Friday 26 April 2013

Royal Charter: What the regional editors say

Local newspaper seller in Birmingham (Pic: Jon Slattery)

A trio of regional press editors have voiced their support for the new draft Royal Charter on press self-regulation published yesterday by the industry.

Interestingly, all three refer in a press release from the Newspaper Society to the new proposal as the "Independent Royal Charter."

Simon O’Neill, group editor of the Oxford Mail which covers David Cameron’s Witney constituency, said: “I support radical changes to the way Britain’s press is regulated, as I want no part of an industry that hacks phones and convicts innocent people on the front pages. But I will not accept a system that has been steamrollered through by self-interested politicians and pressure groups in the dead of night.

“The implications for press freedom in this country with politicians astride the regulation process hardly bear thinking about. Furthermore, I am disappointed, but not surprised, that despite fine words from MPs of all parties, including the three leaders, the impact this would have on the regional press has been completely ignored, or at best viewed as collateral damage. They clearly believed that if they patted us on the head we’d just go away. They were wrong.

“I want firm, fair and credible press regulation that also preserves freedom of the press in this country for another 300 years or more. That is why I support the Independent Royal Charter. It offers a sensible and effective solution to the current stalemate.” 

Alastair Machray, Liverpool Echo editor and Trinity Mirror Merseyside, Cheshire and Wales editor-in-chief, said: “For me this the Independent Royal Charter is an excellent piece of work for three reasons: firstly it breaks what looked like deadlock; secondly it recognises that the regional newspaper industry is in no position to carry the huge financial risks inherent in the cross-party Royal Charter; and finally, crucially because it protects a freedom of the press that has served us brilliantly for 300 years.”

Nigel Pickover, Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News editor-in-chief, said: “We believe the proposed system confronts the concerns of many press publishers and editors and is a boost to the process of implementing a tough new system of independent self regulation. It is an Independent Royal Charter which will guarantee Britain remains the home of free speech. It will deliver what Lord Leveson called for.

"Politicians must accept this compromise solution or they will be culpable in threatening not least a regional press which millions of people rely on for news that is clear, truthful and unhindered by the vested interests.” 
  • Backers of the draft Royal Charter are said to be very pleased with the reaction it has received, including what they see as "encouragement" from the FT, Guardian and Independent  - the three national newspapers that have not yet formally signed-up to it.  

Quotes of the Week: From make that two Royal Charters to Santorini and the Loveson Inquiry

The Newspaper Society on the industry's draft Royal Charter on press regulation: "It is a workable, practical way swiftly to deliver the Leveson recommendations, which the industry accepts, without any form of state-sponsored regulation that would endanger freedom of speech. It has widespread backing across the industry. It will deliver a system of regulation which will provide real protection for the public."

Hacked Off responds: "This desperate move by editors and proprietors – rejecting the Royal Charter agreed last month by all parties in Parliament and due to be approved by the Queen in days – is only the latest proof that most of the industry has learned no lessons from the Leveson experience. They are not sorry for the abuses exposed at the inquiry, or for the further abuses exposed almost weekly since, and they do not accept the need for real change."

The Guardian in a leader: "Like the Schleswig-Holstein question, the few people who still understand the arguments about the post-Leveson royal charter are dead, mad or past caring." 

Fiona Richmond in the Telegraph: “I was also so upset with Steve Coogan...During the lunch I asked, given that he had been part of the Leveson Inquiry and strongly complained about invasion of privacy, why he thought it was acceptable putting me in scenes that never happened: wasn’t it an invasion of my privacy? I never, for example, took part in orgies, or a threesome. But it didn’t seem to matter to him in the slightest." 

The Daily Mail in a leader: "The arrest of three civilian police workers for revealing that their elected commissioner was lavishing taxpayers' money on unwarranted trips in a chauffeur-driven Mercedes is a truly chilling story of how freedom of expression is being suppressed in this country...It's the kind of behaviour we normally associate with tyrants, but since the Leveson inquiry effectively criminalised unauthorised contacts between journalists and public officials, the police seem to think that such harassment is acceptable. The implications for democracy, our open society and the public's right to know could not be more grave."

UKIP leader Nigel Farage interviewed in the West Sussex Gazette: " I am mortified that in a smoke filled room in Westminster at half past two in the morning the Lib Dem and Labour agenda was agreed to by David Cameron and we’re heading towards state regulation of the press, and what we know with all forms of state regulation is that it becomes costly bureaucratic and effectively puts out of the game many of the smaller and medium sized players." 

The Guardian in a leader: "The overall situation relating to press freedom is by no means uniformly bleak. The country's appalling defamation laws, which led to London being treated as the libel capital of the world, have finally and historically been reformed – the work of a determined group of lawyers, peers, MPs and human rights organisations. Speech in Britain should be notably freer as a result. But at the same time there are justifiable concerns about attempts to criminalise some forms of unauthorised disclosure or whistleblowing. And we share the anxieties many media organisations have about the prospect of unreportable arrests." 

Boston Globe photographer John Tlumacki quoted in Time about covering the Boston Marathon bombings: "I was so shook up about it — I was speechless when I was there [on scene]. My eyes were swelling up behind my camera. We use a camera as a defense but I was shaken when I got back, just scanning the pictures. The other sad part was that I took my shoes off because they were covered in blood from walking on the sidewalk taking pictures."

IPCC deputy chair Deborah Glass, quoted by the Guardian: "We will never know what would have happened had Surrey police carried out an investigation into the hacking of Milly Dowler's phone in 2002. Phone hacking was a crime and this should have been acted upon, if not in 2002, then later, once the News of the World's widespread use of phone hacking became a matter of public knowledge and concern. We have not been able to uncover any evidence, in documentation or witness statements, of why and by whom that decision was made: former senior officers, in particular, appear to have been afflicted by a form of collective amnesia in relation to the events of 2002."

Lawyers Harbottle and Lewis in emails sent to the Mail on Sunday about their client Rolf Harris: "There is no public interest in publishing such an article as is entirely self-evident following publication of the Leveson report."

Henry Winter on Barcelona and Real Madrid being thrashed in the first legs of the Champions League semi-finals, in the Telegraph: "Nobody expected the Spanish inhibition." 

Hacked Associated Press Twitter account:  The Associated Press: "Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured."


The Mail in a leader on the affair of Leveson lawyers David Sherborne and Carine Patry Hoskins: "When the affair began is unclear. They say it didn't start until after Leveson reported last November, but admit they went on holiday to the romantic Greek island of Santorini last August. They claim - with a straight face - their relationship was then still platonic. But even if there was no pillow talk, it beggars belief they wouldn't have discussed Leveson over the odd glass of Retsina."

Rowan Pelling in the Telegraph: "The self-restraint of Gandhi, who slept alongside naked virgins to test his commitment to celibacy, is as nothing compared to the iron willpower of David Sherborne and Carine Patry Hoskins."

on Twitter: "Ho! Ho! Leverson becomes Loverson! Can affirm Santorini very romantic."

Lord Justice Leveson on Carine Patry Hoskins, quoted in the Telegraph: "Save for some proof reading in the final few days before publication, she did not see and was not involved in any discussions about the other sections of the report or, indeed, in any of my eventual recommendations. There was simply no room for a 'breach of confidence or other conspiracy' as a result of personal relations between her and Mr Sherborne.”

Thursday 25 April 2013

Publishers propose own draft Royal Charter for the independent self-regulation of the press

Publishers representing most of the national and local newspaper and magazine industry have proposed their own draft Royal Charter for a new system of press self-regulation and rejected the one proposed by the Government.

They say the  Royal Charter published by the Government on 18 March has no support within the press and claim a number of its recommendations are unworkable and that it would give politicians an unacceptable degree of interference in the regulation of the press.

A press release from the Newspaper Society said: "This initiative by the UK’s national, regional and magazine publishers completely accepts the need for a new regulator to be recognised by a genuinely independent body – which was a central conclusion of the Leveson Inquiry - and aims to help move the debate about the future regulation of the press to a constructive conclusion. Importantly, there will be a public consultation on the industry’s proposals giving newspaper and magazine readers the chance to have their say – a consultation that the Government has refused for its state-sponsored scheme.

"The industry’s proposal is closely based on the draft Royal Charter published on 12 February which had been painstakingly negotiated with national and local newspapers and magazines, and accepted by Ministers. It is a workable, practical way swiftly to deliver the Leveson recommendations, which the industry accepts, without any form of state-sponsored regulation that would endanger freedom of speech. It has widespread backing across the industry. It will deliver a system of regulation which will provide real protection for the public and which offers:

• tough sanctions, with the new regulator having the power to impose fines of up to £1 million for systematic wrongdoing ;

• up-front corrections, with inaccuracies corrected fully and prominently;

• strong investigative powers enabling the regulator to investigate wrongdoing and call editors to account;

• genuine independence from the industry and from politicians with all the bodies making up the new regulator having a  majority of independent members appointed openly and transparently; and

• public involvement in the framing of the Code of Practice which binds national and local newspapers and magazines.

The publishers claim: "This Royal Charter proposal will deliver on Leveson and bind the UK’s national and local newspapers and magazines to a tough and enduring system of regulation – tougher than anywhere else in the western world – which will be of real benefit to the public, at the same time as protecting freedom of speech."
  • The Newspaper Society says council newspapers such as East End Life and Greenwich Time which compete for readers and ad revenues with independent local papers would be exempt from the Government's Royal Charter proposals for press regulation. 
  •  You can see the draft Royal Charter here.

Monday 22 April 2013

Thatcher's death gave Guardian 25% sales boost

The day after Margaret Thatcher's death was announced Guardian sales went up by 25 per cent, readers' editor Chris Elliott reveals today.

Elliott in his Open door column says there were scores of letters of complaint from readers claiming the paper had too much coverage on Thatcher.

He writes: "Internally, the issue of too much – rather than too favourable – was raised at the Guardian's editorial morning conference by Polly Toynbee, who made a broader point: 'I do think the Guardian has a tendency to go big on these things in print because we can, we have the writers and the editors to do it, but I don't think readers necessarily want all that'."

But Elliott adds: "One measure of what people want is the sales figures for the paper. Lady Thatcher's death was, in sales terms, a quality newspaper story. Newspapers don't release the details of their internal research on sales figures but I can say that the Guardian received a 25% uplift in newspaper sales the day after her death was announced, the largest percentage rise of any newspaper, although not in absolute sales. Away from the quality market, the effect appears much less marked, which I find surprising."

Online on the day Lady Thatcher died, 8 April 2013, content tagged as "Margaret Thatcher" on the Guardian site received 2,095,395 page views and 1,277,032 unique browsers. In total of 18,387,183 page views that day and 5,400,599 unique browsers.

Elliott concludes: "It could be argued that if readers were dismayed by the coverage they would peel away in the run-up to the funeral but there were increased print sales and high traffic on the site during that period. Online statistics for the whole week beginning 7 April are: 4,696,441 unique browsers saw Thatcher content and the top story was a Russell Brand feature which got 1,227,584 unique browsers over the week.

"There is clearly a conflict between the scores of readers writing to say things such as, 'Yes we want the paper back. We have reached Thatcheration level!', and the extra sales and online traffic."

  • Some Guardian readers were revolted by the paper's coverage of the royal wedding in May 2011 but it pushed up sales by more than 100,000 copies, Chris Elliott noted in his Open Door column at the time.

Thursday 18 April 2013

Quotes of the Week: From Caitlin Moran on welfare to Grey Cardigan becomes a PR consultant

Caitlin Moran in The Times [£]: "My father raised eight children on welfare benefits, and didn’t kill any of us. I feel I should say that this week. I feel I need to firmly point to a large family raised on public handouts who were normal, and gentle, and never set fire to their house during a personal vendetta against a former lover."

on Twitter: "Fascinating The Sun has splashed the Rolf Harris arrest - a story all Fleet St & twitter knew but which the Leveson chill has kept secret."

Guido Fawkes on his blog: "Three months after Guido first reported that the star had been questioned and three weeks after this blog reported his arrest, the old media have finally run the Rolf Harris story. There was never any court order or injunction preventing publication, the delay was the decision of the editors alone. Harbottle and Lewis can put pressure on the papers to keep stories quiet, but it merely hands the scoop to the free press on the unregulated internet."
The Daily Mail in a leader: "Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry has cast such a shadow over free expression that a Hampshire police sergeant feels emboldened to challenge the editorial policy of a local newspaper. What sort of a country is it in which a citizen may be arrested and tried in secret – and a state-licensed newspaper punished for revealing the facts? With Press freedom threatened from every side, the tragic answer to that question may be Britain, 2013."

Jason Cowley, editor of the New Statesman, in the Guardian: "Unlike a newspaper, we are not encumbered by the weight of a vast, highly specialised staff. We are a nimble, compact team who are at ease writing, editing, podcasting, broadcasting and speaking at public events. It's a paradox that the staff of a venerable political and cultural weekly – one of the most traditional forms of media – are more attuned to the skills needed for modern journalism than many of their counterparts on newer rivals."

Peter Singfield, of Foot Anstey, on HoldTheFrontPage: "As we debate how to regulate the established press, and government seeks to implement a scheme for a regulator in almost indecent haste, there are apparently no plans to do anything about the ability of those outside the established press to publish anything they want, including the most hateful things, behind a veil of anonymity on the internet."

Richard Littlejohn in the Daily Mail: "The anti-Thatcher demonstrations, such as the Stop The Cuts marches, are simply football hooliganism for Guardian readers. A convenient excuse to get stoned, show off in public and taunt the police." 

Index on Censorship: "Index is highly concerned at the rapid, sweeping and ill-considered move to regulate a major part of the internet — including in that news outlets located in other countries but focused onto the UK market (however defined). As concern has spread over the potential inclusion of even 'small scale' blogs, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport has started to look at ways to widen exempted categories. Even defining 'small-scale' is problematic in an age when individual blog posts can go 'viral' and gain thousands of readers in a short period. Meanwhile, the role and practices of traditional publishers and blogs are converging rapidly, making it entirely likely that the proposed system will be mired in confusion from the very beginning."

Harriet Harman, quoted by the Daily Mail: "I’m just saying what Leveson said, that he was putting forward a system that was a framework within which there would be independent self-regulation but that if that didn’t transpire there would have to be full-on statutory regulation." 

Jack of Kent on his blog: "Valuable potential protections against corporate libel claimants were thrown away this week, just because the Liberal Democrats nodded along with a weak concession and voted against their own explicit manifesto promise."

on Twitter: "Yorkshire Post front page headline: 'A funeral fit for a titan.' The miners' alternative might have been: 'A funeral fit for a tight 'un'."

The Grey Cardigan, now on TheSpinAlley website, reveals he's no longer editor of the Daily Beast: "I’ve been replaced by a child in a suit. I leave with a framed front page, a valedictory drink at The Shivering Whippet, a small pay-off and my head held high. Now I’m in the dangerous waters of the unemployed or, as my previously departed colleagues called it, pursuing a new career as an editorial and PR consultant."

[£]= paywall

Newspaper Society urges Nick Clegg to put Royal Charter on hold while local press is consulted

Newspaper Society director David Newell has written to Nick Clegg to ask for the Royal Charter proposals not to be presented to the Queen before consultation with the regional and local newspaper industry has taken place.

Sent yesterday (Wednesday), the letter outlines the industry’s deep concerns with the Royal Charter proposals which the industry believes would “open the floodgates to compensation claims and increased legal costs.”

“Britain’s 1100 regional and local newspapers have not been consulted on the March 18th draft Royal Charter proposals. DCMS officials have rejected calls by the industry to discuss the economic impact of the proposals on the regional and local newspaper industry and their impact on editorial and press freedoms and the freedom to publish.

“The industry would ask that the controversial draft proposals which cause so much concern to regional and local newspapers are not presented to the Queen before appropriate discussions and consultations take place. It is my understanding that you have a key role in this process as Lord President of the Privy Council.”

The letter said: “In terms of the costs of the new regulator, it is hard to see how these could be more fairly shared between the different sectors except broadly on the basis of the proportion of the regulator’s time spent on complaints for each sector as at present. Currently it is estimated around 40 per cent of the PCC’s time is spent on regional press complaints, largely because of the size of our sector.

“None of the options available to regional and local publishers would allow them to avoid the additional burdens which everyone, including Lord Justice Leveson, has agreed should not fall on this part of the industry.

“If the local press were to set up its own regulator, it would have to carry on its own all the costs of setting up and maintaining the scheme, complying with all the recognition criteria including running a ‘free arbitration’ service. This would be considerably more expensive than being part of a single regulator. Further, a multiplicity of regulators would cause confusion in the minds of readers and would lead to a range of different codes and processes."

The note outlines eight key areas of concern for the regional press industry including statutory underpinning and exemplary damages which could have a “chilling impact on freedom of expression.”

Tuesday 16 April 2013

Brazilian newspaper adapts race poster to show horror of the Boston Marathon bomb attacks

The Newseum in Washington has front pages from around the world on the bomb attacks on the Boston Marathon. One, Diario do Comercio, published in Sao Paulo, Brazil, took the official poster of the Boston Marathon 2013 (bottom) and then adapted it for its front page  (top) using news pictures to show the carnage caused by the two bomb blasts.

Grey Cardigan's back but his career has unravelled

The good news is the Grey Cardigan is back, the bad is that he's been fired as editor of the Daily Beast.

Grey's column -  based on the thoughts of a curmudgeonly down table newspaper sub who somehow managed to become editor of the regional Daily Beast - used to appear in Press Gazette

He has now joined the website TheSpinAlley, described as "a no holds barred online playground exploring the lighter side of the news and the crazy land of the media."

In his first column, Grey reveals his departure from the Daily Beast: "I’ve been replaced by a child in a suit. I leave with a framed front page, a valedictory drink at The Shivering Whippet, a small pay-off and my head held high. Now I’m in the dangerous waters of the unemployed or, as my previously departed colleagues called it, pursuing a new career as an editorial and PR consultant."

In a wonderfully ironic Grey Cardigan moment, the first person to post about the new column slags off the way its headline (see above) has been subbed. "One 'join' too many I'd say, and 'the' three times. Might fit better over two lines with those words cut out."

Welcome to the digital revolution, Grey old chap.

NUJ slams Government over Defamation Bill

The NUJ has condemned the Government for overturning amendments made in the Lords to the Defamation Bill and adding others which the union says back the interests of big business over press freedom.

The union said the bill had enjoyed cross-party support and a wide consensus outside Parliament, but the government has spurned the chance of bringing the UK's libel laws up to date.

It claims amendments will severely water down the bill and scupper important changes which offer journalists greater protection against corporations which use the threat of a costly libel action and lengthy proceedings to close down criticism of their products or practices.

Chris Frost, chair of the NUJ's ethics committee, said: "This is an important bill for journalists and all citizens. Our present libel laws are ones which suit only the rich and powerful and hamper investigative journalism and free speech. The amendments made in the House of Lords were important improvements and it is outrageous that the government has decided to back the interests of big business over press freedom."

Monday 15 April 2013

Another ballsy headline from the New York Post

A great headline from the New York Post on Tiger Woods' second-round drop mishap at the Masters. This from the paper that brought you another ballsy headline on the story that terrorist Umar Farouk Adbulmutallab had explosives in his pants when he was detained on a flight bound for Detroit.

Friday 12 April 2013

Everything Epping Forest to launch Harlow mag

Hyperlocal website Everything Epping Forest, launched by ex-Newsquest journalist David Jackman, is expanding with a new edition covering Woodford  and a colour magazine for Harlow.

The move comes a year after Archant London formed a partnership with Jackman. Since then the initial single edition Everything Epping Forest publication, covering Epping, has expanded to include separate titles for Buckhurst Hill and Chigwell, and also the Loughton area with some 30,000-plus copies now delivered door-to-door each month.

Now Everything Epping Forest and Archant is to launch a new Everything Epping Forest edition covering the Woodford area of east London next month and a brand new Everything Harlow monthly magazine in June.

Jackman launched Everything Epping Forest  in November 2008. The site now regularly registers more than 400,000 hits a month. In 2010 he launched Everything Harlow  – and now also runs a local news media service under the Everything Local News name.

Before launching the websites, Jackman had spent more than 21 years on local newspapers in west Essex - including the Epping Forest Guardian (previously the West Essex Gazette), Epping Forest Independent, and the then Harlow Citizen and Bishop's Stortford Citizen titles.

Jackman said: "I'm passionate about local news and local events and a firm believer that even the smallest snippet of news is worthy of coverage whether it is a local coffee morning or a report from a local club.

"I'm delighted Archant London is expanding our current arrangement with not just an additional Everything Epping Forest edition but also a brand new Everything Harlow title."

Quotes of the Week: Press split on Thatcher's legacy to what Cameron calls the Telegraph

The Guardian in a leader on Margaret Thatcher: "Her legacy is of public division, private selfishness and a cult of greed, which together shackle far more of the human spirit than they ever set free."

The Daily Telegraph in a leader: "Despite the widespread tributes on her passing yesterday, Lady Thatcher, of all people, would not have expected her enemies to wipe the slate clean in death. To paraphrase the words of St Francis of Assisi which she quoted on entering Downing Street, she certainly brought truth where there was error, but to deliver harmony was never her fate."

The Daily Mail in a leader: "She was a giant, beside whom other peacetime politicians of the 20th and 21st centuries look like mere pygmies."

Simon Kelner in the Independent:  "Above anything else, Mrs Thatcher implanted the gene of greed in the British soul. And, in the end, that is the poison of her legacy."

The Sun in a leader: "Sun readers benefited as the Grantham grocer’s daughter slashed taxes and let council tenants buy their houses, a measure that spread prosperity among working families more than any since. Of course Mrs T made enemies. The left-wing BBC sneered.  Rebuilding the clapped-out and strike-torn 1970s economy could not be pain-free. Bitter memories linger. But Britain emerged far stronger."

The Daily Mirror in a leader: "People's minds were made up long ago on Margaret Thatcher. To some she fought for Britain. Many others, including the Daily Mirror, felt she spent 11 years fighting against Britain."

Rupert Murdoch in The Times: "Margaret Thatcher was a risk-taker. When it came to facing down powerful politicians within her own party or strikers on a picket line, she chose the line of most resistance. She believed in doing the right thing, not taking the easy way out. I found her attitude an inspiration in my business life — and never more so than when faced with the recalcitrance of the print unions in the 1980s."

Mail On Sunday: "Britain's police chiefs are drawing up draconian rules under which the identities of people they arrest will be kept secret from the public. The move, which follows a recommendation by Lord Justice Leveson in his report into press standards, has been branded an attack on open justice and has led to comparisons with police states such as North Korea and Zimbabwe."

The Daily Mail in a leader: "Sweeping people off the street and secretly throwing them in a cell is the terrifying hallmark of totalitarian regimes – not mature democracies like Britain. However, the brutal truth is that, post-Leveson, such secrecy is becoming the norm in the state sector. Consider the Home Office edict – certain to deter officers from speaking to the Press – which says that senior police should record all their contacts with journalists in an official log. Or the plan to change the law to make it easier for police to seize confidential material given to reporters and force them to reveal the identity of whistleblowers."

Nick Cohen in The Observer: "The worst of it to my journalist's mind is that the British have not been able to tell their own stories without fear of retribution. Hugh Tomlinson QC, the chairman of Hacked Off, a malign organisation that dumb liberals think is on their side, fought for months to stop the public knowing that Fred Goodwin was having an affair at the very moment when his bank was hurtling toward ruin. The parliamentary commission on banking standards' report on the collapse of HBOS, just published, has many virtues. Its greatest is that parliamentary privilege – a right to free speech Parliament will not extend to the rest of us – allows the commission to speak without authoritarian lawyers and judges blacking out the detail."

Guardian readers' editor Chris Elliott in his Open door column: "Criticism of the Guardian's coverage of parts of the UK that are not England – even parts of England that are not London – is a constant theme in complaints to the office of the readers' editor, often fairly. As the evolution of devolution has continued, London-based reporters and editors have not always been quick to grasp the different roles and responsibilities of the constituent parts of the UK in the not so new order."

Boris Johnson in the New Statesman on how when he was editor of The Spectator he tried and failed to get Polly Toynbee to write for him: "At the end of a harrowing conversation, she said: 'You don’t understand. You think this is all some game, some debating forum for civilised adults. But this is serious. You are on one side and I am on the other.' Shortly afterwards, she vented a volcanic piece, accusing everyone at the Spectator of being effete, slimy, bullying creeps. The article was illustrated by a picture of Auberon Waugh as a human turd about to be flushed down the pan – and the poor chap had only just died."

Dan Hodges on his Telegraph blog: "I think the House of Commons assembled on Wednesday to honour a woman of conviction. And like it or not, a woman of conviction was what it got to see. Am I Glenda Jackson’s son? Yes, I am."

Telegraph editor Tony Gallagher in City University's XCity magazine: "We have been persistent critics of the Government. Not for nothing has David Cameron been heard referring to the 'fucking Telegraph'."

Friday 5 April 2013

Quotes of the Week: From Mail's 'vile' front page to how much does an Edwina Currie quote cost?

Zoe Williams in the Guardian"The Daily Mail reminds me a little bit of climate change: you think you've got the measure of just how bad it is, but every time you look it's taken another appalling leap forward. Yesterday, following the conviction of the Philpotts for the manslaughter of their six children, it called Mick Philpott the "vile product of welfare UK". The cynicism, the lack of respect for the dead, the dehumanising terminology (he "bred" the children, it says); the front page alone told us all we need to know." 

Daily Mail in a leader: "As the debate over welfare reform rages on, one mystery increasingly perplexes and infuriates the Guardianistas of the well-heeled, middle-class Left. Why, they ask over the Chablis, do the working-class poor so stubbornly refuse to share their enlightened belief in the wonders of the welfare state? To their bemusement, poll after poll has shown that three-quarters of voters (including most Labour supporters) want benefits reined in, with the clamour for cuts at its loudest among workers at the bottom end of the pay scale." 

George Osborne, as reported by the Guardian: "It's right we ask questions as a government, a society and as taxpayers, why we are subsidising lifestyles like these. It does need to be handled."

Dan Hodges on his Telegraph blog: "Headlines like the Mail’s, and lazy characterisations of those on welfare as 'scroungers' 'chavs' or the 'shameless generation' add nothing to our understanding of this complex issue. But nor does the similarly frenzied, emotive and immature language being deployed by welfare's self-styled defenders."

Joel Simon, executive director of the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists, in a letter to David Cameron on press regulation:"Prime Minister, we urge you to take a step back from the current proposals, which do not take into account the implications for press freedom beyond Fleet Street. Online journalists and bloggers and those outside the London-based, national newspaper establishment need to have their voices heard too. The haste with which this deal has been put together leaves too many unanswered questions. Journalists, especially those working under authoritarian regimes, are watching and hoping that their colleagues in Britain can find a better solution than regulation anchored in law. Mr. Cameron, we think that in the interests of global press freedom, you should allow them the opportunity to do so."

Neil Thackray on TheMediaBriefing: "So the victory for the press is not in seeing off statutory underpinning, but rather seeing the malaise in journalism for what it is. A poisonous infection of inanity and untruths that clouds the best of what journalism can do. Until or unless that is fixed, newspaper owners pleading for a free press is little more persuasive than the pimp arguing for sexual freedom."

Neil Wallis on the Huffington Post slams Liberty for not speaking up for journalists arrested in the UK:  "Liberty is, of course, like many such groups, largely left-of-centre in attitude and premise. Almost universally, they don't approve of mass media that is not broadsheet in presentation or pink of hue. You know, the papers and magazine most people choose NOT to buy. Some such left-wing organisations very often fight for freedoms for those it approves of, but are silent about those they consider less worthy."

Sun crime editor Mike Sullivan speaking to the BBC after Scotland Yard said no action will be taken against him following his arrest: "I am very pleased. It has been a long 14 months in many ways, but my delight at the news today is tempered by the fact that so many colleagues are still in the same situation. I hope they find some resolution."

Kelvin MacKenzie in his Telegraph column praises the Eastern Daily Press for winning a legal battle to name a councillor who was drunk in charge of a child: "Thank God for newspapers and thank God in particular for the Eastern Daily Press, its strong-willed editor, Nigel Pickover, and the company’s management who would have had to pick up the cheque if it had all gone horribly wrong."

Andrew Gilligan in the Sunday Telegraph: "Hacked Off did it by using all the red-top tricks they claim to hate – broad-brush condemnations, simplistic arguments, distorted facts, behind-the-scenes political deal making, celebrity stardust and the emotive deployment of victims."

New BBC director-general Tony Hall in an email to staff: "We are now winning back trust, something which will always be the most precious commodity for our organisation. We must never take it for granted."

Lord Melvyn Bragg, as reported by the Guardian, calls for a purge of BBC middle management:"The Savile crisis has exposed a dire structure and I think he [Tony Hall] should go in with a cleansing sword. It's not just individuals – it's the system...Savile exposed the problems with the middle management at the BBC, which clogs everything up. I speak as a great admirer of the BBC [but] it is amazing that they can get any programmes done at all." 

Eddie Mair in the Radio Times: "As for all the hullaballoo … for the record, I don't want Jeremy's job. Or John's. Or Andrew's. I like mine."

Freelance TV producer @nicholasfrost on Twitter: "Former Tory MP Edwina Currie says SHE could live on £53 a week. Asked her to talk to @5_news about it, she wanted 500 quid."