Thursday, 5 May 2016

Media Quotes of the Week: From battling a bullying businessman to the journalist who (almost) always backed Leicester to be champions

Business correspondent Oliver Shah, who has led the way on uncovering the BHS story, on Sir Philip Green in the Sunday Times [£]: "Later that month, he tried — and failed — to get the editor to rein in the story. 'I’m gonna call Rupert Murdoch [ultimate owner of The Sunday Times] on Monday morning because this is unacceptable,' he ranted at me. 'This has got to stop.' It did not. As I continued to dig, rival journalists on other papers expressed amazement that I was being allowed to take on Green. One gave me a front-page story on BHS. 'There’s no way my editor will let me print it, so you may as well have it,' he shrugged."

Sir Philip Green quoted by Oliver Shah in the Sunday Times [£]: "“If you want to call me a liar, come round to my office on Monday, call me a liar to my face and face the consequences. How’s that, if you’re such a big f****** boy? Because you will get thrown through the f****** window.”

Reuters reports: "British retail tycoon Philip Green on Thursday hit out at UK lawmakers for leading what he called a 'trial by media' in relation to last week's fall into administration of department store BHS...The letter, which Green circulated to news media, marks his first public comments on BHS's administration. In the letter, he also criticised the media for writing 'much inaccurate and misleading' information."

Trinity Mirror in a statement: "Although The New Day has received many supportive reviews and built a strong following on Facebook, the circulation for the title is below our expectations. As a result, we have decided to close the title on 6 May 2016. Whilst disappointing, the launch and subsequent closure have provided new insights into enhancing our newspapers and a number of these opportunities will be considered over time.”

Peter Hitchens in the Mail on Sunday: "I was just leaving the BBC’s Westminster studios on Thursday when Mr Livingstone stepped into an over-excited knot of political reporters. They looked like what they are – simultaneously a pack of snapping wolves, buzzing with self-righteousness, and a flock of bleating, conformist sheep, all thinking and saying exactly the same thing...At one point this stumbling, squawking carnival was joined by a barking dog. If it had gone on much longer, crowds of tourists would have gathered, mistaking it for an ancient London tradition. This is how politics is reported in this country, almost completely without thought."

Will Gore in the Independent: "In response to articles about Livingstone’s outburst, Holocaust deniers suddenly appear with alacrity, just as Islamophobes pop their heads above the parapet any time we write about refugees fleeing Syria. It is enough to make you wonder about the state of humanity. But it also raises practical questions for outlets such as The Independent: do we need to hire dozens of moderators to stem the tide; should we have a longer list of prohibited terms so we can automatically filter out the worst comments; or ought we simply to close comment boards? The more steps we take, the more we will be accused of stifling debate; hold back and ever more bile will slip through. Whatever course we steer, one thing is plain: responsibility for combatting discrimination lies with every right thinking person – it isn’t a subject for buck-passing."

International Federation of Journalists' president Jim Boumelha on the IFJ annual survey showing press freedom violations around the world: “This survey exposes a shocking toll of violations of media freedom and a woeful lack of willingness on the part of too many governments and authorities to act to defend journalists. But as it also shows journalists’ unions are ensuring there can be no hiding place for those who attack journalists or undermine media freedom. Whether in print or on the airwaves, in courts or international bodies, on the streets and in the workplaces journalists unions are standing up against the threats to media freedom.”

Feedback editor Rose Wild in The Times [£] on the paper's not carrying any reference to the Hillsborough inquests' verdicts in its first edition: " As soon as the first edition of the paper went out on Tuesday night, our choice of front-page stories was called into question by, among others, members of The Times staff...Our coverage of the 'unlawful killing' verdict in the Hillsborough inquiry, extensive as it was, was not flagged on the front, suggesting that we had overlooked both its significance in legal terms and its importance to the many people who had campaigned for this result for so long. The paper immediately realised it had made a mistake. In the second edition the front page was changed...The initial decision not to put the story on the front was because it had been running as a news story all day. But it was an error not to have a visual signal to the coverage inside."

Sun editor Tony Gallagher doorstepped by Channel 4 News' Paraic O'Brien and asked why his paper did not lead on Hillsborough inquests' verdict: "I'm afraid I am not talking about it at all."

Stig Abell, former director of the Press Complaints Commission, interviewed in the Guardian“We were a small group trying to help members of the public while upholding the principle of freedom of expression. But the PCC’s phone-hacking report was wrong. And we were widely criticised for being insufficiently interested in hacking, which has a certain amount of truth to it. We were overwhelmed, and I spent two years trying to keep the PCC relevant as the scandal grew worse. Let’s be honest: it was an issue that bamboozled institutions a lot more powerful than the PCC."

Chris Frost, the chair of the NUJ’s Ethics Council, on why the union is backing would be press regulator Impress, as reported by Press Gazette: “Our view is that Impress represents the best opportunity we have for independent press regulation and for providing an alternative to those national newspapers and their publishers who continue to fail to take their responsibilities seriously by hiding their failings behind another pointless so-called regulator. We have welcomed Impress as the alternative press regulator because we want to see regulation which is both Leveson complaint and independent of publishers, whilst involving journalists on its board and with its future development.”

George Osborne at the Westminster correspondents' dinner, as reported by The Times [£]: “It is the irreverence of journalism; the challenging, sometimes infuriating, occasionally wayward, always invigorating free journalistic spirit that makes a free society truly free. Show me a country that controls its press and I will show you a government that controls its people."

John Mickelwait on Bloombergview: "This column should begin with a financial disclosure -- of the writer’s own ineptitude. For around 20 years, every August I have bet £20 on Leicester City to win their league. The wall of my office at The Economist in London was festooned with the resulting betting stubs, to be mocked by my colleagues who followed more successful teams. True, Leicester did once finish second -- but that was back in the 1928-29 season; their main battle in my lifetime has been to avoid relegation, a struggle they have lost seven times. Last summer, having moved to New York to work for Bloomberg, I missed making my routine bet; the odds being offered on Leicester winning the title were 5,000-1, but, somewhere deep down, I assumed it was £20 pounds saved."


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