Thursday 30 July 2020

Media Quotes of the Week: From tech titans want to lay waste to old media to will BBC reap Rupert's revenge after documentary on Murdoch family?

Danny Forston in the Sunday Times [£]: "The upheaval that has cut half of US newspaper jobs in 15 years and decimated local publishers is far from over. The few winners, such as The New York Times, simply have a bigger target on their back. And Silicon Valley is gunning for them with extra vigour — for two reasons.The once-fawning press has turned on tech, slamming the industry for how it handles data, its lack of diversity, how the companies are run and, in extremis, for undermining democracy. At the same time, the fight for the future of media is still very much in play, and tech titans, tired of being painted the villain, want to lay waste to what remains of old media."

Piers Morgan in the Daily Mail: "Of course, the comical irony of the approved publication of all this ‘setting the record straight’ private information is that most of it confirms myriad newspaper stories that we were previously assured were ‘media lies’. There are other little snippets in the book that blast off the page like bombs. Meghan, we’re told, used to tip off the paparazzi about her movements in Toronto where she filmed her TV show Suits. One of them even had her phone number."

Nick Newman in The Spectator: "Eighty years ago, cartoonists were so celebrated that waxworks of Low, Strube and Poy were displayed in Madame Tussauds. Today, all that remains of Low is a pair of waxy hands in Kent University’s British Cartoon Archive. We are a vanishing species. There is a lack of new blood in the industry that doesn’t bode well for the future."

John Ware in the Daily Mail: "As journalism seeps into the social-media jungle of the 'activist' fringe and further away from the mainstream where it is at least governed by clearly defined codes, there is a cost to democracy. It is broadcasters like the BBC that are trying to hold the line on standards, not the self-appointed 'media activists' who make up their own rules and whose self-righteousness leaves them with dangerously little self-doubt. If we want fair and truthful journalism to prevail over deceitful propaganda on the internet, we must hold their authors to account."

The Wall Street Journal in a note to readers: "We’ve been gratified this week by the outpouring of support from readers after some 280 of our Wall Street Journal colleagues signed (and someone leaked) a letter to our publisher criticizing the opinion pages. But the support has often been mixed with concern that perhaps the letter will cause us to change our principles and content. On that point, reassurance is in order...As long as our proprietors allow us the privilege to do so, the opinion pages will continue to publish contributors who speak their minds within the tradition of vigorous, reasoned discourse. And these columns will continue to promote the principles of free people and free markets, which are more important than ever in what is a culture of growing progressive conformity and intolerance."

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, in a statement on Reach's proposed deal to take full control of the Irish Daily Star"The NUJ represents journalists across the Reach titles. Our local representatives and officials are under enormous pressure, engaging in urgent consultations on redundancies - apparently necessary on economic grounds by a company which is simultaneously expanding its portfolio. There is seething anger among our members and we are contesting the proposed redundancies at every opportunity. We cannot stand back and allow this proposed transaction to proceed without a challenge."

Owen Jones in the Guardian on alleged Russian interference in the Brexit vote: "Of far more relevance was the role of the two largest newspapers in Britain, the Sun – owned by an Australian-born American mogul, if we’re talking of foreign intervention – and the Daily Mail, which forcefully campaigned for Brexit. Not only do they have millions of readers, their front pages play a key role in shaping broadcast news coverage too. And given that immigration played a key role in the referendum, years of inaccurate and inflammatory press reporting on migrants surely had a dramatic impact on the result."
  • A Guardian spokesperson after a man was jailed for assaulting Owen Jones: “We are pleased that the police and courts have now dealt with those responsible for this terrible attack. Assaults on journalists or political activists have no place in a decent society.”

Alan Rusbridger on Twitter: "Huge credit to the BBC for this series on Murdoch. Of course, it will redouble Murdoch drive to destroy the BBC. Do watch if you care about the relationship between information and democracy."

Nick Davies on Twitter: "A big salute to the BBC for having the backbone to commission and to broadcast their three-parter on Murdoch. The old man has been trying to destroy them for years, so it was great that they stood up to him. He has done so much damage..."

Adam Boulton on Twitter: "It was a poor series which re-hashed conventional "guardianista" wisdom with no new insight."


Thursday 23 July 2020

Media Quotes of the Week: From end of the Q - why the music biz will miss the music press to online gloating as the Guardian cuts journalists

Q magazine editor Ted Kessler on Twitter: "I have some bad news about @QMagazine. The issue that comes out on July 28 will be our last. The pandemic did for us and there was nothing more to it than that...On the plus side, we’re all available for work."

Q founder David Hepworth in the New Statesman"Everybody can always tell you how they would have saved it: fewer Liam Gallagher features; a better website; more of the groups I happen to like. All their grand schemes will never be proven or otherwise. I certainly don’t know how it could have been saved. Music journalism was a product of the age of print and paper; put it on a screen and it no longer crackles. To the editorial team I would say this: it’s not your 'fault'. You're not a genius when the market’s running for you and you’re not a failure when it's going the other way. To the music business I would say, you’re going to miss the music press. Why? Because it did one thing you failed to value. Through its lens it made your acts seem exciting and larger than life, even when they weren’t."

Chris Morley, Reach NUJ national coordinator, in a statement on the company's job cuts and digital plans: "The enormous challenge of recent months for our members, working against incredible obstacles thrown up by the pandemic, to produce quality journalism is now turning into a struggle to remain their community’s journalistic champion. From the soundings we have taken since the announcement to the City of these big job losses, members have not bought into this vision that they believe threatens to weaken the company’s core revenue producer, print, still further."

BBC News in a statement after the Labour Party apologised and paid damages to Panorama journalist John Ware and whistleblowers who appeared in a programme about anti-semitism in the party: “The BBC will always support fair and impartial reporting, exposing wrongdoing and holding power to account. The Panorama programme did precisely that, but was subject to an extraordinary and vitriolic attack by the Labour Party. We welcome today’s long overdue apology to John Ware and the seven Panorama whistleblowers, who have been subjected to painful and damaging personal attacks on their integrity and character."

  • John Ware writing in the Daily Mail: "Jeremy Corbyn declared Labour's decision to settle with the whistle-blowers was a political one, rather than a legal one. I am advised this in itself is defamatory and am consulting my legal team over whether to sue the former Labour leader." 

The Independent in an editorial: "Around the world, from Poland to India, democratic societies are experiencing chilling attacks on press freedoms. But in the land of Woodward and Bernstein, of Martha Gellhorn, of Dan Rather, Barbara Walters and Walter Cronkite, of the Pulitzer Prize and Magnum, of Time magazine and The New Yorker, there is something deeply poignant and worrying about these new insidious trends. A nation that led the world in press freedom is now placing that freedom in jeopardy."

Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable Simon Byrne in a statement: "This morning I have written to both Barry McCaffrey and Trevor Birney offering them an unreserved apology for the distress and upset caused to them and their families following the execution of search warrants at their homes and business premises on 31 August 2018. While the searches were planned and conducted at the direction of officers from Durham Constabulary, those officers were acting on behalf of the Police Service of Northern Ireland in an external capacity and I fully accept the ruling of the Lord Chief Justice that the search warrants were unlawful."

David Aaronovitch on Twitter: "Unfortunately I was unable to catch Piers Morgan's Twitter announcement of his new book attacking snowflakey cancel cuture, because he's blocked me. But I'm sure it will be as worth reading as all his other stuff."

Chairman of the Scott Trust, Alex Graham, in an email to Guardian staff saying the Trust has commissioned research into the paper's founder John Edward Taylor's possible links to slavery: “We have seen no evidence that Taylor was a slave owner, nor involved in any direct way in the slave trade,But were such evidence to exist, we would want to be open about it. In any event, we must acknowledge that as cotton and textile merchants, some of Taylor and his funders’ family businesses would almost certainly have traded with cotton plantations that used enslaved labour.”

Peter Jukes on Twitter: "I get that people don’t like the BBC because of coverage of Indyref and Corbyn, or don’t like the Guardian because of coverage of trans issues (and Corbyn). But think. 100s of good journos are losing jobs which will never come back. You won’t even know what you don’t like anymore."

Isabel Oakeshott on Twitter: "So the @guardian is cutting 180 jobs, including 70 from editorial teams. Sounds like they had more staff than readers."
  • Guardian political correspondent Peter Walker on Twitter responding to Oakeshott: "This is such a depressing, petty sentiment, even by the standards of Twitter – a wealthy, well-connected journalist, celebrating the imminent redundancy of other journalists, who will invariably be much less wealthy and well-connected."
David Banks on Twitter: "If we saw cuts at the Daily Mail, or the Telegraph on the same scale as The Guardian I doubt very much we’d see the same crowing from right wingers as we’ve seen from leftists here. You come to the conclusion that there are elements of the left who really don’t like journalists."

Thursday 16 July 2020

Media Quotes of the Week: From journalism job cuts hit BBC, Guardian and local press to charges dropped against Indy reporter arrested in the US

BBC News reports: "The Andrew Neil Show will disappear from BBC schedules as part of cuts to the corporation's news operation. The political discussion programme had already been off the air during the Covid-19 crisis and will not return. But the BBC said it was talking to Neil about a new BBC One interview show. In total, 520 jobs will go, from a workforce of around 6,000 people."

Jim Waterson in the Guardian: "The Guardian has announced plans to make job cuts in both editorial and commercial roles, as the economic shock caused by the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the media industry. The proposals could affect up to 180 jobs – 110 in departments such as advertising, Guardian Jobs, marketing roles, and the Guardian Live events business, with 70 coming from editorial."

Martin Tideswell on Twitter on leaving the editorship of The Sentinel, Stoke-onTrent: "It’s been a really emotional day. A tough week. I’m immensely proud of my team and grateful to the many people who have supported me and The Sentinel/StokeonTrentLive. If you see a local journalist, give them a hug. Value them. They’re all heroes to me."

Gareth Davies on Twitter: "My timeline today has been full of talented local reporters facing the threat of redundancy and few, if any, high profile voices talking out in support of them. It’s vital, now more than ever, that communities have well-staffed and resourced local media. In fact it’s a necessity."

Martin Shipton, NUJ FoC at Reach's Media Wales, quoted by BBC News, on journalists facing redundancy: "They have given their all during the pandemic to produce high quality content for print and online, yet even at this stage they have not been told how many of them the company wants to leave the organisationTo add insult to injury they have done away with our editor-in-chief and Media Wales is being amalgamated with the English Midlands division of Reach under a marketplace publisher based in Birmingham, whose remit covers the English Midlands as well as Cheshire and Lincolnshire."

Tim Shipman in the Sunday Times [£]: "No 10’s attitude to the media was further reinforced on Friday night when [Dominic] Cummings addressed ministerial advisers. 'He called the media snakes and reptiles,' one of those listening revealed."

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, in a statement on the written judgment on the Belfast High Court decision to quash the warrants for the arrest of investigative journalists Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey: "This case is an important and historic victory for all journalists working in the public interest. We very much welcome the decision of the judges to quash the warrants and the bold emphasis they have placed on the right of journalists to protect their sources."

Maria Ressa, quoted by the Committee to Protect Journalists, after sixty press freedom groups and other supporters formed a #HoldTheLine  coalition in support of the journalist threatened with jail in the Philippines: “I am moved by the incredible outpouring of support we’ve received from around the globe for our campaign to #HoldTheLine against tyranny – even as President Duterte continues his public attacks on me, the legal harassment escalates, and the state-licenced and Facebook-fuelled online violence rages on. We can’t stay silent because silence is consent. We need to be outraged, to fight back with journalism. If we don’t use our rights, we will lose them. Please stand with us!”

Nick Cohen in the Observer"The nationalist right is determined to police opinion. In Hungary and Poland, the media are becoming its propaganda organs. Trump incites hatred of reporters who tell the truth about his administration. Johnson threatens the independence of the BBC and Channel 4. Yet they can pose as the champions of free expression because the loudest strain in progressivism has embraced censorship. The practical danger in giving up on freedom of speech is that the day will come when you find you are lost for words just when you need them most."

Janice Turner in The Times [£]: "Almost every day I hear from Guardian journalists, principled, progressive writers, who are terrified of uttering what now counts as WrongSpeak. As the tram-tracks of left-wing discourse have narrowed, any critique of Black Lives Matter or conservative Islam or, worst of all, suggesting a humane balance must be reached between trans activist demands and women’s rights, can result in vicious censure from colleagues, even demands that they are sacked. Questions imply criticism: disagreement is hate-speech. When journalists cannot address issues for fear of losing their jobs, a void is created in the public sphere. If moderate views are unprintable, they become unspeakable. Cancellation trickles down."

The Independent reports: "Authorities in the United States have dropped criminal charges against an Independent journalist arrested while covering race protests in Seattle. Chief US correspondent Andrew Buncombe was detained, shackled and assaulted by a prison guard after being arrested on a charge of  'failure to disperse' as local police sought to clear demonstrators in Seattle’s Cal Anderson Park, prompting strong criticism from press freedom and human rights organisations. Mr Buncombe, who denied committing an offence, could have faced up to 364 days in jail and a $5,000 (£4,000) fine, but Seattle’s deputy city attorney has now confirmed prosecutors will not be pressing charges."

Andrew Buncombe on how he was arrested covering the Black Lives Matter protest: "The officers took my phone, and told me I was under arrest. I requested several times that they tell me what I was being charged with, and read me my rights. They told me I had the 'right to remain silent', but were unable or unwilling to tell me the charge. They then handcuffed me, shackled my ankles and loaded me into a van...In Trump’s America, where the media is routinely cast as evil and dishonest and where an African American reporter for CNN can be arrested live on air, the need to defend journalism and its centrality to an informed democracy has never been greater. And the foundational act for journalists is to show up, either literally or else in spirt and commitment and focus."

Christian Broughton, editor of the Independent, talking to the Society of Editors“As a global news organisation, we have some journalists based permanently in countries with poor records for press freedom, and we frequently send reporters into conflict zones and dangerous situations. But when the phone rings to tell you a reporter has been arrested, you don’t imagine that the correspondent in question would be in the United States.”


Thursday 9 July 2020

Media Quotes of the Week: From journalism job losses soar across the media to 'unencumbered capitalism' blamed for destroying newspapers

Press Gazette reports: "The UK’s largest newspaper group Reach announced plans to cut 550 staff (or around 12% of its workforce). The cutbacks are part of changes intended to deliver savings of £35m a year at a one-off cost of £20m. As of 2019 Reach employed 2,598 journalists and editorial staff across 150 national and regional press brands. Its national news brands include the Mirror and Express and regionally it publishes titles including the Manchester Evening News and Birmingham Mail."
  • Press Gazette also reports: "Liverpool Echo editor and North West editor-in-chief Ali Machray and Bristol Post editor and editor-in-chief for Reach West Mike Norton are both stepping down...At the regionals, four marketplace publishers will be responsible for the print titles and their market positioning. Working alongside them will be audience and content directors who have been appointed across different regions to run local newsrooms and work as part of the digital editorial leadership team. Local editors will report to them."

Reach chief executive Jim Mullen in a statement, quoted by HoldTheFrontPage: “Structural change in the media sector has accelerated during the pandemic and this has resulted in increased adoption of our digital products. However, due to reduced advertising demand, we have not seen commensurate increases in digital revenue. To meet these challenges and to accelerate our customer value strategy, we have completed plans to transform the business and are ready to begin the process of implementation. Regrettably, these plans involve a reduction in our workforce...Award-winning journalism and content will always be at the core of our purpose.”

Bureau of Investigative Journalism editor Rachel Oldroyd on Twitter: "Reach announces 500 job cuts, but says award-winning investigative journalism will remain at its core. The problem is that good local accountability journalism and constant scrutiny of local power doesn't win awards but is vital to democracy and local communities."

Chris Morley, Newsquest NUJ national coordinator, in a statement on  'substantial' redundancies at Newsquest: "We recognise that the pandemic crisis has badly impacted the economy and businesses are struggling to overcome sharp falls in their revenue streams. The government stepped in to provide massive support to commercial companies and to provide a financial bridge to head off mass redundancies. It is really disappointing that the so-called Job Retention Scheme (furlough) now appears to be fast turning into a waiting room for redundancy. So many of those roles being selected for redundancy in Newsquest are those that have been recently furloughed, particularly sport and photography."

The Stage announcing it has started consulting staff about redundancy due to the impact of Coronavirus on theatreland: “A high proportion of The Stage’s revenue is generated from recruitment advertising, which vanished overnight with the shutdown of theatres. The Stage is an independently owned family business and our small team achieves a huge amount. This is not the course of action anyone wanted or could have predicted. We have now spoken to the team members affected and are beginning to consult with them.”

Helen Thomas, director of BBC England, in a statement on plans by the BBC to cut 450 jobs in its  English regional TV news and current affairs, local radio and online news: “I’m proud people have turned to us for trusted news and information in huge numbers during COVID-19, proving the importance of our local and regional services. But those services were created more than 50 years ago, have changed very little and need significant reinvention. That has meant taking some difficult decisions."

Paul Siegert, NUJ national broadcasting organiser, in a statement on the BBC cuts: “There will be relief that the union’s campaign to save the Politics shows has paid off and that the journalism created by Inside Out has not been scrapped. But the hit to local radio – for staff and listeners – will be a major blow. Commercial radio has all but given up on providing any local news and radio has been a great mainstay for many communities during the crisis."

Ex-Northern Echo editor Peter Barron on the BBC cuts on Twitter: "Been through it with local newspapers & now radio. Seen so many brilliant, passionate grass roots journalists displaced in recent years. Local news, local campaigns, local investigations, local accountability are the bedrock of our democracy. So sad, so wrong to see it undermined."

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab, quoted by The Times [£] after announcing sanctions against 20 Saudi Arabians involved in the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi: “Those with blood on their hands, the thugs of despots, or the henchmen of dictators, won’t be free to waltz into this country to buy up property on the Kings Road, or do their Christmas shopping in Knightsbridge, or frankly to siphon dirty money through British banks or financial institutions.”

Ian Murray, executive director of the Society of Editors, in a statement on plans for televised Lobby briefings: “If the aim of the televised briefings is to enable greater transparency then it will be important that they are of sufficient length and inclusive in nature to ensure a broad cross section of the media is able to question the government. It is vital that the government gives assurances that journalists or media providers out of favour with the administration will not be barred from such briefings.”

Matt Chorley in The Times [£]: "No 10 is advertising for someone to front daily press conferences, having been impressed at the viewing figures for the coronavirus briefings, apparently misunderstanding that millions of people were a bit more interested in whether they were going to die than they will be in finding out which factory Alok Sharma is visiting...Key skills include an ability to feign interest all the way to the end of Robert Peston’s question, and then respond with one of four phrases chosen at random: 'We are doubling down on levelling up'; 'This is a typical Westminster bubble story'; 'I haven’t spoken to the PM about that'; or 'I think the public watching have had enough of these gotcha questions'."

David Simon interviewed in the Sunday Times [£]: “Wall Street figured out that if you put out shittier newspapers with a small news coverage and less talent, you could make more money than if you put out a quality newspaper with better news coverage and real talent. And they were right. For a short-term window, they were right, and they guided my industry into this shithole on that logic. It was unencumbered capitalism that disengaged journalism from its purpose. When The Baltimore Sun was at its height, when I was there, we were publishing an evening and a morning edition, and we had 500 reporters in the building. Then there were 90 people covering the same terrain, so, obviously, not covering it.”


Thursday 2 July 2020

Media Quotes of the Week: From The Times they are a broadcastin' to we are ruled by a 'gobocracy' - a Government of ex-newspaper columnists

The Times [£] in a leader: "Times Radio is not merely a megaphone for the famous and powerful. It is an operation with the ability to conduct expert analysis, and pose hard questions, because of the resources it draws on from the news rooms of The Times and The Sunday Times. In the digital age, the division between print and broadcasting has long broken down. Readers and listeners are the same audience, and anyone, via blogs or podcasts, can address them. There is a space in this multiplicity of media for voices that are objective and informed, to counter current fashions for rumour or propaganda."

Roger Mosey, former head of BBC TV News and director of BBC Sport on the launch of Times Radio, on Twitter: "It’s been a decent start by @timesradio. The Mir/Abell combination works. The main thing to applaud is an investment in intelligent speech radio, which adds to the range of voices alongside the BBC and LBC."

John Crace in the Guardian: "Times Radio was looking for a big name to kick off the first show of its first day broadcasting, and interviews don’t come much bigger than the prime minister. And Boris Johnson was keen to drop a gentle reminder that Radio 4’s Today still was not forgiven for its lese-majesty, which was why he had not appeared on the programme for nearly two years. So shortly after eight in the morning Boris made his return to the first news organisation to have sacked him for lying."

Bill Grueskin in the Columbia Journalism Review on White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany: "When she pivots from reporters’ questions to go off on unrelated diatribes, she is seeking to undermine the credibility not just of individual journalists or outlets, but of journalism itself. When confronted with a tweet or quote that might work to Trump’s disadvantage, she tries to undermine the press rather than to address the substance of the story. That is why she comes armed to briefings with multiple examples of press failure—some valid, some fictitious—and draws White House reporters into a noxious tit for tat."

Lynda Moyo, head of what's on at Reach, on Behind Local News on Medium: "Anyone who knows me will also know I’m proud of my afro hair and its chameleon-like tendencies. Seeing me walk through the Manchester Evening News office with waist length jumbo box braids is nothing out of the ordinary. Yet I went out of my way to straighten my hair for that interview because I genuinely believed it could be the difference between 'you’ve got the job' and 'sorry you’re not what we’re looking for at this time.' That feeling stems from a lifetime of feeling like you don’t fit in, like you’re not quite good enough."

The Times [£] reports: "Facebook and Twitter were in turmoil yesterday as leading British and American businesses pulled advertising from their social networks, saying that the time had come for the companies to clean up hate speech and fake news. Unilever, the £120 billion British consumer goods group behind Hellmann’s mayonnaise, suspended US advertising on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter until the end of the year at least. Verizon, the £182 billion US mobile network provider, pulled adverts on Facebook and Instagram until an “acceptable solution” was found for policing harmful content."

Google's Brad Bender in a statement on the google blog: "A vibrant news industry matters—perhaps now more than ever, as people look for information they can count on in the midst of a global pandemic and growing concerns about racial injustice around the world. But these events are happening at a time when the news industry is also being challenged financially. We care deeply about providing access to information and supporting the publishers who report on these important topics. Today, we are announcing a licensing program to pay publishers for high-quality content for a new news experience launching later this year."

Rachel Sassoon Beer

Ann Treneman in The Times [£]: "Good news in my quest to honour Rachel Beer, the first female editor of a national newspaper in Britain who was at the helm of both The Sunday Times and The Observer during the 1890s. I discovered her story years ago when I wrote a book on graves of exceptional people. She lies in Tunbridge Wells, her headstone revealing only her date of death (April 29, 1927) and that she was the daughter of David Sassoon. Well now, with the help of members of the Sassoon family and money from both papers, there is a splendid white marble marker that notes her achievement on her newly renovated grave. I visited last week and felt a sense of pride. I know it is a relatively small thing but it is there for ever now."

Marina Hyde on Richard Desmond in the Guardian: "I see Desmond’s currently a property developer. Then again: he owns a massive newspaper-printing complex. What else are you going to do with it in this day and age? You know the drill for these pivot-to-luxury-flats redevelopments. Quick nod to the heritage in the form of: a coffee shop where a cappuccino costs £4 and people can read free newspapers via gazillionaire social media networks; a blow-dry bar (“The Head-Line”); a gym (“The Print Run”); and a fauxthentic pub called Ye Olde Livere Failyure. Before you take any satisfaction from this, do please remember that we have only gone and elected a journalist to run the entire country."

Nick Cohen in the Observer"As Boris Johnson is leading Britain’s first government of pundits, 'a gobocracy', if you like, it is worth repeating Humbert Wolfe’s scathing poem on the press: 'You cannot hope to bribe or twist,/ thank God! the British journalist./ But, seeing what the man will do/ unbribed, there’s no occasion to.' In a gobocracy, there’s no need to become too conspiratorial about why a prime minister betrays his country. Put a Telegraph columnist in charge, throw in Michael Gove from the Times and Dominic Cummings from Vote Leave’s propaganda arm, and their bottomless cynicism and instinctive charlatanism will bring ruin with or without foreign assistance."