Thursday 28 April 2016

Media Quotes of the Week: From pride and shame of Hillsborough press coverage to 80 per cent of local journalists' jobs have gone in a decade

The Liverpool Echo on the Hillsborough inquests' verdicts: The Liverpool Echo has covered these inquests from outset to conclusion. In that two-year period we have had a reporter in court for every single day of evidence or process. We have been privileged over 27 years to witness the strength and perseverance of The Families and it was our duty to respond in this way. There have been many villains in this story and many heroes. Above all heroes, sit the Families themselves. The inquest verdicts, we hope, will help bring to an end a 27-year story of institutionalised cover-up and shameful disregard, both for truth and for the ‘ordinary person’. What the institutions failed to recognise is that they were not dealing with ordinary people and that Liverpool is not an ordinary city."

Isabella Stone in a letter to the Guardian: "I was living in Sheffield in 1989, and bought a copy of the Sheffield Star’s special edition on the tragedy, published the following day, on Sunday 16 April, which I still have. Reading it again, in the context of the inquest verdicts, it is striking to note that the paper’s account of the disaster, written by local reporters in the hours following it, and based on eyewitness accounts, is virtually identical in its conclusions to that of the jury’s verdicts 27 years later. The front page explicitly states that 'Liverpool fans were not to blame, but the victims'.”

Andy Burnham in the House of Commons, as reported by the Mirror: "Let me turn to collusion between police and the media. The malicious briefings given in the immediate aftermath were devastatingly efficient. They created a false version of events which lingered until yesterday. No-one in the police or media has ever been held to account for the incalculable harm they caused in smearing a whole city in its moment of greatest grief."

The Sun in a leader: "The supporters were not to blame. But the police smeared them with a pack of lies which in 1989 The Sun and others in the media swallowed whole. We apologised prominently 12 years ago, again four years ago on the front page, and do so unreservedly again now. Further, we pay tribute to the admirable tenacity of the friends and relatives over so many years on behalf of the 96 who died."

Kelvin MacKenzie in a statement, reported by the Independent“As I have said before, the headline I published was wrong and I am profoundly sorry for the hurt caused. Clearly, I was wrong to take the police’s version of events at face value and it is a mistake I deeply regret.”

The Times in a statement via Twitter:The Times led with Hillsborough coverage on all our digital editions throughout the day. This morning we have covered it extensively in the paper with two spreads, the back page, a top leader and an interactive on the victims. We made a mistake with the front page of our third edition, and we fixed it for the second edition.”

Freelance journalist Martin Fletcher in a letter to MailOnline journalist Euan McLelland, as reported by the SubScribe blog: "Good morning, Euan. I'd like to know whether you are intending to pay me for the use/theft of my exclusive story on British cemeteries in Iraq by Mail online yesterday? I am a freelance journalist. I paid my way to Iraq. I did the research. I put in the time and energy. I took the risks of visiting that unstable country. How dare you steal my work and pass it off as your own? How can you possibly describe yourself on your website as a 'driven, proactive and reliable young media reporter'. Are you completely without shame or pride?"

Guardian editor Kath Viner on  abusive online comments: "As editor, I think we need to act more decisively on what kind of material appears on the Guardian. Those who argue that this is an affront to freedom of speech miss the point. That freedom counts for little if it is used to silence others. When women and minorities don’t feel able to speak their mind for fear of insult, threat or humiliation, no such freedom exists."

Nick Cohen on the Spectator blog blasts Boris Johnson for his attack on President Obama: "Boris Johnson is a former editor of this newspaper, and as such has the right to be treated with a courtesy Spectator journalists do not normally extend to politicians who do not enjoy his advantages. I am therefore writing with the caution of a lawyer and the deference of a palace flunkey when I say that Johnson showed this morning that he is a man without principle or shame. He is a braying charlatan, who lacks the courage even to be an honest bastard, for there is a kind of bastardly integrity in showing the world who you really are, but instead uses the tactics of the coward and the tricks of the fraudster to advance his worthless career."

Society of Editors' executive director Bob Satchwell after the 2016 World Press Freedom Index shows the UK ranked 38th - down four places since 2014: “The UK’s position on the world press freedom list is a disgrace. This is the country that is supposed to be the mother of democracy and claims to have a free, unfettered media. No wonder journalists across the Commonwealth and the wider world express their dismay. Their governments cite the British example as an excuse for introducing and enhancing their own draconian restrictions on the media. This should be a worry for our politicians who so often proclaim their belief in a free press and the public who need it.”

Rod Liddle in the Sunday Times [£]: "To read The Guardian last week, you’d have thought the undoubtedly talented Prince was a hybrid of Mozart and Martin Luther King. He was not. And David Bowie was a very good writer of pop songs, not a political icon who ushered in a new era of freedom for the world’s LGBT communities. None of this stuff used to happen, but the baby-boomers — who have not really grown up and yet run the media — revere their pop stars. And the pop stars are dying, either because they are quite old or because they have not lived lives of which the late Jesus Christ would have approved."

The Mirror's Peter Willis on jamming with Prince: "'Stop! Stop! Stop!' he shouted and slammed his hand down on the piano. Laughing, he added: 'Have you ever seen The Apprentice on TV? Cos You're fired!' I protested. Let's take it from the top again, I suggested. But it was too late. I'd blown it. Still, there can't be many people who've been hired and fired by Prince, all in the space of two minutes."

Keith Perch speaking at a meeting in the  House of Lords about the rapid decline in the number of regional journalists in the last decade, as reported by Press Gazette"The scale of the problem is always under stated. I think as much as 80 per cent of the jobs have disappeared. People look at newspaper closures, but the biggest change is that daily newspapers used to have loads of editions which were geographically based. They were effectively producing lots of daily newspapers for smaller towns. The Derby Telegraph used to have six editions all with journalists based in their own offices."


Thursday 21 April 2016

Media Quotes of the Week: From Corbyn tells NUJ he wants a Leveson-style press regulator to being a newspaper reporter is ranked the worst job in 2016

Jeremy Corbyn in a message to the NUJ annual conference: "The government claims to support a free press. But the growing concentration of media ownership is a real threat to our democracy. Even after the phone-hacking scandal we still lack a properly independent press regulator as proposed by Lord Justice Leveson.”

Lord Black, speaking at the Commonwealth Journalists' Association conference: “The newspaper industry in my country is vigorously and robustly opposed to this system of state-backed regulation, which we believe is an unacceptable incursion into press freedom. And not one newspaper has agreed to sign up to it. For us, it has brought shame on a country that many journalists elsewhere in the world struggling against censorship and intimidation had been accustomed to regarding as a beacon of free speech."

The Daily Mail investigation into would be press regulator Impress: "This is the story of how a well-connected Left-wing activist financed by a vengeful millionaire tycoon came to be on the verge of triggering the most punitive anti-Press laws enforced outside a dictatorship."

John Whittingdale in the House of Commons, as reported by the BBC: "Having had my faith perhaps tested to the utmost I still believe that press freedom is a vitally important component of a free society and we should tread very carefully."

Bob Satchel, executive director of the Society of Editors,  in a letter to the Guardian: "If the press is to be truly free it should be free with neither carrot nor stick, to join or not join the royal charter system, join or not join the new Independent Press Standards Organisation or not to join any system at all – as the Guardian so chooses."

Lord Justice Jackson during the Court of Appeal judgment in favour of the Sun on Sunday in the celebrity threesome privacy case: "Whether or not the court grants the injunction, it is inevitable that the two children will in due course learn about these matters. Much of the harm which the injunction was intended to prevent has already occurred."

Desmond Browne, QC for the star, quoted in the Daily Mail: "The judgment may be treated as the death of the celebrity privacy".

Patrick Cockburn in The Independent: "Reporting wars has become much more dangerous now than it was half a century ago. The first armed conflict I wrote about was in Belfast in the early 1970s, when I used to joke that newly formed paramilitary groups appointed a press officer even before they bought a gun. In the first years of the Lebanese Civil War after 1975, the different militias used to hand journalists formal letters telling their checkpoints to allow free passage. There were so many militias that I was afraid of mixing up the letters, which looked rather alike, and used to keep those from left-wing groups tucked into my left sock and those from right-wing groups into the right one."

Kevin Rawlinson in the Guardian: "Those working in newsrooms talk of dubious stories being tolerated because, in the words of one, some senior editors think 'a click is a click, regardless of the merit of a story'. And, if the story does turn out to be false, it’s simply a chance for another bite at the cherry."

Letter to the Guardian from reader Andrew Anderson protesting at the paper's cover price rise: "Why am I being asked to increase my subsidy for your free online version?"

Independent local newspaper publisher Chris Bullivant in a letter criticising the Government for inaction over the Trinity Mirror-Local World takeover, published by Press Gazette: "For an example of the stultifying effect of daily newspaper monopoly in England one needs look no further than Rotherham. If true newspaper competition were operational there the attacks on 1500 young women would not have gone unreported for so long. I believe, by accident or design, an opportunity to break into the regional monopolies existent in all of the cities of England has been thwarted by Government inaction either directly or via the quangos that sometimes 'front' Government decisions."

From the Independent: "Being a newspaper reporter has been ranked the worst job for the third year in a row. Jobs in the media were seen as precarious because the loss of media organisations as a result of the decline in advertising revenue."

Thursday 14 April 2016

Media Quotes of the Week: From press lashes Hacked Off over Whittingdale dominatrix conspiracy theory to should hacks reveal their tax?

The Spectator blog: "Labour’s demands that Whittingdale recuses himself from the issue of press regulation is intended to develop Hacked Off’s conspiracy theory that Whittingdale has gone easy on the press because he was being blackmailed. It overlooks a crucial point, though: the Culture Secretary has no power over the press, nor does anyone else in the government. Britain’s press is free, and journalists can be as rude as they like to ministers without fear of reprisal. There is quite simply no mechanism of reprisal — because the press fought off David Cameron’s disgraceful attempt to impose press regulation."

Daily Mail in a leader: "And the Oscar for egregious hypocrisy goes to… the trouser-dropping luvvies, posturing lawyers and third-rate academics of the anti-newspaper campaign group, Hacked Off.This is the organisation, remember, founded to protect celebrities' private lives from unwarranted Press intrusion. Yet now it castigates newspapers for failing to reveal that an ex-girlfriend of John Whittingdale was a prostitute."

David Aaronovitch in The Times [£]: "In wrongly deploying against a political foe his entirely private activities, the high-minded have argued themselves into the gutter."

The Telegraph in a leader: "Surely Hacked Off should be welcoming the restraint of editors. Moreover, the most dominant force in the media nowadays is not the Press, but the BBC. Has there been a conspiracy between the corporation and Hacked Off to damage Mr Whittingdale? Perhaps Newsnight would care to investigate."

Roy Greenslade on Newsnight: "I think it is a bit much to castigate the newspapers for doing the right thing for once.'

Nick Cohen @NickCohen4 on Twitter: "Let me see if I can get this right. Hacked Off is complaining that the tabloids DIDN'T invade a politician's privacy."

The Guardian in a leader: "To pretend, in the absence of any other revelation, that a consensual adult sex life exposes a person to blackmail or makes them unfit for office is an idea whose time has gone – and good riddance."

Robert Peston on his ITV blog:"The notion that there was a conspiracy is, I think, nuts. Because it was never going to work.  If there is one thing I've learned in more than 30 years as a hack, it is that journalists can't keep a secret. They/we can't help ourselves - we gossip. So any deliberate cover up would always have failed. What is clear to me is that this story was not published because the four newspapers failed to establish that it was a story - and the vendor of the story was asking a lot of money for it, £20,000....The Sunday People was the first newspaper to be offered the story at the end of 2013. It approached Tom Watson - the Labour MP, now deputy leader of the Labour party, then a colleague of Mr Whittingdale on the Culture committee - for his advice on whether it should publish. He told them he did not see there was a public-interest reason to run the story on Mr Whittingdale's affair, since he was a single man, this was his private life, and the People had no evidence that Mr Whittingdale had paid for sex."

John Whittingdale, in a statement to Newsnight, on his past relationship with a sex worker: "At no time did she give me any indication of her real occupation and I only discovered this when I was made aware that someone was trying to sell a story about me to tabloid newspapers. As soon as I discovered, I ended the relationship. This is an old story which was a bit embarrassing at the time. The events occurred long before I took up my present position and it has never had any influence on the decisions I have made as culture secretary."

Labour's Chris Bryant on Newsnight: "It seems the press were quite deliberately holding a sword of Damocles over John Whittingdale. He has a perfect right to a private life but as soon as he knew this he should have withdrawn from all regulation of the press."

Neil Wallis ‏@neilwallis1 on Twitter: "Charles Moore (great journo, btw) confronted v elderly parents, unknowing relatives, & Justin Welby over his illegitimacy...could a tabloid?"

Daily Mail hits out at Guardian
The Daily Mail in a leader: "Enough of this madness. Instead of grovelling before the politics of envy mob, the Prime Minister should be arguing that, for most people, Inheritance Tax (IHT) — by re-taxing income that has already been taxed — is unfair. He should also be shouting from the rooftops the moral case for low taxation. Leave aside the rank hypocrisy of the BBC and the Guardian, which have led the charge over the leaked Panama papers from their moral high horses — despite their own history of adopting elaborate measures to minimise their tax liabilities."

Guardian head of media jane martinson ‏@janemartinson on Twitter: "Surprised that it took the Mail so long to back the wealthy rather than attack huge offshore industry?"

Michael Wolff in GQ: "As for Rusbridger's Guardian, in an age of low interest rates and costly internet economics, that Guardian is either a thing of the past or on a suicide mission."

Peter Barron in his farewell column after 17 years as editor of the Northern Echo:  "Local newspapers have a vital role to play in society and my parting wish is that they are given the time and support for quality, campaigning journalism that makes a difference to people’s lives. The future of local journalism cannot just be built on 'click-bait' – stories which attract the biggest number of hits online. There will be those who call me a dinosaur but if I see another 'stomach-churning compilation of the best spot-squeezing videos' on a ‘news’ website, I may well take a hammer to my computer. Exploding spots may get lots of hits, and that may attract digital advertising revenue, but it isn’t news."

Daily Mail in an editorial: "Millions of Americans will be talking about it, after a paper reported the full story. And inevitably, social media chatrooms all around the globe will be abuzz with the names.
Yet thanks to a Court of Appeal injunction, the once-free Press of the UK remains banned from revealing the identity of the celebrity married couple who flaunt their happy family lives, with the aid of expensive PRs, while one of them is said to have indulged in an extra-marital threesome. Could anything more starkly expose the law’s failure to keep up with the age of the internet, in which no judge’s ruling can stop stories from flashing round the world within seconds?

Hugo Rifkind in The Times [£]: "The most ridiculous thing about this injunction is not, as some have been arguing, that it is ineffective. In fact, it has been very effective. True, if you are elsewhere in Britain, you could learn the identity of this couple by phoning a friend in Scotland. Certainly, you could browse online and figure it out pretty quickly. Within England and Wales, however, on its own limited terms, the blackout has done the job....The attorney-general Jeremy Wright, meanwhile, has issued a statement warning ordinary British users of social media that they, too, could find themselves in contempt of court for naming names. Although without, of course, saying which names. Collectively, the country has been hushed. With menaces."

Richard Littlejohn in the Daily Mail on the the three-in-a-bed privacy injection: "Sadly, we can’t even tell you if the olive oil involved was virgin."

Guido Fawkes: "Guido has lots of online embarrassments soon to be discovered on the internet by his Google-savvy young children. As much as he would prefer to cover it all up, this protection would be a risky curtailment of press freedom."

Financial Times political correspondent Henry Mance on a booze filled lunch with Nigel Farage"For me, this is now entering stag-party territory; for him, it’s little more than holy communion."

David Hepworth in InPublishing on looking what people were reading on a London tube journey:"The most read paper publication was, not surprisingly, the Metro, which is given away free. I saw one man reading The Times, another man reading the Mail and a third reading the Mirror. In each case, they were old enough to require spectacles (which is something that editors and designers should maybe take into account more than they do). I saw two people reading magazines, both of them men. One was reading The Economist, the other Retro Gamer, which was a new one on me. I didn’t see a single woman reading a magazine, which twenty years ago would have been inconceivable."

Stig Abell ‏@StigAbell, who is off to edit the Times Literary Supplement, on Twitter: "My last day at the Sun today. My leaving page is a work of utter genius."

Jeremy Corbyn asked by Andrew Marr if political journalists and newspaper editors should reveal their financial details: “I think we are moving in that direction, I think it’s probably a good thing if we move generally in that direction so everybody knows what influences are at play. I think we need to consider how far it goes, how far it goes to other people involved in public life.”

Tom Harris in the Daily Telegraph: "Government regulation of the press is a bad enough idea. Special new rules for the regulation of individual journalists and their tax affairs would take us beyond Corbyn Labour's admiration for Russian authoritarianism into weird, North Korean totalitarian territory."


Thursday 7 April 2016

Media Quotes of the Week: From how the Panama Papers leaked to should former Mail journalists ever be allowed to work for the Guardian?

The leaker of the Panama Papers, who approached German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung"Hello this is John Doe interested in data? There are a couple of conditions. My life is in danger. We will only chat over encrypted files. No meeting, ever. The choice of story is obviously up to you. I want to make these crimes public."

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalism on the Panama Papers leak exposing how the rich and powerful hide their wealth offshore: "The cache of 11.5 million records shows how a global industry of law firms and big banks sells financial secrecy to politicians, fraudsters and drug traffickers as well as billionaires, celebrities and sports stars. These are among the findings of a year long investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and more than 100 other news organisations."

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary: "The current proposals contained within the investigatory powers bill justify the state surveillance of journalists and represent a significant threat to press freedom in the UK. The Panama papers clearly show the importance of protecting journalistic communications and sources from state surveillance. We are urgently calling on all politicians to take action and amend the legislation to safeguard press freedom in the UK."

The Daily Mail: "British justice descended into farce last night after the identity of a celebrity who cheated on his spouse was revealed in the United States but blocked here. The pair have been named in an American print publication reporting on the infidelity.But a draconian privacy injunction means Britons are barred from learning in the media who the well-known couple are."

Jacob Rees-Mogg in the Sun on Sunday: "A free press is more important than the peccadillos of a celebrity. It is the high pressure hose that cleans the sewers of public life and has made the United Kingdom one of the least corrupt countries in the world. It is not the job of the media to report boring public interest stories but to sell their wares. Trying to establish a particular public interest is a fool’s errand, for the permanent censorship of the truth is almost never beneficial."

Mike Gilson editor of The Argus, Brighton, in a comment article in his paper: "The [local newspaper] industry is going through huge transformation at present but I’m not really talking about these seismic changes, I’m talking about a state of mind. For there is much that seems supine about some journalism at present...Journalists are outsiders. The safeguards that govern democracy demands it be thus. Show me an editor who wines and dines regularly with the powerful, or with whom they are on constant speed dial and I’ll show you someone who doesn’t really understand the job."

Simon Jenkins in the Guardian"Few serious papers make money. Most depend on a tacit non-aggression pact between profit, philanthropy and proprietorial lust for glory. This treaty may seem dodgy, but it has held in Britain for the best part of a century. I see no reason why it should collapse. People will always crave trustworthy information on the world around them. They will pay for it – someone will pay for it – somehow or other. The press may die one day, but not yet I think. I worry far more about democracy."

Roy Greenslade in the Guardian: "If newspaper advertising, the lifeblood of British journalism for the best part of 200 years, is not to dry up completely, publishers must find new ways to convince advertisers that they have audiences worth targeting. And quickly."

Peter Preston in the Observer:  "The Mail isn’t the world’s top newspaper online because of its diplomatic coverage. Flaunted curves and celeb hook-ups do that job."

Stuart Prebble in the Guardian on ex-World in Action editor Ray Fitzwalter who died this week: “The word ‘legendary’ is over-used in television, but Ray Fitzwalter truly was a legendary figure. In his time as editor of World in Action he presided over the team of producers and researchers like Robespierre over the French revolution. He was the scourge of the corrupt wherever they were to be found, and an advocate of old-fashioned ‘sleeves rolled up’ investigative journalism to uproot it.”

Polly Toynbee in the Guardian on Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre's Scottish country estate: "Who would have thought the self-appointed voice of 'middle England' harboured such aristocratic fantasies as to acquire a mighty Scottish estate, complete with deer stalking, grouse shooting and salmon fishing? Imagine this champion of a fantasy 'ordinary British family' in a pair of plus- fours or maybe a Prince Charles kilt, shotgun under arm. His monarch of the glen posturing reduces the ogre of Kensington High Street to a pleasing absurdity."

John Illman in the British Journalism Review on the number of ex-Mail journalists, like himself, who joined the Guardian: "She [Polly Toynbee] reduced a morning conference to silence by declaring that no one who had been on the Mail should be allowed to work for The Guardian."

Sunday 3 April 2016

Investigations: Journalists can still be heroes

I've written an article for InPublishing about the best investigative journalism in the UK over the past year or so, partly inspired by being a judge in the British Journalism Awards.

What struck me was the way some investigations now cross borders and involve different media collaborating, thereby evading legal action in one country that could suppress reporting. There are also interesting alliances between traditional newspapers, broadcasters and digital media for investigating stories and analysing data.

Among the stories I looked at were the HSBC files leaked from Switzerland exposing the use of tax havens; mismanagement at the Kids Company charity; the use of hard sell phone tactics on behalf of leading charities;  corruption allegations at Tower Hamlets Council; doping in athletics; politicians for hire by lobbyists; mistreatment of young offenders; the FIFA scandal; the investigation into Asian grooming gangs; and tennis match fixing.

Among the newspapers featured are the Guardian, Le Monde, Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, Daily Telegraph, The Times and Sunday Times; as well as Private Eye and the Spectator; programmes from the BBC and Channel Four and investigations by BuzzFeed News and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Individual journalists mentioned include Andrew Norfolk, Andrew Jennings, Jonathan Calvert, Andrew Gilligan, Tim Minogue, Miles Goslett and Ted Jeory.

It shows that there's much more to journalism than clickbait and that journalists can still be heroes.