Thursday 25 July 2019

Media Quotes of the Week: From ministers warned of legal threats to silence Carole Cadwalladr to why PM Boris Johnson chose politics over journalism

Open letter sent to the UK foreign and culture secretaries from press freedom campaigners, as reported by the Observer: "Following the recent global conference on media freedom held in London by the UK government, we write to draw your attention to what appears to be a growing trend to use strategic litigation against public participation (“SLAPP”) lawsuits as a means of intimidating and silencing journalists working in the public interest. Such legal threats are designed to inhibit ongoing investigations, and prevent legitimate public interest reporting. Abuse of defamation law, including through SLAPP lawsuits, has become a serious threat to press freedom and advocacy rights in a number of countries, including the UK."

The letter adds: "Numerous legal and online threats have been made against Carole Cadwalladr, whose journalism for the Observer and a range of other publications has stimulated a global debate about the power of online platforms to influence the behaviour of citizens, and raised important questions about the regulation of digital technology. The legal claim against Ms Cadwalladr, issued on 12 July by lawyers acting for Arron Banks, is another example of a wealthy individual appearing to abuse the law in an attempt to silence a journalist and distract from these issues being discussed by politicians, the media and the public at a critical time in the life of our democracy."

Observer editor Paul Webster in the Observer on Carole Cadwalladr: "Throughout her investigations she has been the target of a relentless campaign of smears and vilification by some of the subjects of her inquiries. The latest legal threats are a further attempt to smother vital investigative reporting.”

Steven Edginton in the Mail on Sunday stating he received the leak of ambassador Sir Kim Darroch's cables on the Trump administration: "Today I want to set the record straight and reveal the real story about how Sir Kim's diplomatic cables entered the public domain. I am sorry to disappoint the conspiracy theorists but this was not a Brexiteer plot to topple Sir Kim, nor was it some devilish scheme to torpedo the independence of the Civil Service by installing a political appointee in Washington. Instead, it was simply an honest journalistic endeavour...I worked first as a video journalist for a political website called Westmonster before stints as a digital strategist at the Taxpayers' Alliance and Leave Means Leave campaign. Since April, I have worked for the Brexit Party, helping run its social media feeds. I appreciate that my CV – and my pro-Brexit views – will inevitably fuel the conspiracy theories but I want to be absolutely clear: the leak of Sir Kim's cables had absolutely nothing to do with the Brexit Party."

Jon Sopel @BBCJonSopel on Twitter: "I’m sorry. I just don’t buy this. This account begs far more questions than it answers."

Lionel Barber @lionelbarber on Twitter: "The plot thickens.....but the idea that a 19 year old cub reporter was primarily responsible for the Darroch leak defies belief. After all, this involved a trove of diplomatic cables not a snatched telephone conversation about Ambo views on Trump!"

The NUJ in a statement on possible sale of former Johnston Press newspapers to Reach: “If parts of JPI Media are sold to Reach there will be an adverse impact on the market and those employed within it. A takeover of this kind would limit the scope for future jobs in the entire sector. Any deal that includes JPI Media’s flagship regional titles would lead to the market being dominated by just two companies - Reach and Newsquest. Both organisations have been relentless in reducing original content and the provision of local professional journalism. The union is concerned that decisions on editorial policy and news gathering and practice will be concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer people and so we are calling on parliamentarians to investigate the lack of media plurality in Britain."

The Guardian reports: "Claims by Boris Johnson that regulations imposed by 'Brussels bureaucrats' were damaging the trade in kippers have been debunked by the European Commission, which said that the food safety obligations criticised by him were due to rules set by Britain."

Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies, chair of the European Parliament's fisheries committee, quoted in the Mirror: "Boris Johnson made his career as a journalist by writing stories about the EU that bore no relation to the truth.His latest fishy tale may have gone down well with Tory party members, but it sends the strongest possible message to Britain's European partners."

Alan Rusbridger @arusbridger on Twitter: "Truly Orwellian. A complete fiction about a kipper. Followed by a promise to 'restore trust in politics'. "

David Yelland @davidyelland on Twitter: "Boris Johnson built a career on lying about Brussels and he’s still at it."

Jim Pickard @PickardJE on Twitter: "Boris Johnson once told a colleague of mine he wanted to enter politics because 'no one puts up statues to journalists', that pretty much sums it up."

Thursday 18 July 2019

Media Quotes of the Week: From it's up to editors to decide what leaks to publish not the police to newsroom jobs in US down a quarter in 10 years

Met Police assistant Commissioner Neil Basu in a statement“The publication of leaked communications, knowing the damage they have caused or are likely to cause may also be a criminal matter. I would advise all owners, editors and publishers of social and mainstream media not to publish leaked government documents that may already be in their possession, or which may be offered to them, and to turn them over to the police or give them back to their rightful owner, Her Majesty’s Government.”

The Mail on Sunday in a leader: "There can be no serious argument, in a free democracy, that the act of helping the people to be better informed should be a matter for the police, who after all keep telling us that they already have too much to do and too few staff with which to do it. It is absurd, if not actually ridiculous, that a truthful and accurate leak of significant material, enabling the voters of this country to be better informed and to make better choices, should be met in Whitehall and in Scotland Yard by threats of arrest and prosecution."

David Davis in a letter to The Times [£]: "Any competent senior police officer should have been aware that only a matter of weeks ago the lord chief justice of Northern Ireland struck down the search warrants and, implicitly, the case against two journalists arrested for receiving stolen property and breaching the Official Secrets Act. Their “crime” was broadcasting a leaked document detailing the scandalous failure by police to solve a UVF murder in Loughinisland 25 years ago. Had the lord chief justice not struck down the case, investigative journalism in the UK would have been crippled. The action should have telegraphed to senior police officers like Mr Basu that prosecuting journalists for embarrassing the state is not what we do in the UK."

Jeremy Hunt @Jeremy_Hunt on Twitter: "These leaks damaged UK/US relations & cost a loyal ambassador his job so the person responsible MUST be held fully to account. But I defend to the hilt the right of the press to publish those leaks if they receive them & judge them to be in the public interest: that is their job."

The Times [£] in a leader: "Fortunately, both the candidates for the leadership of the Conservative Party have stressed that freedom of the press is paramount. It would have been even more reassuring had the leader of the opposition come out in defence of the media’s duty to speak truth to power. Instead, Jeremy Corbyn has been focusing his energies on denouncing a BBC investigation into antisemitism within the Labour Party, aiming his fire as usual at the messenger and not the message."

The Sunday Times [£] in a leader on Neil Basu: "The decision on what to publish, as he must surely know, is a matter for editors, not for the police. We have not fought the cause of press freedom for centuries to plod our way into a police state."

Mark Di Stefano on BuzzzFeedNews: "A US sports website that wants to dominate the British football market has made a series of high-profile new signings, including an award-winning Guardian football writer and a BBC reporter with a massive following among London football fans.The incredible hiring spree has been described as "setting off a bomb" in the industry. BuzzFeed News has learned that the Athletic's latest hires are the Guardian’s chief football writer Daniel Taylor and the BBC’s top football correspondent David Ornstein."

Lionel Barber @lionelbarber on Twitter about Arron Banks suing Carole Cadwalladr: "Suing an individual - rather than an organisation -for libel is indeed a very important distinction. Clearly intended to muzzle @carolecadwalla who bust open the Cambridge Analytica scandal and is fearlessly pursuing questions about foreign money influence in Brexit referendum."

Alan Rusbridger @arusbridger on Twitter: "Stout defences on Twitter etc of attacks on journalism in relation to BBC Panorama and Mail on Sunday. I hope people will be equally watchful of the use of money & libel laws to silence the reporting of @carolecadwalla"

Dominic Lawson in the Sunday Times [£]: "While British Jews are understandably concerned about the prospects of a Corbyn-led government, the BBC should also feel a chill. The Labour leader has already indicated that there will be a reckoning for those in the media he perceives as enemies. When the press ran with a story suggesting he had been a Czech intelligence service asset in the Cold War, he put out a video in which he warned the “media barons” that “change is coming”. I presume he meant some form of statutory control."

John Ware in the Observer on the Labour party's complaints about his Panorama programme about anti-semitism: “The Labour Party reaction last week did not terribly surprise me. But this is not the straight-talking party that Corbyn promised. This is an Arthur Daley version of Alastair Campbell’s spin.”

Matthew Parris in The Times [£] on fellow newspaper columnist Boris Johnson: "Brexit has become columnist-Johnson’s new and biggest idea: his easily grasped, all-singing, all-dancing and shrewdly voter-motivating grand project. Detail be damned: he will stick to it — until he doesn’t. He will pursue this pet project with all the clarity and force that a maestro of Fleet Street commentary can command. And if it falls, he will desert it with all the caprice that courses through a columnist’s veins. Boris never forgets that today’s column lines the bottom of tomorrow’s budgie cage."

Elizabeth Grieco at Pew Research Centre: "From 2008 to 2018, newsroom employment in the U.S. dropped by 25%. In 2008, about 114,000 newsroom employees – reporters, editors, photographers and videographers – worked in five industries that produce news: newspaper, radio, broadcast television, cable and “other information services” (the best match for digital-native news publishers). By 2018, that number had declined to about 86,000, a loss of about 28,000 jobs."

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Friday 12 July 2019

Media Quotes of the Week: From contempt for Tommy Robinson's claim he was jailed for journalism to Amal Clooney blames Trump's anti-press rhetoric for media freedom decline

Society of Editors executive director Ian Murray in a statement after the jailing of Tommy Robinson for contempt of court: “While anyone can claim to be a journalist in this country, and there is no appetite nor should there be for the licensing of journalists in the UK, the mainstream British media adheres to the laws of the land, is correctly regulated and ensures its journalists are highly trained. I am not aware that Robinson has any formal training as a journalist, and to claim his trial and sentencing is an attack on journalism itself is a farce.”

The Sun in a leader: "STEPHEN Yaxley-Lennon isn’t a journalist. He’s a thug, an extremist, and he nearly collapsed a grooming gang trial. A freedom fighter, a free speech campaigner? Rubbish. He’s a grandstanding idiot who stirs up anti-Muslim hatred in the sewers of social media. As for his commitment to reporting, after he was sent down yesterday his supporters attacked reporters."

Sean O'Neill in The Times [£]:  "One of the British establishment’s richest and most powerful figures has been granted wide-ranging secrecy orders preventing The Times from revealing him as the man who faced accusations of serious sexual harassment and assault in an employment case. The multimillionaire businessman, who The Times is referring to as Mr X, agreed large financial settlements with two women before their allegations were due to be heard at an employment tribunal. The settlement required the women to withdraw their claims of sexual harassment and discrimination and sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) preventing them from discussing their allegations against the businessman in public."

The Times [£] in a leader: "The law is supposed to protect whistleblowers and it can be legal to break an NDA where doing so is in the “public interest”. In reality, many cases fall into difficult grey areas. Even in clear-cut cases of public interest disclosure, where the courts would not dream of enforcing a gagging clause, employees can feel that they have no choice but to keep quiet. Often they lack access to legal advice and so heed bogus warnings in stiffly drafted letters from their employers’ lawyers."

Nick Cohen on Twitter @NickCohen4 on Momentum's 'open letter' to BBC protesting at Panorama: "This is truly sinister. Labour propagandists smear a journalist before they have seen his work. Imagine what they would be like in power. Imagine what they would be like when they have the full force of the police and security services at their disposal."

Alan Rusbridger @arusbridger on Twitter: "Times fires Johnson for lying in copy. And then endorses him as Prime Minister. Funny old trade."

Heather Mills after she and and 90 others reached a legal settlement over phone hacking with News of the World publisher News Group Newspapers, as reported by SKY News: "My motivation to win this decade-long fight stemmed from a desire to obtain justice, not only for my family, my charities and myself, but for the thousands of innocent members of the public who, like me, have suffered similar ignominious, criminal treatment at the hands of one of the world's most powerful media groups."

Simon Jenkins in the Guardian: "[Cliff] Richard and [Paul] Gambaccini are not arguing for an end to anonymity, only for pre-charge anonymity for the accused. The victims of the present injustice are not just VIPs, though they too are entitled to equity at law. Victims have included doctors, executives, the clergy, many ordinary people who have found their name stained, and lost their jobs and families. The ever-expanding legal realm of hate speech and causing offence accepts that words can hurt and harm. Reputations are as precious as heads, arms, legs and property. But the feeding frenzy of the internet is terrifying enough already without being fed by the British justice system. Pre-charge anonymity is a sound principle, one that parliament should now uphold."

Amal Clooney, UK special envoy on media freedom, at the Global Conference for Media Freedom in London, as reported by Press Gazette“The global decline in press freedom has been hastened by rhetoric from the leader of the world’s most powerful democracy and it will not be reversed without strong leadership from others.”


Thursday 4 July 2019

Media Quotes of the Week: From outrage as Trump jokes with Putin about getting rid of journalists to please don't scan our magazines - buy them!

Bloomberg White House reporter Jennifer Jacobs  @JenniferJJacobs on Twitter at the Osaka Summit: "Trump also bonded with Putin over a scorn for journalists. 'Get rid of them. Fake news is a great term, isn't it? You don’t have this problem in Russia, but we do.' 'We also have,' Putin answered, in English. 'It’s the same.' They shared a chuckle."

Brian Klaas @brianklaas on Twitter: "This is disgusting. Putin’s regime has murdered many, many journalists. And the President of the United States is joking about abusing the press with Russia’s despot, who likely ordered some of those killings."

Andrew Neil @afneil on Twitter: "Trump sitting with Putin calls journalists he doesn’t agree with ‘fake news’. You don’t have that problem, he tells Putin. He’s right. Journalists who cross Putin are killed or disappeared or jailed. Disgraceful statement by a US President."

Margaret Sullivan in the Washington Post: "Trump is joking with a foreign adversary about two of the most basic elements of American democracy: voting integrity and the role of free press. And he has the gall to accuse the press of treason? Those who call themselves Americans should be disgusted by what Trump did in Osaka."

The Labour Party in a statement, reported by ITV News: "These Times stories are a series of false, fabricated and absurd allegations hiding behind anonymous sources with a transparently political agenda. For any senior civil servant to falsely claim the leader of the opposition is ill, frail or forgetful, is a disgrace and a clear political intervention. In a democracy, the people decide who is prime minister."

Michael Crick in the Sunday Times [£] on similarities between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn: "Where most politicians are hugely dependent on the mainstream media and would be lost without it, Corbyn managed to become Labour leader, and stay there, without it. Johnson, until recently, had been doing his best to avoid press conferences and broadcast interviews. Yet both men have been professional journalists. Like Winston Churchill before him, Johnson is one of the highest-paid columnists of his age. Corbyn’s career as a journalist was rather more modest. He began adult life on the Newport and Market Drayton Advertiser in Shropshire, covering weddings and funerals — 20 years or so before Johnson became a trainee reporter on the Wolverhampton Express & Star."

Ex-Telegraph owner Lord Conrad Black on Max Hastings and Boris Johnson in the Spectator"Boris’s peccadilloes were more absurd, complicated and over-publicised than the shambles of the personal lives of other journalists. But his editorial opinions were sensible and consistent. His schtick grew tiresome, like an over-familiar vaudeville act, but he was at all times a person of goodwill and his foibles were deployed to the benefit of the enterprise. He had his lapses, but he was capable, successful and reliable when it counted, and he is, as he appears, a pleasant man. Max is an ill-tempered snob with a short attention span. He has his talents, but it pains me to report that when seriously tested, he was a coward and a flake. I think Boris will be fine."

Marina Hyde in the Guardian"Why are we getting journalists to run anything? What’s the rationale – that now they’ve torched their own industry, they should be allowed a go on the country? If the past couple of decades have shown us anything, it’s that journalists shouldn’t really have been in charge of even the journalism business. It is far from a coincidence that two of the leading architects of Brexit – Michael Gove and Johnson – were both journalists. Is it in any way surprising to find that the UK is very drunk and has already missed two deadlines?"

The Times [£] in a leader on the Government white paper on internet harm: "As things stand, all media outlets with space for user comments could be considered platforms under the proposals. That could include sites like that of The Times, which may find itself under pressure to quieten or kill the often lively debates that take place under articles online. The government says that it will not regulate where press regulation is already in place. But it must be clearer about how it will fulfil such a promise given the wording of the white paper."

Q magazine editor Ted Kessler @TedKessler1 on Twitter: "I politely implore the @florencemachine fanclubs to take down the @QMagazine cover story. Posting it online the day it’s in the shops will put us out business, halting this kind of twelve page feature on your favourite artist. Everyone deserves paying for their work."

Empire magazine editor-in-chief Terri White @Terri_White on Twitter: "We have people scanning in massive chunks of @empiremagazine every month to share in fan communities. The *real* service of fans is in allowing magazines like @empiremagazine and @QMagazine to continue to exist."More
Private Eye @PrivateEyeNews on Twitter: "This is just as true of Private Eye. Encouraging your followers to buy a copy and help fund the sort of journalism we do (and pay cartoonists!) is great; photographing whole chunks and giving them away for free when we've only just gone on sale really isn't."

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