Thursday 30 April 2020

Media Quotes of the Week: From UK government warned don't pick a Trump-style fight with the media to journalists are not cheerleaders during Covid-19 crisis and must ask awkward questions

Downing Street spokesperson dismissing the Guardian's Dominic Cummings exclusive: “Public confidence in the media has collapsed during this emergency partly because of ludicrous stories such as this.”

The Sunday Times [£] in a leader: "The government, meanwhile, needs to be very careful about picking a fight with the media and going down the Donald Trump route. This weekend, in response to a story in another newspaper, the prime minister’s spokesman chose to say that 'public confidence in the media has collapsed'. This is dangerous territory, not least from a government led by a prime minister who made his career as a journalist."

Donald Trump on Twitter: "What is the purpose of having White House News Conferences when the Lamestream Media asks nothing but hostile questions, & then refuses to report the truth or facts accurately. They get record ratings, & the American people get nothing but Fake News. Not worth the time & effort!"

Casey Newton on Twitter: "In a world where the president of the United States is maybe suggesting that people inject themselves with  disinfectants to cure disease, 'how should platforms handle misinformation?' feels like a question you need a team of space wizards to answer."

Tom Newton Dunn in the Sun, quoting a Conservative source claiming Piers Morgan's clashes with government ministers on ITV's Good Morning Britain makes them more popular with the public: “He doesn’t know it, but Piers is doing us a big favour. Every time he gets shouty at ministers, the public generally takes their side. That’s why we keep sending ministers on in front of him.”

David Goodhart in The Sunday Times [£]: "I watched the BBC News at Ten last week and by the end felt emotionally drained and no better informed about anything than at 9.59pm. On too many nights, the news bulletins at 6pm and 10pm run along these tramlines: here’s something about Covid-19; here’s someone who died; here’s a sobbing relative or frontline hero telling you to stay at home, save lives and protect the NHS. Yes, it’s a bleak and emotional period, and the BBC has an impossible job trying to please everyone at a time like this, but I feel an aching lack of authority, explanation and context, and a general infantilisation of the public discourse. Too much communication has become performative rather than informative."

Society of Editors executive director Ian Murray welcoming an Electoral Commission report on the 2019 General Election which highlighted public complaints against political parties for using unclearly branded social media pages, edited video clips, and leaflets mimicking local newspapers: “Sadly the findings of the Election Commission will come as no surprise to our members who have become exasperated by political parties launching campaign news freesheets and magazines in their communities that are clearly intended to misrepresent themselves as unbiased, impartial newspapers.”

A poll for Sky News on who the public trusts on the Coronavirus: "Journalists fare very badly in the poll. Some 24% say they trust TV journalists while 64% say they do not, giving a net score of minus 40. Meanwhile, 17% say they trust newspaper journalists, while 72% say they do not, giving an overall net score of minus 55."
  • LBC presenter Iain Dale on Twitter commenting on the Sky News poll: "Every journalist/columnist/commentator in the broadcast and print media needs to look themselves in the mirror (including me) and answer this question: how have I contributed to the fact that I am less trusted than the people I am supposed to hold to account?"

Mark Austin in an opinion article on Sky News: "There is a strong feeling among some out there that journalists are 'missing the mood' of the country and that what's needed is more support for a 'government doing its best... a more constructive contribution, more hope, optimism and faith'. While I get the emotional appeal of the argument, it rather fails to take into account the essential role of journalists, which is to ask sometimes awkward questions and try to hold government ministers to account. We're not cheerleaders."

Paul Bradshaw on medium: "China and Iran had more coronavirus cases than their governments said; political leaders in the US and Brazil have been criticised for encouraging behaviour which would lead to more deaths. You know about these things because journalists reported it. Should they have supported their governments and kept it quiet instead?"


Thursday 23 April 2020

Media Quotes of the Week: From tech giants windfall tax could save media from disaster to don't moan about paywalls they pay for the journalism

Damian Collins, quoted in The Times [£]: “We need to redress the balance between tech platforms and news companies. There needs to be more of a level playing field. This is something we should have been doing anyway, but the coronavirus has massively affected the news media.. We’re seeing papers going out of print. The entire ad revenue-funded model for news content has been massively challenged - it makes the case for action even more urgent.”

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet proposing a recovery plan for the median the face of Covid-19: "We need a triage plan of intervention and investment. That will involve action to stem the immediate damage being wrought, and longer-term measures to heal historic wounds. Our aim is to create a healthy diverse press, focussed squarely on the public good, one that can be sustained now and into the future. That’s why we want governmental commitments to a range of actions – some immediate and some when the worst of this crisis is over – that will create a news industry firmly rooted in the public interest journalism which will deepen public engagement in our democratic structures.”

The measures include:
  • A windfall tax of 6 per cent on the tech giants, using the Digital Services Tax, towards funding a News Recovery Plan.
  • Tax credits and interest free loans to support journalist jobs, for frontline reporters covering the Covid-19 crisis and recovery.
  • No public money for firms making redundancies, cutting pay, giving executive bonuses or blocking trade union organisation.
  • Strategic investment in government advertising, including the hyperlocal sector, involving central and local governments and public bodies.
  • Further funding by NESTA’s Future News Fund of innovative, public interest journalism and a similar scheme in Ireland
  • Free vouchers for online or print subscriptions to all 18-and-19-year olds and tax credits for households with subscriptions.

The Times [£] in a leader: "Facebook and Google between them now take more than two-thirds of the digital advertising revenue in Britain. This was a serious problem before the coronavirus struck but the lockdown is making life increasingly hard for print newspapers, especially local titles, as sales and advertising fall simultaneously. The gathering of news is a democratic necessity and there should be no objection to those who profit from it, as tech companies do, paying a fairer price."

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden in The Times [£]: "I have written to the 100 biggest brands in the UK to urge them to review their advertising policies and check they are not inappropriately blocking adverts from appearing next to news providing a vital public service... Newspapers are at heart of the British media and essential to its vibrant mix. People across the country are rising to the coronavirus challenge and I suggest we all add one small thing to our to do list: buy a paper.."

HoldTheFrontPage reports: "The UK’s first employee-owned newspaper is among a number of new regional press titles to reveal they have temporarily ceased publication. The West Highland Free Press has announced the measure in response to the coronavirus pandemic, along with other independently-owned papers across the country. The same move has also been confirmed by the Leicestershire-based Times series, the Stranraer and Wigtownshire Free Press and Tindle-owned weekly The Forest of Dean & Wye Valley Review."

    Committee to Protect Journalists executive director Joel Simon, following the publishing of a new report "The Trump Administration and the Media": “Journalists in the U.S. have been largely undeterred by the daily barrage of pressure, insults, and abuse emanating from President Trump. But the president’s attacks on the media have had an impact. They have undermined public trust in journalism as an institution, a dangerous place to find ourselves in the midst of a public health emergency. And they have empowered autocrats around the world who are cracking down on press freedom with unbridled ferocity at a time when truthful information is more than ever a precious commodity.”

    Isabel Oakeshott on Twitter: "I can't believe politicians are lashing out at journalists for asking perfectly legitimate questions about how we get out of the lockdown. Ministers seem to think voters are too stupid to understand more than one message!"

    BBC News media editor Amol Rajan on Twitter: "Was a pointless answer on Pointless this week. My work here on Earth is done."

    Duke and Duchess of Sussex in a letter to the editors of the Sun, Mail, Mirror and Express saying they will not co-operate with their papersas reported by BBC News: "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are looking forward to working with journalists and media organisations all over the world, engaging with grassroots media, regional and local media, and young, up-and-coming journalists, to spotlight issues and causes that so desperately need acknowledging. And they look forward to doing whatever they can to help further opportunities for more diverse and underrepresented voices, who are needed now more than ever. What they won't do is offer themselves up as currency for an economy of click bait and distortion."
    • The Daily Star reports: "The Daily Star is the best by 'smiles' according to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Their official spokesman has confirmed we are the only tabloid in Britain the LA-based pair haven’t banned...The Daily Star has made it clear to the couple know that we are ready to share their good news and announcements with our army of readers - and our door will always be open to them."

    The Times' Sean O'Neill on Twitter: "Really riles when people on twitter moan about having to pay to read journalism - do they go to the shops and moan 'why is this milk/bread behind a paywall, it's just not fair, you should be giving it away for free'."

    Ian Carter on Twitter: "Lots of people rightly praising @thesundaytimes  Insight report into Government pandemic planning. Same people happily copy and pasting the entire article to avoid the paywall. Keep doing that and this type of journalism won't exist any more."

    Polly Vernon on Twitter: "My god! The Sunday Times article is not ‘sitting behind a paywall’ so as to deprive those who can’t afford it... it’s asking that people pay for it, so more articles like it can be produced. Don’t read it for free!"

    Richard Osman on Twitter: "Just been to the newsagent and can’t believe the Mars Bars are behind a paywall."


    Thursday 16 April 2020

    Media Quotes of the Week: From Trump's sneering contempt for reporters is pathetic to newspaper sales and ads collapse in Coronavirus lockdown

    Piers Morgan on MailOnline on Trump's treatment of reporters at his press briefing: "Time and again reporters asked him perfectly legitimate questions about his administration’s handling of this crisis, and time and again Trump furiously abused, denounced and dismissed them with sneering contempt. He ranted, raved, mocked and derided in such an appalling manner that by the the time he finished, the hashtag #TrumpMeltdown was No1 trending topic on Twitter in AmericaThis was worse than just a meltdown.This was the most undignified and pathetic display I have ever seen from any world leader, let alone the President of the United States – in the middle of a global crisis. And where once I could occasionally defend his combative, abrasive style against what I have often felt has been an unfairly hostile media, I cannot defend this."

    Nick Bryant on Twitter: "The two Americas in split screen...."

    Fleet Street Fox in the Mirror: "There is no way to prove that journalism has saved and improved more human lives than any other job. So let's just say that we've done our bit, along with medicine, education, sanitation and politics. It's why we're on the key worker list, and why journalists are catching coronavirus too. Journalists are in the trenches as well. That's why you know the trenches exist."

    Ian Burrell on Twitter on The News, Portsmouth: "When I was a boy I would run to the letterbox, drag out this paper and read it front and back. It was my little window on my community and the world. Today I'm writing it in it about the death of my dad from this awful virus."

    Hamilton Nolan in the Columbia Journalism Review: "In every crisis lies an opportunity for the rich. Investors wealthy enough to hoard cash can scoop up bargains when financial crises strike, and publications rich enough to maintain their staffing levels and quality can scoop up the readers—and the journalists—abandoning weaker publications. Thus the industry consolidates into a smaller number of more powerful platforms, a process that will continue until the government intervenes to change the existing economic model that supports journalism."

    Roy Greenslade in the Guardian: "Although formal announcements by publishers stress that their dramatic Covid-19 measures will be temporary, there is reason to believe some may be permanent. Newsprint, the transmission of news by ink on paper, might not recover from the contagion in what could eventually be seen as a transformational moment for the 380-year British newspaper history."

    David Higgerson on Twitter: "Over the past few weeks the Guardian’s reporting of local news industry has veered between patronising and unbalanced. For months, Anything positive has been ignored, anything negative seized upon. No idea why. You can almost hear the sound of @GreensladeR salivating at his decades of ‘you’re all doomed’ prophecies coming true. Hopefully he’ll be wrong again."

    Roy Greenslade on Twitter: "Some people who commented yesterday on my @mediaguardian  column suggested that I want newspapers to die, that I'm glorying in their demise. Not so. As I've been doing for the past 20 years, I'm merely acting as a journalist should by telling it how it is."

    Jim Waterson in the Guardian: "The parent company of the Guardian and the Observer has announced plans to furlough about 100 non-editorial staff in an effort to reduce costs amid industry-wide falls in revenue because of the coronavirus pandemic. Although Covid-19 coverage has driven record numbers of readers to the Guardian’s website, the economic slowdown has caused a collapse in the advertising market."

    Mark Di Stefano and Patricia Nilsson in the Financial Times [£]: "National newspapers sales fell over a fifth between the middle and end off March, according to data from distributors Smiths News. Sales at major supermarkets fell as much as 48 per cent in the week to March 24, while those at travel hubs and motorway stores fell as much as 67 per cent and 70 per cent respectively."


    Thursday 9 April 2020

    Media Quotes of the Week: From perverse to leave journalists idling at home during Coronavirus crisis to the Government should help fund quality news

    The Times [£] in a leader: "There is no good time to lose local papers but a pandemic makes them particularly essential. They are at heart a fourth emergency service. They can provide vital information on sudden changes to local services, neighbourhood schemes to help the vulnerable, or outbreaks near by. They can also help to highlight problems with local authority responses, thereby ensuring that resources go to where they are needed...The government’s offer to pay 80 per cent of the salaries of furloughed workers will help many businesses to weather the storm. But this is no solution for struggling newspapers. Journalists have been rightly identified as “key workers” during the pandemic. It would be perverse if many were instead to spend it idling at home, having been laid off or placed on paid leave."

    Matt Lawton on Twitter: "Why do we need newspapers? At the weekend our newspapers revealed that the owners of the ExCel were charging the NHS and Scotland’s chief medical officer was visiting her second home. So, please, keep buying papers. #buyapaper."

    Lucy Ashton, local democracy reporter for the Sheffield Star and BBC, on Twitter: "If you're wondering why we still need the local media, here's a little example. I met a nurse today who told me NHS staff were being fined hundreds of pounds in parking charges and asked if I would do a story. I did - and all the fees have been immediately cancelled."

    Medium's Behind Local News reports"More than 97,000 articles have been shared, liked or commented on from the regional press about Coronavirus in the last six weeks, new data has shown. Looking at 82 of the largest regional news websites in the UK, data from Newswhip shows how people are turning to local news for information — and then sharing it on. Overall, local news articles on social rose 18% month on month, with Facebook engagements to those articles rising 43%. EdinburghLive saw the biggest lift in engagements/interactions, followed the Evening Standard, KentOnline and the News and Star in Carlisle."

    The Guardian reports: "The publisher of the Daily Mirror, Daily Express and Daily Star newspapers is to furlough almost 1,000 employees, and its management, including the senior editorial team, will have pay slashed by a fifth. Reach, formerly known as Trinity Mirror, also owns hundreds of regional titles.  The company has said it intends to furlough 20% of 4,700 staff – 940 – during the Coronavirus crisis. Reach’s top management including the “most senior editorial team”, headed by the group editor-in-chief, Lloyd Embley, will take a 20% pay cut and all other employees will have their pay cut by 10%."

    Dominic Ponsford on Press Gazette"If we don’t want large swathes of the country to become news deserts for the first time since the Enlightenment then the UK Government must act now to support the on-the-ground newsgatherers whose work the rest of the industry is largely based on. As a cross-party group of MPs has already told Chanceller of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak: this means investing now in a public information campaign via local media and extending the 100 per cent business rates holiday from retail, hospitality and leisure businesses to news publishers. The alternative could be to lead us into a very dark place. Without local journalists gathering news and verifying information rumour and gossip shared on social media becomes the only show in town. Councils and local businesses are no longer held to account. And when there is an injustice to be righted local people will find they no longer have a voice."

    The Jewish Chronicle in a statement: "With great sadness, the Board of the Jewish Chronicle has taken the decision to seek a creditors voluntary liquidation of Jewish Chronicle Newspapers Ltd. Despite the heroic efforts of the editorial and production team at the newspaper, it has become clear that the Jewish Chronicle will not be able to survive the impact of the current Coronavirus epidemic in its current form."

    Donald Trump on Twitter: "Advertising in the Failing New York Times is WAY down. Washington Post is not much better. I can’t say whether this is because they are Fake News sources of information, to a level that few can understand, or the Virus is just plain beating them up. Fake News is bad for America!"

    Former Labour MP for Sedgefield Phil Wilson in the New Statesman on Corbynism: "Any criticism of the leadership was the fault of the mainstream media. The print media has always held an anti-Labour bent, but has never stopped the election of Labour governments in the past. The lesson is: if you believe the press is not your natural ally, don’t make it easy for them. If you don’t want the press to write you are a terrorist sympathiser, don’t lay a wreath at the grave of a terrorist. If you don’t want the press to write you are a friend of Hamas or Hezbollah, don’t call them your friends. If you don’t want the press to write you associate with the IRA, don’t associate with the IRA. If you don’t want the press to doubt your patriotism, don’t give Russia the benefit of the doubt over the Salisbury poisonings or take money from Iranian state media. If you want the press to highlight your aversion to antisemitism, don’t share a platform with known anti-Semites and defend antisemitic murals."

    Enders Analysis: "COVID-19 has given new urgency to protect the supply of local and national news. News media, perhaps particularly local news media, is a critical information service for a vulnerable population, many of whom are confined at home. In the context of the findings of the Cairncross Review, the pandemic is intensifying rather than abating the sector's decade-long commercial crisis due to a clutch of inter-related structural changes. Many recent initiatives – including the Cairncross Review itself, the Nesta Future News fund and the Public Interest News Foundation – rightly focused on a framework for developing long-term sustainable models for news media. Government needs to shift the focus to managing an emergency; not just for our country’s health, but our citizen’s provision of quality news and information. Right now, we need to mobilise Government funding to make quality news a public service."


    Thursday 2 April 2020

    Media Quotes of the Week: From in the BBC we trust during the Coronavirus crisis to stop trying to gag health staff who want to speak to journalists

    Alan Rusbridger in the Observer: "Fox News has shown its true colours during the Covid-19 emergency, parroting the wildly erratic line from an increasingly dangerously deluded White House. Fox is these days less a news company than an oligarchically owned state broadcaster. The BBC, meanwhile, has been doing what it does best: providing reliable and trustworthy information to a huge audience – both broadcast and online, both young and old. On any surveys of trust it towers over other news organisations as well as other institutions in society. Again, it is difficult to imagine any sane administration wanting to diminish the national, international and local reach of the BBC for the foreseeable future – far less hand over our national spine of communication and conversation to the Murdoch family and a bunch of talk-radio hosts."

    Edward Lucas in The Times [£]: "The pandemic has highlighted the BBC’s vital role as the factual anchor of our national life. We face a blizzard of disinformation from China, which, for reasons we do not yet fully understand, is now adopting tactics previously used by Russia, pumping out bizarre conspiracy theories and allegations. The US president is doing his bit too, dismissing and exaggerating evidence in a way that makes our leaders look like Athenian philosophers...The BBC, for all its flaws, is our best defence against the tide of ignorance, panic and rumour."

    HoldTheFrontPage reports: "A regional publisher is to place around 60 journalists and 350 staff in total on paid leave – while those remaining in work could also be set to take temporary pay cuts. JPIMedia has announced part of its 700-strong editorial workforce will be put on the government’s Coronavirus job retention scheme as part of new measures to tackle the economic impact of the pandemic, along with 250 sales staff and around 40 in other posts."

    • James Mitchinson, editor of the JPI Media owned Yorkshire Post, has written to MPs urging help for the local press.

    Professor Rasmus Kleis Nielsen of the Reuters Institute"Advertising revenues are taking a massive blow. Some local publishers say they are down by 50%, some national titles by 30%. Online advertising revenues are further challenged by advertisers blacklisting Coronavirus-related stories and by some platforms at least temporarily demonetizing Coronavirus-related content. If UK newspapers lose 30% of their advertising revenues, that will be in the region of half a billion pounds in the course of a year, and more than 15% of their total income. This will hurt every publisher, but it’s especially dangerous for small local titles (both legacy and new) with little access to credit and limited cash reserves, freesheets and others almost entirely reliant on ads, and for those larger companies who have high debt or significant pension obligations."

    Roy Greenslade in the Guardian: "Although the pandemic has attracted record-breaking audiences for online news sources, outlets have long struggled to earn substantial revenue from digital advertising. Some advertisers have also blocked their promotions from appearing along Coronavirus-related stories, although there has been increased spending by the government on public health campaigns and by some major corporations such as banks. Industry sources suggested sales of print outlets briefly rose in the run-up to the lockdown but have collapsed since people were asked to stay at home."

    Donald Trump on Twitter: "One of the reasons that Fake News has become so prevalent & far reaching is the fact that corrupt “journalists” base their stories on SOURCES that they make up in order to totally distort a narrative or story. When you see, “five sources say”, don’t believe the story, it is very often FAKE NEWS. Lamestream Media should be forced to reveal sources, very much as they did in the long ago past. If they did that, the media would be trusted again, and Fake News would largely be a thing if the past!"

    Ian Murray, executive director of the Society of Editors, in a statement: “The decision by the Hungarian parliament to pass emergency legislation, without time limit, allowing the leader [Viktor Orbán] to rule by decree is deeply concerning. Over recent years democratic norms in Hungary have gradually been eroded and new powers to introduce jail terms of up to five years for those deemed to be “distorting” the facts and spreading misinformation around Covid-19 raises legitimate concerns that the measures could be used against journalists critical of the government. This crisis should not be used to censor the press – the ability of an independent media to hold the powerful to account has never been more important."

    Graeme  Souness in the Sunday Times [£]: "It’s the biggest regret in my life, not just football, that a picture of me in the hospital after my heart operation appeared in The Sun on the anniversary of Hillsborough. I am fully aware that I will never be forgiven by a large percentage of Liverpool supporters and that’s something I have to live with. I say sorry every time the subject is raised and I say sorry again to those that I hurt. I’m at an age now where 50 per cent of Liverpool supporters would only have heard of my name and not seen me play. I get treated very well by Liverpool supporters, but I am fully aware that, sadly for me, I will be remembered for that picture in The Sun."

    The Times [£] reports:"Doctors and nurses who speak out about the lack of personal protection equipment for hospital staff are being threatened with dismissal, they have said, raising fears that health authorities are trying to hide the extent of the crisis."

    NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet in a statement: "At a time when accurate information and quality journalism is more vital than ever, it is outrageous that brave healthcare workers are being threatened with disciplinary action if they speak out to journalists. It is particularly disgraceful to gag workers who are rightly speaking out to highlight the shortage of critical protective equipment. The public has the right to know what is happening, especially when it relates to the health and well-being of the nation. NHS England should withdraw these threats immediately."