Thursday, 3 December 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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