Friday, 27 June 2014

Media Quotes of the Week: Hacking verdicts, outrage at jailing of AJ journalists in Egypt and a farewell to Felix Dennis in his own words

Prime Minister David Cameron after Andy Coulson was found guilty of conspiracy to hack phones, as reported by BBC News"I am extremely sorry I employed him. It was the wrong decision."

Peter Oborne in the Telegraph: "The phone hacking affair has displayed the Prime Minister at his worst – a shallow, amoral, conniving careerist, determined to secure high office at any cost."

The Guardian in a leader: "The vast majority of journalists in this country have never hacked a phone, bribed a public official or used a private detective. Even those who worked on the tiny handful of (albeit influential) papers that regularly trampled on privacy often felt deeply uneasy about it. Numerous individuals within the News of the World newsroom guided Nick Davies's investigations into phone hacking because they felt so uncomfortable about the practices going on around them. So, most journalists feel no regret about the cleansing of the stables, even if they feel conflicted about the prospect of journalists facing jail sentences for crimes committed."

Nick Davies on Coulson and Brooks in the Guardian: "With all the intellectual focus of a masturbatory adolescent, their papers spied in the bedrooms of their targets, dragging out and humiliating anybody who dared to be gay or to have an affair or to engage in any kind of sexual activity beyond that approved by a Victorian missionary."

The Times in a leader [£]: "The conviction of Coulson shows that some newspapers have clearly fallen short of the required standards and it is right to have a tougher regulator. The verdict on Mrs Brooks, however, reveals that the practice of phone hacking did not go to the very top, as critics have alleged. To rush to draconian regulation using a royal charter under the ultimate supervision of parliament, as the establishment and the pressure group Hacked Off advocate, looks even more of a disaster today than it ever has."

Rebekah Brooks, on BBC News: "I am innocent of the crimes that I was charged with and I feel vindicated by the unanimous verdicts...When I was arrested, it was in the middle of a maelstrom of controversy, of politics and of comment. Some of that was fair but much of it was not so I am very grateful to the jury for coming to their decision."

Michel Wolff, USA Today: "Coulson is hardly the biggest fish, but rather, a pawn in the larger Murdoch organisation. Coulson is the fifth such pawn in the Murdoch organization to be convicted of hacking, suggesting that either Murdoch and his other senior executives were right, that if hacking occurred, it occurred without them knowing, or, confirming what others have assumed, that the higher-ups would walk while the lower-downs would take the fall."

Al Jazeera PR ‏@AlJazeera  on Twitter: "We will continue with resolve until Peter, Baher and Mohammed are free"

World Association of Newspapers secretary general Larry Kilman: "We are disappointed and outraged at this judgement. It is an abhorrent abuse of press freedom principles. These journalists have been jailed for simply doing their jobs and journalism is not a crime."

Jeremy Bowen ‏@BowenBBC  on Twitter: "Disgraceful 7 year sentences handed down to Al Jazeera journalists in Cairo. Egyptian euphoria after Mubarak's fall feels a world away."

Roger Mosey ‏@rogermosey on  Twitter: "Journalism is vital for a free world. #Egypt should be condemned by all for jailing people for doing their job." #AJTrial

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet: "This is an outrageous decision and travesty of justice made by a kangaroo court...The NUJ is calling on all media organisations to register their protest in support of colleagues at Al Jazeera and all the Egyptian journalists who have been attacked and arrested by their country's authorities."

The Times [£] in a leader: "The prosecutors’ office refused to share crucial documentation with the defence team and so the journalists found themselves in the dock alongside the ghost of Franz Kafka: pronounced guilty, on the flimsiest of evidence, of distorted coverage about anti-protest laws. In fact the journalists were caught in the political crossfire between Cairo and Qatar, which owns Al Jazeera and which backs the cause of the Muslim Brotherhood. The trial was more about snubbing Qatar than reaching a just decision."

BBC director of news and current affairs James Harding, as quoted by HoldTheFrontPage: “We share a belief in local journalism because we have a responsibility to the country we live in to ensure that local journalism gets back on its feet. We may compete like cats in a sack for stories, but, in the end, we have a common purpose. And, to my mind, the squabbles in recent years between the local press and the BBC are getting us all nowwhere. We have looked like a circular firing squad.”

Nick Cohen on his Spectator blog commenting on Steve Coogan being appointed a patron of Index on Censorship: "I have looked everywhere. I have Googled, and asked around. But I can find no evidence that Steve Coogan has ever taken the trouble to defend freedom of speech at home or abroad."

Rod Liddle on Index on Censorship in the Sunday Times [£]: "This fine body was set up in 1972 to publish the suppressed works of authors and journalists — largely, although not exclusively, from behind the Iron Curtain, where freedom of expression did not exist. Its job, then, was to campaign against censorship and in favour of openness. I am labouring this point not for you, but just in case any of the smug munchkins who run the organisation — such as its chairman, David Aaronovitch— might be reading this. The organisation has just accepted the comedian Steve Coogan as a patron, which is a bit like Age UK forming a constructive working partnership with Dr Harold Shipman."

Pic: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Neil Kinnock on Ed Miliband in the Observer: "A hostile press which thought he was a soft target have not forgiven him for proving them wrong – and the vindictiveness will continue. It won't stop him; his genuine strengths of thought, action and toughness will get through and help to win victory."

Dan Snow in the Observer: "Anyone who doesn't love Twitter is an idiot. They're being a ridiculous Luddite or taking a stance. Twitter is a way of filtering the news. You tailor your own timeline so who you follow reflects your interests. Mine is populated by politics and history. It's a phenomenal news service, far better for me than any conventional news outlet because I built it myself. I've made new friends on Twitter, interacted with some incredible people, had some of my most satisfying professional experiences and found out lots of fascinating things about the world. It's been a hugely enriching experience."

Danny Baker @prodnose on England's early World Cup exit: "I sincerely think all UK media and TV pundits should have to return home with the team. #GravyTrainOverNow"

Roy Greenslade on his MediaGuardian blog on the row over MailOnline lifting copy: "If Mail Online drives other publishers to the wall, where will it get its copy in future?

Publisher Felix Dennis, who died this week, interviewed in the Observer last June: "It's not quite right, is it? To shag all the women, have all the money and two cases of Petrus in my wine cellar and then write poetry that sells and that people love. It shouldn't be allowed. That's what annoys people. They think that I've got to get what's coming to me and no doubt I will."


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