Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Media Quotes of the Year 2015: Charlie Hebdo, FoI, Save Our Sources, Plebgate, hacking, Clarkson, Oborne, Brooks is back, General Election and more

On January 7 terrorists killed 11 people after opening fire at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris.

Charlie Hebdo’s editor-in-chief, Gerard Biard: “I don’t understand how people can attack a newspaper with heavy weapons. A newspaper is not a weapon of war.”

RIPA and Plebgate

Press Gazette editor Dominic Ponsford: “It is unprecedented in my experience for every national newspaper editor to agree on anything. So it is highly significant that here [in a joint letter to the PM] they have said with once voice that RIPA needs tougher controls to protect journalists' sources. Giving police the ability to secretly view the phone records of law-abiding journalists is not compatible with an open democratic society.”

Sean O’Neill in The Times [£]: "Scotland Yard deliberately concealed the full extent of its snooping on journalists during the investigation into the so-called Plebgate affair. An official report revealed last year that the Metropolitan police had gathered call and text logs from the mobile phone of Tom Newton Dunn, political editor of The Sun, to discover the source of his story about the infamous clash between Downing Street police officers and Andrew Mitchell, the former Tory chief whip. The police report, The Times can reveal, kept secret the fact that detectives used the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) to trawl for data from the phones of two other Sun journalists, Anthony France, the crime reporter and Craig Woodhouse, the political correspondent."

Clarkson suspended

The Sun[£] in a leader on Jeremy Clarkson: "He may occasionally be a kn*b. But he is our kn*b. He is the People's kn*b."

Rusbridger cautioned

Alan Rusbridger on Comment Is Free after being cautioned by police over the use of a tripod on Hampstead Heath: "What could I do? We’d been caught bang to rights. Like our colleagues defending charges at the Old Bailey I found myself mumbling that I didn’t know that what we’d done was illegal. But, as any schoolboy knows, ignorance is no defence."

New editor for Guardian

Kath Viner on being appointed editor-in-chief of the Guardian: "I intend to lead a media organisation that is bold, challenging, open and engaging. It will be a home for the most ambitious journalism, ideas and events, setting the agenda and reaching out to readers all around the world.”

Sun drops Page 3 

Roy Greenslade on his Media Guardian blog: "In February, the first full month without Page 3, the Sun recorded its lowest sale since early 1971, less than two years after Rupert Murdoch acquired the title."

Harassment warning

Croydon Advertiser reporter Gareth Davies who lost an appeal against a harassment notice served on him by the Met Police for trying to interview a fraudster: "So, in contacting a criminal at her home on one occasion then
sending her two emails over the space of a fortnight, I had 'gone beyond a reasonable course of conduct'. If that were true then every journalist in the country should be given an harassment warning."

Hacking apology

Trinity Mirror, publisher of the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday Peopleapologises to all its victims of phone hacking: "Some years ago voice-mails left on certain people’s phones were unlawfully accessed. And in many cases the information obtained was used in stories in our national newspapers. Such behaviour represented an unwarranted and unacceptable intrusion into people’s private lives. It was unlawful and should never have happened, and fell far below the standards our readers expect and deserve."

Alison Saunders, Director of Public Prosecutions, in a statement"The CPS has looked in great detail at the comprehensive files submitted to us by the police, both in relation to corporate liability at News Group Newspapers and against 10 individuals at Mirror Group Newspapers for alleged phone hacking. After a thorough analysis, we have decided there is insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of a conviction and therefore no further action will be taken in any of these cases."

Oborne quits Telegraph

Peter Oborne on Open Democracy on why he's quit the Telegraph: "The Telegraph’s recent coverage of HSBC amounts to a form of fraud on its readers. It has been placing what it perceives to be the interests of a major international bank above its duty to bring the news to Telegraph readers. There is only one word to describe this situation: terrible."

Regional Press in tough times

Pic: Jon Slattery
George Osborne in his March Budget speech: “Local newspapers are a vital part of community life – but they’ve had a tough time in recent years – so today we announce a consultation on how we can provide them with tax support.”

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet on regional press publishers, speaking to the Lords Communications Committee"The titans, who run these groups, either here or from the United States, are to blame for the failure of their own business models. They enjoyed lavish profits for many years and didn't re-invest in journalism. They have cut and cut costs to maintain high profit levels and have not cared they do not have enough reporters to send to council meetings or cover such vital areas such as health and education and matters of importance to local communities. Now they see the BBC is ripe for the picking and have gone hell for leather to secure money from the corporation."

Sun journalists not guilty

David Dinsmore ‏@davedins on Twitter: "Tomorrow's p1. Put together by a great team in tribute to a great team."

Cleared Sun executive editor Fergus Shanahan, interviewed by Press Gazette: “It’s been a very barren, painful and miserable existence.”

The Times [£] in a leader: "Journalists are citizens. When they break the law they should be prosecuted. But when successive juries in long, complex and colossally expensive cases refuse to convict them, those pressing charges should pay attention."

Refugee crisis

Simon Usborne in The Independent on Katie Hopkins: "Hopkins has children to feed and dress - and we can unfollow her, and avoid what she writes and says. Free country, free speech. Just look the other way. But when a national newspaper, which gives this brand an audience of two million people, happily prints language that might give Hitler pause, is that still OK? Or is it worth responding this time, even if she’ll love every minute?"

amol rajan ‏@amolrajan  on Twitter: "We knew this would offend and shock. But Aylan Kurdi's horrific death can spur the action thousands desperately need."

Corruption exposed

Nick Cohen in the Observer: "Do not forget either that Rahman at all times enjoyed the mulish support of Ken Livingstone and elements of what now passes for the British left. The BBC, the Daily Telegraph, Private Eye and Ted Jeory, a fantastic Tower Hamlets reporter, who exposed on his blog the corruption stories that local papers wouldn’t print, fought back. But with honourable exceptions, London’s leftwing press ignored the stink in its own backyard and dismissed the accusations against Rahman as evidence of a 'deep substrate of' – you guessed it – 'racism'."

Ted Jeory in the Independent: "I started my spare-time blog in 2010 when I realised my former paper, the East London Advertiser, was no longer able or willing to keep an eye on the detail of the council administration. I kept plugging away where it should have been. For that, I received numerous legal threats from the town hall. None succeeded. But the retreat of so many local papers is deeply worrying. How many other Lutfur Rahmans are there out there?"

Politics: General Election, Corbyn victory and a pig

Jon Snow ‏@jonsnowC4 on Twitter: "Sun delivers a new low in UK journalism: Foul front page: Calls itself a newspaper:3 pages that tell you why few want to go into politics."

Peter Preston in the Observer"No ifs, no buts. This, in the small, stifling area of the universe where journalists and politicians mingle, was a bonfire of the certainties, a pyre of punditry. No one – except John Curtice and his exit pollsters – emerges with reputation intact. No prophet of a columnist saw this coming. No editor believed it possible. Everyone settled for the supposed stasis of a parliament hung, drawn and divided into multi-party segments. So the one great lesson for May 2020 and elections beyond is inescapable. We’re used to the pollsters telling us what’s happening (as opposed to finding out for ourselves). We somehow believed the politicians have an inside track – until we saw their mouths gape incredulously on Friday morning. Data journalism is only as good as the data it deploys. Shoe leather and inquiring minds still count."

Lynton Crosby in the Telegraph: “The problem with political commentary and punditry in this country is that it’s conducted by a bunch of people most of whom live inside the M25 who could never live on the £26,000 that is the average annual earnings of people in this country. Most went to Oxbridge, talk only to themselves and last time they met a punter was when they picked up their dry cleaning.”

David Cameron told the Conservative party conference the reason polls were wrong in the run-up to the General Election was because:"Britain and Twitter are not the same thing." 

Jeremy Corbyn in his first speech as leader, as reported by Sky News : "A huge thank you to all of my widest family because they have been through the most appalling levels of abuse from some of media in the last three months. It's been intrusive, abusive and it's been simply wrong. I say to journalists attack public political figures. Make criticism of them, that's o.k. that's what politics is all about. But please don't attack people who didn't ask to be put in the limelight, merely want to get on with their lives. Leave them alone in all circumstances."

Pic: BBC
Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell quoted in the Morning Star: “This last seven weeks that we’ve been in administration, the media assault on us has been, I think, a disgrace. I’ve never been comfortable with the way media ownership is in this country, but it does mean, to be frank, we have to commit ourselves now to media reform … break up the ownership of our media.”

Isabel Oakeshott on that pig story in Call Me Dave, speaking at the Cheltenham Festival, reported in The Times [£]: “Would I have got that story into The Sunday Times? Well, I reckon it probably could have been a diary story, expressed much more euphemistically.”

James Delingpole in the Sunday Times [£] on why he revealed in Call Me Dave he had smoked dope with David Cameron in their student days: "Was this naive, irresponsible and impulsive of me? Well, of course. That’s why I chose to be a journalist rather than, say, a diplomat or a senior civil servant or a lawyer. The whole point of being a hack is — or should be, I believe — that you never grow up. You spend your whole life in a state of arrested adolescence, forever the cheeky fifth-former at the back of the bus, waving for attention, gurning for easy laughs and flicking two fingers at authority."

NME Goes Free

James Brown in the Telegraph on music mag NME going free: "The internet robbed the NME of its reason to exist which was clear seven years ago as I was chatting to a friend’s 16 year-old son. He looked just like I did 30 years before - all teen rebel haircut, band T-shirt and tight jeans. His scuffed Converse were half on, half off a skateboard and he showed me his iPhone and a record sleeve with a woman holding a handful of blood. I told him I used to work for the NME. He replied 'What’s that?'"

Trip to loo tip

An interview tip from Lynn Barber in @XCityMag"A trip to the loo is often instructive - it's where people put their awards and cartoons - things they're proud of and want visitors to see...look for the pills!"

FT Sold to Japanese

Michael Woolff on USA Today: "There are two lessons from the sale of the Financial Times for $1.3 billion by its corporate parent Pearson to Nikkei, a Japanese newspaper company. The first is never believe a media company when it says it won’t sell something. The second is that newspapers, at least some newspapers, heretofore consigned to the dust heap, are back in business."

A scandal to be proud of

Brendan O'Neil blogs on the Spectator"The Lord Sewel scandal makes me feel proud to be British. For here, thanks to some glorious John Wilkes-style dirt-digging by the Sun — in your face, Leveson! — we have a proper political scandal. This ain’t no yawn-fest about MPs claiming the cost of a Kit-Kat or accidentally favouriting a gay-porn tweet: sad little pseudo-scandals which in recent years have tainted the good name of ignominy. No, the fall of Sewel is a full-on, drugged-up, peer-and-prostitutes scandal, of the kind Britain used to be pretty good at before the square Blairites and cautious Cameroons took over. The disgracing of Sewel is a reminder of British politics at its saucy best. Sewel, I salute you."

Peter Barron in the Northern Echo: "If we needed a reminder of why so many powerful figures would like to curtail Britain’s free press – and why that freedom remains so vital – it has arrived in a blur of white powder and pink, ill-fitting ladies’ underwear."

Clickbait is theft

Nick Cohen blogs on the online chase for clickbait: "The system turns journalists into thieves and liars. Not the traditional journalistic frauds in the Jayson Blair/Johann Hari mould but liars who lie because lying is a corporate imperative. To get traffic, fewer and fewer news sites can afford to send out writers to find original content. So they steal from other news sites, or lift and repackage a YouTube video or Twitter exchange that may go viral."

Jack the Ripper a Journalist

Dr Wynne Weston-Davies in the Telegraph claims Jack the Ripper was a journalist: "He names the Ripper as Francis Spurzheim Craig, who at the time of the murders in 1888 was a 51-year-old reporter covering the police courts and inquests in the East End of London."

Return to Syria

Loyd: After his kidnap last year
Anthony Loyd in The Times [£] on why he returned to Syria: "Just over a year after being kidnapped and shot there in my own walk-on, carry-off part in someone else’s nightmare, I went back to Syria because I wanted to. Foremost, I was curious to see what was happening in the time since I was last there, having felt artificially divorced from the country after so many previous assignments covering the conflict. I was still angry enough, too, in the wake of the betrayal and my abduction 15 months earlier, to want to spit on the memory of being beaten and shot, to be able to stand by the leering abyss and whisper, 'I’m still here, alive, reporting. So f*** you.'...There was, of course, one other reason I went back. It is the hardest to explain, but perhaps the most valid of all: I went back because war sucks. It sucks you back in.”

Brooks is Back

News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson on the return of Rebekah Brooks as chief executive officer of News UK: “Rebekah will lead a great team at News UK into the digital future, while maximising the influence and reach of our newspapers, which remain the most informative and successful in Britain and beyond. Her expertise, excellence and leadership will be crucial as we work to extend our relationship with readers and advertisers, and develop our digital platforms to take full advantage of our brilliant journalism.”

Joint executive director of the Hacked Off Campaign, Dr Evan Harris: "This could only happen in a dynastic company where normal rules of corporate governance simply do not apply. Mrs Brooks’ successful defence at trial was that she was such an incompetent executive that she was unaware of industrial-scale criminal wrongdoing in intercepting voicemails and bribing public officials, and unaware of the vast conspiracy to cover it up, despite her admitting to destroying millions of emails and putting the company’s reputation before co-operation with the police. Her failure has so far cost the company £300 million, hundreds of jobs and then there is the £16m pay off she received while scores of her newspapers’ confidential sources have gone to jail."

Editing the Sun from the Scrubs

Kelvin MacKenzie interviewed in the Sunday Times [£]: “If I was doing it now, I would be editing The Sun from Wormwood Scrubs. I never asked where stories came from.”

Arsenic for the Editor

Les Hinton on the stresses of being an editor, in the British Journalism Review: "No Murdoch editor suffered more than Arthur Christiansen (pictured) in his 24 years at the Daily Express. In Headlines All My Life, he writes: 'The telephone constantly rang. Wherever Beaverbrook went, the telephone followed.' When he cracked under the pressure, a dodgy Harley Street doctor injected Christiansen for 12 days with a preparation of strychnine, iron and arsenic. This treatment restored his broken confidence but seemed a little extreme to me. Reading this story as a teenager, I resolved never to work at close quarters with an overbearing proprietor. Not everything works out in life."

Freedom of Information

Campaign for Freedom of Information director Maurice Frankel on 10 years of FoI in the UK, in new book F0I 10 years on: freedom fighting or lazy journalism? : "The media have played an absolutely critical role. They have not only opened up streams of important news stories but demonstrated to the wider public that FoI works and is worth using."

Daily Mail in a leader"In what looks like a stitch-up between the Civil Service and Government, Sir Jeremy [Heywood - Cabinet Secretarytold his audience of fellow mandarins that an ‘independent panel’ had begun work to look at the ‘pros and cons of the current regime’. Its membership? The five person cabal includes the chairman of Ofcom, which is itself subject to FoI, and two ex-Home Secretaries – including Jack Straw, who has repeatedly argued the law allows too great a level of disclosure. Little wonder that 140 freedom of information campaigners wrote to the Prime Minister this week to complain that the commission is prejudiced and appears to have been established to propose savage new curbs on the public’s right to know.David Cameron – who, let’s not forget, was elected on a promise of greater ‘transparency’ – should stand ready to throw this biased panel’s findings in the Downing Street bin."

Kloop challenges press

New Liverpool F.C. manager Jurgen Kloop to journalists at his first press conference: "All the people told me so much about British press, it's up to you to show me they are all liars."

Screwed by Desmond

Henry Mance, lunching with Richard Desmond, in the Financial Times: "In Richard Desmond’s hands, simple objects become terrifying. There’s the receptionist’s bell that he uses to interrupt executives in board meetings, or the cups of tea that occasionally fly over underlings.  For me, the terror begins when he picks up the wine list. This is Coq d’Argent, a rooftop restaurant overlooking the Bank of England. The prices look like cricket scores — and Desmond is on the hunt for an innings victory. 'We’ll have that one,' he says, before I can intervene. As the sommelier skips away, the sum of £580 lingers on my retina. So this, I think, is how it feels to be screwed by Richard Desmond. It took less than 10 minutes."

Henry Mance ‏@henrymance  on Twitter: "Last night I asked Richard Desmond if he was annoyed by the interview. He turned to his security guy and said, 'Use nice concrete, yeah?' "

Fighting FIFA

Andrew Jennings, who spent years investigating FIFA corruption, in the Washington Post"This journalism business is easy, you know. You just find some disgraceful, disgustingly corrupt people and you work on it! You have to. That’s what we do. The rest of the media gets far too cozy with them. It’s wrong. Your mother told you what was wrong. You know what’s wrong. Our job is to investigate, acquire evidence.”

The Times in a leader [£] : "As the extraordinary dimensions of the Fifa scandal came into focus on Wednesday one of the American reporters who broke the story tweeted: 'Dear World, We don’t even like soccer and we’re going to clear up Fifa for you.' The footballing world owes the FBI a debt of gratitude but it should also hang its head in shame. Cleaning up football is everyone’s business."

Athletics Dope Scandal

Jonathan Calvert in the Sunday Times [£] on IAAF president Lord Coe and the doping scandal engulfing athletics: "Coe had the opportunity to reconsider when The Sunday Times and Seppelt revealed in August that the IAAF had ignored evidence of widespread doping among athletes. Instead he led a public relations campaign to undermine the disclosure. He gave interviews claiming it was his 'seminal moment' and that this newspaper’s article had been a 'declaration of war' on his sport."

The last word goes to Charlie Hebdo on the Paris terror attacks on November 13 which killed 130 people...

Charlie Hebdo: "They have arms. Fuck them. We have the Champagne!"


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