Thursday 26 September 2019

Media Quotes of the Week: From Guardian's shame over Cameron 'privileged pain' leader to anti-press term 'fake news' has spread worldwide

Guardian readers' editor Paul Chadwick in his Open Door column on the complaints over the Guardian editorial asserting David Cameron only suffered "privileged pain" over the death of his son: "It can only ever be a feeling, not amenable to proof or measurement, but this past week in the office I sensed a kind of vicariously shared shame. Unsigned and badged with the masthead, as is usual for editorials in most papers, the piece had appeared to be the considered view of the institution. That magnified the damage compared with the harm that might result from a serious misjudgment by, say, a bylined columnist or a cartoonist."

Guardian editor-in-chief Katherine Viner quoted by Chadwick: “I am personally completely devastated that it was ever published in any form in the Guardian, and that we caused distress to so many people.”

David Yelland @David Yelland on Twitter: "Dick Emery died in 1983. Is this really the best The Sun backbench could come up with on a day like today?"

Robert Peston @Peston on Twitter: "If you are under 40 and you understand this reference, do let me know."

David Yelland @David Yelland on Twitter: "Of all the “Brexit editors” the most nuanced and intelligent is Geordie Greig at Mail. Here he treats Judges fairly and he ran Peter Oborne too today. Kudos to him but wish he’d back a 2nd referendum as he could change history.....maybe.... you never know...."

John Humphrys, presenting the Today programme for the last time after 32 years, on the BBC: “There’s a lot wrong with it as an organisation, there’s a lot wrong with every organisation, and it’s facing a lot of challenges from social media and changing behaviours. But I believe we need the BBC as much now as we ever have done, I simply can’t imagine this country without it - it is an unthinkable thought...Today matters for tomorrow. And if that’s a rather corny way to end my years on the programme well so be it. And that’s it from me.”

John Humphrys in the Daily Mail on the BBC after the EU referendum: "Leave had won – and this was not what the BBC had expected. Nor what it wanted.Their expressions were as grim as the look on the face of a football supporter when his team’s star player misses the penalty that would have won them the cup. Bosses, almost to a man and woman, could simply not grasp how anyone could have put a cross in the Leave box on the referendum ballot paper. I’m not sure the BBC as a whole ever quite had a real grasp of what was going on in Europe, or of what people in this country thought about it.’

Ben Judah in The Atlantic: "To her fans, Cadwalladr is an icon—a brave, irreverent, truth-seeking missile, exposing a nexus of corruption that is subverting our body politic, not only the Woodward and Bernstein of Brexit, but also its Emmeline Pankhurst, tirelessly campaigning for what she sees as a just outcome. But to her opponents, she is something else: a hysterical middle-aged conspiracy theorist, someone who pushed her stories beyond what the facts supported and who was willing to legally threaten journalists she was working with to get her way—or, in the words of the BBC journalist Andrew Neil, a “mad cat woman.”

Huff Post's political editor Paul Waugh @paulwaugh on Twitter on Monday: "Just worked out that if the statutory 32-hour week applied to my coverage of #LabourConference2019, I would have clocked off around 8.30am today."

New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger in a comment: "In attacking American media, President Trump has done more than undermine his own citizens’ faith in the news organizations attempting to hold him accountable. He has effectively given foreign leaders permission to do the same with their countries’ journalists, and even given them the vocabulary with which to do it. They’ve eagerly embraced the approach. My colleagues and I recently researched the spread of the phrase 'fake news,' and what we found is deeply alarming: In the past few years, more than 50 prime ministers, presidents and other government leaders across five continents have used the term 'fake news' to justify varying levels of anti-press activity."

Tuesday 24 September 2019

Global Conference for Media Freedom: Will fine words turn into action to protect journalists?

Picture of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi dominates speakers
at the Global Conference for Media Freedom 

Two men dominated the Global Conference for Media Freedom in London this summer even though they weren't there. Jamal Khashoggi and Donald Trump.

Khashoggi, the US-based Washington Post columnist, murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, symbolises the way most killers of journalists act with impunity. The conference was told that in 90 per cent of cases, the killers of journalists are never bought to justice.

Trump was roundly criticised for his anti-press attacks. His use of “fake news” and description of journalists as “enemies of the people” were seen to undermine liberal democracy and encourage populists and authoritarian leaders.

One man who was there and a major supporter of the conference was Jeremy Hunt, who was out as Foreign Secretary within weeks after losing the Tory leadership battle to Boris Johnson and refusing to be reshuffled.
  • You can read my conference report here in the latest edition of InPublishing.

Thursday 19 September 2019

Media Quotes of the Week: From Ben Stokes blasts Sun for 'lowest form of journalism' to how the local press rattled Boris Johnson at press conference

Ben Stokes @benStokes38 on Twitter: "Today the Sun has seen fit to publish extremely painful, sensitive and personal details concerning events in the private lives of my family, going back more than 31 years. It is hard to find words that adequately describe such low and despicable behaviour, disguised as journalism. I cannot conceive of anything more immoral, heartless or contemptuous to the feelings and circumstances of my family...This is the lowest form of journalism, focussed only on chasing sales with absolutely no regard for the devastation caused to lives as a consequence. It is totally out of order. The article also contains serious inaccuracies which has compounded the damage caused. We need to take a serious look at how we allow our press to behave."

Yorkshire Post editor James Mitchinson @JayMitchinson on Twitter: "My profession - the profession I love - has purportedly cleaned up its act. I am afraid that today I see lurking among us the spirits of those heinous human beings who hacked into the phone of poor Milly Dowler."

Former Sun editor David Yelland @davidyelland on Twitter: "I’m afraid The Sun has become pointlessly cruel and callous in recent years. We all make mistakes but the Ben Stokes story is contemptuous. My sympathies to Ben’s family, particularly his parents."

The Sun in a statement, reported by BBC News"The Sun has the utmost sympathy for Ben Stokes and his mother but it is only right to point out the story was told with the co-operation of a family member who supplied details, provided photographs and posed for pictures. The tragedy is also a matter of public record and was the subject of extensive front page publicity in New Zealand at the time. The Sun has huge admiration for Ben Stokes and we were delighted to celebrate his sporting heroics this summer. He was contacted prior to publication and at no stage did he or his representatives ask us not to publish the story."

Ian Birrell in The Sun on the Guardian's editorial which said David Cameron suffered only "privileged pain" over the death of his six-year-old boy: "Such a despicable diatribe was a betrayal of its stance as the leading voice of liberal values that showed how the holier-than-thou paper is snared in the Brexit-fuelled fury seen on all sides that is so devastating our nation. Yet its publication in such a prominent place, which as a former deputy editor I know would have gone through several more hands first, reveals a wider culture and arrogance that infects too many minds on the Left."

Guardian apology for the Cameron editorial, as reported by BBC News: "The original version of an editorial posted online yesterday fell far short of our standards. It was changed significantly within two hours, and we apologise completely."

David Cameron in the Sunday Times [£] on the EU referendum campaign: "Almost the biggest problem I had was with the BBC. I felt it had lost its way in understanding the difference between balance and impartiality. The result was the voices of thousands of businesses arguing for remain given equal treatment to just a few prominent businesses coming out for leave. There were thousands of remain economists and a tiny number of Brexiteers, yet the BBC gave the latter the same weight as Nobel laureates."

Meryl Streep, as reported by ET Canada: “We see enough examples of braggadocio and bravado strutting around on the public stage. True bravery is Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, blown up in her car for reporting on the Panama Papers. I applaud and revere our female journalists — I love them, and their equally undaunted brothers. We need to protect, defend and thank the current crop of journalists around the world because they, their scruples and their principles are the front-line defences of free and informed people. We need the brave ones out front picking through the field ahead of us for landmines so we don’t step on one, or elect one.”

Douglas McCabe, chief executive of Enders Analysis, on the magazine industry in the Guardian: “There is a crisis in the industry. Given how much circulation has fallen there really haven’t been as many outright closures as you’d think. Some publishers are just hanging on. We would expect to see more closures in the next five years than the previous five. There is social media, Instagram, Mail Online. So why go out and buy a magazine, even a strong brand, when you can get updates every second? And that’s without the wider fight for consumers’ attention from services such as YouTube and even Netflix.”

Factchecheckers Full Fact on Twitter on Conservative Party ads on spending on schools: "The ads make it appear that the BBC endorsed the £14bn figure, when in fact they criticised it. The BBC told us that the headline on the article has never changed and so has never referred to the £14’s inappropriate for political parties, or any public body, to misrepresent the work of independent journalists in this way."

Roy Greenslade in the Guardian on the Impartial Reporter's investigation into historic child abuse: "There cannot be a better reason to celebrate the existence of a newspaper than its championing of journalism’s central tenets: to expose crime, to inform and to hold power to account."

Jennifer Williams @JenWilliamsMEN on Twitter at the Prime Minister's press conference on his visit to the North of England: "Mmm. Rattled by a q from the Rotherham Advertiser about an interview in which he apparently said police were ‘spaffing money up the wall’ on historic CSE investigations. Go local press."

  • The Mirror reports: "The MEN's Jen Williams asked the PM about his Towns Fund "most of them are marginal seats that the Conservatives either need to win from Labour or need to defend from the Liberal Democrats including the most marginal seats in the country." She asked: "Are you trying to buy votes using that fund?" Boris Johnson accused the journalist of "pure cynicism" at which the audience erupted into laughter."
 [£] =paywall

Thursday 12 September 2019

Media Quotes of the Week: From any journalists up for a chlorinated chicken freebie to the US? to Murdoch papers fired both Boycott and Johnson

BuzzFeed News reports: "The Trump administration has offered up to £75,000 for an organisation to take “influential” British journalists on a tour of American farms to influence narratives around the country’s food standards, specifically the vexed issue of “chlorinated chicken”. Anticipating negative coverage around a US-UK free trade deal after Brexit, the US embassy in London put out a tender in July under the catchy title: 'Countering Negative And Poorly Informed Reporting about US Agricultural Practices and Consumer Choice'.”

Lindsey Hilsum @lindseyhilsum on Twitter: "Replying to @BuzzFeedUK As a vegetarian, I guess I’d have to ask for ‘just the chlorine thanks’."

Roy Greenslade @GreensladeR on Twitter: "Is THIS the least believable newspaper in Britain? Floppy @TheSun speaks with two voices. The paper's English audience is encouraged to dislike Corbyn while its Scottish audience is encouraged to dislike Johnson. Where does the hypocritical Sun stand? Where sales can be maximised."

Niall Ferguson in the Sunday Times [£]: “ 'Blow for Bojo as bro Jo go goes',” was the London Evening Standard’s headline, which suggests that the chief sub-editor has been reading Dr Seuss’s Fox in Socks to the kids at bedtime."

Nick Robinson in the Sunday Times [£] on claims Dominic Cummings never listens to the Today programme: “I have no bloody idea if he listens to Today or the shipping forecast or Classic FM. But the underlying point that therefore Today’s irrelevant is nonsense and indeed all the people he works with then texted me to say so. It would matter if Downing Street, or indeed Jeremy Corbyn’s office, said, ‘You don’t matter any more’ but they don’t. I know because I’m always getting messages from both at 6am with their reactions to what’s going on and because we get lots of senior folk on the show."

SKY News correspondent Adam Parsons @adamparsons on Twitter: "Once doorstepped Mugabe in Harare. Politely asked him a question. He laughed at it - or maybe he laughed at me - didn’t answer and his bodyguard whacked me in the stomach...The question was 'what's your message for Tony Blair and the British government?' Maybe the punch was actually his answer..."

John Simpson @JohnSimpsonNews on Twitter: "Broadcasting all morning about Robert Mugabe. Having visited Matabeleland after his forces, backed up by the North Korean army, murdered 20,000 of his political opponents, and spent time 11 years ago reporting on the collapsing economy, I find it hard to be too positive."

The Foreign Affairs Select Committee in a report on the Foreign Office's media freedom campaign: "Currently, there are concerns that the FCO has allocated too few resources, given too little detail about how it will fulfil its campaign, and taken too passing an interest in how to make it sustainable. There is anxiety that this vital initiative by the FCO risks becoming a disappointment. The FCO must now move beyond the rhetoric to demonstrate impact in defending media freedom."

TI Media chief executive Marcus Rich in a statement on Marie Clare abandoning print after 31 years and going digital only in the UK, as reported by Press Gazette: “For more than three decades, Marie Claire UK has led the conversation on the issues that really matter to women – from campaigning for women’s empowerment to climate change – while providing a premium fashion and beauty positioning that reflects their everyday lives. With full focus on our digital platforms, we will be future-proofing our ability to report on these vital and engaging subjects."

David Yelland @davidyelland on Twitter: "Boycott was sacked by The Sun, Johnson was sacked by The Times, one over abuse, one over lies. Rupert Murdoch’s papers deserve credit for their ethics in both cases. These are the facts."


Thursday 5 September 2019

Media Quotes of the Week: From lies, hypotheticals and making things up to the woman whose scoop on the outbreak of World War Two no-one believed

Peter Oborne in the Daily Mail: "Last Sunday, a newspaper reported that the Government was considering proroguing Parliament. Respected BBC correspondent Iain Watson asked Downing Street whether this was true and was told: ‘The claim that the Government is considering proroguing Parliament in September in order to stop MPs debating Brexit is entirely false.’ And yet, on Wednesday, the Government did announce the proroguing of Parliament. For good measure, Cabinet minister Michael Gove said the suspension was ‘certainly not’ a political move to undermine those MPs opposed to Brexit. No wonder critics cried foul."

New White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham asked by the Washington Post if Donald Trump lies: “I don’t think they’re lies . . . I think the president communicates in a way that some people, especially the media, aren’t necessarily comfortable with. A lot of times they take him so literally. I know people will roll their eyes if I say he was just kidding or was speaking in hypotheticals, but sometimes he is. What I’ve learned about him is that he loves this country and he’s not going to lie to this country.”

Donald Trump @realDonaldTrump on Twitter: "There has never been a time in the history of our Country that the Media was so Fraudulent, Fake, or Corrupt! When the “Age of Trump” is looked back on many years from now, I only hope that a big part of my legacy will be the exposing of massive dishonesty in the Fake News!"

Fourth Estate @FourthEstateOrg on Twitter: "Every dictator is an enemy of freedom of the press, an opponent of the facts."

Robert Harris in the Sunday Times [£] on Boris Johnson's journalism: “He came and interviewed me. We had a very pleasant time. When the article appeared, he had manifestly made up a quote about me. He wrote, ‘His friends all call him Moneybags’ and this was in the headline of the piece. I said to him afterwards, ‘Who are these friends?’ He said, ‘I made that up actually!’ I’ve done a lot of interviews but I’ve never had a journalist cheerfully admit that they made something up.”

Judge Mark Dennis QC ruling that journalists from The Times, Sky News, BBC and ITN should not be compelled to hand over their notes and film of interviews with Isis bride Shamima Begum to counter-terrorism investigators, as reported by the Guardian“There is no doubt that the initial Times newspaper report was a commendable piece of investigative journalism and represents a significant public interest story which has opened up an important issue for public debate. Such journalistic investigation is to be encouraged, however, the work of investigative journalists in particular does rely upon trust, confidentiality, protection of journalistic material and sources, their perceived neutrality, and the co-operation of people who are prepared to place their trust in journalists.”

The Times [£] in a leader: "Journalists have no wish to obstruct police investigations or interfere with justice. Working out how to proceed against Ms Begum and other Isis recruits as and when they return to Britain is a tricky task. At the moment, however, the prospect of such a return is remote. The judge correctly decided that our duty to report matters in the public interest outweighs the potential value of any information the police may derive at this stage in their investigation from scrutiny of material [Anthony] Loyd has gathered. That material will be preserved against future developments in the case. In the meantime, the police should do their job as we will continue to do ours."

Peter Geoghegan @PeterKGeoghegan on Twitter: "Orange order accused of covering up child abuse in Fermanagh. Yet another really strong @rodneyedwards story. If you’re not following his first class work investigating an epidemic of child abuse across his county you should. Why local papers can still matter so much."

Ian Acheson @NotThatBigIan on Twitter:"Who says local journalism is dead? @impartialrep my birthplace newspaper is ripping the lid of widespread historic sexual abuse through patient, dogged investigation. Finally, police involved."

John Simpson @JohnSimpsonNews on Twitter: "80 years ago today my dear friend Clare Hollingsworth, on her first real story for the Daily Telegraph, sat in her hotel room & watched the German tanks crossing into Poland — & neither her boss, nor her foreign desk, nor the British (or any other) embassy would believe her."