Thursday 25 March 2021

Media Quotes of the Week: From anger at Rees-Mogg 'knave or fool' attack on HuffPost journalist to fears BBC London exodus could hit local press

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet in a statement after Jacob Rees-Mogg accused HuffPost UK's deputy political editor Arj Singh of being "either a knave or a fool" over an exclusive story about Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab based on a leaked video call
“It’s not acceptable to dismiss reporting you don’t like as fake news. It’s completely unacceptable to resort to insults and personal smears of journalists simply trying to get on with their job. Our elected politicians should be committed to improving the parlous level of public discourse, not further polluting it.”
  • Rees-Mogg repeated a Foreign Office statement which claimed the audio containing Raab’s remarks had been “deliberately and selectively clipped to distort”.  He told MPs: “If the journalist didn’t clip it himself, he ought to have known it was clipped. He is either a knave or a fool.” Huff Post claims Raab later confirmed its story that the government didn’t want to exclude countries from trade deals solely because they fell below European Convention on Human Rights standards.
Huff Post political editor Paul Waugh"Exposing both his snobbery (he claimed The Times would never report what HuffPost UK did) and his ignorance (the Times used the exact same quote on its front page), Rees-Mogg showed that beneath all the fake politesse of his concocted young fogey persona there lurks a man scared to death of scrutiny. In that, maybe he’s just following his boss’s lead. Yet we’ll probably wait in vain for Rees-Mogg to condemn a former journalist who literally made up a quote and was sacked from The Times as a result: Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. There’s no distorting that fact, not the most salient one of all: the 125,000 deaths and counting from Covid on their watch."

Jane Martinson in the Guardian: "Those in power have often denied news stories, of course. What seems different now is the ad hominem attacks on the journalists themselves when the evidence is hard to argue with...Allowing ministers to call journalists names for doing their job is not just a matter for HuffPost, it should be a matter for us all."

HoldtheFrontPage reports"Reach plc has told most of its journalists they will permanently work from home in future, prompting office closures across the country. Reach says it will instead maintain hub offices filled with meeting rooms in Belfast, Bristol, Birmingham, Dublin, Cardiff, Glasgow, Newcastle, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Greater Manchester, Nottingham, Plymouth and an office in the South-East of England. This means daily titles including the Cambridge News, Derby Telegraph, Huddersfield Daily Examiner, Leicester Mercury, North Wales Daily Post and Stoke-on-Trent daily The Sentinel will no longer have an office on patch – along with many of its ‘Live’ network of more than 70 regional news websites and other newspapers in its 110-strong portfolio of titles."  
  • Iliffe editorial director Ian Carter on Twitter: "Very mixed feelings on this. We know we can all work remotely, we know investing in editorial is more important than office space. But never being in the newsroom for a breaking story? Missing out on trainees learning from seniors - and seniors learning from trainees? Not so sure."

Ray Snoddy on Mediatel on Covid-19: "If there is a pressing need for an inquiry into the action of the Government, some newspapers also need to think long and hard about what they have been doing. Could they too have caused unnecessary deaths by misleading their readers on the true scale of the Covid-19 threat, mocking scientists and spurring on Boris Johnson to new levels of irresponsibility?"

Jed Mercurio in a GQ interview: 
"You get a certain cohort of prominent journalists who don’t know any science, but feel that they’re libertarians and contrarians and they practise disinformation... These people are fundamentally a bunch of c***s.”

England rugby manager Eddie Jones tackles rugby journalists, quoted by the Guardian: "I don’t think there is any such thing as confidence, you either think rightly or you think wrongly, and the wrong time you start to listen to the poison that’s written in the media, that rat poison gets into players’ heads. We try to keep it out of their head. We try to spray all that rat poison that you try to put in and get it out of their head, so we are always working hard to keep it out of their heads. It keeps me busy, mate."

BBC News reports:
 "A US private investigator has told BBC News he was paid by the Sun newspaper to obtain personal information about the Duchess of Sussex in the early days of her relationship with Prince Harry. But Daniel Hanks says he unlawfully accessed detailed information including Meghan's social security number. The Sun's publisher said it requested legitimate research and instructed Mr Hanks he must act lawfully."
  • A spokesman for Harry and Meghan said: "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex feel that today is an important moment of reflection for the media industry and society at large, as this investigative report shows that the predatory practices of days past are still ongoing, reaping irreversible damage for families and relationships. They are grateful to those working in media who stand for upholding the values of journalism, which are needed now more than ever before."

BBC director general Tim Davie on plans to move staff and departments out of London:
 "People must feel we are closer to them. This shift will create a much more distributed model that moves not just people, but power and decision-making to the UK's Nations and regions."
  • The plans include: "A new generation of 100 new reporters to be based in towns and areas that have never had a regional TV presence."

News Media Association chairman HenryFaure Walker, responding to BBC’s plans for a network of digital community journalists, said in a statement:
"Through the Local News Partnership - which includes the widely-praised Local Democracy Reporting Service - the BBC and the local news media sector have successfully forged a partnership which has provided a shot in the arm for local public interest journalism. Crucially, this has been achieved without state competition distorting the marketplace.  Any new investment in local journalism by the BBC should be channelled through the existing LNP and most certainly not through this ill-advised new venture which will hurt independent local news providers at a time when they are needed by the public more than ever.”

Thursday 18 March 2021

Media Quotes of the Week: From 65 journalists and media staff killed in 2020 to the Mail on why the Society of Editors lost its head in Royal row

International Federation of Journalists general secretary Anthony Bellanger, after the IFJ's 30th report on journalists and media staff killed worldwide during 2020 revealed 65 killings during targeted attacks, bomb attacks and cross–fire incidents in 16 countries: "The ruthless reign of crime barons in Mexico, the violence of extremists in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Somalia, as well as the intolerance of hardliners in India and the Philippines have contributed to the continued bloodshed in the media"
  • The figure of 65 killings in 2020 is 17 more killed than in 2019 (49), and bring the total to 2,680 journalists and media workers who lost their lives to violence in the world since 1990

Telegraph editor Chris Evans, in an email seen by the Guardian, on a proposal to link journalists pay to the popularity of articles: “It seems only right that those who attract and retain the most subscribers should be the most handsomely paid.”
  • NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet told the Guardian: The Telegraph’s plan to introduce clickbait scoring to pay and reward journalists is crass and shows scant regard for the importance of diverse quality journalism."
  • Telegraph head of digital news Catherine Bentley on Twitter: "Our strategy is to offer subscribers the same high-quality journalism every time they visit us, by thinking ambitiously on digital publishing, by increasing engagement and decreasing churn. It's the antithesis of clickbait journalism."

Simon Kelner in the I:
 "Piers Morgan is a journalist at heart. Yes, he loves the greasepaint and the celebrity status, but his qualities are those of journalist. His flaws, too. His shouty, editorialised style is clearly not to everyone’s taste, but he is an original presence, and one that ITV will find difficult, if not impossible, to replace."

Jon Allsop in the Columbia Journalism Review"If anything is true of the British media industry, it is that rich, white motormouths with tedious views about free speech and the royal family will never want for a professional home."

David Olusoga in the Observer
"Part of the problem is that in the Venn diagram that includes those two groups – black people and tabloid journalists – the circles barely overlap. The press, like many of Britain’s institutions, has an appalling record on diversity and inclusion. Black people make up 3% of the UK population yet account for just 0.2% of journalists. This failure means that black Britons simply aren’t in the tabloid newsrooms to point racism out; they certainly aren’t in the editor’s chair to weed it out."

David Aaronovitch on Twitter: "
It seems to me that journalism awards ceremonies now only exist to give people something to pull out of. Maybe time to try some other way of recognising excellence?"

Mark Duell on MailOnline after Ian Murray resigned as executive director of the Society of Editors in the wake of the row of his defence of the British press against claims in the Harry and Meghan interview it was racist: "The Society of Editors was facing the gravest crisis in its 24-year history this week after left-wing newspaper editors drove the society's executive director out of his job for standing up against Meghan Markle's claims that the British press is systematically racist."

A senior tabloid executive, quoted but not named by MailOnline: "Harry and Meghan are trying to shut down their press critics by smearing them as racist. And it seems some misguided left-wing editors agree with them. A racism accusation trumps free speech every time. That is truly frightening. If the Society of Editors won't even defend free speech, what is the point of it? Apart from some rather pointless awards which are just an ego-trip for editors and journalists anyway."

Dr Paul Lashmar, head of the department of journalism at City University also on MailOnline: "I think Ian Murray's comments were tone deaf, they're not in touch with the world as it is now, and particularly for young people. And I think what Ian Murray's resignation allows for is perhaps someone younger who is more in touch with what's happening across journalism and diversity of views and being more sensitive to how people of diversity feel about the way things are framed."

Thursday 11 March 2021

Media Quotes of the Week: From backlash over Society of Editors response to Harry and Meghan interview prompts director to quit and awards boycott to UK action plan for journalists' safety

Prince Harry in his television interview with Oprah Winfrey: “The UK is not bigoted, the UK press is bigoted, specifically the tabloids. But unfortunately if the source of information is inherently corrupt or racist or biased, then that filters out to the rest of society.”

Society of Editors executive director Ian Murray in a statement:
"If it is simply the case the Sussexes feel that the press by questioning their actions and commenting on their roles when working as Royals funded by the taxpayer were being racist then they are mistaken. In the case of Meghan Markle and her engagement and marriage to Prince Harry there was universal supporting coverage in the UK media which reflected the warmth shown to the couple by the British people...The UK media has never shied away from holding a spotlight up to those in positions of power, celebrity or influence. If sometimes the questions asked are awkward and embarrassing, then so be it, but the press is most certainly not racist."

On Wednesday Murray resigned, as reported by BBC News, stating: "Since the statement was issued the SoE has been heavily criticised. While I do not agree that the Society's statement was in any way intended to defend racism, I accept it could have been much clearer in its condemnation of bigotry and has clearly caused upset. As executive director I lead the Society and as such must take the blame and so I have decided it is best for the board and membership that I step aside so that the organisation can start to rebuild its reputation."
  • In a clarification to its first statement on the Harry and Meghan interview, the SoE said: “The Society of Editors has a proud history of campaigning for freedom of speech and the vital work that journalists do in a democracy to hold power to account. Our statement on Meghan and Harry was made in that spirit but did not reflect what we all know: that there is a lot of work to be done in the media to improve diversity and inclusion. We will reflect on the reaction our statement prompted and work towards being part of the solution.”
Those reactions included: 

Paul Wiltshire on Twitter: "The @EditorsUK does an amazing job in defending media freedom. But to pretend that bigotry and racism isn't alive and well on the front pages of too many of our news titles does a huge disservice to journalism and the majority of journalists."

Huff Post UK editor-in-chief Jess Brammar on Twitter: "I considered not saying anything about this because I’m aware I won’t make myself popular with my peers but i’m just going to stand up and say it: I don’t agree with statement from my industry body that it is 'untrue that sections of UK press were bigoted'.”

Guardian Media editor-in-chief Kath Viner in a statement: "Every institution in the United Kingdom is currently examining its own position on vital issues of race and the treatment of people of colour. As I have said before, the media must do the same. It must be much more representative and more self-aware.”

Financial Times editor Roula Khalaf in a statement: “There is work to be done across all sectors in the UK to call out and challenge racism,” she said. “The media has a critical role to play, and editors must ensure that our newsrooms and coverage reflect the societies we live in.”

I News editor-in-chief Olly Duff on Twitter: "It was ludicrous for SoE to issue blanket defence of all media coverage. No wonder so many editors, journalists (and board members- given no knowledge of statement pre-publication) furious."

Open letter to Society of Editors signed by journalists of colour:
"The Society of Editors should have used the comments by the Sussexes to start an open and constructive discussion about the best way to prevent racist coverage in future, including through addressing lack of representation in the UK media, particularly at a senior level. The blanket refusal to accept there is any bigotry in the British press is laughable, does a disservice to journalists of colour and shows an institution and an industry in denial."

Huff Post UK reports: "
Charlene White has pulled out of hosting the Society of Editors’ National Press Awards in a statement sent to the SoE’s executive director Ian Murray, White said: 'Perhaps it’s best for you to look elsewhere for a host for your awards this year. Perhaps someone whose views align with yours: that the UK press is the one institution in the entire country who has a perfect record on race'.”

Huff Post UK North of England correspondent Aasma Day on Twitter: "Earlier this month, I tweeted my delight at being shortlisted in the Reporting Diversity category of #PressAwards. However, the statement by @EditorsUK denying the press is racist made me deeply uncomfortable & I have withdrawn my entry as it makes a total mockery of this award."

The Bureau for Investigative Journalism on Twitter: "This year the Bureau team has been shortlisted for two Society of Editors awards. Having reflected on the @EditorsUK statement this week and subsequent response, in light of our mission and values, we have withdrawn our nominations."

Yorkshire Post editor James Mitchinson in a letter to readers: "It is with regret but absolute conviction that in light of recent events I will not be entering The Yorkshire Post into the Society of Editors’ awards for regional journalism this year...As the editor of the reigning best-in-class regional daily in the country, an accolade that each and every one of the people I am proud to lead merits, I believe it is in the best interests of my team, my title and our wider trade to step aside and allow the Society the space it needs to reflect on what has happened."

Piers Morgan on Twitter after his departure from ITV's Good Morning Britain: 
"On Monday, I said I didn’t believe Meghan Markle in her Oprah interview. I’ve had time to reflect on this opinion, and I still don’t. If you did, OK. Freedom of speech is a hill I’m happy to die on. Thanks for all the love, and hate. I’m off to spend more time with my opinions."
  • Kelvin MacKenzie on Twitter: "There will be a long queue to hire Piers as he has the unique ability in the news business to bring an audience with him. Rupert Murdoch is 90 tomorrow. He should sign Piers before he snuffs it."

Alan Rusbridger in the Guardian:
"I am not alone among his former editors and colleagues in feeling let down by Greenslade for leaving it until his retirement to place on public record his sympathies for the armed struggle. Those beliefs were irrelevant to the vast majority of his output at the Guardian. But he did very occasionally write about Ireland and media coverage. Given what he has now shared, I believe he should have avoided those topics – or, at the very least, have been consistent in letting readers know more about where he was coming from – especially as the Guardian’s own guidelines have long been explicit about declaring interests."

Roy Greenslade, quoted by Sunday Life: "I categorically deny passing any information to the IRA at any time. I didn't have any information to pass on. I was an intellectual supporter, not a practical one. I was not privy to any classified information. I was an office-bound executive with no contact personally or by phone with any person from the security services. So, it follows that I didn't pass any such information to anyone."

Objective of the new National Action Plan for the Safety of Journalists announced by the UK Government:
 "Our aim is to ensure that journalists operating in the UK are as safe as possible, reducing the number of attacks on and threats issued to journalists and ensuring those that are responsible for such are brought to justice. In order to support this goal, we are taking steps to":
  • Increase our understanding of the problem;
  • Enhance the criminal justice system response in tackling crimes against journalists;
  • Support journalists and their employers to build the resources they need to protect personal safety;
  • Help online platforms to tackle the wider issue of abuse online; 
  • Improve public recognition of the value of journalists.


Thursday 4 March 2021

Media Quotes of the Week: From Professor Greenslade's ethics lesson: If you want a Fleet Street career hide your support for the IRA - to online abuse reduced sports reporter to tears

Roy Greenslade in an article for the British Journalism Review republished by the Sunday Times [£] on his support for the IRA while working for national newspapers:
 "I knew that to own up to supporting Irish republicans would result in me losing my job. I could have taken that step myself by walking out on principle. But the idea of forsaking a Fleet Street career — indeed, a career of any kind in journalism — was unthinkable. I couldn’t conceive of doing anything else. Join an agitprop publication? I couldn’t see a future there. Become a librarian, a schoolboy dream? It wasn’t really a feasible alternative. Anyway, I needed a wage because I was on the verge of taking on a mortgage. Better, then, to button my lip and carry on."

Michael Crick on Greenslade's subsequent resignation from City University where he lecturered in journalism ethics: "Roy Greenslade tells me his decision was: 'Purely mine. No pressure. Just the reverse.' So City University wanted him to stay, it seems. It has to be said that since 2018 his work at City University was no longer very substantial."
  • A City University spokesman said: “While acknowledging Professor Greenslade’s contribution and his right to express his views, the university has accepted his resignation.”
Roy Greenslade in Press Gazette: “The furore underlines the main point of my article: to have come clean in the 1970s with my beliefs would have rendered me unemployable. I did nothing more than the scores of journalists who keep their political views to themselves. My opinions did not affect my journalistic work, nor did they affect my university teaching. As many of my more attentive students would surely recall, I was open about being a republican.”

Ex-Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie on Twitter: "I always knew Roy Greenslade was a shit. I didn't know he was a pro violence IRA supporting shit. In the Sunday Times he reveals that while working for me at The Sun, editing the Mirror and being a media critic he backed IRA scum killing our people. A complete c***. So while trying to attract readers as editor of the Daily Mirror Roy Greenslade didnt care that the IRA would kill a few. What a vile duplicitous scumbag he is."

Peter Wilby in the New Statesman: "Greenslade, in high-minded columns for the Guardian, instructed journalists on how to conduct themselves. Those columns now look shabby and hypocritical."

The Times [£] reports: "The Guardian has launched a review of Roy Greenslade’s articles after it was accused of allowing him to question the credibility of a woman who accused an IRA member of raping her...The newspaper’s investigation follows a complaint from Máiría Cahill, a politician and member of a prominent republican family who waived anonymity to allege that she was raped by a senior IRA figure as a teenager. Greenslade wrote several articles on the Cahill case for The Guardian while employed as its media commentator."

Ex-International Federation of Journalists general secretary Aidan White on Twitter: "I wonder, Roy, whether you think a word of apology is due to those thousands of journalism students at City University who you schooled in the importance of ethical journalism?"

Journalist Mic Wright on his blog: "If there’s any moral to Greenslade’s story it’s that the British media was and remains a place where most people hide their real beliefs in return for a salary. The rest? Well, they just ratchet up their worst thoughts, put them down on the page, and get jobs for life as columnists."

Report by the office of the US director of national intelligence: "We assess that Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi."

Prince Harry to James Corden, as reported by BBC News:
"It was a really difficult environment as a lot of people saw. We all know what the British press can be like. And it was destroying my mental health. I was like, this is toxic. So I did what any husband and what any father would do - I need to get my family out of here."

Jan Moir in the Daily Mail on the James Corden interview with Prince Harry:
"Clearly, the Prince is much more comfortable with the kind of media coverage that only friends and wedding guests can provide. Throughout the fun, 17-minute clip, Corden came across like a clammy flunkey oozing obsequiousness and throbbing with a desire to make his royal guest look good, even if that meant flagellating himself."

Society of Editors executive director Ian Murray in a tribute to the first SoE executive director Bob Satchwell, who has died aged 73: 
“Bob was one life’s great communicators and this gift made him superbly able to fight his many battles on behalf of the press. From Leveson to the creation of IPSO, from threats to Freedom of Information, to the countless other attempts to stifle free speech, Bob was always there in the fight."

Gulnoza Said, the Committee to Protect Journalists' Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in response to the sentencing of one of the suspects in Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder, as well as new indictments for additional suspects:
“We welcome the first sentencing in Daphne Caruana Galizia’s case as a long-awaited step towards justice in one of Europe’s most prominent journalist killings. Maltese authorities should take all measures to ensure that all the perpetrators of this crime, including its masterminds, are brought to justice.”
  • Caruana Galizia was killed by a car bomb in October 2017. On February 23, one of the defendants, Vincent Muscat, plead guilty of murder and other crimes related to the killing, and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

A Writing Chance, a new initiative supported by the Mirror and New Statesman, looking for new and aspiring writers from working-class and lower income backgrounds, says: "It’s not right that a London-centric industry; unpaid and low-paid internships; the casualisation of jobs; and a reliance on personal contacts make finding work in the media far more difficult for people from working-class and lower income backgrounds."

BBC sports reporter Sonja McLaughlan on Twitter after her post match interviews following the Wales vs England rugby match attracted online abuse: "
Toxic, embarrassing, disgraceful, appalling. Just some of the feedback I’ve had. Thanks for using @ sign so it’s all hit home. Now imagine getting inundated with abuse for doing your job. In my car crying. Hope you’re happy."
  • KayBurley on Twitter: "Head up, shoulders back, Sonja. You did a great job."