Friday 16 September 2011

Quotes of the Week: From ethics to cocktails

Peter Preston in the Observer on the Leveson Inquiry: "Journalists seek to work within the law (as well as all manner of self-regulatory restraints). But they also know that sometimes the story, the necessary story, goes beyond neat boundaries and 20 questions. The only way isn't ethics."

Stephen Glover in the
Independent: " If an official had information that a government minister was being bankrolled by a foreign despot, and payment were the only way of acquiring that story, I would be strongly in favour of handing over the money. This is in effect what The Daily Telegraph did when it paid a six-figure sum for a stolen computer disk which contained information about MPs' abuse of expenses. These important distinctions are in danger of being forgotten amid the post-phone-hacking moralising. I hope the high-minded members of the Leveson Inquiry will not lose sight of them."

Martin Moore, director of the Media Standards Trust, speaking at an NUJ debate: "One of the things we are going to be doing throughout the [Leveson] inquiry is emphasising and working out ways to to protect public interest journalism and distinguishing that from privacy intrusion for commercial gain."

Johann Hari in the Independent: "In my work, I’ve spent a lot of time dragging other people’s flaws into the light. I did it because I believe that every time you point out that somebody is going wrong, you give them a chance to get it right next time and so reduce the amount of wrongdoing in the world. That’s why, although it has been a really painful process and will surely continue to be for some time, I think in the end I’ll be grateful my flaws have also been dragged into the light in this way. I would like to apologise again to my readers, my colleagues and the people hurt by my actions. I know that some of you have lost faith in my work. I will do everything I can now to regain it. I hope, after a period of retraining, you will give me the chance."

Blogger Fleet Street Fox offers to train Johann Hari: "I'll send him out on deathknocks, pack jobs, magistrates' hearings, junkie inquests, tell him to drive 300 miles on a hopeless tip at 10pm then insist he's back at work for 7am, make him spend his birthday at a late-night local council planning committee, publish his phone number and paint his name on the side of his car so everyone knows who he is. I'll show him what to do when someone comes at him with a lump of wood or collapses in tears, and how to file off a notebook down a bad line while you're being shot at to someone who's drunk."

Independent's media editor Ian Burrell admits having used the services of private eye Steve Whittmore as the paper lifts lid on Operation Motorman: "Steve Whittamore was known all over Fleet Street. I once used him myself, although I had no recollection of this until I saw the entry, tucked away among the 17,000 other transactions with journalists. It was from January 1999, a search to confirm the identity and address of a veteran conman and serial fraudster who had taken control of a charity that was being trusted by the Home Office to run entire wings of British prisons. The occupancy search was not illegal, but a phone conversion – without a public interest justification – would have been a breach of the Data Protection Act, although the Act was not in force at that time."

Political blogger Guido Fawkes on Twitter challenges the
Independent to reveal the names of journalists identified in the Motorman files: "If the Indy has the Motorman files it should publish. Lets see who are the criminal journalists. Indy is part of the cover-up otherwise."

The deputy commissioner at the Information Commissioner's Office David Smith in the Independent demands jail sentance for serious breaches of the Data Protection Act: "We want action. The legislation for custodial sentences is already in place, ministers just have to bring it into force. This isn't just a crime that affects celebrities; it can devastate ordinary people's lives. It's about time we had an effective deterrent."

Financial Times editor Lionel Barber giving the Fulbright Lecture: "The Press Complaints Commission in its current form is dead. Not because it is dishonest or unethical. But because it no longer commands public confidence. The PCC – whatever its qualities- has shown itself to be incapable of regulating the media’s baronies. Whether or not that view is fair is irrelevant."

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet on the aftermath of the phone-hacking scandal: "Some people are clamouring for the licensing of journalists and journalism and that's not what we want."

Guardian correction: "The actor Tom Hardy said in an interview that his training for a role as a cage fighter in the film Warrior included "two hours mai tai" each day - he meant the combat sport "muay thai", not the fruity cocktail."

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