Thursday 26 April 2018

Media Quotes of the Week: Is the media a cult of well-connected public school educated journalists? to the betrayal of the UK's press freedom legacy

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Owen Jones OwenJones84 on Twitter: "The main thing I've learned from working in the British media is that much of it is a cult. Afflicted by a suffocating groupthink, intolerant of critics, hounds internal dissenters, full of people who made it because of connections and/or personal background rather than merit."

Owen Jones commenting on his tweet on Medium: "This tweet has triggered such an inferno amongst British media types, the response would probably have been more measured if I’d told every single one of their mothers to F off in person...Nothing caused so much anger as my suggestion that the British media is profoundly socially exclusive. The journalists denying this are waging a crusade against undeniable fact, evidence and data — and, by doubling down, are helping to ensure that this profound injustice is not rectified. Just 7% of the British population are privately educated. But according to the Sutton Trust in 2016, 51% of Britain’s top journalists are privately educated. Just 19% attended a comprehensive school — unlike nearly 90% of the population."

FleetStreetFox on Twitter: "I set up 2x school papers, did work experience on local rag, begged for an apprenticeship, did my NCTJ and worked like a dog for 25yrs. No contacts, no degree, and a comprehensive education. It’s not a cult Owen, it’s just people think you’re a bit of a twat."

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Dan Hodges @DPJHodges on Twitter:"The reality is it doesn’t matter where you went to school, how middle-class you are, what you gender, race etc is. In the eyes of the Corbynites the only legitimate journalism is journalism that shares, and indulges in, their veneration of Jeremy Corbyn."

Nick Cohen@NickCohen4 on Twitter: "The real scandal is 75 universities are selling post-grad journalism courses to students when there are virtually no jobs for them to go on to. If banks behaved in the same way, the fraud squad would raid them."

Guardian editor-in-chief Katharine Viner and David Pemsel, the chief executive of GNM parent Guardian Media Group in a joint statement: “We are well on track with our three-year strategy to make the Guardian sustainable and break even at operating level by 2018-2019. Thanks to outstanding collaborative work in the UK, US and Australia, we have finished the second year well ahead of our forecast.”

Amelia Gentleman on Twitter: "The Guardian has given me the time and space to investigate the #Windrush scandal over the past six months. Please support independent, investigative journalism like this, so that we can continue to hold power to account."

Matthew Moore in The Times [£]: "The number of defamation cases in the UK courts has fallen to a record low as celebrities increasingly use privacy actions to block negative stories rather than taking action after publication. Only 49 defamation cases were heard last year, down from 86 three years ago, according to research by Thomson Reuters. The decline follows the introduction of the Defamation Act 2013, which came into force in 2014 and made it harder to bring successful cases by requiring the claimant to demonstrate that they have suffered serious reputational damage. Legal experts said that the fall also reflected a change in tactics by celebrities, who now sought to ban newspapers from printing embarrassing stories in the first place, rather than bring a defamation case afterwards."

Ian Birrell in The Times [£] on Russia Today"RT disseminates fake news and inflates dodgy theories to winkle open fissures in western societies and cover up atrocities carried out by Vladimir Putin and his blood-splattered pals. It is aided by fellow travellers inflaming its nonsense on social media and abetted by a motley collection of greedy fools taking cash to appear on its shows. But while it is clearly a mouthpiece for Moscow, we should not ban RT. Such a move would backfire, with retaliatory action to expel our journalists in Russia that would hamper both understanding of events there and the free flow of news for opposition forces."

Celia Walden on the secret of husband Piers Morgan's smooth skin, according to The Times [£] Diary: “Piers’s ego is so large that it pushes the wrinkles out.”

Letter to The Times [£] from press freedom campaigners: "The UK is among the worst-ranked western nations for press freedom. Today the World Press Freedom Index 2018 placed the UK 40th among 180 countries, just ahead of Trinidad & Tobago and Burkina Faso. Britain is the nation that helped to create press freedom. That legacy is being betrayed. Journalists have been hauled before criminal courts on flimsy charges, only to be acquitted. A state-approved regulator has been established, which the majority of the British press refused on principle to join. And parliament is now considering turning the screws on journalists further. The Data Protection Bill is passing through parliament. Lords and MPs are threatening to re-table amendments that would lead to the demise of our free press. The amendments could kick-start another state-backed press inquiry, and may end journalists’ exemption from data-protection rules, which is crucial for protecting their sources. Financial penalties would be imposed unless they signed up to a state-approved press regulator. Put simply, these peers and parliamentarians want to muzzle our maverick press because it holds them, and other public bodies, to account. We call on parliament to reject any further restrictions on the press. Britain’s status as a beacon of liberty and democracy is being jeopardised."


Thursday 19 April 2018

Media Quotes of the Week: From 45 journalists working to finish investigations by murdered Daphne Caruana Galizia to why the BBC must win against Cliff Richard or police will act in secrecy

Laurent Richard, founder of the Forbidden Stories platform, in the Guardian: "You killed the messenger. But you won’t kill the message. Over the past six months 45 journalists from 15 different countries have been working in secret to complete and publish investigations by the Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was killed on 16 October 2017. Cooperation is without a doubt the best protection. What is the point of killing a journalist if 10, 20 or 30 others are waiting to carry on their work?"

Peter Caruana Galizia interviewed in the Guardian about the police investigation into his wife's murder in a car bombing: “It is clear to us that the three men arraigned so far are simply contractors commissioned by a third party. My sons and I are not convinced that our government really wants to establish who sent them, for fear such persons are in fact very close to our government. For this reason we may never know the truth.”

John Sweeney‏ @johnsweeneyroar on Twitter: "Did he fall? Or was he pushed? Maxim Borodin was a Russian journalist who broke the story about Wagner hiring Russian mercenaries to fight in Syria. Now he’s dead. People who equate Russia with the West need to get this. In Russia if you oppose power, you may die."

Committee to Protect Journalists Europe and Central Asia program co-ordinator Nina Ognianova: "We call on Russian authorities to launch an effective, fair, and transparent investigation into the circumstances surrounding Maksim Borodin's death and not to rule out foul play. Russia has a record of brushing aside suspicious deaths of members of the press. We urge authorities on both the regional and federal level to consider that Borodin may have been attacked and that his investigative journalism was the motive."

BuzzFeed UK's Heidi Blake @HeidilBlake on Twitter:"Utterly blown away that our From Russia With Blood series is a Pulitzer finalist. Working with @SchoofsFeed, @TomBWarren, @JasonLeopold, @Richard_AHolmes,  @jane__bradley &  @alexcampbell on this story (and many others) at @BuzzFeedNews has been the greatest privilege of my career."

Caroline Lucas @CarolineLucas on Twitter on the Windrush scandal: "Let us be very clear about what's happening. The Govt wants to create a hostile environment for migrants. This isn't a design flaw, it's central to their programme. Only perseverance from journalists like @ameliagentleman & MPs like @DavidLammy that caused Govt to think again."

Alan Travis, the Guardian's home affairs editor, who is leaving the paper after 34 years reflecting on the changes he's seen: "Whitehall departments, including the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice, have completely closed down, with very limited access to briefings with ministers or even senior officials. All but the most routine press inquiries are now channelled through a ministerial special adviser, which means it can take hours to receive even the blandest replies. There are a few gems left in Whitehall press offices who take the trouble to really make sure they know about their subject and have the confidence to discuss them with a specialist journalist in a non-confrontational way. But they are few and far between."

Mick Hume on Spiked: "Rod Liddle of The Sunday Times, the Sun and the Spectator has been reported to police and press regulators for making a ‘morally repugnant’ joke about Wales and its native tongue, with Welsh officials demanding new laws to ‘stop these comments… and to prevent language hate’. Meanwhile, the moral guardians of theatreland want Quentin Letts of the Daily Mail banned from writing reviews for his ‘blatantly racist attitude’, after the critic criticised a black actor in a Royal Shakespeare Company play...attacks on these very different columnists reveal the underlying truth about the campaign to curb press freedom further in Britain. Whatever those leading it may claim, that campaign is not about upholding the rule of law, protecting the public interest or any other apparently high-minded principle. It is about silencing dissenting voices and thought-policing an increasingly conformist intellectual climate."

The Times [£] in a leader: "No traditional publisher is allowed to merely shrug its shoulders when accused of plagiarism, or copyright theft, or facilitating hate, violence, self-harm, stalking, paedophilia or terrorism. Successes in combating online child pornography show that, when properly motivated, tech giants are well-placed to solve the problems they themselves have exacerbated. While there is a balance to be struck between the privacy of users and the transparency of social media platforms, it should not be the platforms’ choice where to strike it. It is no longer enough for technology companies to smirk behind algorithms and claim that there is nothing they can do. Where their inventions are ravaging the norms of law, culture and society, they must come up with solutions. If they will not, they must expect governments to tame them with the full force of the law. If that hits their vast profits, that, too, is their problem."

Roy Greenslade in the Guardian on Cliff Richard's privacy case against the BBC: "If Richard’s action were to succeed, the ramifications for press freedom and, as a corollary, for open justice, are awful to contemplate. It could create a situation in which the media would be unable to report the early stages of police investigations, such as revealing the identity of arrested people. They would enjoy anonymity until and unless they were charged. This would be a fundamental change to custom and practice. It would have the effect of allowing police officers to operate in secrecy and would deny journalists the right to scrutinise the activities of the police. The media’s role as a public watchdog, holding power to account and acting on behalf of the public interest, would be fatally compromised."


Thursday 12 April 2018

Media Quotes of the Week: From panic as Jon Snow doorsteps Facebook to you haven't made it until the Whitstable Times reveals your sex secrets

Channel 4's Jon Snow attempting to get an interview at Facebook's headquarters in London over the data scandal: "They've actually locked the building and are not letting me in. Oh dear, there's panic stations in here. There are a lot of guards about. They definitely don't want to talk today. We've given Facebook many opportunities to talk to us, since we broke this story, not once have they agreed to do so...One wonders what they are now running scared of."

Carole Cadwalladr @carolecadwalla on Twitter on Mark Zuckerberg's appearance before Congress in Washington:"Remember this. #Zuckerberg only here because: #journalism. But #journalism broken because: @facebook."

Mark Zuckerberg interviewed in The Atlantic: “I think there’s just been a very basic shift in how we view our responsibility. We used to view our role as building tools for people and saying, ‘Hey we’re going to put this power in your hands.’ And we think people are basically good, and we think that that can have a net positive effect. Now I just think we understand—both because of the ability for us to develop these things and because of the scale at which we operate—that it’s also our responsibility to make sure that all these tools are used well, not just to put them in people's hands.You know, you can’t just give people a voice. You need to also make sure that that voice is not used for foreign interference in elections or disseminating fake news.”

Lionel Barber‏ @lionelbarber on Twitter: "Days after Boris Johnson congratulates Viktor Orban on his election victory, Magyar Nemzet, Hungary’s major opposition newspaper (and online op) announces it is closing after 80 years in print. A light goes out in central EUrope ....."

The Times [£] reports: "Two out of every three stories shared on social media on the attempted assassination of Sergei and Yulia Skripal are from Kremlin-backed media outlets. The discovery came as officials said information warfare was four times more significant a factor than military force in today’s standoff with Russia — in a reversal of the Cold War years. Moscow has flooded pro-Russia news channels and social media platforms with more than 20 conspiracy theories about the Salisbury attack to deflect attention from Britain’s assertion that Moscow is to blame.”

Spokesman for Salisbury District Hospital, which is treating Sergei Skripal, condemning the behaviour of a Russian tv crew, as reported by SKY News"This footage shows appalling behaviour on the part of these Russian journalists - approaching staff in the middle of the night with no warning and without asking for any permission. Our staff, who have been rightly lauded for their recent efforts, working tirelessly to give all of our patients high quality care, deserved better. We would like to reiterate that any attempt to harass, intimidate or cause distress to any of our staff or patients is absolutely unacceptable and will not be tolerated."

The Guardian reports: "The Assad regime “assassinated” the Sunday Times correspondent Marie Colvin as part of its campaign targeting journalists covering the Syrian civil war, according to a claim filed in a Washington court on Monday. The legal action over the 2012 killing is the first war crimes-related case against the Syrian government to reach court. It includes evidence from high-placed defectors who testify that reporters were tracked via their satellite phone signals. Colvin, an American reporter who operated out of London, and Remi Ochlik, a French photographer, were killed “in a targeted rocket attack” on a makeshift media centre in the rebel-held city of Homs, the papers allege."

Repoters Sans Frontiers secretary-general Christophe Deloire, after Palestinian journalist Yaser Murtaja was shot dead by Israeli soldiers in Gaza: “We condemn the disproportionate reaction by Israeli forces, who killed or wounded several civilians including journalists. We urge the Israeli government to adhere strictly to UN Security Council Resolution 2222 on protecting journalists, adopted in 2015, and we call for an independent investigation leading to the conviction of those responsible for this crime against press freedom.”

BBC's Nick Robinson in the New Statesman: "Impartiality is difficult. Perhaps never more so than in recent years when deep divides have opened up over Brexit, Scottish independence and inside both our major parties. We don’t always get it right. However, there is still a powerful case for impartial broadcast journalism that seeks to inform rather than influence, or sway, or respond to commercial imperatives, staffed by people who – regardless of their personal background or private views – are committed to delivering what Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein calls 'the best obtainable version of the truth' and offering their audience a free, open and broad debate. The alternative is news that largely broadcasts people you like saying things you agree with. I say as gently as I can to people on both sides of the Brexit argument – be careful what you wish for."

Natasha Morris, NUJ legal & equality officer, on the gender pay gap in the media: “It is clear from the latest figures that more needs to be done to support women into senior positions within the workplace, ensuring that maternity leave does not mean the end of career progression. Employers must cultivate a culture where shared parental responsibility is the norm and not the exception and part-time roles are better paid. It is vital that companies are transparent about pay and where inequality is identified that robust and immediate measures are taken to address these issues.”

Illustrator Mick Hill in a BBC interview on how he added "naughty" images to his artwork on biscuit tins: "I knew I made it when I got into the Whitstable Times."


Thursday 5 April 2018

Media Quotes of the Week: From journalists have adapted to change but where's the fun gone? to many staff on Brexit-backing papers are Remainers

NUJ organiser Chris Morley, interviewed by Steve Dyson in InPublishing: “There can be few other professions where workers have done as much to accommodate change and got so little reward for it. When you consider the new technologies and techniques journalists have had to embrace and be proficient at with minimal training, it’s incredible that the love of the job still shines through. [But] the one thing I never hear now is how the work is fun, and rarely that it’s a joy to be given free rein to carry out investigations. The problem is that as no-one has found the answer to making a sustainable media future online, my members are still serving two worlds: analogue and digital. The more they see of what appears to work online, generally and professionally, the less they like it.”

Martin Shipton on WalesOnline: "If Theresa May wanted to convince me that she’d cracked Brexit, she could hardly have gone about it in a more inept way. A day before she arrived in Wales as part of her four-nation Brexit tour of the UK – which was taking place exactly 12 months in advance of our departure from the EU – I was asked by a Number 10 press officer to send in the single question I would be allowed to ask her. This I did – knowing that if I failed to do so, I wouldn’t get a question at all.Surely this made New Labour control freakery – which I also experienced – appear positively benign. What faith can one have in a political leader who wants to know all the questions they will face in advance?"

Media academics in a letter to the Guardian"It is not “whataboutery” to suggest that the debate on antisemitism has been framed in such a way as to mystify the real sources of anti-Jewish bigotry and instead to weaponise it against a single political figure just ahead of important elections. We condemn antisemitism wherever it exists. We also condemn journalism that so blatantly lacks context, perspective and a meaningful range of voices in its determination to condemn Jeremy Corbyn."

Sun political correspondent Matt Dathan @matt_dathan on Twitter: "Jeremy Corbyn's senior policy adviser Andrew Fisher told a meeting of Labour Shadow Cabinet political advisers today that people who continue to leak would be sacked. And that threat has now been leaked to me."

Channel 4 head of news Ben de Pear, interviewed by Ian Burrell for The Drum: “The question we have had over the past year is: is Facebook too toxic a platform to actually appear on as news?” he says. “All the news organisations need to talk to each other and maybe we can come up with a separate platform – I don’t know, call it Newsbook? – where we can be funded.”

Scott Rosenberg on Axios: "Outrage over Facebook’s misuse of user data and failure to rein in election fraud is real. But the zeal that media outlets bring to their Facebook coverage is personal, too. It’s turbocharged because journalists, individually and collectively, blame Facebook — along with other tech giants, like Google, and the internet itself — for seducing their readers, impoverishing their employers, and killing off their jobs. This blame war is the latest phase of a decades-long grudge match between traditional media companies and new technology giants."

Jane Martinson in the Guardian on criticism of the way journalists behaved covering the Manchester Arena terror attack: "What’s needed more than anything is a new mindset. Codes and panels have their place but too many journalists, desperate for a fresh story or a new line, appear more afraid of disappointing editors and scuppering careers than upsetting already traumatised human beings. Editors, however innocent they think themselves to be, should act to change this culture."

Peter Habara, an editor at murdered Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak’s website, quoted in the Washington Post: “If it was 1918, when journalism was done only on paper, it would be a ‘good’ precaution to silence a journalist. After the murder … the story would die as well. But not in this era. Even if they kill us all, the story and truth will prevail.”

The Times [£] reports: "A newsagent will be buried with a copy of the local newspaper he had delivered for 60 years. Peter Field had walked the rounds since he was 12, eventually owning the shop, Hedgers, in East Preston, West Sussex, where he made sure that his 370 customers received their papers each day. Mr Field, 72, who rarely had a day off, provided a vital function for his community and hundreds of mourners are expected to attend his funeral on Wednesday following his death from leukaemia. The cortège will pass his newsagents and a copy of the Littlehampton Gazette and a delivery bag will be buried with him as a mark of respect."

Simon Kuper in the Financial Times on Brexit: "In the media, the BBC curtails the instincts of its mostly Remainer journalists. A colleague at one big Brexit-supporting newspaper told me “95 per cent” of its journalists oppose Brexit. Another friend puts the figure at his pro-Brexit paper at “80 to 90 per cent”. He tries to switch his mind off Brexit. At least Remoaners like me believe the stuff we write, pointless as it is."