Thursday, 30 April 2020

Media Quotes of the Week: From UK government warned don't pick a Trump-style fight with the media to journalists are not cheerleaders during Covid-19 crisis and must ask awkward questions

Downing Street spokesperson dismissing the Guardian's Dominic Cummings exclusive: “Public confidence in the media has collapsed during this emergency partly because of ludicrous stories such as this.”

The Sunday Times [£] in a leader: "The government, meanwhile, needs to be very careful about picking a fight with the media and going down the Donald Trump route. This weekend, in response to a story in another newspaper, the prime minister’s spokesman chose to say that 'public confidence in the media has collapsed'. This is dangerous territory, not least from a government led by a prime minister who made his career as a journalist."

Donald Trump on Twitter: "What is the purpose of having White House News Conferences when the Lamestream Media asks nothing but hostile questions, & then refuses to report the truth or facts accurately. They get record ratings, & the American people get nothing but Fake News. Not worth the time & effort!"

Casey Newton on Twitter: "In a world where the president of the United States is maybe suggesting that people inject themselves with  disinfectants to cure disease, 'how should platforms handle misinformation?' feels like a question you need a team of space wizards to answer."

Tom Newton Dunn in the Sun, quoting a Conservative source claiming Piers Morgan's clashes with government ministers on ITV's Good Morning Britain makes them more popular with the public: “He doesn’t know it, but Piers is doing us a big favour. Every time he gets shouty at ministers, the public generally takes their side. That’s why we keep sending ministers on in front of him.”

David Goodhart in The Sunday Times [£]: "I watched the BBC News at Ten last week and by the end felt emotionally drained and no better informed about anything than at 9.59pm. On too many nights, the news bulletins at 6pm and 10pm run along these tramlines: here’s something about Covid-19; here’s someone who died; here’s a sobbing relative or frontline hero telling you to stay at home, save lives and protect the NHS. Yes, it’s a bleak and emotional period, and the BBC has an impossible job trying to please everyone at a time like this, but I feel an aching lack of authority, explanation and context, and a general infantilisation of the public discourse. Too much communication has become performative rather than informative."

Society of Editors executive director Ian Murray welcoming an Electoral Commission report on the 2019 General Election which highlighted public complaints against political parties for using unclearly branded social media pages, edited video clips, and leaflets mimicking local newspapers: “Sadly the findings of the Election Commission will come as no surprise to our members who have become exasperated by political parties launching campaign news freesheets and magazines in their communities that are clearly intended to misrepresent themselves as unbiased, impartial newspapers.”

A poll for Sky News on who the public trusts on the Coronavirus: "Journalists fare very badly in the poll. Some 24% say they trust TV journalists while 64% say they do not, giving a net score of minus 40. Meanwhile, 17% say they trust newspaper journalists, while 72% say they do not, giving an overall net score of minus 55."
  • LBC presenter Iain Dale on Twitter commenting on the Sky News poll: "Every journalist/columnist/commentator in the broadcast and print media needs to look themselves in the mirror (including me) and answer this question: how have I contributed to the fact that I am less trusted than the people I am supposed to hold to account?"

Mark Austin in an opinion article on Sky News: "There is a strong feeling among some out there that journalists are 'missing the mood' of the country and that what's needed is more support for a 'government doing its best... a more constructive contribution, more hope, optimism and faith'. While I get the emotional appeal of the argument, it rather fails to take into account the essential role of journalists, which is to ask sometimes awkward questions and try to hold government ministers to account. We're not cheerleaders."

Paul Bradshaw on medium: "China and Iran had more coronavirus cases than their governments said; political leaders in the US and Brazil have been criticised for encouraging behaviour which would lead to more deaths. You know about these things because journalists reported it. Should they have supported their governments and kept it quiet instead?"


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