Friday, 10 May 2013

Quotes of the Week: From a fond farewell for Ferguson to Burchill on the joy of punctuation

Mark Ogden in the Telegraph on Alex Ferguson and the press: "Many reporters have been banned, myself included, for a vast number of random reasons. They have been banned for getting stories wrong and getting them right. Others have been exiled for writing books about Ferguson or making oblique references that have irked him deep within their articles. Yet Ferguson’s departure will be mourned by those who are employed to report on United, regardless of the bans, the hairdryers and the flying voice recorders. One sentence from Ferguson can carry more weight than a thousand words from his managerial counterparts – which can be a negative as well as positive quality – but being witness to the Ferguson years at United has been a rare privilege." 

Greg Dyke in the Sunday Times [£] on the BBC row with the Government over the 'sexed up' dossier: "The basic allegations were that they sexed up the dossier — I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. Our story was fundamentally right. It was not completely right, but then journalism is not an exact science. What was clear was: did they sex up the dossier? Yes. Did they know they were sexing it up? Yes. About the only person who I’ve ever come across who doesn’t believe that is Alastair Campbell.” 

Peter Preston in The Observer: "Northern newsrooms – like Midlands correspondents and the rest – have all but vanished. Local news agencies feeding the nationals are similarly diminished. London, reaching for its newspaper or clicking online each morning, gets no consistent sense of what non-metropolitan life is like."

Rod Liddle in the Sunday Times [£]: "Bullying is another word that has long since lost its original meaning. It no longer refers to someone having his head put down the lavatory; it now means to compromise someone’s opinion of themselves by suggesting that they might have got something wrong."

The Guardian in a leader: "One of the final arbiters of press regulation in this country is likely to be a former military intelligence officer who once successfully sued a British media organisation for reporting that he was part of an SAS operation training allies of the dictator Pol Pot in Cambodia. The libel trial was halted after the then defence secretary granted authority for gagging orders – public interest immunity certificates – preventing evidence about the security services from being disclosed to the court. Too far fetched, even in the feverish world of post-Leveson wranglings? Alas not. Under any proposal for a press royal charter, the ultimate fate of media regulation would be the subject of private conversations between the head of the privy council (Nick Clegg) and the aforesaid individual –  Sir Christopher Geidt, private secretary to the Queen (and, inevitably, himself a member of the privy council)."

Shami Chakrabarti, the director of Liberty, quoted in the Daily Mail: "Police briefing against arrested individuals to pressure or punish is clearly abusive but it’s equally chilling for officers to refuse to confirm names of those detained or charged." 

Sun Royal editor Duncan Larcombe in a statement after being charged with bribery offences: "I hope to demonstrate that I am a responsible journalist who reported in the public interest.  As a royal reporter I worked harder than any other at the Palace putting in place and ensuring the application of a series of criteria that had to be satisfied before a story would appear in my paper. For the past year I have had to remain silent but my aim now is to fight these allegations with every breath in my body in the hope that justice and common sense will prevail."

Grey Cardigan on TheSpinAlley: "I had expected great things of the re-designed websites of Local World’s regional newspapers. Surely a company so wedded to digital expansion would produce something useful and accessible, sexy and sophisticated. So I was more than a little disappointed when I clicked on one of the re-launched sites to find something that looked like it had been put together by a 14-year-old kid in his bedroom… in 1996. Huge tabloid fonts smashing you in the face, negligible help with navigation, poor or non-existent labelling – they’re a real mess and about as sexy as an unflushed toilet." 

Melanie Phillips in the Daily Mail on her days as a Guardian journalist: "Increasingly, I saw how journalists on highbrow papers write primarily for other journalists or to impress politicians or other members of the great and the good. They don’t actually like ordinary people — especially the lower middle class, the strivers who believed in self-discipline and personal responsibility.  They dismiss them as narrow-minded, parochial and prejudiced (unlike themselves, of course)."

Michael Wolff on USA Today: "Murdoch survives. And his fortune has only increased. But the legacy he has most wanted, a permanent patrimony for his papers, and the conveyance of his company from his leadership to his children's, is still a struggle that, at 82, he will not win."

Julie Burchill on her husband Daniel Raven in the Sunday Times Magazine [£]: "Dan is the only person who’s more obsessed with punctuation than I am. It’s the secret of a good marriage, sex and punctuation.” 

[£] = paywall

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