Thursday, 14 May 2020

Media Quotes of the Week: 'Our job is not to be liked' - journalists hit back at Covid-19 critics as survey reveals freelances hit hardest by pandemic

Beth Rigby, on BBC Radio 4's Media Show on criticism of journalists covering Covid-19 being too aggressive towards the Government: "Our job is not to be liked. Our job is to ask difficult questions. Sometimes that chimes with some people and some people really dislike it... What we try and do as journalists is just ask the best question at the moment to get the best answer and try and affect positive change."

Piers Morgan on Twitter: "Reminder to trolls abusing journalists for doing our jobs: we’re not supposed to be nice, or popular, or sycophantic - we’re supposed to be challenging, dogged & generally a massive pain in the arse to all forms of authority. Otherwise we’re not working properly on your behalf."

Mark Austin on Twitter: "For all those abusing journalists for criticising and challenging the government: if you had journalists allowed to expose failings, report the truth and challenge authority in China, rather than being imprisoned, maybe we wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place...The point is if you want a free media subject to the law of the land and regulation, then you take it warts and all . Questions you like or don’t like, headlines you like or don’t like , journalists you like or don’t like, stuff you agree with , stuff you don’t. That’s it really."

Tom Newton Dunn on Twitter: "God I’m bored with cranks banging on about ‘MSM’. There was no ‘MSM’ verdict on the PM’s address. Seldom is. Some outlets approved, some didn’t. We all try to reflect the views of our varied audiences. That’s capitalism. (Point of fact, trust in the media is up during the crisis)."

James Mates on Twitter: "This is a time of quite unprecedented challenge to journalism and a free press. In the US they’re portrayed as ‘enemies of the people’. Literally. Independent media has largely gone in Poland, gone in Hungary. A free press has rarely needed more defending."

Alastair Campbell on Tortoise"There is no doubt that several of the newspapers now are making little attempt any more to separate news from comment, fact from opinion. It is a hugely important part of the populists’ armoury, backed by the exploitation of overtly opinionated radio presenters and social media armies. And though newspapers have always been, to greater or lesser degrees, subject to the political influence of owners, that has grown even since my time in newspapers."

Alastair Campbell also on Tortoise: "Asking a minister a question about how they feel – 'Are you worried that?' – or asking them to speculate – 'Do you think it will get better or worse?' – or giving them a multiple choice – 'And finally, minister, if I may…' — are, in general, wasted questions. The other situation that puts the briefer under legitimate pressure is one where the media work together. I knew from my time as a reporter that sometimes working as a pack was the only way to elicit information that, for whatever reason, the government did not want to give."

An International Federation of Journalists survey claims: "Women journalists are suffering greater stress and anxiety than their male counterparts as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. While women journalists’ working conditions tend to be less affected by the COVID-19 outbreak than those of men, two-thirds of women have suffered higher stress and anxiety as a result of the crisis compared to just half of men."

NUJ Northern and Midlands senior organiser Chris Morley in a statement on Reach's trading update"As the country’s biggest single commercial employer of journalists, we welcome the update from Reach plc that shows the company has a sound financial footing from which to anchor itself from the turbulence to the economy that the Covid-19 crisis has created...However, we note that the group has gathered a strong cash reserve of £33 million while thousands of staff have been told to make big financial and personal sacrifices through pay cuts and furloughing where significant government assistance is coming in."

HoldTheFrontPage reports: "More than 10 editorial roles are under threat after an independent publisher announced plans to make dozens of staff redundant due to the coronavirus crisis. The Midland News Association, publisher of the Express & Star, Wolverhampton, has confirmed it is looking at potential redundancies due to the impact of the pandemic on the business. In a statement, the company said the outbreak had 'severely affected advertising revenue and forecasts suggest the difficult trading conditions will continue throughout 2020'.″

Freddy Mayhew on Press Gazette: "Buzzfeed is closing its dedicated UK and Australian news operations, resulting in staff being furloughed and stood down. The decision to stop covering local news in the two countries has been made 'both for economic and strategic reasons', a spokesperson said. Buzzfeed continues to publish news in the US and said it plans to retain some UK staff to cover global news for its American audience in areas such as social news, celebrity and investigations."

Alan Rusbridger on Medium's OneZero why he is joining the Facebook Oversight Board: "Facebook is an entity that defies description. It is a friend of the otherwise voiceless — but also an enabler of darkness. It brings harmony to some, discord to many. It promotes order and amplifies anarchy. It employs many brilliant engineers but has — too slowly — recognized that the multiple challenges it faces involve the realms of philosophy, ethics, journalism, religion, geography, and human rights. And it makes a whole lot of money, and a whole lot of enemies, while doing this. To address this, it needs independent, external oversight."

The NUJ reports: "Two-thirds of UK media workers have suffered financially because of the pandemic and lockdown, with freelances being hit especially hard and feeling unsupported by the government’s financial aid package. The decrease in household income varied across the more than 1,200 members of the NUJ who responded to the union’s survey, but when the figures were broken down between staff and self-employed, a third of freelances said their work had dried up completely and a further third said it had decreased sharply. The overall figure for members losing 80-100 per cent of their income was 18 per cent."

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