Thursday, 22 July 2021

Media Quotes of the Week: How a free press stopped drug companies ripping off the NHS to oh to have been a cricket correspondent in the 1950s



The Times
 [£] in a leader:
 "Record fines of more than £260 million have been imposed on drug companies that ripped off the NHS by vastly increasing the cost of life-saving medicines. They were imposed after The Times exposed the scandal, underlining the importance of a free press in reporting wrongdoing and holding cheats to account. Thanks to years of dogged investigation by Billy Kenber, a senior reporter, the price-hiking and collusion by the drug company Auden McKenzie and others to raise the cost of hydrocortisone tablets from 70p to £88 a packet was exposed in detail. As a result, the law has been changed and those who swindled the NHS for almost a decade have been named and shamed.

"But for a free press and a determination to uncover scandals hidden by official complacency and aggressive legal threats, the drug companies could have continued this exploitation for years. Those who attack the press for its 'negative' reporting should be grateful that our liberties and our standards are safeguarded by the tradition of holding everyone to account."


The Guardian
reports: "
The editor of the Financial Times is one of more than 180 editors, investigative reporters and other journalists around the world who were selected as possible candidates for surveillance by government clients of the surveillance firm NSO Group, the Guardian can reveal. Roula Khalaf, who became the first female editor in the newspaper’s history last year, was selected as a potential target throughout 2018. Her number is included in a leaked list of mobile phone numbers selected for possible surveillance by clients of NSO, an Israeli firm that manufactures spyware and sells it to governments.

"Its principal product, Pegasus, is capable of compromising a phone, extracting all of the data stored on the device and activating its microphone to eavesdrop on conversations. Other journalists who were selected as possible candidates for surveillance by NSO’s clients work for some of the world’s most prestigious media organisations. They include the Wall Street Journal, CNN, the New York Times, Al Jazeera, France 24, Radio Free Europe, Mediapart, El PaĆ­s, Associated Press, Le Monde, Bloomberg, Agence France-Presse, the Economist, Reuters and Voice of America."
  • Committee to Protect Journalists deputy executive director Robert Mahoney in a statement: "This report shows how governments and companies must act now to stop the abuse of this spyware which is evidently being used to undermine civil liberties, not just counter terrorism and crime. No one should have unfettered power to spy on the press, least of all governments known to target journalists with physical abuse and legal reprisals.”

The Sunday Times [£] in a leader on the investigation by the Information Commissioner's Office into who leaked CCTV footage to the Sun of Matt Hancock and his aide: "The ICO’s rules, strangely, say anyone reporting concerns to the media loses whistleblowing protections. This is absurd. Had Mr Hancock’s behaviour been reported to senior officials in his department, or even the police, the result would have been a quiet word. His hypocrisy would have remained under wraps and the public would have been none the wiser. The public interest would not have been served. Most genuine whistleblowing is to newspapers. The ICO, after these wrongheaded raids, needs to understand that."

Gavin Millar Q.C. in the Sun: "Like any state investigation into a possible criminal offence — and especially a minor one like this — there has to be a public interest in using these sorts of coercive state powers.  And the use has to be compatible with the fundamental rights of the whistleblowers and the journalists. In a case of high-value public-interest journalism like this, neither of these conditions is even remotely made out.  This is heavy-handed and misconceived state action of the sort that, in the long run, harms all of us and our democracy."

Kelvin MacKenzie on Twitter: "Correctly the Sun is outraged by efforts to find the source of the Hancock photos. Shame they weren't bothered a few years back when Rupert Murdoch decided to hand over sources AND 22 Sun journalists to the prosecutors to save himself from a corporate charge. Pass the sickbag."


Laura Kuenssberg in her BBC 2 interview with Dominic Cummings: "So you are suggesting that the Prime Minister of this country calls the Telegraph newspaper, that he used to be a columnist for, he calls them his real boss?"

Cummings: "Correct."


Duncan Campbell and Duncan Campbell in the Guardian:
"Here we go again. Nearly 50 years ago one of us was arrested under the Official Secrets Act for working on a story for Time Out magazine, where the other one of us was the news editor. This led to the so-called ABC case, named after fellow reporter Crispin Aubrey, a brave ex-soldier whistleblower called John Berry, and the aforesaid Campbell. A lengthy Old Bailey trial followed in 1978 and, with it, a major discrediting of the use of the act against the press...The Home Office now wants harder and more extensive secrecy laws that would have the effect of deterring sources, editors and reporters, making them potentially subject to uncontrolled official bans not approved by a court, and punished much more severely if they do not comply."


London Evening Standard's retiring political editor Joe Murphy in a comment article in the paper:
"Friends tell me that my departure is the 'end of an era'. In one respect that is true. I am the last daily political editor who did not go to university, having grabbed a local paper job instead. In those days nearly all the print political editors were non-graduates, including George Jones of the Telegraph, the great Gordon Greig of the Mail and the legendary PA man, Chris Moncrieff. Only the snooty Guardian and the BBC insisted on degrees. How cruel we are to our children when we preach social mobility but make them run up £50,000 of debt for a piece of paper that isn’t needed for my job, nor for most others."


Guto Harri, the GB News presenter suspended after taking the knee on air, in  The Sunday Times [£]: 
“I joined, part-time but with an ongoing commitment, because I liked and trusted those in charge and supported the broad vision. But the channel is rapidly becoming an absurd parody of what it proclaimed to be. Rather than defending free speech and confronting cancel culture, it has set out to replicate it on the far right. GB News may yet find its bearings but it’s hard to see how you champion the best in Britain when you endorse contempt for one of our national sides in a championship final."


International Federation of Journalists general secretary Anthony Bellanger in a statement after Dutch investigative crime reporter Peter R de Vries died from his injuries nine days after being shot in the street: "The loss of Peter is devastating for press freedom in Europe. He is the 3rd journalist killed this year on the continent. The Dutch government must send a clear message that freedom of the press is not negotiable and that there should be no impunity for the killing of journalists."

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, quoted byBBC News, said Peter R de Vries was: "Afraid of nothing and no one...We owe it to Peter R de Vries to ensure that justice takes its course."


The Times
[£] on the death of cricket writer John Woodcock:
"During his time as correspondent, the life of a broadsheet cricket writer was usually a leisurely affair. Not long after his appointment by The Times on a salary of £900 a year (plus an annual £52 cost-of-living bonus) he set out for Australia on board SS Orsova for the 1954-55 Ashes series. In his luggage was a new lightweight suit, made to measure by JC Wells (not quite Savile Row, but nearby) at the paper’s expense. The trip took three weeks in which he was untroubled by communication with the office. He filed 400 words when the ship docked for a stopover at Ceylon and another 400 when it landed at Fremantle, Western Australia."

 [£]=paywall 

Thursday, 15 July 2021

Media Quotes of the Week: From journalists were attacked and abused by racist England football fans to training on the Oxford Mail was my university



NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet in a statement:
“The level of abuse and violence our members have experienced while reporting on matches and fans viewing the games is shocking. Our members have told us about having missiles thrown at them, threats of violence and insults while lawfully doing their jobs. They have also witnessed disgusting racist behaviour from the so-called fans...We will reporting these incidents to the UEFA inquiry and raising them with the police.”
  • The NUJ quotes a videographer who reported being threatened by a knife from an England supporter: “The amount of racism I witnessed was equal to any far right protest I have ever covered in my 16-year career as a video journalist, not just against black English players, but also against Scottish, German and Italian fans. Often the opposing fans were chased off by England fans under the threat of violence if they stayed. I personally faced nothing but welcome from the opposing fans, not one case of abuse or threat.”

The Times
[£] reports:
 "Ministers will tell technology giants to immediately hand over details of the racists who abused England players so the government can 'make examples' of the perpetrators. Comments posted on the footballers’ social media pages after they lost to Italy in the Euro 2020 final on Sunday have intensified frustration with the companies’ failure to stamp out abuse. Ministers believe social media platforms need to provide information in a more timely fashion to help the authorities crack down on the problem."
  • Peter Barron on Twitter: "As a newspaper editor, I refused to publish anonymous letters unless there was a valid reason. Those making a point or criticising others had to do so with the courage to be named. The same principle should apply in social media so cowards can’t hide."

BBC News reports: "Four Iranian intelligence officials have been charged with plotting to kidnap a New York-based journalist critical of Iran, US prosecutors say. The indictment did not name the target, but Masih Alinejad (pictured), an Iranian-American author and activist, says it was her.  The conspirators, who all live in Iran and remain at large, also allegedly plotted to lure a person in the UK and three others in Canada to Iran."


Nick Davies on Press Gazette on the decade since the closure of the News of the World 
in the wake of the phone hacking scandal he exposed in the Guardian"Nothing important has changed. I suspect it’s true that criminality committed by Fleet Street newspapers has fallen to zero, or near zero. But what we didn’t achieve was the creation of a decent press regulator. The most important thing about a decent press regulator is that publishers would be required to abide by its first clause, for members to correct anything false and misleading they published. If that had been in place we wouldn’t have left the European Union.Public debate continues to be polluted by false and misleading information. Some titles at the dark end of Fleet Street remain a distortion of what journalism should be.”


The Financial Times reports: "
BBC News is facing a test of its independence after an intervention by a BBC board member with close ties to Downing Street stalled a senior editorial appointment on political grounds.  Sir Robbie Gibb, communications director to Theresa May when she was prime minister, tried to block the preferred candidate to oversee the BBC’s news channels because the appointment would shatter relations with the government, said people with knowledge of the recruitment process.  Gibb, who became a non-executive director of the BBC in April, issued his warning to the news division’s managers after Jess Brammar, former editor of HuffPost UK and deputy editor of BBC Newsnight, emerged as the favoured candidate in the recruitment process. Gibb, a former BBC journalist, told BBC director for news and current affairs Fran Unsworth in a text message that she “cannot make this appointment”, said people privy to the communication. He added the government’s “fragile trust in the BBC will be shattered” if she went ahead." 
  • Huff Post's Paul Waugh on Twitter: "This is truly extraordinary. How can a non-exec director of the BBC interfere in a recruitment process? Especially when the only crime of the journalist involved, @jessbrammar, is standing up for her reporters' right to ask questions of the government?"
  • Media Guido on Twitter: "Government source: 'Brammar has been running a borderline fake news lefty clickbait website for years. Remarkable that someone like this would even enter consideration'."

Press Gazette
 after prison officer Robert Norman (pictured), whose identity as a confidential source was given to police by Trinity Mirror (now Reach), lost an appeal against his conviction at the European Court of Human Rights:
 "The news closes the book on a dark chapter for UK journalism and underlines that reporters should trust no-one, especially their employer, when it comes to the protection of sources. Never put anything in a work email that you would not be happy to be read out in court or handed over to the UK state."


Statement on the second anniversary of the Global Conference for Media Freedom:
"We acknowledge the impact of the pandemic on media freedom, in particular that this crisis has been used to put in place undue restrictions on free and independent media...We condemn intimidation, harassment and violence against journalists. We commend the crucial role played by journalists and media workers and pay tribute to those who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession."


Sahara Reporters
on press freedom fight in Nigeria:
"The Nigerian Press Organisation (NPO) has resolved to resist the government's attempt to stifle the media’s constitutional freedom of speech in Nigeria, even as it set July 12, 2021 to stage a Front Page protest by publishing a uniform artwork in all the newspapers. Publishers say the new laws confers on the Press Council the power to determine ethics and fake news, investigate infractions and impose fines on journalists, publishers and distributors. It proposes fines of up to N.25 million on the journalist, and N5 million on a corporate body. It specifies jail terms of one to three years and fines ranging from N.25 million to N5 million on journalists, news agents and media outlets."


Darren Styles, managing director of Stream, who has signed a deal to produce a UK edition of Rolling Stone magazine, as quoted by Press Gazette“The arrival of Rolling Stone in the UK is not only a hugely exciting development for our brilliant team, but also fantastic news for the UK music and entertainment industries which deserve the showcase and platform that this iconic brand will deliver. A Rolling Stone cover is the picture worth 10,000 words, and UK artists will now have opportunities of their own to achieve just that, as well access to the RS network that stretches well beyond its native USA to Australia, China and more than a dozen other countries.”


Jim Rosenthal in the Sunday Times [£]: "Everyone goes on about Oxford University as a place of academic prowess, but the Oxford Mail was my university. The four years of training was priceless. I used the principles I picked up there every day of my working life."

[£]=paywall


Thursday, 8 July 2021

Media Quotes of the Week: From the 37 heads of state shamed as predators of press freedom to selling off Channel 4 stinks of vindictiveness












Reporters Without Borders [RSF] secretary-general Christophe Deloire on the publishing of a gallery of heads of state or government who crack down on press freedom: "There are now 37 leaders from around the world in RSF’s predators of press freedom gallery and no one could say this list is exhaustive. Each of these predators has their own style. Some impose a reign of terror by issuing irrational and paranoid orders. Others adopt a carefully constructed strategy based on draconian laws. A major challenge now is for these predators to pay the highest possible price for their oppressive behaviour. We must not let their methods become the new normal.”
  • Nearly half (17) of the predators are making their first appearance onthe 2021 list, which RSF is publishing five years after the last one, from 2016.

Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema after Dutch crime reporter Peter R. de Vries, known for his work in exposing the criminal underworld, was shot after leaving a television studio, as reported by Reuters:
"He was seriously wounded and is fighting for his life. He is a national hero to us all. A rare, courageous journalist who tirelessly sought justice."


Nick Cohen in The Critic on journalist Catherine Belton's book Putin's People over which she and her publisher are being sued in the London libel courts by Russian billionaires:
"I am reviewing a book that cannot be reviewed. Libel lawyers tell me that, if I recommend that you read it, I could open this magazine and myself to court action. Not in Russia where the judiciary has been the loyal servant of the Kremlin since the early 2000s, but here in England, a land we once assumed possessed a modicum of freedom."


The Russian Journalists’ and Media Workers’ Union (JMWU) in a statement after Russian authorities raided the apartments of investigative journalists of the online outlet Proekt in Moscow, said it was: 
"Outraged by the unlawful actions of the security officials and demands to immediately stop the 'libel' case and the persecution of Proekt employees, as well as other Russian investigative journalists.”


BBC Radio Ulster TV and BBC Radio 5 presenter Stephen Nolan, after a Twitter troll apologised and agreed to pay a six-figure damages sum for making defamatory remarks about him: 
"This  individual had been running a malicious campaign designed to undermine me and hinder my journalism. I am deeply grateful to the BBC, who will always judge me fairly on its editorial standards rather than the lies this individual attempted to propagate."


Channel 4 News presenter Cathy Newman, quoted by Press Gazette:
“Online abuse is just totally dehumanising. There’s no other word for it really. When I got death threats and had my home address put online I didn’t feel like a human being. I felt as if I was being eviscerated by a pack of dogs in the street. It was really stressful for me, it was really time-consuming to deal with as well, but it was also really stressful for my family particularly because my teenage daughter came across some of the abuse online.”


Kelvin MacKenzie on Twitter:
"Hilarious that Sarah Vine should ask for privacy about her marital woes when only a week ago in her MoS column she invaded her own privacy by pouring a thinly disguised bucket of shit all over Gove. She is paid a fortune to tear people apart and does it well. The biter bit...The Sun has known for months about the Gove-Vine separation but chose not to publish it as the Cabinet minister was a MoM ( mate of Murdoch)."
  • Sun on Sunday political editor David Wooding on Twitter: "This is categorically not the case. Several papers had heard the rumours but none had the proof and MG's team issued constant denials. I suspect you know what happens when you print things that you can't prove are the truth."


Sara Fischer on Axios on the media rebounding in the U.S.: "About 963 newsroom jobs have been lost so far this year — down 91% from the 10,576 cuts through the same period last year, according to new data." 

The big picture: "Other factors, like record advertising growth and the speedy return of live events, suggest the media industry is rebounding quicker than it originally anticipated."

Why it matters: "A year ago, media companies were reeling from the early effects of COVID-19 — scrambling for loans and laying off thousands while hoping to make it through a possible recession. Now, things are looking up, mostly because the economy didn't collapse." 

Driving the news: "New data from Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. suggests that while many media jobs are still being lost, hundreds are starting to be added. So far this year, media employers in U.S. have announced 725 new hiring plans, compared to just 12 this time last year."


Chris Matheson, shadow minister for digital, culture, media and sport, in The Times [£]:
 "Sadly, this government has a track record of rolling over for foreign-owned tech and media companies. They talk of 'global Britain' but the reality is selling off great British institutions such as Channel 4 to foreign owners, whose understanding of the UK is limited and whose loyalty is trumped every time by the demand for a hefty return. This plan stinks of petulance, vindictiveness and ideology in the face of facts. Labour will oppose it. But expect big opposition too from anyone who still supports the ethos of public service broadcasting, and from our world-beating independent TV production sector and the wider creative industries. They know an anti-British idea when they see it."


[£]=paywall

Thursday, 1 July 2021

Media Quotes of the Week: Why PM wanted to save Hancock despite media pile-on to news group wants safety editor to address abuse of journalists


Paul Goodman in The Times [£]: "Never forget that the prime minister is a long-time working journalist who, over the years, has developed a jaded view of media pile-ons. Furthermore, he was combining journalism with trying to build a political career when John Major’s government was overwhelmed by sleaze claims. Johnson’s political opponents have been seeking to resurrect the charge: remember the recent contretemps about the Downing Street refurbishment. I suspect that Johnson has drawn precisely the opposite conclusion from the Major years to what one might expect. This would be: never show weakness. Don’t give the media what it wants (especially with a back story as colourful as his own)."


Sun
editor-in-chief Victoria Newton in the New Statesman:
"The news desk had been contacted by an angry whistle-blower. They claimed to have irrefutable evidence that the married Secretary of State for Health was breaching his own lockdown rules by having an office affair with an aide. My first thought was – bloody hell, what a story, it can’t be true. The source told us they had footage of Matt Hancock kissing his glamorous ­adviser Gina Coladangelo on 6 May in his ­Westminster office. A quick check of the government rules that Hancock himself had devised and demanded that the nation follow showed that kissing someone from another household was most definitely not allowed. This was an open and shut case of ­public interest – and a contender for story of the year."

David Banks on Twitter: "On the Daily Telegraph they called them marmalade droppers, stories so amazing the marmalade slides of the reader’s toast while they read. On The Sun they were less genteel and called them FMD stories, where the reader says Fuck Me Doris, have you seen this in The Sun?"

David Yelland on Twitter: "It's The Sun Wot Won It! Take a bow Victoria Newton, editor of my old paper, who has seen off Matt Hancock - and surely scuppered Dido Harding's bid to run the NHS into the bargain...."

Mike Lowe on Twitter: "Delighted to see our old friend 'steamy clinch' making a comeback in today's Sun."


Anne Robinson in the Observer on working in Fleet Street:
 "Looking back, though, it was very sexist. The chief sub would deliberately drop your typed copy on the floor so you’d bend down to pick it up and the men could see your knickers. I never thought: 'How dare they?'; I thought: 'It won’t be long until I’m in charge of this lot'.”


Gulnoza Said of the Committee to Protect Journalists has interviewed Dmitry and Nataliya Pratasevich, whose journalist son, Raman Pratasevich, was arrested after Belarusian authorities diverted his flight from Greece to Lithuania to Minsk on May 23. 

Dmitry: "Horror is the main feeling we have these days. As soon as we learned [about Raman’s arrest], we started trying to find out where he was and how he was. We knew the nature of the regime in Belarus, we knew what can happen to someone they catch, we knew what torture and abuse our son could be subjected to."

Nataliya: "I can’t tell, nobody knows what will happen next. Laws don’t work in Belarus. The decisions are made arbitrarily. I haven’t slept since his arrest. In the first [confession] video, I saw very clear signs that he was beaten. I am his mother, I can tell. But I think it was obvious for everyone that he was beaten.
At the press conference, his face looked better but who knows what’s under his clothes. Raman is under a lot of psychological pressure, I have no doubts about it. He is probably being threatened. I can only hope that if they are forcing him to say what they want, maybe they will stop beating him."



The Financial Times on how London lawyers investigated reporter Dan McCrum, who exposed the Wirecard scandal:"After McCrum’s 'House of Wirecard' series was published on FT Alphaville, UK-based law firm Schillings compiled a 19-page 'investigative report' about McCrum for Wirecard...The report offered a series of recommendations: Wirecard could do nothing, Schillings could dig deeper, or together the law firm and Wirecard could take 'proactive defence steps.' It also said that depending on circumstances, there may be other options for dissuading McCrum or the FT from publishing further articles of a similar type. Schillings has said it acted entirely properly throughout, in compliance with its legal and regulatory obligations."


Jim Waterson in the Guardian:
 "Rupert Murdoch has asked the government to abolish the legal restraints on him interfering in the editorial independence of the Times and the Sunday Times that were put in place when he first bought the newspapers. At the moment the two newspapers are required to have largely separate editorial teams, while Murdoch nominally has to answer to a group of independent directors on key editorial matters. News UK has now asked the government to abolish the independent directors, arguing that they are no longer required and were designed in a pre-internet era."


Kathleen Carroll, chair of the Committee to Protect Journalists board on why it is honouring Jimmy Lai, the imprisoned founder of Hong Kong’s Next Digital media company and Apple Daily newspaper, with the 2021 Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award:
“Jimmy Lai is not just a champion of a free press, he is a press freedom warrior. He fights for the right of his Apple News organization to publish freely, even as China and its backers in Hong Kong use every tool to quash them. The CPJ board is pleased to honor Jimmy Lai with the 2021 Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award. And we look forward to the day when we can present that award to him in person.”


Reporters Without Borders in Paris staged a mock funeral procession outside the Chinese embassy to mark the closure of Apple Daily and said in a statement:
"Democracies cannot continue to stand idly by whilst the Chinese regime systematically erodes what’s left of the country’s independent media, as it has already done in the rest of the country. Today’s funeral is for Apple Daily, but tomorrow’s may be for press freedom in China. It’s time for the international community to act in line with their own values and obligations and defend what’s left of the free press in Hong Kong, before China’s model of information control claims another victim."



Alison Gow on Twitter: "Online abuse and harassment of journalists is an enormous and growing issue. I'm pleased Reach is creating in a dedicated role to work with journalists and platforms to tackle the problem... and I am desperately sad that we need to."

[£]=paywall

Thursday, 24 June 2021

Media Quotes of the Week: From super-rich are abusing UK libel laws to attack journalists to jihadists were polite compared to online warriors



Sean O'Neill in The Times [£]: "The most potent threat to courageous journalism is not from baying mobs of conspiracy cranks or toxic Twitter trolls. It comes from super-rich men who cannot bear their personal and business affairs to be questioned, probed or criticised. When these men feel aggrieved they turn to big London law firms who will do their bidding for a very fat fee...Attacks on journalism take the form of defamation and libel cases, breach of copyright actions and allegations of privacy violations...If [Boris] Johnson genuinely believes in media freedom he must stop the campaign of lawfare being waged in London against journalists from all over the world."


The International Federation of Journalists after police raided the pro-Democracy Apple Daily in Hong Kong and arrested five executives: “This is an outrageous attack on a voice for independence and democracy in Hong Kong and follows a sustained campaign of intimidation against Apple Daily since the National Security Law was imposed upon the people of Hong Kong. The excessive show of force by Hong Kong police in descending on Apple Daily’s operations is a disturbing development and shows the great lengths to which authorities are prepared to silence critical reporting in Hong Kong. This attack defies all international human rights principles and represents a dire low point in its Hong Kong’s media history. Journalism is not a crime.”

The Observer in a leader"Apple Daily’s true offence is to have opposed Beijing’s illegitimate takeover through the exercise of principled, informed, critical journalism. Xi and his censorious commissars just can’t bear it. The fact that citizens rallied to support the newspaper last week, buying copies in huge numbers, is a cheering sign that Beijing’s bullying has not crushed Hong Kong’s independent spirit. The brave stand taken by Jimmy Lai, Apple Daily’s owner, who is already in jail on trumped up charges, and editor-in-chief Ryan Law, deserves deep respect."
  • Apple Daily has announced it has been forced to close "in view of staff safety."

Steve Dyson on the demise of the newsroom in InPublishing: "While modern, online journalists might justifiably point out how old-fashioned those days were, and how irrelevant they might be to audiences on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, the old high street office had one crucial element that no number of websites, phone screens and social media can replace: people in the flesh. People talking, smiling, greeting, laughing, commiserating, advising, shouting and sometimes snoring, but people all the same, breathing into that day’s or that week’s newspapers, then read by the audience we served, becoming their conversations, delights, debates and sometimes moans."


Paul Siegert, NUJ national broadcasting organiser, in a statement following more speculation the Government is set to sell off Channel 4 next year: “We are calling on the government to keep Channel 4 in public hands. Privatisation would see the channel’s public ethos replaced in favour of the interests of shareholder profit. It currently has a unique place in the market and is particularly popular with younger viewers. This should be cherished and not sold off to the highest bidder. The government says it agrees that public service broadcasting should remain as strong as ever, so why is it considering selling off Channel 4?”


Patrick Freyne
 reviews GB News in the Irish Times: "It doesn’t take long for [Dan] Wootton to go full wingnut. On Tuesday he highlights a baseless conspiracy theory about how lockdowns might ultimately be a government plot to curb carbon emissions. Does he have facts to back this up? No. But he’s the type of journalist who doesn’t need facts. He prefers to ask questions. You know, like your four-year-old: What is a dog? Why is the moon? Are spiders happy? Is Isis funding the BBC?"


The International Federation of Journalists in a statement after the Tokyo Olympics said foreign journalists would be GPS tracked via their mobile phones throughout the games: “The implementation of such precaution denies journalists their right to privacy and limits the freedom of the press. The IFJ urges the Olympic Organising Committee to repeal this regulation and discuss alternative ways of maintaining the safety of all attendees with journalists and their unions.”


Christina Lamb in the Sunday Times [£] on the online abuse she received for one sentence in her Duke of Edinburgh funeral report: "
As a female journalist I am sadly used to online abuse, from jihadists who hate western women, or Pakistani hardliners because of my association with the activist Malala Yousafzai, whose autobiography I worked on. This was different. People apparently thought it was a perfectly reasonable response to abuse me, my husband and son. The jihadists were polite in comparison."

[£]=paywall

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Media Quotes of the Week: From anti-BBC rhetoric blamed for mob attack on journalist to if England win Euro 2020 will it be down to Rupert Murdoch?


BBC Newsnight editor Esme Wren on Twitter after film of Newsnight political editor Nick Watt being harassed at an anti-lockdown protest outside Downing Stre
et was posted online: "Harassing and intimidating any journalist is completely unacceptable. All journalists should be able to do their work without impediment or risking their safety #newsnight"

Alan Rusbridger on Twitter: "A fine BBC journalist mobbed on the streets on London. The repeated dog whistle attacks on the BBC are not without consequences...."


The Times
[£] in a leader on the Nick Watt attack:
"These kinds of attacks on journalists are becoming more frequent and are the product of a political climate increasingly hostile towards the media. Though not exclusively, attacks on journalists in the West have largely been at the hands of a reinvigorated far right...While it may be extremists who are committing these acts, root culpability lies with the politicians who seek to undermine the work of the press."


BBC correspondent Jonah Fisher on Twitter after authorities in Belarus paraded the detained opposition journalist Roman Protasevich at a news conference in Minsk: "
We have just walked out. Not taking part when he is clearly there under duress."


Government response to a Sunday Times [£] story about a billionaire property tycoon who gave £150,000 to the Conservative Party 48 hours after a government minister approved a controversial housing scheme for him: "Asked repeatedly whether [John] Bloor or his representatives had lobbied [Robert] Jenrick or other ministers ahead of these decisions, government officials said it would be 'too costly' to find out under Freedom of Information laws."


Alex Barker in the Financial Times:
"Rupert Murdoch has written down the value of The Sun newspapers to zero, acknowledging the tabloid brand that helped build his global media empire has become a worthless asset. The Sun titles, whose accounts were published on Friday, suffered badly as the pandemic hit print advertising and circulation, with its turnover falling more than a fifth to £324m in the financial year to June 2020. The bleak year left News Group Newspapers, a subsidiary of Murdoch’s NewsCorp that operates The Sun and The Sun on Sunday, nursing a pre-tax loss of £201m, even after slashing its costs and marketing.  The grim medium-term outlook for the print revenues, which carried the business through its heyday, forced the company to write down the asset by £84m, an impairment that left The Sun brand with zero carrying value." 


Sam Tobin in the Evening Standard
: "Former Liberal Democrat MP Sir Simon Hughes has said knowledge that his private information was unlawfully obtained 'went to the top in The Sun' after accepting 'substantial' damages from the newspaper’s publisher. Sir Simon sued News Group Newspapers (NGN), the publisher of The Sun and the now-defunct News Of The World, for misuse of private information and breach of confidence in 2019.  The former MP, who represented Bermondsey and Old Southwark over a 32-year period until 2015, claimed 'he had been the victim of unlawful information-gathering by various journalists and executives at The Sun'." 


Chris Bennion in the Telegraph on the launch of GB News: "
The sound was often out of sync, one presenter suffered a microphone failure, Sir Alan Sugar disappeared one word into his interview and the sets looked as if they had been hastily cobbled together (which, of course, they have been). However, at this early stage the glitches may well have boosted GB News’s cause, giving more credence to the idea that they are 'disruptors', outsiders taking on the slick establishment. The BBC doesn’t have glitches."

Stuart Jeffries on GB News in the Guardian: "GB News’s biggest problem is that the elephant isn’t in the room. Piers Morgan, the man for whom GB News could have been and perhaps was invented, has not yet been signed up. Nor has another anti-woke tabloid bruiser Nick Ferrari, whom GB News sought to lure from LBC, where the breakfast bulldog is renowned for eviscerating politicians, exposing for instance Diane Abbott’s innumeracy. These are the A-listers GB News needs if it is to produce reach as well as ratings. There’s a danger that it could have neither...My three words? 'A year tops'."


Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, in a statement on the BBC’s review into the re-hiring of Martin Bashir as Religious Affairs Correspondent in 2016:
“The NUJ was regularly demanding an end to so-called cappuccino interviews and stitched-up recruitment processes back in 2014 and 2015, ahead of Martin Bashir’s re-hiring in 2016. Our objections to his and many other appointments – made whilst the BBC was making sweeping cuts and spending vast sums on needless redundancies – were brushed aside and dodgy recruitment practices denied. Decisions on hiring Bashir were made over cosy coffees."


Jack Shafer on Politico: "The local news movement won’t make much progress until its proponents realize that its primary obstacle is a demand-side one, not a supply-side one. It’s not that nobody wants to read local news; it’s just that not enough people do to make it a viable business. Maybe the surfeit of local news of yesteryear was the product of an economic accident, a moment that cannot be reclaimed. But even if you were to underwrite local news with taxes and philanthropy, and distribute it to citizens via subsidies, you’d still have to find a way to get people to read it. Until some editorial genius cracks that puzzle, the local news quest will remain a charitable, niche project advanced by journalistic, academic and political elites."


David Yelland on Twitter:
"If England win #EURO2020 kudos will be due - but not given (!) - to Rupert Murdoch whose vision created the modern @premierleague - and transformed clubs' balance sheets - & @ManCity's Pep Guardiola for perfecting our game and players."

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