Thursday 25 February 2021

Media Quotes of the WeeK: From PM scorned for telling kids journalists abuse people to Facebook faces more flack after Australian climbdown

Boris Johnson, in an online lesson with schoolchildren at Sedgehill Academy in Lewisham, south London, as reported by Sky News
"When you're a journalist it's a great, great job, it's a great profession. But the trouble is, sometimes you find yourself always abusing people or attacking people. Not that you want to abuse them or attack them, but you are being critical, when maybe you feel sometimes a bit guilty about that, because you haven't put yourself in the place of the person you're criticising."

@NUJofficial general secretary Michelle Stanistreet: "This banal disparaging of journalists as unfeeling bullies reveals a prime minister with complete disdain for journalism and press freedom."

Chris Matheson, the shadow media minister, quoted by the Daily Mail: "For Boris Johnson to say journalists are 'always abusing people' probably says more about his own career. It is particularly troubling coming so soon after the Prime Minister stood by one of his ministers who attacked a journalist who was just trying to do her job. We know from Donald Trump that these kind of assaults on the free press are dangerous and designed to stir up distrust and division. Boris Johnson should withdraw these remarks and apologise"

Press Gazette reports: "The UK’s regional print daily newspapers saw their circulations fall by an average of 18% in the second half of 2020. The daily titles audited by ABC saw a total circulation drop of 27%, according to Press Gazette’s analysis. Meanwhile, non-dailies audited by ABC saw average circulation declines of 21%."

Irish News
editor Noel Doran after graffiti appeared threatening the safety of the paper's security correspondent Allison Morris:
"We condemn the attempt to intimidate our colleague Allison Morris which will not succeed, and we stand with Allison and all other journalists who have faced similarly despicable threats."

Committee to Protect Journalists deputy executive director Robert Mahoney in a statement after Belarusian journalists Katsiaryna Andreyeva and Darya Chultsova were sentenced to two years each in prison over their coverage of protests in the country: “These prison terms are naked political persecutions designed to bully into silence any journalist who would dare report independently on democratic protests in one of Europe’s most authoritarian states. Journalists Katsiaryna Andreyeva and Darya Chultsova should be free and President Aleksandr Lukashenko should ensure that they are.”

Matt Hancock responding to claims by Sky News' Sophy Ridge that people are wondering why he was being so cautious on lifting lockdown restrictions, as reported by the Express:
"Well I know that everybody at Sky News is keen to be able to get back to having parties."

From The Times [£] obit of 
restaurateur Joe Allen whose Covent Garden venue was popular with journalists: "In the heyday of Fleet Street expense accounts it was a haunt of bibulous hacks who used the restaurant’s telephone to file postprandial stories that were not so much dictated as decanted."

Press Gazette
 in a comment after Facebook ended its ban on news content after an agreement with the Australian government: 
"Facebook and Google are seeking to stuff the protesting mouths of Australian publishers with cash and have ensured that (for the moment) they control cash-for-content payments. In exchange, the pair will continue to enjoy the fruits of their monopoly positions in search and social media advertising respectively."

Campbell Brown, vice president of global news partnerships at Facebook, quoted by BBC News: "Going forward, the [Australian] government has clarified we will retain the ability to decide if news appears on Facebook so that we won't automatically be subject to forced negotiation. We have come to an agreement that will allow us to support the publishers we choose to, including small and local publishers."
  • BBC North America technology reporter James Clayton in an analysis: "Although both sides have moved, and both will claim victory, this whole episode has damaged Facebook. Politicians from across the world offered support to the Australian government - there were even accusations of bullying by the social network. And considering Facebook desperately doesn't want these laws replicated in other countries, antagonising Australia's allies may not have been the smartest of moves."

John Naughton in the Observer: "
Given that the social media giants have polluted the public sphere with disinformation, hatred and lies, and destroyed a business model that once funded good journalism, the companies should be subjected to a tax used to support that same good journalism. A bit like the BBC licence fee, in other words. It is the price they have to pay for the consequences of their ultra-profitable business models and insane profit margins. And for the privilege of being allowed to exist in a democracy...The Silicon Valley narrative that sees democracies in the role of the guy who followed processional elephants during the Indian Raj, sweeping up their dung, is as ridiculous as it is pernicious. It is high time we called the industry’s bluff."

From a joint statement by media unions, including the NUJ: "
Facebook and Google are guilty of excessive profiteering. It is time not only to make them pay a fair share for the content they use but to level the playing field. If your local newspaper or local radio station has to pay tax why are Facebook and Google allowed to avoid and evade their social responsibilities?If governments were to tax their revenues or their profits, an independent fund could use those revenues to support a news recovery plan, saving jobs, sustaining media, supporting new voices."

The Times [£] in a leader: "Across the world, in various forms, social media companies are facing a new era of regulation. Providing fair compensation for news content is a vital component of the organisations they must become. Google, Facebook’s key rival, has recently struck deals with a variety of news organisations, including News Corporation, ultimate owner of The Times. Facebook should be keen to follow suit, and swiftly. Liberal democracy requires a thriving plurality of media content, local, national and worldwide. It is time for Facebook to become traditional media’s partner, rather than its nemesis."


Thursday 18 February 2021

Media Quotes of the Week: From will Meghan Markle's privacy victory put manacles on the media? to NI journalist faces new threats

Mr Justice Warby ruling against the Mail on Sunday over the publication of the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle's letter to her father, as reported by Press Gazette: “It was, in short, a personal and private letter. The majority of what was published was about the claimant’s own behaviour, her feelings of anguish about her father’s behaviour – as she saw it – and the resulting rift between them. These are inherently private and personal matters.“The claimant had a reasonable expectation that the contents of the letter would remain private. The Mail articles interfered with that reasonable expectation.”
  • In a statement, the Duchess said she was grateful to the courts for holding Associated Newspapers to account "for their illegal and dehumanising practices" and added: “These tactics are not new; in fact, they’ve been going on for far too long without consequence. For these outlets, it’s a game. For me and so many others, it’s real life, real relationships, and very real sadness. The damage they have done and continue to do runs deep."
  • The Mail on Sunday in a statement:"We are very surprised by today's summary judgment and disappointed at being denied the chance to have all the evidence heard and tested in open court at a full trial. We are carefully considering the judgement's contents and will decide in due course whether to lodge an appeal."

Media lawyer Mark Stephens in the Guardian: "You are putting manacles on the media and that is going to be one of the issues from this going forward What you have is a situation where any letter that is leaked to a journalist cannot be published under the terms of this judgment. And it is unclear when public interest comes in to allow you to publish.”

Alan Rusbridger in the Observer: "For most people, Warby’s decision that even a world-famous duchess should be able to write to her father in private is not, on the face of it, unreasonable."

The Times [£] reports: "The fact that the dispute over the publication of Meghan’s letter to her father could be decided without being aired at a full trial adds to concern that a free press is being hamstrung by a judicial elite with little or no public debate. Mr Justice Warby’s ruling has prompted some lawyers to argue that the decision is a shot in the arm for high-profile privacy claimants. They will rely with increasing confidence on the principle that public figures can claim an expectation of privacy in their correspondence. Others predict that The Mail on Sunday has potentially strong grounds for appeal."

The Times [£] in a leader: "This case, which may yet be subject to an appeal, should prompt a debate about the extent to which the law in this area is evolving. A balance needs to be struck between privacy and freedom of expression. And it should be up to parliament, and not a judge acting alone, to strike it."

Marina Hyde in the Guardian: "We’re a country where the guys leading the media charge against Meghan are so emotionally warped that the only way they can begin to release their feelings of social, racial and sexual resentment is by using a 94-year-old woman’s feelings as a proxy. 'They have disrespected the Queen' really means 'they have disrespected this newspaper' or 'they have disrespected me'. So you keep hearing people saying 'how could they do this to the Queen?' and 'it’s the Queen I feel sorry for'. Why? She’s not your grandmother. You don’t know her socially. It doesn’t count that you’ve been through her bins or covertly taken pictures of her breakfast table or whatever. And it hardly needs saying that she would find you, personally, absolutely detestable. I honestly wouldn’t wet your pants about it, you know?"

Josh Taylor in the Guardian:
"Facebook has followed through on its threat to ban Australians from seeing or posting news content on its site in response to the federal government’s news media code. The tech giant’s Australian and New Zealand managing director Will Easton said that it would prevent links posted from Australian publishers, while all Australian users would not be able to share or see content from any news outlets both Australian or internationally as a result of the ban."

Alan Sparrow, chairman of the UK Picture Editors’ Guild, quoted in The Times [£] in a story about Number 10 employing three photographers to take pictures of Boris Johnson, his ministers and his dog: “If the prime minister was to visit Saudi Arabia, or the Falklands, or go to Yorkshire after the floods, will we just be issued with pictures after the event? Pictures selected to present the government in the best possible light, not candid or journalistic. They’re just handout pictures — a bit like North Korea.”

Ex-Leicester City manager Nigel Pearson on the growing trend of football clubs to use in-house journalists, in a talk to journalism students at De Montfort University, as quoted by HoldTheFrontPage:
 “If all we get is journalism from the perspective of the football club, we’re moving towards a dictatorial state and that’s not what we are. If we don’t have [independent journalism] we may as well not bother, we may as well live in a Communist state where we’re taught not to think.”

Jeanne Cavelier, head of the Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk at Reporters Without Borders (RSF): "The police in Russia have been flouting press freedom visibly and massively ever since Kremlin opponent Alexei Navalny’s return. Dozens of journalists have been arrested, often violently, during the latest pro-Navalny demonstrations in Moscow and more than 30 provincial cities. We’ve also been receiving frequent reports of heavy-handed searches of journalists’ homes in Russia. A shocking video of one of these has been leaked. It shows Gennadiy Shulga, the editor of the local news website Newsbox24, being pressed to the floor with his face against a dog bowl during a dawn raid on his home on 6 February by masked police armed with rifles. This shocking act of intimidation was designed to terrorize all journalists who, like him, have been covering the pro-Navalny demonstrations."

Seamus Dooley, NUJ Irish secretary, in a statement after sinister graffiti with a crosshair appeared in East Belfast threatening Sunday World journalist Patricia Devlin:"This menacing and cowardly graffiti is the behaviour of thugs who are trying to target and intimidate a specific journalist, but they are also trying to send a warning message to other media workers. The NUJ calls on the PSNI as well as Northern Ireland's political and community leaders to do all they can to support independent, quality journalism. The authorities must now identify and prosecute the perpetrators to the full extent of the law."

Patricia Devlin speaking to BBC News
"Male journalists who do the same job as me, who have written closer to the bone about paramilitaries, do not get the same level of abuse. I suppose these people think that these women are an easier target."


Thursday 11 February 2021

Media Quotes of the Week: From Panorama team threatened after 'boxing and the mob' documentary to when you join The Times and they put you in fart-proof pants as 'humiliation correspondent'

Jo Carr, the BBC's head of current affairs, on BBC News  after a Panorama documentary team  were threatened following a programme on the links between world boxing and a crime boss:
"The BBC places the utmost priority on the safety of our teams, whose journalism plays a vital role in a free society. It is despicable and intolerable if thugs think they can muzzle a free press through intimidation. We will continue to throw light into even the murkiest of corners."
  • International Federation of Journalists general secretary, Anthony Bellanger, in a statement: “We stand in solidarity with the BBC journalist threatened and with all the documentary crew. We reject all forms of violence and intimidation against journalists, by whomever". The journalist and his family are said to have gone into hiding.

openDemocracy reports:
 "More than a dozen current and former national newspaper editors have signed an openDemocracy public letter calling for MPs to urgently investigate the British government's handling of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests.The rare show of unity from traditional rivals across the British press comes in response to an openDemocracy investigation which revealed details of a secretive unit inside Michael Gove’s Cabinet Office, described as 'Orwellian' by the head of the National Union of Journalists. A shadow cabinet minister has accused the unit, known as the ‘Clearing House’, of 'blacklisting' journalists. It is also said to have blocked the release of sensitive FOI requests."
  • The Times [£] noted in a leader the openDemocracy letter: "Also calls for the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which oversees the Act, to be made truly independent by making it accountable to and funded by parliament rather than the government. The Act should also be amended so that failure to respond to a request within 20 working days can trigger the right to appeal to the ICO. These would be important steps to boost public trust in the state. A government led by two prominent former journalists in Mr Johnson and Mr Gove ought to appreciate the urgency of this task. "

Robert Shrimsley on Twitter:
 "Just one observation on Jackie Weaver. If more journalists had ever spent any time covering parish councils (them were the days) they would be a lot less surprised at the simmering hatred, standing on ceremony and obsession with standing orders."

Max Hastings on Robert Maxwell in 
The Times [£] : "Maxwell wielded lawyers and Britain’s iniquitous libel laws as cudgels with which to silence critics. Those who fought back, notably including Tom Bower and Private Eye, deserve memorial applause for their courage and persistence in crying from the rooftops that the 'Bouncing Czech' was just that."

GB News chairman Andrew Neil in the Express:
 "I believe our national conversation has become too metropolitan, too southern and too middle-class. Some journalists and commentators seem too confident that their liberal-left assumptions must surely be shared by every sensible person in the land. But many of those same sensible people are fed up.They feel left out and unheard. There’s a restlessness, a sense that they’re being talked down to; that much of the media no longer reflects their values or shares their concerns.GB News is aimed squarely at those people."

President Biden in his first speech at the State Department
"We believe a free press isn't an adversary, rather it's essential. The free press is essential to the health of a democracy." 

Former Fox News political editor Chris Stirewalt in the Los Angeles Times:
 "When I defended the call for Biden in the Arizona election, I became a target of murderous rage from consumers who were furious at not having their views confirmed. Having been cosseted by self-validating coverage for so long, many Americans now consider any news that might suggest that they are in error or that their side has been defeated as an attack on them personally. The lie that Trump won the 2020 election wasn’t nearly as much aimed at the opposing party as it was at the news outlets that stated the obvious, incontrovertible fact."

The Sunday Times
 [£] in a leader:
"A newspaper’s house style is like a good foundation garment. Observers should not notice it, but it is the basis on which much else depends; and changing it can be a bit of a performance. So it is worthy of note that our sister title, The Times, has altered its policy on honorifics. While Lord Thingummy still receives his title on the first mention in any article, thereafter he is plain old Thingummy. For us commoners, too, the Thunderer is forgoing its usual sprinkling of Mr, Mrs and Ms and calling us by our surnames. It’s a good decision. The litany of Lords and Ladies, Sirs and Dames smacks of Heepish toadying. Surnames are straightforward and egalitarian, and we congratulate The Times for its move to modernity. Our more eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that this has been the order of the day at another title for many years, but we shall resist the urge to say which one. Sibling rivalry is a terrible thing."

Tom Whipple, science correspondent of The Times [£] in an article in the paper on his early days: "I did not start at The Times as a science writer. There is, instead, a traditional role for the youngest male in the building...It is, loosely, 'humiliation correspondent'. I was sent to swingers’ clubs and superheated saunas. I ate grasshoppers one week; I spent another living off army ration packs. During one overly enthusiastic breakdance I accidentally showed Arlene Phillips my testicles.The one unique selling point I had compared to established journalists was that, unlike them, I had no attachment to my dignity... In an especially purple patch over a two-month period I wore mantihose, manscara and a mengagement ring. A photograph of me trialling fart-proof pants — looking coquettishly over my shoulder while eating baked beans and wearing an adult nappy — became the masthead for a regular column in The Sun titled 'embarrassing health problems' [see pic]. "


Thursday 4 February 2021

Media Quotes of the Week: From why Russian journalists keep 'little suitcases' to covid coverage ranges from brilliant to 'grandstanding wallies'

Russian journalist, quoted by the Committee to Protect Journalists about local media covering the protests against Putin: "We [local journalists] also have our 'little suitcases' prepared, just like in Stalin’s 1937 [the year of Stalin’s 'great purge', when political dissidents kept suitcases packed in case they were sent to prison or labor camps]. I personally have a small cosmetic bag that I carry with me that contains a toothbrush, a bottle with face wash, and a hairbrush for emergency needs in case of an arrest. But I also have a bigger bag at home with clothes and some books so in case I am placed in detention, I would give the key to my apartment to someone who would bring it to me if I am in jail."
  • PEN America says: "Russian authorities are engaged in a disgraceful pressure attack on the free press detaining over the weekend some 80 journalists amid ongoing protests in the country."
  • CPJ claims: "During nationwide protests by supporters of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny on January 31, as well as in their immediate run-up, police throughout the country detained, intimidated, or harassed at least 122 journalists, according to news reports and a report by the Professional Union of Journalists and Media Workers."

The New European
in a company announcement:
 "The New European is today under new ownership, following the acquisition of the title from owners Archant by founder Matt Kelly and a consortium of investors including former New York Times CEO Mark Thompson and former FT editor Lionel Barber. Former Independent CEO Gavin O'Reilly becomes executive chairman of the new company, with Kelly assuming the role of chief executive officer and editor-in-chief."

Ian Murray, executive director of the Society of Editors, in a statement on the arrest of freelance photographer Andy Aitchison after covering a protest at a barracks housing asylum seekers in Kent:
 “This is very concerning. We are constantly told journalists, including press photographers, are an essential part of our democratic system in this country and a free media is to be protected. But words are not enough. It is actions that count and arresting press photographers is not something that should be happening in a liberal democracy.”

The Mirror
 "Number 10 has defended a minister who branded a journalist 'creepy and bizarre' for asking a basic question. Equalities minister Kemi Badenoch publicly attacked a reporter, baselessly accusing her of 'sowing distrust' and 'undermining' efforts to increase take-up of Covid-19 vaccines, after she sent an email asking why she didn’t take part in a video campaign. And today Number 10 refused to condemn the minister’s outburst, saying she felt she 'has grounds' to describe basic journalism as 'creepy' - and that she had been 'civil'. HuffPost journalist Nadine White had approached the minister, as well as her press team, to ask for her comment on claims she had refused to take part in the cross-party video. But instead of replying to the question, Ms Badenoch tweeted images of the emailed request for comment, accusing the journalist of trying to 'sow distrus' in the vaccine by 'making up claims'."

Hatice Cengiz, fiancĂ©e of journalist Jamal Khashoggi who was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, interviewed by The Sunday Times Magazine [£]: 
“Nothing can bring back Jamal. But I’m waiting for the UK and other countries to do something to show these people that you can’t just kill someone like that without there being repercussions...Jamal loved the UK. He used to praise the UK for being the pioneer of freedom of speech.”

Dan Wootton announcing on Twitter he is joining new tv channel GB News: "After seven life-changing years at The Sun and, more recently, talkRADIO, I have made the very tough decision to leave News UK.Later this year, I'm joining the on air team of GB News and MailOnline as a columnist. And I'll still break scoops too, of course!"

Ofcom group director of broadcasting and online content Kevin Backhurst in The Times [£]:
"Our rules allow broadcast news channels to explore issues from their own viewpoint as long as they comply with some key principles: news presenters and reporters must not give their views on politically controversial matters (and news channels must report the facts with due accuracy), whereas in non-news programmes presenters and reporters can express their opinions. In all programming, these channels must reflect alternative viewpoints. How they do it is up to them. Freedom of expression is vital to our democracy. "

Former Nottingham Post editor Mike Sassi in a podcast, quoted by Holdthefrontpage, on the loss of local journalists to PR:
“There’s been a fundamental change in that there are certainly fewer independent journalists. The people who were junior or trainee reporters and who learned their trade and then would traditionally go and become a crime reporter or a health reporter, and then perhaps a news editor and then an assistant editor, well, once they get to trainee level and then they’re qualified, the money runs out. So therefore to get a salary which allows them to buy a house or move into a decent house with a higher rent, they have to go and move into public relations or to marketing."

The Times 
[£] on the Leicester-based Bellingcat investigative website: "
Social media analysis of the kind Bellingcat has pioneered helped to secure the first conviction for the war crimes of cultural destruction at the International Criminal Court. With China’s Xinjiang province blocked to outsiders, much of what has emerged about the measures against the Uighurs is coming through similar channels. Bellingcat has put dictators and kleptocrats on notice that no corner is too dark to be spied upon."

David Aaronovitch on Twitter: "One of the depressing things about the pandemic is that it has has shown that while some of our fellow journalists are brilliant at finding out and telling the public what they need to know, many others are grandstanding wallies."