Thursday 31 December 2020

Media Quotes of the Week: From 2020 round-up of the journalists jailed and murdered worldwide to xenophobic headlines won't go away after Brexit

Reporters Without Borders in its round-up of journalists detained, held hostage and missing around the world:
 "The number of detained journalists is still at a historically high level. Worldwide, a total of 387 journalists were held in connection with the provision of news and information at the start of December 2020, compared with 389 at the start of December 2019. This lack of variation follows a 12% rise in 2019. Overall, the number of detained (professional and non-professional) journalists has risen 17% in the past five years (from 328 in 2015)."

Committee to Protect Journalists in its annual report revealing 274 journalists were jailed globally in 2020:
 "President Donald Trump’s harsh rhetoric throughout his term, including calling critical reports 'fake news,' gave cover to authoritarians to crack down on journalists in their own countries. Globally, 34 journalists were jailed for 'false news'."

CPJ executive director Joel Simon in a statement: “The record number of journalists imprisoned around the world is President Trump’s press freedom legacy. The incoming Biden administration must work as part of a global coalition to bring the number down.”

The International Federation of Journalists in a statement: "
The year 2020 will go down in history as the year of an unprecedented global pandemic crisis, but also as the year of the resurgence of murders of journalists and media staff around the world. With 60 murders in 2020, the macabre statistics are on the rise again compared to 2019 (49). Organised criminal cartels, extremists’ insurgencies and sectarian violence continue to strike terror among journalists, scores of who have paid the ultimate price for independent reporting in the four corners of the globe."

Ex-News of the World editor Andy Coulson interviewed in The Sunday Times [£]: “There’s something called ‘editoritis.' The main symptom is that you believe yourself to be the centre of the world. That everything else revolves around you. And I definitely suffered from editoritis.”

The Sunday Times [£] in a leader: "Peter Cruddas, a spread-betting tycoon, sued The Sunday Times after our Insight team reported in 2012 that, while Tory co-treasurer under David Cameron, he had corruptly offered access to the prime minister and other senior ministers in return for donations. Although Mr Cruddas won the first round, the legal fight ended badly for him in 2015 when three appeal court judges said it had been “inappropriate, unacceptable and wrong” to offer top-level access to undercover reporters posing as potential party donors whose motives for seeking confidential meetings with Mr Cameron were explicitly commercial. That he should now become Baron Cruddas, against the advice of the House of Lords appointments commission, taints the Conservative Party."

Financial Times
editor Roula Khalaf in InPublishing
“This is the story of the media during the pandemic. If you have a subscriptions business, then your subscriptions business has done well. People want to read more so there is a real vote of confidence in the news business during the pandemic.”

Nishant Lalwani and James Deane on the BBC Media Action Insight Blog:
"The grim reality of the COVID-19 crisis means that many countries around the world may be facing a future with no independent journalism at all, precisely at a time when access to reliable information can be a matter of life and death...Earlier concerns that the pandemic might prove to be an existential threat to media are proving well founded. If this is allowed to happen, the democratic and development costs will be immeasurable. We call on international donors and policy makers to recognise the urgency of this challenge and mount a meaningful international response."

Alan Rusbridger in the Observer: "
The BBC is not perfect. It was loathed by both sides during the drawn-out agony of the Brexit referendum. Everyone knows that its funding model needs reform. But many other countries, knowing the same thing, have already moved to different kinds of funding. Only in the UK has a government chosen this moment of information chaos – with other ways of sustaining serious journalism in dire trouble – to toy with the idea of ditching the concept of news as a public service. I suspect that Boris Johnson, who spent his entire journalistic career gleefully throwing stones through greenhouse windows, has little idea of what true public service news looks like. The rest of us should worry."

Max Hastings in The Times [£]: "In the 21st century only a handful of countries can afford to indulge the luxury of nationalism and it is doubtful that we are among them. It would be nice to think that, now the deal is done, xenophobia would be banished from the headlines of name-calling newspapers and that we could once again treat our European neighbours with the respect they deserve. This is unlikely, however. Tensions will be reignited each time an EU summit makes new decisions on trade, environmental and health standards, and much else. These will perforce affect us but we shall have no power to influence them. Accusations will continue to fly that we are being 'bullied' and 'blackmailed' by Frogs, Wops and Huns. And yes, such contemptible words will be used, perhaps by the prime minister."

David Yelland on Twitter: "Here’s a tip: Place unread copies of this weekend’s ridiculous flag-waving Brexit newspapers in a sealed bag and read them this time next year. They will look utterly mad. They are wrong on almost every single aspect of Brexit reality."


  • My Media Quotes of the Year 2020 are up on InPublishing which you can read here. I've tried to capture the best media-related quotes from a year dominated by the coronavirus crisis, which while driving huge media audiences played havoc with advertising, sales revenues and jobs. As well as the coronavirus crisis the quotes cover Trump, Boris and Cummings, Harry and Meghan, magazines, newspapers, the BBC and press freedom.

Monday 14 December 2020

Media Quotes ­­­­­­­­­­­­of the Year 2020: InPublishing

My Media Quotes of the Year 2020 are up on InPublishing which you can read here. I've tried to capture the best media-related quotes from a year dominated by the coronavirus crisis which while driving huge media audiences played havoc with advertising, sales revenues and jobs. As well as the coronavirus crisis the quotes cover Trump, Boris and Cummings, Harry and Meghan, magazines, newspapers, the BBC and press freedom.

Thursday 3 December 2020

Quotes of the Week: Raid on journalists' homes could cost police £3 million to Joe Biden urged to make press freedom a focus of US foreign policy

RTE reports:
 "Two journalists inappropriately arrested over material that appeared in a documentary on a loyalist gun attack during the Troubles have settled their case against the Police Service of Northern Ireland. It is understood the PSNI has agreed to pay damages to Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey and delete material it seized when officers raided their homes and offices in August 2018. Mr McCaffrey and Mr Birney were arrested over the alleged theft of a police watchdog document that appeared in their film No Stone Unturned about the Loughinisland massacre. Last year, judges ruled search warrants used by police to search the journalists' home and their offices at Fine Point Films been 'inappropriate'."

The Times [£] reports: "The settlement is understood to comprise £150,000 for Mr Birney, £125,000 for Mr McCaffrey and £600,000 for their Fine Point Films company." 

Trevor Birney told The Times [£]: “It is a fairly conservative estimate that this escapade by Durham and the PSNI will end up costing the police £3 million. The PSNI have apologised and paid damages today but in court they have had a full legal team fighting us step by step — it took a long time for the penny to drop that they were in the wrong. There should be a wider look at press freedom in Northern Ireland. There has been a tendency for action to be taken against journalists when the state doesn’t like them poking their noses into sensitive issues."

Seamus Dooley, NUJ assistant general secretary, in a statement after two journalists working for the Sunday World were threatened:
"Once again NUJ members have received serious threats from loyalist paramilitaries and criminals intent on silencing journalism in Northern Ireland. These attempts to intimidate journalists must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. We welcome the fact that the journalists concerned have received the full support of their employer. The protection of journalists and the active pursuit of those who threaten the media is essential to a functioning democratic society. The PSNI is fully engaged with both journalists and we hope that every effort will be made to ensure the continued safety of our members, their families and their colleagues."

Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden in the Telegraph on the new Digital Markets Unit regulatory regime for big tech companies like Facebook and Google: 
"We’re going to tackle the devastating knock-on effects that anti-competitive practices have had on our vitally important newspaper industry, which were outlined in the Cairncross Review. At the moment, tech giants can impose terms on news publishers that limit their ability to monetise their content — severely impacting their ability to thrive. Our code will make sure publishers get a fair deal from the platforms on which they rely, so that we can support the sustainability of one of the world’s strongest news publishing sectors."

John Naughton in the Observer"Citizens of most UK towns and cities now have much less information about what’s happening in their localities than their grandparents did, no matter how assiduously they check their Facebook or Twitter feeds. And the quality of local democratic discourse has been accordingly impaired. The tech companies are not wholly to blame for these changes of course. But they have played a significant role in undermining the institutions whose business model they vaporised. Looked at from that perspective, it seems wholly reasonable that societies should require social media companies to contribute to the support of news organisations that democracies require for their functioning and survival."

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, in a statement:
“The House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee report correctly identifies the need for the tech giants to be brought to book for their stranglehold on the media industry and the unfair competition for advertising revenue. An Australian-style model to make these platforms pay for the content they presently help themselves to would be welcome...But there is scope to be much bolder. A levy of tech giants would provide the means to support innovation and plurality and help this industry out of the crisis caused by the pandemic and towards better health. A more strategic body – such as a Journalism Foundation – is needed to increase media plurality, champion public interest journalism and rebuild the present broken media model.”

BBC News reports
"Facebook will begin paying UK news publishers for some articles with the launch of Facebook News in January. The feature adds a dedicated news tab to the Facebook app, and has already launched in the United States. Facebook said it will 'pay publishers for content that is not already on the platform' and prioritise original reporting."
  • BBC media editor Amol Rajan commets: "This initiative crosses a commercial rubicon. The company has always directed traffic back to publishers, but this is the first time that Facebook will pay news publishers for their work."
  • Facebook says: "The first group of publishers featured in Facebook News in the UK includes Archant, Conde Nast, The Economist, ESI Media, Guardian Media Group, Hearst, Iliffe, JPI Media, Midland News Association, Reach, STV and others."

Press Gazette
reports: "
Carole Cadwalladr has insisted she will continue to defend her reporting against a libel case brought by prominent Brexiteer Arron Banks despite withdrawing the defence of truth. Instead the Observer journalist has said she will pursue a “robust” defence on public interest grounds when the case goes to trial next year. Cadwalladr has been ordered to pay £62,000 in costs to Banks after withdrawing her defences of truth and limitation just one day before the next hearing in the case was scheduled to take place."

Donald Trump on Twitter: 
"I gave a long news conference today after wishing the military a Happy Thanksgiving, & realized once again that the Fake News Media coordinates so that the real message of such a conference never gets out. Primary point made was that the 2020 Election was RIGGED, and that I WON!"

Trump snapping at Reuters reporter Jeff Mason at the news conference: “Don't talk to me that way. You are a lightweight. I'm the president of the United States. Don't ever talk to the president that way.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists in a proposal to President-elect Joe Biden: "
By designating the promotion and protection of press freedom as a focus of U.S. foreign policy, President Biden has the opportunity to restore American influence in a critical area; improve the flow of information to advance U.S. strategic, political, and economic interests and those of its democratic allies; and ensure the internet remains a shared global resource. However, this can only be achieved if defense of press freedom is a matter of principle, and not expediency."


Thursday 26 November 2020

Media Quotes of the Week: From Murdoch saved Andrew Neil over Sunday Times 'Queen dismayed by Thatcher' row to what makes a great editor

Andrew Neil in the Sunday Times [£] on how after the paper's splash on the Queen's view of Margaret Thatcher it was suggested he should resign as editor along with Palace press secretary Michael Shea:
"At one stage, it was suggested that Shea would resign if I agreed to resign too. When that was knocked back, the quid pro quo was floated of me for Sir William Heseltine, the Queen’s private secretary. At least I’m now worth more than a bloody spin doctor, I thought. But still no deal.Then some of the more Establishment-minded national directors of Times Newspapers with palace connections came looking for my scalp. The proprietor, Rupert Murdoch, had to remind them their job was to protect my editorial independence, not to seek my sacking."

The Times
 [£] in a leader:
 "We report today on a unit within the Cabinet Office. Known as the freedom of information “clearing house”, it is believed to run a watchlist, or perhaps a blacklist, of journalists from publications, including this one, to identify freedom of information requests which may be deemed sensitive and then advise departments as to how best frustrate them. The same unit is believed to vet the responses from those departments. This from a government that has fought on many fronts to frustrate the workings of the press and media...If the prime minister’s promised reset is to mean anything, it should start with a commitment to far greater transparency, not least as to what the FOI clearing house is up to."

Robert Peston in The Spectator
"It is such a relief that Dominic Cummings has gone. Not for the sake of the country or the government — you can make your own mind up about that. No, no, I’m talking about me. Over the past year or so, the abuse I’ve received on Twitter and Facebook for reporting anything perceived to have originated anywhere near Cummings has been wearing. I’ve never endorsed anything he said or did."

Amal Clooney accepting the 2020 Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award  from the Committee to Protect Journalists:
 "Americans voted in a new leader who can reclaim moral leadership on the world stage. They rejected the candidate who called the press enemies of the people and shrugged off the murder of a Washington Post columnist."

Marina Zolotova, the editor of, an independent news website in Belarus, quoted in The Times [£]:
“Blue press jackets and press badges have become targets. When journalists go to cover a protest they cannot be sure that they will come home. This is a real war by the authorities against independent journalism and their own people.”

Suzanne Moore on Unheard on her departure from the Guardian after the staff letter accusing her of being transphobic: "Mistakenly, I thought my editors would stand up for me because that was my experience at other papers; or they might issue a public statement. They didn’t. There was some internal email, and I hear it was discussed at the Scott Trust, which governs the paper. What this means I genuinely have no idea. Nor do I understand what editorial independence means any more. Do they? Not in my book. This to me was utter cowardice. Shouldn’t you stand by your writers? But on this issue the Guardian has run scared."

BuzzFeed founder and ceo Jonah Perettti in a statement after BuzzFeed acquired HuffPost:
“I have vivid memories of growing HuffPost into a major news outlet in its early years, but BuzzFeed is making this acquisition because we believe in the future of HuffPost and the potential it has to continue to define the media landscape for years to come.”
  • Emily Bell on Twitter: "BuzzFeed and HuffPost for all their issues represented prototypes of good faith digital news operations. As they consolidate, and possibly shrink a little, consider the political money currently growing bottom-feeding wildly misleading networks of local and national news."

BBC head of news gathering Jonathan Munro, quoted in The Times [£]:
"We don’t want all our editorial meetings to be dominated by what white people think. We don’t want any single group in society to dominate our editorial thinking, because we are not being diverse in our thought process.”

BBC Media Centre promoting new BBC 2 three-part documentary The Fall of the House of Maxwell: "
From Robert Maxwell’s beginnings as impoverished survivor of the Holocaust, via the extraordinary creation and collapse of his multimillion pound media business, his apparently accidental death and revelations of fraud on a grand scale, to the prosecution of his daughter thirty years later for her alleged involvement in grooming underage victims for sexual abuse, it’s the tale of the rise and fall of the first great modern media mogul and of the unravelling of his deeply troubled family."

Alan Rusbridger on Press Gazette: "The best editors have passion as well as calm; breadth as well as focus; nerves of steel as well as powers of empathy. They must have cool judgement and, preferably, a backbone. Most of the time it is the reporters, not the editors, who are most exposed and who are taking the most risks. The editor is there to back them and bring the institutional protection of the organisation to shield them."


Thursday 19 November 2020

Media Quotes of the Week: From more journalists should be like Piers Morgan to MacKenzie blasts MailOnline's 'plunder squad' for lifting stories

Guardian's Owen Jones on Twitter: 
"The truth is, if more of the media had uncompromisingly challenged the government's catastrophic handling of the pandemic like @piersmorgan here, then tens of thousands of lives could have been saved."

Kevin Maguire speaking to students at the  University of Sunderland:
 "During the pandemic people started to rediscover the importance of journalism and the role it plays. All too often journalists were seen in a stereotypical ‘second-hand car salesman’ way, but all of a sudden, in a crisis, people wanted information they could trust. We saw how television viewing figures were almost a Christmas levels and how well watched the daily press conferences were to begin with. In many ways, this has been quite a good time for journalism, people need journalists to breakdown so much of the Government’s rhetoric, to make the guidelines and rules understandable."

BBC News reports"A previously missing note from Princess Diana, thought to indicate she was happy with the way her interview by BBC Panorama was obtained, has been found. The BBC said it had recovered the "original handwritten note" that the princess wrote following the Panorama interview of November 1995. The broadcaster said it would hand over the note to an independent inquiry. The probe will look at claims made by Diana's brother about how BBC reporter Martin Bashir secured the interview."

Ex-Panaroma journalist Tom Mangold in The Times [£] alleging a BBC cover-up over the Martin Bashir-Princess Diana interview:"
The cover-up created the fiction that Panorama was riddled with Bashir’s jealous colleagues, troublemakers and leakers, and that we would all be found out and sacked. It was so successful that all the perpetrators of the scandal received herograms and acclaim, and two totally innocent employees were to have their careers destroyed and, in my case, my reputation besmirched."

Andrew Neil on Twitter says a withering goodbye to Downing Street's director of communications Lee Cain:
"So farewell, Lee Cain. Can’t recall ever meeting you but you were one who kept stringing us alone during the 2019 campaign saying Boris Johnson really wanted to do a BBC interview with me, it was just matter of logistics. Bollox, wasn’t it? But I guess doing your master’s bidding."

Matt Chorley on Twitter:
"It’s a small thing and Christ knows sometimes the lobby is dreadful. But every genius who arrives vowing to shake up the media, undermine, bypass and destroy the lobby, ends up leaving. And for good or bad, we’re still there."

Donald Trump on Twitter: 
"@FoxNews daytime ratings have completely collapsed. Weekend daytime even WORSE. Very sad to watch this happen, but they forgot what made them successful, what got them there. They forgot the Golden Goose. The biggest difference between the 2016 Election, and 2020, was

Suzanne Moore on Twitter:
"I have left The Guardian. I will very much miss SOME of the people there. For now thats all I can say...It was entirely my choice to go. I will tell you all about it one day . For now thank you for these lovely messages . I feel like I am at my own funeral or something. Anyway I will keep writing of course! The efforts to shut me up seem not to have been very well thought through."

Hadley Freeman on Twitter: "As a reader, I'm devastated that Suzanne is leaving. As a journalist, I'm shocked that others in my profession believe that differing opinions don't belong in a newspaper. Don't agree with something? Write a column, don't personally abuse the writer or try to shut her down."

Alex Massie in The Spectator:
"It would be a mistake to suggest, I think, that Suzanne Moore has been ‘cancelled’ for she will retain her platform and doubtless find a comfortable new berth soon enough. Nevertheless, it seems equally absurd to argue that her departure from the Guardian is entirely unconnected to the internal protests against her.  Those protestors, it seems to me, appear to have made a terrible mistake when they agreed to work for a newspaper. For if they cannot cope with internal argument – and they cannot, for their reaction to Moore’s columns has not been to argue that she is mistaken but, rather, to insist she should not be published – they might more profitably seek employment elsewhere."

Kelvin MacKenzie on Twitter:
"Mailonline employ a plunder squad who swoop on papers-especially The Sun and The Times and subscription sites like The Athletic - and literally devour their great stories and journalism. It’s a theft which is barred by copyright law in the film and TV world. Am in favour of Mailonline carrying the articles but by hyperlink so that the media which invested so much money and energy gets the credit and revenue from the people who found the story interesting."


Thursday 12 November 2020

Media Quotes of the Week: The best journalism held Trump to account but have the 70 million who voted for him shown contempt for mainstream news? plus the fake journalist who stole real news

Media columnist Margaret Sullivan in The Washington Post:
 "The mainstream media, however flawed, has managed to tell us who Trump is. Even the worst of it — the way lie-filled briefings on the coronavirus, in which the president promoted untested cures and pure quackery, were broadcast live to the nation — had the benefit of showing people how unfit he was. And the best of the Trump-era journalism has been crucial, true to its democratic mission of holding the powerful accountable."

Donald Trump on Twitter: "Since when does the Lamestream Media call who our next president will be? We have all learned a lot in the last two weeks!"

Christiane Amanpour on Twitter: 
"A reflection on President Trump’s comments last night: The last President I covered who refused to accept the vote count in an election was Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran, 2009."

Matthew D'Ancona on Tortoise: "The true gatekeepers to Biden’s presidency were the networks, specifically at the moment on Thursday night when ABC, CBS and NBC cut off President Trump’s deranged rant about alleged voter fraud. He who lives by media, dies by media. The reality television host who made it to the White House by treating politics as a branch of the entertainment industry was, in the end, deposed because he had committed the cardinal sin of the entertainment world: he had become a bore, an embarrassment, old news."

 Kyle Pope in the Columbia Journalism Review on the US election:
"Once again, opinion polls were overhyped and under-scrutinized. Some of them were also wildly off—and, though that’s different from 2016, when the polls were largely accurate but widely misunderstood, it doesn’t let media organizations off the hook for their treatment of the numbers. Newsrooms leaned too heavily on polls as a substitute for on-the-ground reporting, and they were led astray. Journalists spent too much time talking to each other on Twitter, inhabiting an alternate algorithmic reality that bore little resemblance to the life of the country."

Nick Robinson on Twitter: 
"Watching @FoxNews to see how they cover the election. Someone they call a correspondent has just said on air that pollsters are 'partisan pornographers who worked with Joe Biden to suppress the vote'. Extraordinarily there are people here who want our TV news to be more like Fox."

Jane Martinson in the Guardian:
 "BBC presenters who dare to express opinions – Emily Maitlis on Dominic Cummings, for example – are slapped down as executives fret about the impartiality of an organisation that believes it must be representative of all licence fee payers. But true impartiality allows reporters to say that politicians are lying if there are facts and evidence to prove it. Such calls are essential not just for democracy but the future of journalism, even if a combination of financial, political and technological pressure has made them harder."

Gerard Baker in The Times [£]: "Mr Trump defied the predictions of pollsters, the ravages of a pandemic, a big financial advantage for his Democratic opponent and the best efforts of a media that has simply disgraced itself with its complete abandonment of any last pretence of objectivity."

Ian Burrell in the i: "A Trump victory would have left the cream of the American Fourth Estate looking marginal and powerless. It nearly happened. The 70 million who voted for him have used the ballot box to declare their contempt for mainstream news, which must somehow find a way to regain their trust."

Alan Rusbridger 
on the reporting of COVID-19, in the preface to the Reuters Institute annual report:"Lives depended on the words journalists wrote; the numbers they crunched; how well they understood and could communicate the science. COVID-19 has, again at the time of writing, killed nearly a million people worldwide. But it has also accelerated the already menacing trends in media – closing titles, depressing revenues, speeding up the switch to digital, throwing thousands out of work."

Piers Morgan on Twitter on the departure of Downing Street director of communications Lee Cain: 
Great to see @BorisJohnson's communications chief Lee Cain - who once dressed up as a chicken to mock Tory ministers for refusing to take part in TV debates & then led this Govt's cowardly 196-day boycott of
@GMB - forced out of No10. He's a snivelling little worm. Bye Lee!"

Kelvin MacKenzie on his new book due out next year called 'Murdoch, Me and Other Madmen': "Honestly, it will be an absolute rip-roaring success."

The Northern Echo reports: "A 'FAKE journalist' has pleaded guilty to fraud after publishing articles copied from The Northern Echo. Aaron Michael Jack, 27, of Eldon Street, Darlington, was running a website called the North East News Agency, which was found to consist of news stories copied from the Northern Echo and passed off as his own work. On the site, each news story was followed by 'A note from the Editor. Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of North East Alternative News and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories'.”
  • Jack pleaded guilty to fraud and to two charges of publishing images which he knew were infringing copies of copyright and was fined £50 for each of the three offences and ordered to pay costs.