Thursday 25 January 2018

Media Quotes of the Week: From the Financial Times' charity dinner sexual harassment scoop to should Facebook pay publishers for 'trusted' news?

The Financial Times' Madison Marriage on going undercover to investigate the sexual harassment at the Presidents Club charity event: "There was no other way of going in as women aren't welcome as guests. The men were initially quite decorous, but things very quickly took a turn for the worse. Some of the behaviour was pretty shocking and depressing."

The Financial Times undercover investigation into the Presidents Club charity event which led to its closure: "The Financial Times sent two people undercover to work as hostesses on the night. Reporters also gained access to the dining hall and surrounding bars. Over the course of six hours, many of the hostesses were subjected to groping, lewd comments and repeated requests to join diners in bedrooms elsewhere in the Dorchester."
  • Mark Di Stefano @MarkDiStef on Twitter: "The Presidents Club investigation just passed 700k views making it the most read FT online story ever."

Press Gazette reports: "The Times has a larger daily print circulation than the Telegraph (when bulk sales are included) for the first time, new monthly figures show. The Times sold 446,204 copies in December last year, up on 393,310 at rival the Telegraph, according to ABC’s monthly newsbrands report."

The Competition & Markets Authority in a statement: "The CMA has provisionally found that Fox taking full control of Sky is not in the public interest due to media plurality concerns, but not because of a lack of a genuine commitment to meeting broadcasting standards in the UK. The media plurality concerns identified mean that, overall, the CMA provisionally concludes that the proposed transaction is not in the public interest."

Matthew Moore in The Times [£]: "Trust in social media has fallen to a record low as Britons lose faith in companies such as Facebook and Twitter, according to research. Fewer than a quarter of people trust the technology and publishing giants. Most Britons believe that such companies are doing too little to address extremism, tackle cyberbullying or prevent illegal use of their platforms, the world’s largest study of trust has found. Sixty-four per cent want social media companies to face tighter regulation. There are continuing calls for them to be accountable for inappropriate content. The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer also found: Trust in traditional media such as newspapers and television has jumped 13 percentage points in a year to 61 per cent, a six-year high, as consumers look for reliable news coverage."

The Observer in a leader on its new tabloid format and values: "Today, we are proud and excited to launch our new design for the Observer. We think it’s vital for a newspaper to shed its skin from time to time, to reimagine itself for loyal readers and to welcome a new generation to our journalism...In this country, a polarised politics has led to unprecedented official attacks on expert opinion and established fact. In America, President Trump’s “Fake News Awards” may have been a laughable distraction from the Mueller investigation but they were, too, a further signal that repressive forces are ascendant. In such a climate – and with an internet growth industry in deliberate untruth and unsourced conspiracy – reliable voices can be hard to find. The Observer can point to a tradition of putting itself not only at the heart, but also on the liberal, human, side of the issues of the moment."

Channel 4 News editor: Ben de Pear @bendepear on Twitter: "@Channel4News onscreen journalists expect to be held to account for their journalism but the level of vicious misogynistic abuse, nastiness, and threat to @cathynewman is an unacceptable response to a robust and engaging debate with @jordanbpeterson. Such is the scale of threat we @Channel4News are having to get security specialists in to carry out an analysis. I will not hesitate to get the police involved if necessary. What a terrible indictment of the times we live in."

The Times [£] on an analysis of Donald Trump's tweets: "The insights gleaned from the analysis show that Mr Trump, 71, did not start using the phrase “fake news” until December 2016, after the presidential campaign was over. He went on to use it 179 times last year. By doing so, he turned, in less than a year, an expression coined by the mainstream media to criticise his outlandish statements into one that conveyed his disdain for those same critics."

Sue Harris, NUJ national broadcasting organiser in a statement, after the union claimed half of the experienced producers on Panorama are to be made redundant: "The BBC's reputation and its remit as a public service broadcaster depend on flagship current affairs programmes such as Panorama and it is deeply worrying that staff say the latest cuts will all but kill off the programme and put their health and safety at risk."

Patrick Smith @psmith on Twitter: "Briefing Media, the company that owned TheMediaBriefing, which I edited during 2010-2013 (!), has rebranded itself to AgriBriefing  - proving that the future of media is in fact tractors."

Press Gazette reports: "The Times has a larger daily print circulation than the Telegraph (when bulk sales are included) for the first time, new monthly figures show. The Times sold 446,204 copies in December last year, up on 393,310 at rival the Telegraph, according to ABC’s monthly newsbrands report."

Rupert Murdoch in a News Corp statement: "Facebook and Google have popularized scurrilous news sources through algorithms that are profitable for these platforms but inherently unreliable. Recognition of a problem is one step on the pathway to cure, but the remedial measures that both companies have so far proposed are inadequate, commercially, socially and journalistically... If Facebook wants to recognize ‘trusted’ publishers then it should pay those publishers a carriage fee similar to the model adopted by cable companies. The publishers are obviously enhancing the value and integrity of Facebook through their news and content but are not being adequately rewarded for those services. Carriage payments would have a minor impact on Facebook’s profits but a major impact on the prospects for publishers and journalists.”

[£] =paywall

Thursday 18 January 2018

Media Quotes of the Week: From the Guardian's tabloid revamp to how Trump's 'fake news' jibe enables repressive regimes to silence journalists

Guardian editor Kath Viner on the paper's new tabloid revamp: "We have grounded our new editions in the qualities readers value most in Guardian journalism: clarity, in a world where facts should be sacred but are too often overlooked; imagination, in an age in which people yearn for new ideas and fresh alternatives to the way things are.  These hopeful themes of clarity and imagination have also been our guiding principles as the Guardian’s new design has taken shape."

The Sun in a leader: "THE Sun warmly welcomes the Guardian to the tabloid club. As of today, the cash-strapped newspaper has shrunk to save on costs after making a £38million loss in 2016/17. So, from one tabloid to another, here is our suggestion for them to turn around their failing fortunes: actually report some exclusive, rip-roaring stories...We know that is an alien concept to them but it might help them flog a copy, or two."

Roy Greenslade‏ @GreensladeR on Twitter: "Sure, I'm biased. But I was delighted to see - and read - today's new-look @guardian. It has pace, uses colour intelligently and the new typeface is elegant. Would have liked a separate sports section but that's just a niggle. All round, a great effort."

Amol Rajan on his BBC blog: "Curiously, given how much thought would have gone into it, I think the front page is the weakest aspect of this otherwise commendable switch. When you change from broadsheet - or indeed Berliner - to compact size, you obviously lose a lot of height. That means that the journalism gets squashed, or pushed downwards. There's a danger it can be cramped, and doesn't have room to breathe...Tabloid or compact size is simply more convenient to read, especially in transit, than broadsheet. When Simon Kelner, the former Editor of The Independent, made that argument in the early 2000s, he was initially met in some quarters with derision. Imitation is a high form of flattery; and on seeing The Guardian go compact fifteen years after he championed the idea, Kelner could be forgiven a wry smile this morning."

Matthew Moore in The Times [£]: "The head of a press regulation campaign group that helped to draw up the media restrictions approved by the House of Lords is representing the offshore law firm at the centre of the Paradise Papers. Hugh Tomlinson, QC, the chairman of Hacked Off, has been instructed by Appleby to block further publication of leaked documents detailing its clients’ tax avoidance schemes. Appleby is suing the BBC and The Guardian for breach of confidence, and has sought a permanent injunction stopping future use of information in the documents."

Richard Branson  on the decision to reverse the Virgin Trains decision to longer stock the Daily Mail, as quoted by Press Gazette:“Freedom of speech, freedom of choice and tolerance for differing views are the core principles of any free and open society. While Virgin Trains has always said that their passengers are free to read whatever newspaper they choose on board West Coast trains, it is clear that on this occasion the decision to no longer sell The Mail has not been seen to live up to these principles...we must not ever be seen to be censoring what our customers read and influencing their freedom of choice. Nor must we be seen to be moralising on behalf of others."

Nick Cohen in The Observer: "For all their bombast, censors give every appearance of being dictatorial neurotics, who are so frightened of their opponents that they cannot find the strength to take them on in the open. I can’t imagine many saying, 'I’ll side with the people who tell me what I can and can’t think.' I find it equally hard to picture readers turning away from the Mail because Sir Richard Branson and 'alternative'comedians who haven’t had an alternative thought since Blair’s second term tell them to."

Committee to Protect Journalists in a statement: "CPJ and IFEX [the global network defending free expression] will lead a delegation of global press freedom groups on an unprecedented mission to the United States, reflecting concerns about threats to journalists and heightened anti-press rhetoric. The mission will coincide with the one-year anniversary of President Trump's inauguration and will leverage the first year's findings of the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, which will be released at an event at the Newseum. CPJ, IFEX, Reporters Without Borders, Article 19, Index on Censorship, and International Press Institute--will conduct a fact-finding visit to Houston, Texas, and the Missouri cities of Columbia and St. Louis."

Michael J. Socolow in the Columbia Journalism Review on the backlash against Michael Wolff's book on Trump: "Wolff is going to make millions, if not tens of millions, on this book, at precisely the time when ethical, professional, nuts-and-bolts political journalism is collapsing. In other words: Part of what’s animating all the Wolff-hate is envy, and journalists should admit this. Some of this jealousy is rooted in the way journalists historically have prefered to see their work, as service to the public rather than as an opportunity for riches. The problem isn’t just Wolff. It’s that political journalism at every level is dying. Local newspapers are firing seasoned reporters, and the idea of dedicating a single, full-time employee to a city hall or a statehouse is now considered a luxury in many newsrooms."

Conrad Black in the National Review on Micheal Wolff: "I attest that he is an utterly odious man. He can’t write properly, has no professional integrity, and is a sociophobic mud-slinger and myth-maker. His entry into the continuing Trump controversy in its twilight proclaims that we have reached the era of the swiftly evaporating, nausea-inducing nothingburger. "

Senator John McCain in The Washington Post: "While administration officials often condemn violence against reporters abroad, Trump continues his unrelenting attacks on the integrity of American journalists and news outlets. This has provided cover for repressive regimes to follow suit. The phrase “fake news” — granted legitimacy by an American president — is being used by autocrats to silence reporters, undermine political opponents, stave off media scrutiny and mislead citizens."
  • Syrian President Bashar Assad, confronted with evidence in an Amnesty International report of torture and mass hangings of up to 13,000 prisoners in one of his military prisons,  told Yahoo News last February: “You can forge anything these days, we are living in a fake news era.”

  • Rob Crilly in the Telegraph: "Donald Trump’s fake news awards arrived with not so much a bang as the 2018 equivalent of a whimper. They arrived with an error message. When Mr Trump dropped the tweet announcing the "winners" it offered a link to the Republican National Committee webpage which promptly crashed, leaving viewers with the message: “The site is temporarily offline, we are working to bring it back up. Please try back later.” It is difficult to think of a more fitting metaphor for this administration."

Thursday 11 January 2018

Media Quotes of the Week: Lords support Leveson 2, Oprah backs press, Trump wins a new media award and some of the best of Peter Preston

New Culture Secretary Matt Hancock @MattHancock on Twitter after Lords vote for part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry into the behaviour of the press and a move which would see newspapers not signed up to a state-supported regulator pay their own and their opponent’s legal costs in relation to alleged data protection breaches, win or lose in court: "House of Lords have just voted to restrict press freedoms. This vote will undermine high quality journalism, fail to resolve challenges the media face and is a hammer blow to local press. We support a free press and will seek to overturn these amendments in the Commons."

Oprah Winfrey at the Golden Globes, via "The press is under siege these days, but we also know that it is the insatiable dedication to uncovering the absolute truth that keeps us from turning a blind eye to corruption and to injustice – to tyrants and victims and secrets and lies. I want to say that I value the press more than ever before as we try to navigate these complicated times, which brings me to this: what I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have. ”

BBC China editor Carrie Gracie in a letter, obtained by BuzzFeedNews, explaining why she is leaving her post: "With great regret, I have left my post as China editor to speak out publicly on a crisis of trust at the BBC. The BBC belongs to you, the licence fee payer. I believe you have a right to know that it is breaking equality law and resisting pressure for a fair and transparent pay structure. In thirty years at the BBC, I have never sought to make myself the story and never publicly criticised the organisation I love. I am not asking for more money. I believe I am very well paid already – especially as someone working for a publicly funded organisation. I simply want the BBC to abide by the law and value men and women equally."

Index on Censorship chair David Aaronovitch‏ @DAaronovitch on Twitter: "I think Virgin is wrong in its decision not to sell the Mail - a decision taken for the wrong reasons. You can't have one rule for publications you approve of and another for those you don't...I'm afraid Virgin's IS an act of censorship. On their own admission they are not selling something they sold before mainly because they don't like what it says."

The Daily Mail in a statement: “It is disgraceful that, at a time of massive customer dissatisfaction over ever-increasing rail fares, and after the taxpayer was forced to bail out Virgin’s East Coast mainline franchise – a decision strongly criticised by the Mail – that Virgin Trains should now announce that for political reasons it is censoring the choice of newspapers it offers to passengers."

Emily Bell‏ on Twitter: "Dilemma of the Wolff book for journalism commentators : those who said press should break the rules, not normalize Trump, call it what it is etc., did not anticipate the most effective route to that would be by pulling off the most audacious act of access journalism of all time."

Drew Magary in GQ: "Wolff has spent this week thoroughly exploiting Trump and his minions the same way they've exploited the cluelessness of others. And he pulled it off because, at long last, there was a reporter out there willing to toss decorum aside and burn bridges the same way Trump does."

Michael Wolff asked on The Today Show [clip via BBC News] if attempts to block the book's publication, and the attendant publicity, had helped sales: "Where do I send the box of chocolates?"

Trump, reported by NBC News"We are going to take a strong look at our country's libel laws ... You can't say things that are false, knowingly false, and be able to smile as money pours into your bank account."

Committee to Protect Journalists in its new Press Oppressors Awards gives the 'Overall Achievement in Undermining Global Press Freedom' prize to Donald Trump: "The United States, with its First Amendment protection for a free press, has long stood as a beacon for independent media around the world. While previous U.S. presidents have each criticized the press to some degree, they have also made public commitments to uphold its essential role in democracy, at home and abroad. Trump, by contrast, has consistently undermined domestic news outlets and declined to publicly raise freedom of the press with repressive leaders such as Xi, Erdoğan, and Sisi. Authorities in China, Syria, and Russia have adopted Trump's "fake news" epithet, and Erdoğan has applauded at least one of his verbal attacks on journalists. Under Trump's administration, the Department of Justice has failed to commit to guidelines intended to protect journalists' sources, and the State Department has proposed to cut funding for international organizations that help buttress international norms in support of free expression. As Trump and other Western powers fail to pressure the world's most repressive leaders into improving the climate for press freedom, the number of journalists in prison globally is at a record high."

The Guardian on former editor Peter Preston who died on Saturday"Peter Preston embodied some of the best qualities not just of this paper, but of journalism more widely. By hard work and personal example he showed how a newspaper could change and improve without losing touch with its roots. During his editorship of the Guardian, he introduced to a rather self-important paper a light touch that was not merely superficial. He loved his trade, and was a master of all aspects of newspaper editing, but he never supposed that the media were more important than their subjects."
  • Here are some of the best quotes from Peter Preston's media column in the Observer:
On Newsquest-owner Gannett: "Gannett is not well-loved here, or in the US. Gannett seems to exist to keep shareholders cheerful and pay executives royally. Gannett is a row of figures on the bottom line."

On Andrew Norfolk of The Times: "Andrew Norfolk, the Times reporter in Rotherham, is the hero of most press awards these days and was again at the press awards. Warm applause, but also a warm lesson as Norfolk thanked his editors, going back years, for giving him time, especially time listening quietly in court, to nail a great, sickening story. Time is the essence of investigation. Courts are the underreported casualty of staff cuts. We no longer sit through trials. We don’t register detail after an opening statement or two. We believe in open justice: but we’re shutting the door on it."

On press-regulation: "Messrs Cameron and Miliband appear to want a replacement for the Press Complaints Commission whose independent members are chosen by an equally independent nominating committee buried somewhere in the depths of Whitehall. Let's be straightforward about this. It's not self-regulation at all. It is effectively statutory regulation, rule by whoever the government of the day says is in regulatory charge."

On local papers: "A truly local paper is like a policeman on his beat (or that family doctor). It's what helps local life go around. It opens a world of possibilities. And – golly! – it's more important than 30% profit margins. Or, at least, it damned well should be."

On the Lobby: "They're expert, self-regulated members of one gentlemen's club, monitoring another one. They need to cultivate sources, buy drinks and keep onside to keep the chat coming. They are part of the institution, in a way. They do not turn over stones."
  • Peter Preston contributed this article to Local Newspaper Week in 2011, looking back to his days covering funerals, dog shows and Rotary Club speeches
“Journalism isn’t about sitting in some lofty office thinking great thoughts. It is about knowing the people you're writing for, understanding their concerns, their hopes and fears. And you can only do that if you’re out there amongst them, being part of the community you aim to serve.

“I started in journalism, long ago, doing school holiday shifts on my local paper, writing my first features about life at the university just up the road. When I went to university myself I did every job going on the twice-weekly student paper there - and then learned my trade on Liverpool’s big evening and morning papers. I did funerals, Rotary Club speeches, dog shows, council rows and rugby matches.

"And at the end of that stint, when I moved on to cover local politics for the Guardian, I think I’d learned something precious. That politics doesn’t exist in some rarefied world at Westminster. That democracy lives, breathes and reacts in the minds and the lives of the people you catch a bus to work with every morning. That the local dimension isn’t some remote step ladder on the route to the top. It’s where everything begins. It’s the foundation stone of society.

“And that’s as true today as it ever was. Your local paper, in villages, towns and cities up and down the land, is there to reflect you, yourself - your own running commentary on life. In the mazy world of the world-wide web, where nothing seems more than a click away, it is still the place where the people around you put down their roots.

“There’s been a local press in Britain for as long as there have been newspapers. There will be newspapers - in one form or another - for as long as people care about what happens around them. News is a necessity, your link to your neighbours. Prize it, relish it, support it... because, not just in Local Newspaper Week but every week of the year, it helps your world go round.”

Thursday 4 January 2018

Media Quotes of the Week: From Trump says media will back him for second term because they need the ratings to remember the good old days when reporters had 15 minutes to write a story?

Donald Trump in an interview with the New York Times: "We’re going to win another four years for a lot of reasons, most importantly because our country is starting to do well again and we’re being respected again. But another reason that I’m going to win another four years is because newspapers, television, all forms of media will tank if I’m not there because without me, their ratings are going down the tubes. Without me, The New York Times will indeed be not the failing New York Times, but the failed New York Times. So they basically have to let me win. And eventually, probably six months before the election, they’ll be loving me because they’re saying, 'Please, please, don’t lose Donald Trump'.”

Trump @realDonaldTrump on Twitter: "The Failing New York Times has a new publisher, A.G. Sulzberger. Congratulations! Here is a last chance for the Times to fulfill the vision of its Founder, Adolph Ochs, “to give the news impartially, without fear or FAVOR, regardless of party, sect, or interests involved.” Get...impartial journalists of a much higher standard, lose all of your phony and non-existent “sources,” and treat the President of the United States FAIRLY, so that the next time I (and the people) win, you won’t have to write an apology to your readers for a job poorly done! GL"

New publisher A.G. Sulzberger in a message to New York Times readers: "The business model that long supported the hard and expensive work of original reporting is eroding, forcing news organizations of all shapes and sizes to cut their reporting staffs and scale back their ambitions. Misinformation is rising and trust in the media is declining as technology platforms elevate clickbait, rumor and propaganda over real journalism, and politicians jockey for advantage by inflaming suspicion of the press. Growing polarization is jeopardizing even the foundational assumption of common truths, the stuff that binds a society together. Like our predecessors at The Times, my colleagues and I will not give in to these forces."

Bath Chronicle news editor Sam Petherick in the Guardian on how his paper broke the Bath University vice-chancellor pay scandal: "In the case of the vice-chancellor pay story, while to some it looked like a David v Goliath tale of a local rag taking on a giant local employer, the biggest challenge was possibly my newspaper’s business model. To attract advertising, reporters must strive for web hits – it’s a daily pressure in our newsrooms. Like all in Trinity Mirror, the Bath Chronicle is “audience-driven”, meaning that if a story is not getting enough clicks there’s no justification for continuing to cover it."

Peter Preston in the Observer: "From Panama to Paradise, the enveloping stories of the last few years have concerned tax avoidance at the top, from politicians to bankers to media moguls. Has that last category of avoiders been pursued as hard as it deserved? Have the bowers of tax-free status been stripped bare? You need no particular barrels of cynicism in your cellar to believe that the chase may have faded because it came dangerously close to touching some men and women very near to home – too close to validating the undermining of trust in journalism."

Max Hastings in the Daily Mail: "There must be regulation of social media, and every government in the world ought to address itself on how best this can be implemented, without, of course, imposing improper restrictions on free speech. It must be the beginning of wisdom that we understand how wildly excessive and deeply dangerous are the powers of the social media giants, headed by Facebook. They cannot be uninvented, but they must be tamed. Should we fail to do this, these wild beasts will devour our democracies and our individual freedoms."

Dan Sabbagh on being national news editor for the Guardian: "Sometimes, for fun, you can explain to younger colleagues how, 15 years ago, pre-internet, it was not necessary for this reporter to start writing until 4.30pm when the first edition deadline was 7pm. Five years ago, when starting on the news desk, the aim would be to publish an article within 15 minutes of a news break. Now the task is to beat the rolling news channels and publish, within moments, a single paragraph starting from the desk that is filled out, revised and updated by reporters throughout the day."