Friday 18 February 2011

Quotes of the Week: From why the Observer used a private eye to the future of the local press

Observer readers' editor Stephen Pritchard on why the newspaper used the services of private investigator Steve Whittamore: "It's the nature of journalism that some inquiries prove fruitless, but a cross-referencing of targets in Whittamore's register with names that appeared in the paper establishes that many stories in the public interest were being produced. Examples include articles on racketeering landlords, radical Islamic clerics, germ warfare test victims, fugitive war criminals and crooked politicians."

Andrew Neil on his BBC blog about the Mail on Sunday story that internships were auctioned at a Tory fund raising event: "In today's incredibly competitive labour markets work experience matters more than ever when it comes to securing that first rung on the ladder. Companies might like to think how they make their internships open to as wide a selection of the talented from all backgrounds as they can. I suggest that internships granted on the basis of parents who can afford £400 a head for dinner then £3,000 per internship cannot be regarded as entirely fair or meritocratic."

Kingston University Professor of Journalism Brian Cathcart tweets on the MoS Tory auction story: "Like something from Louis XIV's France. Depraved, corrupt, shameless."

NUJ deputy general secretary Michelle Stanistreet on the same subject: “Internships should be open to all, not the preserve of a wealthy few. The fact that they are being auctioned to raise funds for a political party is obscene. Such a disgusting practice simply perpetuates privilege and inequality. Is this what is meant by the Big Society – only the wealthy need apply?”

Julie Burchill in the Independent: "When I was a youngster on a pop music paper, I came to the job aware that there were these females called groupies who would offer sexual favours to complete strangers so long as they were famous. But I was unprepared for the way many of the male journalists sucked up shamelessly to rock stars – and would probably have sucked them off, too, given half a chance."

Stephen Glover in the Independent on Julian Assange: "The Guardian may not regret getting into bed with this seemingly awful man, but it certainly has no intention of being caught lingering there."

Tim Rutten in the Los Angeles Times: "The Huffington Post is a brilliantly packaged product with a particular flair for addressing the cultural and entertainment tastes of its overwhelmingly liberal audience. To grasp its business model, though, you need to picture a galley rowed by slaves and commanded by pirates."

Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists: "Today's sad reality is that while international law guarantees the right to free expression, journalists can rely on few international institutions to defend that right."

Richard Littlejohn in the Daily Mail: "For the past 20-odd years, this column has made a decent living documenting the insanity and waste in Britain’s Town Halls. If all else failed, there was always the Guardian jobs pages on a Wednesday to dig me out of a hole. The recruitment of five-a-day enforcers, lesbian bereavement counsellors and assorted real nappy outreach co-ordinators was guaranteed to raise a giggle."

Sean Dooley in MediaGuardian on the future of the regional press: "The verdict that really matters, however, lies with a jury that is still out. And so far few readers are seeing any mitigating circumstances as their cherished local papers are printed earlier and earlier, further and further away from home, carrying less and less news of any relevance to their communities."

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