Thursday 26 July 2018

Media Quotes of the Week: From Trump's Orwellian attack on the press to newspaper cuts website comments because of hate-filled abuse

Donald Trump to Veterans of Foreign Wars in Kansas City, reported by “Just remember, what you are seeing and what you are reading is not what’s happening. Just stick with us, don’t believe the crap you see from these people [pointing at reporters], the fake news.”

From Time magazine: "For some, the quote immediately recalled a line from Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984: 'The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command'.”

VFW [Veterans of Foreign Wars] @VFWHQ on Twitter: "Today, we were disappointed to hear some of our members boo the press during President Trump's remarks. We rely on the media to spread the VFW message, and @CNN, @NBCNews, @ABC, @FoxNews, @CBSNews, & others on site today, were our invited guests. We were happy to have them there."

Donald Trump @realDonaldTrump on Twitter: "The Summit with Russia was a great success, except with the real enemy of the people, the Fake News Media."
  • Amy Siskind @Amy_Siskind on Twitter: "This is the 4th time in the last 5 weeks that Trump has called the media the “enemy of the people,” including the week 5 were murdered at the Capital Gazette."

The Guardian Media Group announcing in its annual results that digital revenues have overtaken print for the first time: "Following growth in digital reader revenues and a good competitive performance in digital advertising, digital now accounts for over 50% of GMG’s revenues. Digital revenue growth in 2017-18 exceeded declines in print revenues."

Pete Vernon in the Columbia Journalism Review after it was revealed editorial staff of the New York Daily News is to be cut by half: "If the cuts at the Daily News occur as forecast, New York will wake tomorrow with fewer journalists holding powerful interests to account. As the bite of Trump’s [newsprint] tariffs sinks in, the same story will play out in cities and towns across the country. The causes of this diminishment are manifold, but the absence of reporters from state houses, courtrooms, and school board meetings leaves all of us less informed."

Labour Party deputy leader Tom Watson @tom_watson on Twitter: "A short thread from sources inside Daily Mail: 1/ Paul Dacre is looking to put a consortium together to buy Daily Telegraph and install himself as Editor. 2/ Dacre, so angry at his ousting by Rothermeres, is leaving early at beginning of September and unlikely to take up editor-in-chief position."

Roy Greenslade in the Guardian on the Cliff Richard privacy ruling:"Note also the size of the award made to Richard. It is far greater than the previous highest award in a privacy action – the £60,000 granted to Max Mosley in 2008 when the now-defunct News of the World splashed his sexual antics over its front page and ran intimate video footage on its website. Indeed, it is greater than most awards for defamation, implying that privacy has replaced libel as the go-to legal tool to frustrate legitimate media inquiries. Should this judgment be allowed to stand, the likely effect is a chilling of press freedom."

The Financial Times in a leader: "The Financial Times and other media organisations often face pressure from lawyers acting on behalf of wealthy and powerful individuals to stop them being identified in stories about alleged wrongdoing. Privacy law will increasingly be added to libel in the arsenal of legal weapons to cloak misconduct in which the public has a legitimate interest. This ruling is likely to increase the barrage."

Alan Rusbridger in The Observer: "Many journalists will shake their heads at the implications. Does this mean that, in future, it’s OK to report on historical sexual abuse cases – but only if you don’t name the suspect before charging? Does this apply to globalised social media as well? Will readers of British newspapers be kept in the dark about allegations freely discussed online and around the rest of the world? That feels like the wisdom of Canute. But it is also true that, for a generation or more, too many British journalists operated as though privacy was an un-British concept that had to be resisted at all costs."

Jane Martinson in the Guardian"The 200-plus-page ruling by Mr Justice Mann makes for excruciating reading. No one who has worked in a newsroom will find the examples of swaggering bravado (the reporter talking of putting the police “over a barrel”) or humour (“did he sing Jailhouse Rock?”) surprising. But it gives the impression of a macho culture, where making sure rival news channel ITV did not get wind of the investigation first was key."

Allan McCulloch in a letter to The Times [£]: "Sir, Your editorial “Privacy on trial” (July 19) suggests that the judgment in the Cliff Richard case should not “herald a move towards anonymity and secrecy in the police”. I would suggest that the motivation of the BBC in reporting on the Cliff Richard house search was less to do with monitoring the police and more with “exposing” a celebrity. Perhaps the BBC, in targeting Sir Cliff, was attempting to make amends for its own lamentable failure to “expose” Stuart Hall and another of its employees, Jimmy Savile."

The Sunday Times [£] in a leader on a move to seek lifelong anonymity for a 14-year-old convicted on terrorism charges: "There are arguments on his side. Naming him could expose his family, who were unaware of his part in the plot, to reprisals. It could make the rehabilitation of the troubled teenager more difficult. It could even turn him into a cause célèbre and encourage copycats.
Against this, however, the public has a right to know. It had a right to know about Thomas Wyllie and Alex Bolland, the 15-year-olds named on Friday after being found guilty of plotting a Columbine-style massacre at their Yorkshire school at the age of 14. The judgment against the BBC in the Sir Cliff Richard privacy case will, if unchallenged, give all suspects the right to anonymity until charged. We suffer from too much secrecy, not too little. Anonymity should be used very sparingly."

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg, speaking to author Tom Baldwin for his new book Ctrl Alt Delete: How Politics and the Media Crashed our Democracy, as quoted by The Observer: “I’ve tried to pull back and I’ve thought about coming off it all together. Partly, that’s because it’s uglier out there now; it’s like a playground where people want to shout each other down. I don’t read the comments people write about me – it’s not worth it.”

Bradford's Telegraph & Argus on why its switching off comments on its website: "We’re not against robust debate on issues of public interest – far from it. But sadly, an ever-more-vocal minority of our site’s visitors appear to be intent on abusing the ability to comment. They lurk beneath even the most innocuous of stories to grind out personal grudges, rail against the council or the T&A or – worse – pollute the comments section with hate-filled, racist, anti-Semitic or Islamophobic tirades."


Tuesday 24 July 2018

Facing down Facebook: How the old media and investigative journalism humbled the new digital giants and held the Government to account

I've written an article for InPublishing about how investigative newspaper journalism is alive and well and has helped hold the new digital giants - and the Government - to account.  You can read it here.

Thursday 19 July 2018

Media Quotes of the Week: From press anger at Cliff Richard privacy win over 'sensationalist' BBC to why some British newspapers like Trump

Mr Justice Mann in his judgment in the Cliff Richard vs BBC privacy case: "I have found that SYP [South Yorkshire Police] did not merely volunteer the material for its own purposes; it provided it because of a concern that if it did not do so there would be a prior publication by the BBC, a concern known to and probably fostered by the BBC’s reporter, Mr Dan Johnson. So far as the main claim in this case is concerned, I find that Sir Cliff had privacy rights in respect of the police investigation and that the BBC infringed those rights without a legal justification. It did so in a serious way and also in a somewhat sensationalist way. I have rejected the BBC’s case that it was justified in reporting as it did under its rights to freedom of expression and freedom of the press."

Sun's Tom Newton Dunn @tnewtondunn on Twitter: "Cliff Richard judgement is madness imho. V high profile celebrity - who has chased attention for 50 years - being investigated by police is always in the public interest. @BBCNews just doing its job."

Sunday Times' Tim Shipman @ShippersUnbound on Twitter: "The Cliff Richard ruling is an atrocity for a free media. The police chose to put the issue in the public domain in this way. Will dramatically restrict the freedom to report and in sex cases could prevent other victims coming forward. Absurd."

The Times [£] in a leader: "The judge implied that, even if the tone of the BBC’s coverage had been more sober, the very act of publishing Sir Cliff’s name might have been a breach of his right to privacy that exposed the BBC to a claim for damages. If the courts began to adopt this approach more widely it would be a serious affront to public interest journalism. Identifying suspects in the media can be crucial to building a prosecution case as it can prompt other victims to come forward. The broadcaster Stuart Hall, for instance, might never have been brought to justice for multiple counts of sexual assault on underage girls unless he had been identified in the media, prompting ten women to come forward and give evidence. It is also fundamental to a democracy that the press is able to report on the activities of the police, endowed as they are with the coercive power of the state."

The Guardian in a leader: "As news organisations, it is our job to tell people what is going on. That is why journalists from the BBC to the Sun have mounted such an unusual display of unity in their horrified reaction to this ruling. The idea that the activities of the police could be placed off limits to reporters is anathema."

Society of Editors' s executive director Ian Murray in a statement: “The ruling to make it unlawful that anyone under investigation can be named is a major step and one that has worrying consequences for press freedom and the public’s right to know. While the judge, Mr Justice Mann, made it plain that the court felt the BBC’s coverage of the police raid on Sir Cliff’s home was sensational, and the BBC have admitted they have lessons to learn and have apologised to the star for the distress he has been through, to go as far as to make it unlawful that anyone under investigation can be named is extreme. Certainly, such a major change in the law should be debated in Parliament and not come into force following one case involving a high-profile celebrity."

BBC director of news and current affairs Fran Unsworth in a statement"On reflection there are things we would have done differently, however the judge has ruled that the very naming of Sir Cliff was unlawful...This impacts not just the BBC, but every media organisation.  This isn’t just about reporting on individuals. It means police investigations, and searches of people’s homes, could go unreported and unscrutinised. It will make it harder to scrutinise the conduct of the police and we fear it will undermine the wider principle of the public’s right to know. It will put decision-making in the hands of the police. We don’t believe this is compatible with liberty and press freedoms; something that has been at the heart of this country for generations. For all of these reasons, there is a significant principle at stake. That is why the BBC is looking at an appeal."

Ex-Sun editor David Yealland @davidyelland on Twitter: "Trump takes a wrecking ball to British Sovereignty and is cheered to the rafters by The Sun. Sad day. The man is a racist, sexist, cruel, awful, ignorant narcissist. I’m with the protestors."

Donald Trump asked about the Sun interview by BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg: “I didn’t criticise the prime minister. I have a lot of respect for the prime minister. Unfortunately, there was a story that was done which was generally fine but it didn’t put in what I said about the prime minister and I said tremendous things. Fortunately, we tend to record stories now so we have it for you if you'd like it. We record when we deal with reporters. It's called fake news.”

Kevin Maguire @Kevin_Maguire on Twitter: "Hate The Sun if you like but outrageous of Trump to claim the reporting of what he said was “Fake News”. The paper reported his comments responsibly, as the recording proves."
Janine Gibson  @janinegibson on Twitter: "I’ve honestly not seen a press conference so fundamentally dishonest. He’s lied about an interview he did last night and a press conference he gave last year. Why should we believe anything at all? Turn the cameras off."

Trump, during his British press conference: "I don't take questions from CNN. Fake news. Let's go to John Roberts of Fox. A real network."

Pete Vernon in the Columbia Journalism Review: "Trump’s willingness to single out specific new organizations as “fake news,” and to refuse their questions on the world stage, demands action. This won’t be the last time the president attacks an outlet for the act of asking a question. By now, journalists should be prepared to respond."

David Aaronovitch @DAaronovitch on Twitter: "Now it’s the British media’s turn to have no idea how to report Donald Trump. Every one of whose claims needs basic fact-checking before reporting. Otherwise we mislead the readers, listeners and viewers."

Piers Morgan in the Mail on Sunday on his exclusive interview with Trump: "As I’ve previously found to my cost, if you engage him too aggressively in one exchange over one issue, the plug can get pulled very swiftly. So my Trump interview strategy, honed over at least 35 interviews with him over the years, has been to ask as many questions about as many issues as possible to get a wide range of responses. I think that’s particularly important now he’s President, where his opinions are obviously so important. Trump-haters will always scream blue murder that an interviewer doesn’t spend every second of his allotted time clubbing him over the head with a large hammer. But I prefer to engage with Trump and listen to him in our interviews rather than berate and abuse him."

Kaius Niemi editor-in-chief of Finland's Helsingin Sanomat newspaper, which welcomed the summit between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin with hundreds of billboards supporting the free press, as quoted by Press Gazette: “As we welcome the presidents to the summit in Finland, we want to remind them of the importance of free press. We want to show our support to those colleagues who have to fight in ever toughening circumstances on a daily basis both in the US and Russia. Our goal is to raise the topic of the freedom of the press around the world.”
  •  The billboards took headlines from Helsing Sanomat which included The headlines included “Trump calls media enemy of the people” and “Putin shuts down Russia’s largest news agency”. A large screen had the message: “Mr. President, welcome to the land of the free press”.

Roy Greenslade in the Guardian on how Trump has found favour in parts of the British press: "What counts in the UK is that Trump thumbs his nose at the EU, doesn’t see the point of Merkel and believes immigration to be the source of all troubles in advanced capitalist societies. The Donald is their new pin-up. He is a walking, talking tabloid leader writer. Short phrases. Pithy insults. A stranger to self-doubt. It’s not only about Brexit, of course. They see virtue in Trump’s belief that he, like them, affects to represent the common people through the application of pragmatic politics based on good, old-fashioned common sense."


Thursday 12 July 2018

Media Quotes of the Week: From Boris Johnson not a nice man says his former editor to Paul Dacre's tribute to 'print man' Peter Preston

Max Hastings in The Times [£] on Boris Johnson, who he employed at the Daily Telegraph: "It is a common mistake to suppose Johnson a nice man. In reality he often behaves unpleasantly. I myself have received some ugly letters from Johnson, threatening consequences for writing about him in terms that he thought unflattering...He seems to deserve every possible success as a journalist and entertainer. Should he ever achieve his towering ambition to become prime minister, however, a signal would go forth to the world that Britain had abandoned any residual aspiration to be viewed as a serious nation."

David Yelland @davidyelland on Twitter on Theresa May: "This is the first PM for a long, long, time to defy Sun and Mail. They have been out-manoeuvred. Rare. Dangerous. Interesting."

Patrick Wintour @patrickwintour on Twitter: "At Balkans summit Angela Merkel raised her eyebrows and gave out a thin smile when told by Theresa May she was not to answer questions from the British press, and only take a solitary question from a German reporter. One summit issue was media freedom in the Balkans."

John Cleese on BBC Newsnight who says he is leaving Britain for the Caribbean because of the way the country is run: "My particular beef is with the newspapers...It’s the lying and the triviality that I object to."

The Guardian in a leader: "Facebook has been fined five and a half minutes’ revenue – the most the law allows – for breach of data protection regulations in connection with the Cambridge Analytica scandal. This is a welcome recognition of the tireless work done by the Observer on the story. But it must only be the beginning of a wider examination of the ways in which big data shifts the balance of power in a democratic society."

Donald Trump at his Montana rally on journalists, as reported by Mediate: “I see the way they write. They’re so damn dishonest. And I don’t mean all of them. Because some of the finest people I know are journalists. Really. Hard to believe when I say that. I hate to say it but I have to say. But 75% of those people are downright dishonest. Downright dishonest.”

Josh Glancy interviewing Steve Bannon for the Sunday Times Magazine [£]:  "Talking to Bannon is a bit like having someone direct a leaf-blower into your face. He emits a torrent of insights and insults, some fascinating, some repellent, all delivered with mesmerising force and occasional charm. He curses at me, berates me for “not doing my homework” and insists I’m part of a mainstream media conspiracy to protect the “globalists” and “fascists” that “run the party of Davos”, as well as the “smug, arrogant” elites in Brussels and the City of London. Coming from anyone else I might take offence, but with Bannon it feels performative. Much like Trump, Bannon’s relationship with the media has always had an element of symbiotic pantomime. And it could be worse, at least I’m not from the FT. “The Financial Times are communists,” he says, shaking his head."

Sky Chief executive Jeremy Darroch in The Times [£] calls for the digital giants to face statutory controls: "A regulator must have sharp teeth, starting with strong information-gathering powers, the power to initiate enquiries and the ability to impose effective sanctions including the ability to fine for non-compliance...We expect even the smallest media companies to invest heavily in editorial and compliance such that every second of coverage meets the responsible standards that society through parliamentary regulation has laid down. It is simply wrong that some of the largest, most profitable companies on the planet should not be expected to meet, if not even exceed, the same level of responsibility."

The Times [£] in a leader: "As they have grown, traditional media companies such as The Times have submitted voluntarily to effective regulation by the Independent Press Standards Organisation. Facebook and Google might argue on this basis that they too should be left to regulate themselves, but they have tried, half-heartedly, and failed. Their policies for dealing with harmful content are not standardised as they need to be; nor are they subject to independent oversight. Newspapers, meanwhile, do not stand accused of enabling online bullying or profiting from the sale of advertising placed alongside extremist videos."

Shawn Crispin, of the Comittee to Protect Journalists in a statement , after a Myanmar court charged Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo under the Official Secrets Act: "This is a sad day for Myanmar's fledging democracy. This outrageous ruling affirms that politics rather than the law or evidence are what matters in this case. The only way to reverse the damage is to release Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo immediately."

Paul Dacre speaking at the memorial service for Peter Preston, as reported by Press Gazette: “I am told, in later years, he was, rightly, proud of the Guardian’s online achievements. Whether he was ever reconciled to the digital revolution though, I doubt. The reason, of course, was that he was quite simply, a print man. He loved that magical symbiosis of newsprint, pictures, headlines, fonts and beautiful words that at their best can make a paper a functioning part of society rather than a commentary at its edges. Inevitably, sadly, those Fleet Street skills needed for that magic symbiosis are dying in an internet age which seems to have a voracious need for free, somewhat crudely expressed, round-the-clock information and gratification. Yes, of course, journalism will survive and may, one day, flourish again. But it will be different. Whether it will, in future, have the creative beauty and sheer power of Peter’s Guardian, I don’t know. But I do know – and there’s no presumption here – that, for the sake of our industry’s collective memory, we should today salute a very great man of print.”

  • David Leigh @davidleighx on Twitter: "The Guardian lets its tummy be tickled by the Fritzl of Fleet St."


Thursday 5 July 2018

Media Quotes of the Week: From newspaper shooting fails to temper Trump attacks on press to 6,000 frontline UK journalists gone in 10 years

Capital Gazette reporter Phil Davis @PhilDavis_CG on Twitter: “There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you’re under your desk and then hear the gunman reload.”

David Simon @AoDespair on Twitter: "Two of my friends are dead in Annapolis and the US President only days earlier declared them to be operating as "enemies of the people." The climate is formed from such rancid shit; context is king. And regardless, are such words from the POTUS responsible, ethical? ...That there are unstable people with grievances against journalists is a given. That the US President has declared that journalists are "enemies of the people" creates a climate that can encourage violence is extremely relevant as a newsroom is shot to pieces. Leadership?"

Donald Trump @realDonaldTrump on Twitter Jul 3 "The Washington Post is constantly quoting “anonymous sources” that do not exist. Rarely do they use the name of anyone because there is no one to give them the kind of negative quote that they are looking for. They are a disgrace to journalism but then again, so are many others!"

Ben Fenton‏ @benfenton on Twitter: "If there is even a hint of a connection between the Annapolis murderer and alt-right/Trumpian hate speech against journalists, then there has to be an end to the President’s games. Any more of that rhetoric will be incitement to murder, pure and simple."

Kyle Pope in the Columbia Journalism Review: "Our focus this long two years has been on the big, high-profile news organizations that most occupy Trump’s obsessions and his Twitter feed. They are what we think about when we worry about threats to the press, and they have become stand-ins for those, inside the government and out, who rail against fake news. But what we missed is that for most Americans, the media is not some big-city skyscraper or national TV network with layers of security, where everybody needs a badge to get in. It’s our local newsroom down the street, staffed by professionals reporting on what matters most to people where they live. We’re reminded this week that in the war against the press, they may well be the journalists in America who are most at risk."

The Guardian in a leader: "Honest journalism is a vital part of any decent society. Fearless journalism is a sign, and a part of the defences, of any free society. The trade can be grubby and – perish the thought – self-important but it gives us a warped mirror of our flawed selves and what we all learn from it is more important than the flaws. This is particularly true of local journalism because the local papers write about their readers and not about half-mythical celebrities. They help communities to recognise themselves in their common humanity and, at their best, can help them to come together."

Eddie Mair @eddiemair  on Twitter on leaving the BBC to join LBC: "Thank you for all the kind words. I appreciate them. But there are journalists in the world who are being shot, jailed, held hostage or forced to work with @corrie_corfield. I’m only changing jobs. So please do something about them. (Not Corrie. She’s lovely. Mainly)."

Fintan O'Toole in The Observer: "Carole Cadwalladr has placed herself on the frontline in the fight to preserve open societies against rich, powerful and ruthless enemies. She has done so with the courage, skill, resilience and undaunted optimism of one who believes that fight can and must be won."

Camilla Long in the Sunday Times [£] reviewing the documentary Reporting Trump’s First Year — The Fourth Estate about the New York Times: "If you are a journalist, you dream of television like this, of the camera hotly panning over some late-night conference as dishevelled hacks rush towards a scoop. The curse of print journalists is that they have all the urges and desires of TV stars, but rarely work in front of the camera. By “rarely work”, of course, I mean “are hideous” — we are a dismal phylum of pasty, anxious, shrivelled, crusty-socked, nose-picking lemurs and gargoyles."

Carrie Gracie after winning her fight for equal pay with the BBC, as reported by BBC News: "In acknowledging the value of my work as China editor, the BBC has awarded me several years of backdated pay. But for me this was always about the principle and not about the money, so I'm giving all of that money away to help women who need it more than I do. After all, today at the BBC I can say I am equal.'

From OECDONTHELEVEL: "Sparse court lists are just one of the problems undermining the openness and transparency of the court system. The inaccessibility of court documents is another. A UK journalist can more easily access court documents from any federal court in the United States than from the Royal Courts of Justice in London, which houses many of England’s most senior judges."

From the Society of Editors: "Research, conducted by Mediatique, has found that circulation and print advertising revenues have dropped by more than half over the last decade, from nearly £7 billion to just over £3 billion. Over the same time, the number of frontline print journalists has dropped by over 25% - from around 23,000 in 2007 to 17,000 in 2017."

 [£] =paywall