Thursday, 11 January 2018

Media Quotes of the Week: Lords support Leveson 2, Oprah backs press, Trump wins a new media award and some of the best of Peter Preston

New Culture Secretary Matt Hancock @MattHancock on Twitter after Lords vote for part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry into the behaviour of the press and a move which would see newspapers not signed up to a state-supported regulator pay their own and their opponent’s legal costs in relation to alleged data protection breaches, win or lose in court: "House of Lords have just voted to restrict press freedoms. This vote will undermine high quality journalism, fail to resolve challenges the media face and is a hammer blow to local press. We support a free press and will seek to overturn these amendments in the Commons."

Oprah Winfrey at the Golden Globes, via "The press is under siege these days, but we also know that it is the insatiable dedication to uncovering the absolute truth that keeps us from turning a blind eye to corruption and to injustice – to tyrants and victims and secrets and lies. I want to say that I value the press more than ever before as we try to navigate these complicated times, which brings me to this: what I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have. ”

BBC China editor Carrie Gracie in a letter, obtained by BuzzFeedNews, explaining why she is leaving her post: "With great regret, I have left my post as China editor to speak out publicly on a crisis of trust at the BBC. The BBC belongs to you, the licence fee payer. I believe you have a right to know that it is breaking equality law and resisting pressure for a fair and transparent pay structure. In thirty years at the BBC, I have never sought to make myself the story and never publicly criticised the organisation I love. I am not asking for more money. I believe I am very well paid already – especially as someone working for a publicly funded organisation. I simply want the BBC to abide by the law and value men and women equally."

Index on Censorship chair David Aaronovitch‏ @DAaronovitch on Twitter: "I think Virgin is wrong in its decision not to sell the Mail - a decision taken for the wrong reasons. You can't have one rule for publications you approve of and another for those you don't...I'm afraid Virgin's IS an act of censorship. On their own admission they are not selling something they sold before mainly because they don't like what it says."

The Daily Mail in a statement: “It is disgraceful that, at a time of massive customer dissatisfaction over ever-increasing rail fares, and after the taxpayer was forced to bail out Virgin’s East Coast mainline franchise – a decision strongly criticised by the Mail – that Virgin Trains should now announce that for political reasons it is censoring the choice of newspapers it offers to passengers."

Emily Bell‏ on Twitter: "Dilemma of the Wolff book for journalism commentators : those who said press should break the rules, not normalize Trump, call it what it is etc., did not anticipate the most effective route to that would be by pulling off the most audacious act of access journalism of all time."

Drew Magary in GQ: "Wolff has spent this week thoroughly exploiting Trump and his minions the same way they've exploited the cluelessness of others. And he pulled it off because, at long last, there was a reporter out there willing to toss decorum aside and burn bridges the same way Trump does."

Michael Wolff asked on The Today Show [clip via BBC News] if attempts to block the book's publication, and the attendant publicity, had helped sales: "Where do I send the box of chocolates?"

Trump, reported by NBC News"We are going to take a strong look at our country's libel laws ... You can't say things that are false, knowingly false, and be able to smile as money pours into your bank account."

Committee to Protect Journalists in its new Press Oppressors Awards gives the 'Overall Achievement in Undermining Global Press Freedom' prize to Donald Trump: "The United States, with its First Amendment protection for a free press, has long stood as a beacon for independent media around the world. While previous U.S. presidents have each criticized the press to some degree, they have also made public commitments to uphold its essential role in democracy, at home and abroad. Trump, by contrast, has consistently undermined domestic news outlets and declined to publicly raise freedom of the press with repressive leaders such as Xi, Erdoğan, and Sisi. Authorities in China, Syria, and Russia have adopted Trump's "fake news" epithet, and Erdoğan has applauded at least one of his verbal attacks on journalists. Under Trump's administration, the Department of Justice has failed to commit to guidelines intended to protect journalists' sources, and the State Department has proposed to cut funding for international organizations that help buttress international norms in support of free expression. As Trump and other Western powers fail to pressure the world's most repressive leaders into improving the climate for press freedom, the number of journalists in prison globally is at a record high."

The Guardian on former editor Peter Preston who died on Saturday"Peter Preston embodied some of the best qualities not just of this paper, but of journalism more widely. By hard work and personal example he showed how a newspaper could change and improve without losing touch with its roots. During his editorship of the Guardian, he introduced to a rather self-important paper a light touch that was not merely superficial. He loved his trade, and was a master of all aspects of newspaper editing, but he never supposed that the media were more important than their subjects."
  • Here are some of the best quotes from Peter Preston's media column in the Observer:
On Newsquest-owner Gannett: "Gannett is not well-loved here, or in the US. Gannett seems to exist to keep shareholders cheerful and pay executives royally. Gannett is a row of figures on the bottom line."

On Andrew Norfolk of The Times: "Andrew Norfolk, the Times reporter in Rotherham, is the hero of most press awards these days and was again at the press awards. Warm applause, but also a warm lesson as Norfolk thanked his editors, going back years, for giving him time, especially time listening quietly in court, to nail a great, sickening story. Time is the essence of investigation. Courts are the underreported casualty of staff cuts. We no longer sit through trials. We don’t register detail after an opening statement or two. We believe in open justice: but we’re shutting the door on it."

On press-regulation: "Messrs Cameron and Miliband appear to want a replacement for the Press Complaints Commission whose independent members are chosen by an equally independent nominating committee buried somewhere in the depths of Whitehall. Let's be straightforward about this. It's not self-regulation at all. It is effectively statutory regulation, rule by whoever the government of the day says is in regulatory charge."

On local papers: "A truly local paper is like a policeman on his beat (or that family doctor). It's what helps local life go around. It opens a world of possibilities. And – golly! – it's more important than 30% profit margins. Or, at least, it damned well should be."

On the Lobby: "They're expert, self-regulated members of one gentlemen's club, monitoring another one. They need to cultivate sources, buy drinks and keep onside to keep the chat coming. They are part of the institution, in a way. They do not turn over stones."
  • Peter Preston contributed this article to Local Newspaper Week in 2011, looking back to his days covering funerals, dog shows and Rotary Club speeches
“Journalism isn’t about sitting in some lofty office thinking great thoughts. It is about knowing the people you're writing for, understanding their concerns, their hopes and fears. And you can only do that if you’re out there amongst them, being part of the community you aim to serve.

“I started in journalism, long ago, doing school holiday shifts on my local paper, writing my first features about life at the university just up the road. When I went to university myself I did every job going on the twice-weekly student paper there - and then learned my trade on Liverpool’s big evening and morning papers. I did funerals, Rotary Club speeches, dog shows, council rows and rugby matches.

"And at the end of that stint, when I moved on to cover local politics for the Guardian, I think I’d learned something precious. That politics doesn’t exist in some rarefied world at Westminster. That democracy lives, breathes and reacts in the minds and the lives of the people you catch a bus to work with every morning. That the local dimension isn’t some remote step ladder on the route to the top. It’s where everything begins. It’s the foundation stone of society.

“And that’s as true today as it ever was. Your local paper, in villages, towns and cities up and down the land, is there to reflect you, yourself - your own running commentary on life. In the mazy world of the world-wide web, where nothing seems more than a click away, it is still the place where the people around you put down their roots.

“There’s been a local press in Britain for as long as there have been newspapers. There will be newspapers - in one form or another - for as long as people care about what happens around them. News is a necessity, your link to your neighbours. Prize it, relish it, support it... because, not just in Local Newspaper Week but every week of the year, it helps your world go round.”

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