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.

Thursday 5 November 2020

Quotes of the Week: Politicians and social media platforms must act to stop abuse of journalists to English libel law used to threaten reporters outside UK investigating financial crime and corruption

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, after a survey of NUJ members showed many had suffered online abuse, threats and physical attacks: "It is wholly unacceptable and outrageous that NUJ members are being routinely abused, harassed and intimidated in the course of doing their job. Such abuse and harassment goes beyond the awful personal impact - it also risks silencing journalists and censoring debates. Those under attack - disproportionately women and black and minority ethnic journalists - admit to thinking twice about what they say or publish, with self-censorship a natural self-protective reflex. It is clear that those in public office, especially our elected politicians, have a leadership role in improving parlous levels of public discourse. We need an end to the dismissal of journalism as fake news... And it’s time social media platforms did more to deter and stop abuse."

Key findings of the survey include:
  • 51% of respondents said they had experienced online abuse in the last year
  • 55% of respondents said the abuse had affected their wellbeing and mental health
  • 48% said the abuse had made them fearful or anxious
  • 15% of respondents said harassment had made them consider leaving the industry

The Times
[£] in a leader on the Martin Bashir interview with Princess Diana and the row over fake documents said to have helped secure it:
"Tim Davie, the new director-general, has apologised to Lord Spencer and the BBC says it will investigate any 'substantive new information'. It should go further and hold a formal inquiry. It is already clear that Bashir’s behaviour was a journalistic disgrace. The question must be whether others at the BBC knew this already and covered it up. Mr Davie should be keen to find the truth. If he does not, others will."

Younes Mjahed, president of the International Federation of Journalists, in a statement to mark the UN's International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists on
 2 November: “We cannot remain silent when the level of impunity across the world is so shockingly high and the masterminds maintain their power because they can escape justice. Democracy requires that the authors of crimes and intimidations be duly brought to justice and pay the price for silencing those who are fighting for the truth."

A spokesman for the Sun, quoted by The Times [£], after actor Johnny Depp lost his libel battle over claims he physically and sexually abused his ex-wife Amber Heard:
“The Sun has stood up and campaigned for the victims of domestic abuse for over twenty years. Domestic abuse victims must never be silenced and we thank the judge for his careful consideration and thank Amber Heard for her courage in giving evidence to the court.”

The BBC's new social media guidance for journalists: "Expressions of opinion on social media can take many forms – from straightforward tweets, posts or updates, sharing or liking content, following particular accounts or using campaigning or political hashtags. You should consider carefully every comment before posting... Avoid ‘virtue signalling’ – retweets, likes or joining online campaigns to indicate a personal view, no matter how apparently worthy the cause."

BBC Newsdesk and Planning editor Neil Henderson on Twitter: "Virtue signalling. Well I’m proud to be sacked for any opposition I may express to racism and hate."

Christian Broughton, managing director and former editor of the Independent on Robert Fisk, who has died aged 74:
“Fearless, uncompromising, determined and utterly committed to uncovering the truth and reality at all costs, Robert Fisk was the greatest journalist of his generation. The fire he lit at the Independent will burn on.”

Jeremy Corbyn on Facebook before he was suspended by the Labour Party: 
“One antisemite is one too many, but the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media."

BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw in TheTimes [£]: "With the expansion of virtual hearings and remote access in response to the pandemic, you do not have to be at court to follow some proceedings. If the audio or video link is reliable you can cover cases from an office or bedroom. I expect that desktop court reporting will become a permanent feature of journalism, but without being there, reporters risk missing the vital off-the-cuff conversations with officials, lawyers and other participants that aid understanding of the legal process, build trust and prevent mistakes."

Rachel Cooke in the Observer interviewing ex-Financial Times editor Lionel Barber:
"Even as I’m interviewing him, he keeps telling me how interviews should be done."

Susan Coughtrie, project director at the Foreign Policy Centre, on its survey examining pressures faced by journalists uncovering crime and corruption around the world
: “Investigative journalists uncovering financial crime and corruption are being subject to a significant amount of risks and threats, which has a chilling effect on their ability to continue to bring crucial matters of public interest to light. Particularly alarming is the level and frequency, as highlighted by our survey, of legal threats being sent to journalists all over the world. The UK is the highest international source of these legal challenges – almost as high as EU countries and the US combined – which points to a clear need for further review to prevent potential vexatious misuse of the UK legal system.”