerents;
  • to develop a public diplomacy, institutional and legal agenda to combat this more effectively; and
  • to investigate and collect evidence in support of prosecutable cases in this area.
The ultimate goal is for A Day Without News? to generate grassroots support within the community that will further the work of the Committee to Protect Journalists , Reporters Without Borders, Human Rights Watch, and other invaluable organisations who are dedicated to this issue.

A Day Without News? wants to  build public support through publicity; increasing pressure for change through diplomacy; and helping the identification, investigation and prosecution of war crimes committed against journalists.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Quotes of the Week: From Sunday Times victory over crime boss to an editor's life in dog years

The Sunday Times [£] in a leader about David Hunt after he lost a libel case against the newspaper: "Mr Hunt, in the judgment of Mr Justice Simon who tried his libel complaint, has been involved in fraud, prostitution, money laundering and “extreme violence”. Previously confidential documents produced at the trial revealed that the police and other crime-fighting agencies have been well aware of his activities for many years. Yet it has taken extremely brave witnesses, including a persistent investigative reporter, Michael Gillard, to bring these facts before the public. It has been a high stakes legal battle. This newspaper has needed deep pockets to fill the vacuum left by those who should have taken on Mr Hunt long ago. We have not shied from the task, just as in the past we took on the distributors of thalidomide and the quarter-master general of the Provisional IRA. This is what we do."

Paul Vickers on plans for the Independent Press Standards Organisation on BBC's World at One: "What were doing today is setting up a mechanism for creating a self-regulatory system. It's not dependent on a royal charter – we could do this tomorrow."

on Twitter: "Good to see press pushing ahead with Independent Press Standards Organisation - that it has so enraged Lord Prescott is an additional bonus."

Roy Greenslade on his MediaGuardian blog on Ipso: "My hunch is that it will gain political support, even if grudging, because it is currently the only game in town. There will be protests. There may be concessions over matters of detail. Essentially, however, Ipso will become facto."

Brian Cathcart, the executive director of Hacked Off, on the publishers planning Ipso, in the Guardian: "By their actions they are telling the public that they are not answerable to judges, and not subject to the democratic will of Parliament. They are telling us that they are outlaws.

The Guardian in a leader on Rupert Murdoch’s taped meeting with Sun journalists: "There is zero evidence here of the kind of culture change needed to restore public confidence in the press. MPs rightly want to bring Mr Murdoch back to find out whatever happened to humility. Meanwhile, the stalemateover regulation is no closer to resolution."

Rod Liddle in the Sunday Times [£]: "The BBC has been accused of endemic political bias again — this time by one of its own executives in a study it commissioned itself. As a consequence, it has commended itself for its brilliance, honesty and impartiality. Times change, but the BBC never does."

Grey Cardign on The Spin Alley finally snaps over Liz Jones and her Mail column: "Enough is enough. The only way to halt this narcissist nut-job is to stop reading her. Don’t dip into You magazine; bin the Mail on the days she ventures off the fashion pages. And let Lord Dacre know what you’re doing. Who knows? Once the mad woman is freed from the need to self-harm in print, perhaps she might be able to restore some normality to her pitiful life."

on Twitter: "Best four words in the Mail on Sunday today: "Liz Jones is away"

Rupert Murdoch's spokesman, quoted by the Guardian: "Mr Murdoch welcomes the opportunity to return to the Select Committee and answer their questions. He looks forward to clearing up any misconceptions as soon as possible."

on Twitter: "Would it hurt the BBC to credit every newspaper from which they borrow a good story? Not remotely. Would it promote good journalism? Yes."

Simon Kelner interviewed by Press Gazette: “An editor’s life is like dog years. I’d been editor-in-chief [at The Independent] for 13 and a bit years, so effectively that’s 91 years. And it began to feel a bit like that.”


Monday, 8 July 2013

Press industry goes it alone on regulation

The press industry has decided to go it alone and set out plans for a new regulator - called the Independent Press Standards Organisation to replace the Press Complaints Commission.

The move is backed by the Newspaper Society, the Newspaper Publishers Association, the Scottish Newspaper Society and the PPA, which represents magazine publishers.

"The Independent Press Standards Organisation will be a complete break with the past, and will deliver all the key Leveson recommendations," the publishers said in a joint statement.

They added: "The establishment of the Independent Press Standards Organisation does not depend on approval of a royal charter, as the prime minister made clear to parliament on March 18: 'The royal charter does not set up a self-regulator; that is for the press to do'."

A spokesman for Guardian publisher Guardian News & Media, which along with the Financial Times and Independent publishers has not signed up to all elements of the newspaper industry regulator, said: "We look forward to receiving the documents and participating in the consultation."
A group put together by the PCC chairman Lord Hunt and chaired by Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, the former supreme court president, is in place ready to start selecting the appointments panel for the new body.

The Independent Press Standards Organisation says it would have:
  • A majority of independent members at every level, and no industry veto on appointments.
  •  The power to impose £1m fines for serious or systemic wrong-doing.
  • Upfront corrections and adjudications – whether editors like it or not.
  • A standards and compliance arm with investigative powers to call editors to account.
  •  An Arbitration Service to offer a speedy and inexpensive alternative to the libel courts, subject to the successful conclusion of a pilot scheme.
  • A whistleblowers’ hotline.
  •  A warning service to alert the press, and other media such as broadcasters, when members of the public make it clear that they do not wish to be the subject of media attention.

The industry statement says that Ipso would have powers to impose fines of up to £1m and ensure that corrections and adjudications were published "whether editors like it or not".

The whistleblowers' hotline would allow journalists to object to editors who ask them to do anything they consider is unethical. The NUJ has long campaigned  for journalists' contracts to include a "conscience clause" which would stop journalists being sacked if they objected to being asked to carry out unethical journalism.

There has been speculation that the industry needed to act quickly ahead of the autumn trials of former News International executives Rebekkah Brooks and Andy Coulson which are expected to attract huge coverage. It is thought setting up Ipso could take several months.

Society of Editors executive director Bob Satchwell commented: “Editors will welcome moves to take plans for a new independent and more powerful press body forward. The steps announced today put flesh on the principles behind a new body agreed during and after the Leveson Inquiry.

“The new system will be able to earn the confidence of editors and the public and will quickly become effective. It will be independent and robust. It will have the ability to deal with any of the issues discussed over the last two years. It will have new powers including fines and it will be capable of dealing with rapid changes in the media industry.

“The industry needs this and so do the public. The process should not be interfered with by attempts to delay the adoption of the new system by those politicians and others who would prefer to neuter the press.

“Revelations over the past few months including those about the police and the health service show just how important it is to have a free and fearless media.”

Friday, 5 July 2013

Media Quotes of the Week: From would Mick Jagger have found satisfaction as a journalist? to being resigned from the editorship of The Times

Mick Jagger interviewed by John Humphrys on the Today programme: "There're a million things that you would have loved to have done, a politician, a journalist. I thought of being a journalist once."

The Sunday Times [£] in a leader: "Let’s imagine that young Mick had decided on a career in journalism. Like Mr Humphrys, he might have been a distinguished foreign correspondent. Like Mr Humphrys, he might have built a reputation as a fierce no-holds-barred interviewer. And last week, just like Mr Humphrys, he’d have trudged through the crowded fields of Glastonbury on his way to interview a wealthy rock star — probably wondering where it all went wrong."

Rupert Murdoch in a meeting with Sun journalists, leaked to Exaro and broadcast by Channel 4 News: "The idea that the cops then started coming after you, kick you out of bed, and your families, at six in the morning, is unbelievable. But why are the police behaving in this way? It's the biggest inquiry ever, over next to nothing."

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet in a statement: "News UK's response has been to say that Murdoch was showing ‘understandable empathy’ with his staff. He’s about as empathetic as he is humbled. Murdoch set up the Management and Standards Committee and, at the same time as setting up shop with the Metropolitan Police, he threw his staff to the wolves. Data was handed over to the police as an act of corporate damage limitation – there was no consideration of public interest tests, there was no thought to the consequences of outing journalistic sources, and there was no consideration the impact on staff who’ve worked loyally for Murdoch’s titles and done as they’ve been told."

Lynn Barber on Liz Jones in the Sunday Times Magazine [£]: "At 54, she is single, childless, friendless, facing bankruptcy, still anorexic and, of course, completely bonkers. On the other hand, this is all meat and drink to her fans."

on Twitter: "Abject apologies to all who helped with Liz Jones and now can't read because of effing paywall. I objected but no joy - sorry"

Mail on Sunday in a leader: "Lord Justice Leveson’s report on the press is not wearing at all well. Like a week-old party balloon, it already looks faded and deflated."

Trevor Kavanagh in the Sun: "It is now clear the Leveson Inquiry was an establishment stitch-up. It was intended to move fast, avoid scrutiny and deliver its report in time for swift, irreversible legislation. Instead, plans for a royal charter are bogged down in discord and controversy, making a laughing stock of Britain’s hard-won reputation as a bastion of Press freedom. After this fiasco, it would serve MPs right if the newspaper industry now withdrew from the process, flatly rejected Press regulation — and challenged Parliament to do its worst."

Mark Wallace on Comment is Free: "The Daily Telegraph has cut itself loose of its party ties, and adopted a far more pugnacious, champion-of-the-people worldview. In fine conservative style, it has dedicated itself to historic principles whilst using the very newest technologies to promote them. The Torygraph of old may be dead and gone, but it has grown into a beast that is just as important – and all the more tricky to handle."

Mike Darcy, chief executive of News UK, quoted by Press Gazette: "It is better to sacrifice reach and preserve sustainable profitability.“Moreover, when we sacrifice this so-called reach, what have we really lost?  A long tail of passing trade, many from overseas, many popping in for only one article, referred by Google or a social media link, not even aware they are on a Times or a Sun website, wholly anonymous. That passing trade was good for the ego, if unique user stats do that for you, but they don’t really add to our purpose at all.”

James Harding, speaking at the Journalists' Charity annual lunch,  on leaving the editorship of The Times: "I resigned…err…I was resigned from The Times.”