Thursday 28 May 2020

Media Quotes of the Week: Downing Street in Trumpian attack on Guardian and Mirror to victorious NHS campaigner thanks journalists

Downing Street spokesman, quoted by the Observer: "Yesterday [Friday] the Mirror and Guardian wrote inaccurate stories about Mr Cummings. Today [Saturday] they are writing more inaccurate stories including claims that Mr Cummings returned to Durham after returning to work in Downing Street on 14 April. We will not waste our time answering a stream of false allegations about Mr Cummings from campaigning newspapers.”

Ian Murray, executive director of the Society of Editors, in a statement: “No administration that believes in a free media – and this government has repeatedly stood by that assertion – can then decide which media it will respond to and which not...At a time when the UK government is heading the Global Campaign for Media Freedom this is hardly a shining example to set...We will be asking Number 10 to once again give assurances that all mainstream media will be treated equally, and that open government will survive even during this time of crisis.”

Reporters Sans Frontiers UK bureau director Rebecca Vincent in a statement: "We are alarmed by the UK government’s dismissal of serious public interest reporting as ‘false’ and coming from ‘campaigning newspapers’. These Trumpian tactics are only serving to fuel hostility and public distrust in media. This worrying trend is certainly not in keeping with the government’s stated commitment to champion global media freedom - and must be immediately reversed before the UK’s press freedom climate is further eroded."
  • Steve Richards on Twitter: "Astonishingly naive response from Number 10...copying Trump.. but in a way that makes Trump seem subtle.."
  • Ian Wylie on Twitter: "I was a member of the Westminster Parliamentary Press Lobby / Press Gallery for 30 years. The No 10 statement on Dominic Cummings followed by an orchestrated campaign of support from ministers is one of the most shameful things I have ever seen from any government."
"Friends of Mr Cummings suggested he would be going nowhere. One told the PA news agency: 'He isn't remotely bothered by this story, it's more fake news from the Guardian. There is zero chance of him resigning'."

Andrew Griffith MP on Twitter, as reported by the Littlehampton Gazette, after Dominic Cummings rose garden press conference: "Calm, fulsome and reasonable explanation given by DC just now. Sunlight shone on the situation. Media to now crawl back under rocks.."

Hugo Rifkind in The Times [£]: "Often, his enemies cast him as one of those mystical, wibbly, blue sky-thinking gurus who political leaders always seem to have these days. That, though, is a category error. There is nothing mystical or wibbly about Cummings. He has a clear and consistent political stance, which is that everybody else is an idiot. In particular, he likes to rail against what he perceives as a suffocating media-political conventional wisdom that is wrong about virtually everything. Wrong about the EU, wrong about education, wrong about the civil service, wrong about the role of parliament. Wrong that somebody in the midst of a scandal like this ought to explain themselves, just because some newspaper asks some questions."

Amy Fenton, Newsquest's chief reporter in South Cumbria, on threats which have forced her to move to a secret location with police protection: "While it isn’t the first time this has happened to me I’m determined that it will be last, by ensuring each and every one of these people faces the full force of the law. Not only have they threatened to 'throat punch' me, slit my throat, and set me on fire, but they have involved the welfare of my little girl and that is beyond acceptable. As a journalist I won’t tolerate anyone threatening me but as a mum I won’t tolerate anyone putting my daughter’s life at risk."

BBC reprimand for Emily Maitlis intro on Newsnight Dominic Cummings report: "While we believe the programme contained fair, reasonable and rigorous journalism, we feel that we should have done more to make clear the introduction was a summary of the questions we would examine, with all the accompanying evidence, in the rest of the programme. As it was, we believe the introduction we broadcast did not meet our standards of due impartiality."
  • Paul Siegert, NUJ national broadcasting organiser, in a statement"NUJ members across the corporation are outraged at the treatment of a respected colleague and a key face of the BBC. It is wholly unacceptable for journalists to be pilloried on social media, and let down by their employer, for doing their jobs whilst scrutinising decision-making and holding the government to account."

Rod Liddle in The Sunday Times [£] praises the BBC: "Covid-19 has been the remaking of it, reminding us first and foremost that it can, on occasion, bring the nation together in something other than seething irritation and that — never mind the market — a centrally funded, independent news network has its benefits...By and large, the news programmes, on radio at least, have been calm, measured, balanced and informative — especially Sarah Montague on World at One and Evan Davis on PM."

International Federation of Journalists deputy general secretary Jeremy Dear, interviewed on the IFJ website: "At the moment Google and Facebook are trying to portray themselves as saints and saviours by handing out grants to selected media. We don’t want the crumbs from their table. We want them to pay their fair share. The big six US tech firms have been accused of “aggressively avoiding” $100bn (£75bn) of global tax over the past decade. That must stop! We believe that a global fund, managed by representative media and journalists’ organisations, with a remit to promote public interest media can create a sustainable future for media and guarantee citizens their rights to an independent pluralistic media."

Liam Kelly in The Sunday Times [£]: "The retreat of BuzzFeed News, which started as an aggregator of viral content but became a respected outlet catering for younger readers, illustrates the depth of the crisis the pandemic has sparked among digital media upstarts once touted as the future of journalism. They have succumbed to issues older titles have faced for years far more quickly than many of their print rivals, and in the process raised questions over the future of free mass news online."

Press Gazette reports: "UK national newspapers no longer have to make their print circulations public through auditors ABC, which means we may never get the full picture of the impact of coronavirus on newspaper sales. News UK, publisher of the Sun and Times titles, has opted to make its circulation figures private – only agencies who have signed a confidentiality agreement can see them."

News UK chief operating officer David Dinsmore in a statement: “News UK is a multi-platform business with brands that reach more people than ever before via mobile, web, apps, video, radio stations and podcasts, alongside print. While print remains a vitally important method of distributing our editorial to readers and meeting our advertisers’ needs, it is logical that the way we measure our audiences reflects the way the world works today.”

UN investigator Agnès Callamard, quoted in the Guardian, has predicted Saudi Arabia will eventually release the killers of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi after they were said to have been forgiven by his sons: “All of us who over the last 20 months have reported on the gruesome execution of Jamal Khashoggi and absence of accountability for his killing expected this. The Saudi authorities are playing out what they hope will be the final act in their well-rehearsed parody of justice in front of an international community far too ready to be deceived.”

Hassan Akkad, whose campaign for migrant NHS workers to be exempt from a health surcharge led to the Government u-turn on the issue, on Twitter: "Thanks to you, the unions, the campaigners and the journalists who helped us get our message across, like Piers Morgan and James O'Brien, to name a few...Britain is great because of you."

[£] =paywall

Thursday 21 May 2020

Media Quotes of the Week: From are Facebook and Google really to blame for killing the news media? to why investigative journalists can be a pain

Jeff Jarvis on Twitter: "Facebook and Google are not killing news. News has been slowly killing itself by refusing to learn new skills to sell, new ways to bring value to the public we serve, new ways to listen to the needs of that public, new ways to earn trust, new ways to compete, not complain. The best way for Google & Facebook to help news is not handouts that will go into the pockets of hedge funds and disappear with the wind. What we need is help creating new strategies for news, new means to inform a society that does not trust us, new business models.Protectionism is not a business model. Whining is not a business model. Handouts are not a business model. Lobbying politicians is not a business model. Adding value to communities and their conversations, helping them meet their goals: that is the only model worth pursuing."

Press Gazette editor-in-chief Dominic Ponsford on Press Gazette Daily: "Buzzfeed and Quartz are both largely exiting the UK, 14 editorial jobs are to go at regional press group Midland News Association, 155 jobs are being cut at Vice Media and even the FT and Economist have been forced to make cutbacks. The irony is that soaring web traffic means there has never been more demand for journalism, but the ad-funded model is mainly benefiting the tech platforms. If professionally-produced journalism all has to disappear behind paywalls, Google's search results and Facebook's News Feed will become much less interesting places and their revenue will inevitably suffer as a result. The Duopoly need to intensify their efforts to support the news industry not just to help keep the world informed, but out of enlightened self interest."

John Naughton in the Observer on Facebook's new oversight board:  "It’s actually a board for locking the stable door after the horses have bolted. Let us call the Facebook oversight board by its initials: FOB...The big puzzle at the moment is why some apparently sane people with reputations to lose would have chained themselves to this particular catherine wheel. Apart from anything else, they have committed themselves to endorsing Zuckerberg’s overweening vanity about the central importance of Facebook to the world. One big surprise (for me, anyway) was that Alan Rusbridger, the former editor of the Guardian, should have lent his name and reputation to this circus."

Reuters Institute research shows:  "After an initial surge in news use, there has been a significant increase in news avoidance, with 22% saying they often or always actively try to avoid the news (up from 15% in mid-April), growing to 59% if those who say they sometimes actively avoid the news are included (up from 49% in mid-April)."

Matthew Parris in The Times [£] on who is having a "good war" during the Covid-19 pandemic: "Science and health journalists. In Fleet Street’s editorial conferences a new star is born. Specialist reporters’ clever charts and graphs are now centrepieces rather than sidebars to our journalism. Knowledge is king. Piers Morgan. From Trump-poodle to plucky truth-teller in one bound."

The NUJ launching a campaign against threats to journalists in Northern Ireland: "Over the past 12 months we have witnessed with alarm an increase in the number of violent threats against journalists in Northern Ireland. This month Loyalist paramilitaries have threatened all journalists working at the Sunday Life and Sunday World newspapers in Belfast. This follows recent threats against a journalist working for The Irish News. Attempts to intimidate journalists have come from dissident Republican and Loyalist paramilitary groups and are intended to prevent the media from investigating their activities and exposing criminality. Threats against journalists and media organisations have no place in our society. It is vital that such behaviour is not tolerated. No worker should be exposed to threats for doing their job."

Natalie Fahy, editor of the Nottingham Post and Nottinghamshire Live, on why she decided to publish examples of the vile online abuse aimed at her journalists: "We are writing this today because some of our reporters have been subjected to awful abuse. Yes, criticism is part of our job and we mostly take it on the chin - you don't go into journalism to be loved by everybody. But some of these examples may go some way to showing you what we're up against. Finally - it's Mental Health Awareness Week this week. Some of these comments keep people awake at night. Maybe we should all take time to consider what we're doing before we type that message out."

Manchester Evening News political and investigations editor Jennifer Williams on Twitter: "Don’t want to put current/future journalists off, but I think it’s important to be honest that when you write a story govt could shout at you about, it makes you feel sick. Wobbly, panicky, paranoid. Govt behaves how it does (atm) because it knows it works. And it does."

Former BBC presenter Aasmah Mir who is joining Times Radio, quoted by Press Gazette: “I am really looking forward to not introducing ‘in the red corner we have this person and in the blue corner we have this person’ and then they just kick ten bells out of each other. I don’t think that informs us in any way and I think our listeners want to be informed. I think they can have people who have different views, but there’s no point in setting people up in that very old fashioned adversarial approach.”

Dan Hodges on Twitter: "I remember when @MrHarryCole joined the Sun from @GuidoFawkes. Loads of sneering. Lots of people looking down at him because he wasn’t from 'the traditional media'. Now he’s got one of the best jobs in British journalism. Deservedly."

Charlie Beckett on Twitter: "I hate ‘Investigative’ journalists. As a producer and editor they were always a pain in the proverbial. Secretive, over-motivated, egotistical, conspiratorial and eager to bend reality to fit a narrative. But their work even when flawed, is vital."


Thursday 14 May 2020

Media Quotes of the Week: 'Our job is not to be liked' - journalists hit back at Covid-19 critics as survey reveals freelances hit hardest by pandemic

Beth Rigby, on BBC Radio 4's Media Show on criticism of journalists covering Covid-19 being too aggressive towards the Government: "Our job is not to be liked. Our job is to ask difficult questions. Sometimes that chimes with some people and some people really dislike it... What we try and do as journalists is just ask the best question at the moment to get the best answer and try and affect positive change."

Piers Morgan on Twitter: "Reminder to trolls abusing journalists for doing our jobs: we’re not supposed to be nice, or popular, or sycophantic - we’re supposed to be challenging, dogged & generally a massive pain in the arse to all forms of authority. Otherwise we’re not working properly on your behalf."

Mark Austin on Twitter: "For all those abusing journalists for criticising and challenging the government: if you had journalists allowed to expose failings, report the truth and challenge authority in China, rather than being imprisoned, maybe we wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place...The point is if you want a free media subject to the law of the land and regulation, then you take it warts and all . Questions you like or don’t like, headlines you like or don’t like , journalists you like or don’t like, stuff you agree with , stuff you don’t. That’s it really."

Tom Newton Dunn on Twitter: "God I’m bored with cranks banging on about ‘MSM’. There was no ‘MSM’ verdict on the PM’s address. Seldom is. Some outlets approved, some didn’t. We all try to reflect the views of our varied audiences. That’s capitalism. (Point of fact, trust in the media is up during the crisis)."

James Mates on Twitter: "This is a time of quite unprecedented challenge to journalism and a free press. In the US they’re portrayed as ‘enemies of the people’. Literally. Independent media has largely gone in Poland, gone in Hungary. A free press has rarely needed more defending."

Alastair Campbell on Tortoise"There is no doubt that several of the newspapers now are making little attempt any more to separate news from comment, fact from opinion. It is a hugely important part of the populists’ armoury, backed by the exploitation of overtly opinionated radio presenters and social media armies. And though newspapers have always been, to greater or lesser degrees, subject to the political influence of owners, that has grown even since my time in newspapers."

Alastair Campbell also on Tortoise: "Asking a minister a question about how they feel – 'Are you worried that?' – or asking them to speculate – 'Do you think it will get better or worse?' – or giving them a multiple choice – 'And finally, minister, if I may…' — are, in general, wasted questions. The other situation that puts the briefer under legitimate pressure is one where the media work together. I knew from my time as a reporter that sometimes working as a pack was the only way to elicit information that, for whatever reason, the government did not want to give."

An International Federation of Journalists survey claims: "Women journalists are suffering greater stress and anxiety than their male counterparts as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. While women journalists’ working conditions tend to be less affected by the COVID-19 outbreak than those of men, two-thirds of women have suffered higher stress and anxiety as a result of the crisis compared to just half of men."

NUJ Northern and Midlands senior organiser Chris Morley in a statement on Reach's trading update"As the country’s biggest single commercial employer of journalists, we welcome the update from Reach plc that shows the company has a sound financial footing from which to anchor itself from the turbulence to the economy that the Covid-19 crisis has created...However, we note that the group has gathered a strong cash reserve of £33 million while thousands of staff have been told to make big financial and personal sacrifices through pay cuts and furloughing where significant government assistance is coming in."

HoldTheFrontPage reports: "More than 10 editorial roles are under threat after an independent publisher announced plans to make dozens of staff redundant due to the coronavirus crisis. The Midland News Association, publisher of the Express & Star, Wolverhampton, has confirmed it is looking at potential redundancies due to the impact of the pandemic on the business. In a statement, the company said the outbreak had 'severely affected advertising revenue and forecasts suggest the difficult trading conditions will continue throughout 2020'.″

Freddy Mayhew on Press Gazette: "Buzzfeed is closing its dedicated UK and Australian news operations, resulting in staff being furloughed and stood down. The decision to stop covering local news in the two countries has been made 'both for economic and strategic reasons', a spokesperson said. Buzzfeed continues to publish news in the US and said it plans to retain some UK staff to cover global news for its American audience in areas such as social news, celebrity and investigations."

Alan Rusbridger on Medium's OneZero why he is joining the Facebook Oversight Board: "Facebook is an entity that defies description. It is a friend of the otherwise voiceless — but also an enabler of darkness. It brings harmony to some, discord to many. It promotes order and amplifies anarchy. It employs many brilliant engineers but has — too slowly — recognized that the multiple challenges it faces involve the realms of philosophy, ethics, journalism, religion, geography, and human rights. And it makes a whole lot of money, and a whole lot of enemies, while doing this. To address this, it needs independent, external oversight."

The NUJ reports: "Two-thirds of UK media workers have suffered financially because of the pandemic and lockdown, with freelances being hit especially hard and feeling unsupported by the government’s financial aid package. The decrease in household income varied across the more than 1,200 members of the NUJ who responded to the union’s survey, but when the figures were broken down between staff and self-employed, a third of freelances said their work had dried up completely and a further third said it had decreased sharply. The overall figure for members losing 80-100 per cent of their income was 18 per cent."

Thursday 7 May 2020

Media Quotes of the Week: From the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on journalism to a tale of two tweets on Press Freedom Day from Moscow to Trump

A survey by the International Federation of Journalists on the impact on journalism of the Covid-19 pandemic reveals: "Three in four journalists have faced official restrictions, obstruction or intimidation in reporting on Covid-19, according to a major new survey of more than 1300 frontline journalists in 77 countries. Two-thirds of staff and freelance journalists have suffered pay cuts, lost revenue, job losses, cancelled commissions or worsening working condition as well as:
  • Nearly every freelance journalist has lost revenue or work opportunities.
  • More than half of all journalists are suffering from stress and anxiety.
  • More than a quarter lack essential equipment to enable them to work safely from home, while one in four lack any protective equipment to work in the field.
  • Dozens of journalists have been arrested, faced lawsuits or been assaulted.
  • More than a third of journalists have shifted their focus to covering Covid-19 related stories."

Will Jennings (Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, University of Southampton) and Chris Curtis (YouGov) on the results of a new opinion poll: "It has been widely claimed that public trust in the media has collapsed – and that the coronavirus crisis is contributing to a loss of confidence. But is this true?...In YouGov’s latest poll, conducted on 26th and 27th April, 47% of people expressed trust in BBC News journalists to tell the truth. This number is actually up slightly from when the question was asked during the election campaign in December last year (44%) and just a point below where it stood in March before the government announced a shutdown in response to the coronavirus outbreak (48%). Trust in journalists for ITV and ‘upmarket’ newspapers has similarly been stable over the past six months.There simply has been no collapse in public trust in news media during the coronavirus outbreak."

Alan Rusbridger in the Observer: "The penny seems to be dropping in some quarters that journalism can be a matter of life and death. How many of our friends and loved ones die in this pandemic is to a great extent reliant on what people believe to be the truth about its seriousness. Experts are back in business. In a world of information chaos, journalism has to re-assert its claim on our trust. Many news organisations have risen remarkably to the challenge, fully justifying the decision to categorise journalists as key workers."

Philip Collins in The Times [£]: "The standard of ministers being fielded is so lamentable that Tory MPs are starting to worry. Victoria Atkins, the safeguarding minister, was the latest to collapse into incoherence on Good Morning Britain. Piers Morgan will be getting very fat with all the junior ministers he is having for breakfast."

Simon Jenkins in the Guardian: "I dislike the idea of state support for an industry whose essence is independent news and debate. Depending on how government acts in the coming months, I still believe most newspapers can keep going. Ministers are already throwing crumbs of NHS advertising in their direction. Last year’s Cairncross report suggested substantial payments from digital platforms to the press organisations that supply them. This might well be part of a wider new order for digital regulation. For the present, newspapers can only continue to bring peace of mind to those enduring the present agony. But if they start to disappear, they would not be just another victim of this government’s coronavirus policy. If they suffer, democracy suffers. Remember Betjeman: 'It’s strange that those we miss the most/ Are those we took for granted'.”

Liverpool Echo editor-in-chief Ali Machray on why the paper is asking readers for voluntary cash donations, as quoted by HoldTheFrontPage: “The Echo has been covering Liverpool and Merseyside for 141 years. We have fought for our communities, held the authorities to account, campaigned on important issues and told the heartwarming, sometimes heartbreaking, stories of the remarkable people of this unique region. It’s no secret that our industry faces serious challenges – and at the same time, more people are reading us than ever before. Our intention behind this optional contribution request is to sustain great journalism; keep growing, keep improving, keep Liverpool moving forwards.”

Press Gazette reports: "The FT’s media correspondent Mark Di Stefano has resigned after listening to a “confidential and sensitive” in-house video call during which staff at The Independent were informed about Covid-19-related cutbacks. The FT said: “The FT received a complaint from The Independent that a reporter had joined a staff conference call without authorisation. Access details had been shared with him. The journalist in question has now resigned from the company. The FT wishes to apologise to The Independent and the Evening Standard, which subsequently informed the FT that the same reporter had accessed a meeting it had held.”

Julian Mounter, former director-general, Television New Zealand, in a letter to The Times [£]: "Sir, Whatever the truth behind Panorama’s report on how ministers and the NHS have been handling the virus crisis (“Minister warns BBC about ‘bias’ after Panorama story”, May 4), public service broadcasting editors should always be vigilant in ensuring that their journalists are not seeking facts and opinion that support pre-conceived theories. Increasingly, one sees news presenters asking specialist reporters for their opinions and what they 'think' will happen. In my first week of training as a journalist, in a district office of a Cornish weekly newspaper five decades ago, my boss held up a piece of my copy and shouted: 'No one cares what YOU think! The only thing they want to hear from you are facts and truths.' In an era in which media income is in short supply, opinion is a cheaper option than solid digging for facts. Editors must not allow economics to mix the two."

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet in a statement for World Press Freedom Day: "There is no real media freedom when journalists are forced out of work or into precarious employment within an industry that has already suffered decades of cuts and under-investment. The global health crisis has shown the public desperately needs information that is accurate and reliable. This is why quality journalism falls within the spectrum of essential public services. It must be supported and sustained because society needs it."

Shaun Walker on Twitter: "Two tweets on the same day - the US embassy in Moscow and the US president. What a time to be a US diplomat."
  • Spokesperson for the US Embassy in Moscow Rebecca Ross on Twitter: "On #WorldPressFreedomDay,  we honor the many dedicated Russian journalists who continue their vital work despite increasing government pressure. Russian journalists have been jailed, threatened, and harassed simply because they seek to report the truth. #pressfreedom"
  • Donald Trump on Twitter: "The Fake News doesn’t show real polls. Lamestream Media is totally CORRUPT, the Enemy of the People!'