Thursday 29 April 2021

Media Quotes of the Week: From Private Eye spent years exposing Post Office scandal to journalists were struggling with a 'perfect storm' of mental health challenges even before the Covid outbreak

Tom Jamieson on Twitter: "Private Eye readers will know how long the mag pursued the Post Office Horizon scandal years before anyone else. Superb today to see justice done for the 39 former Postmasters who have had their convictions quashed. Horrific beyond belief what they endured."

Dominic Cummings on his blog denying he was the leaker to the BBC of the Sir James Dyson texts:
 " I was not directly or indirectly a/the source for the BBC/Kuenssberg story on the PM/Dyson texts... It is sad to see the PM and his office fall so far below the standards of competence and integrity the country deserves. I will not engage in media briefing regarding these issues but will answer questions about any of these issues to Parliament on 26 May for as long as the MPs want."
  • Alastair Campbell on Twitter: "Interesting change of style in Cummings' latest blog. From long, rambling and incontinent, to rather tight and focused, as though he had the help of an experienced journalist who knew how to land more blows with fewer words. Anyone seen @michaelgove ?"

Peter Oborne on Twitter:
"Credit where credit is due. The Daily Mail has led where others now follow. The funding of the Downing Street flat, and now Johnson's remarks about Covid, since confirmed by ITN and BBC. Superb investigative journalism. Old fashioned reporting. Simon Walters has been plugging away at the Downing Street flat story for months. Ignored by rivals. Persistence, craftsmanship, proper honest reporting. The opposite of client journalism."

Anne McElvoy on Twitter:
 "Reflecting that the 'John Lewis furniture nightmare' at Number 10 is beyond doubt the quote given to me in a story which will be most remembered out of quarter century in political journalism. I shd probably quit while ahead."

Jim Waterson in the Guardian:
"Rupert Murdoch has drastically scaled backed plans for a new opinionated television service in the UK, after concluding that it is not financially viable to launch a fully fledged rolling news channel in the style of Fox News. Rebekah Brooks, the chief executive of his News UK company, told staff the enormous cost of getting a television news channel on air meant it did not make business sense to push ahead. She said the company would instead focus on reaching news audiences via shows on streaming platforms."

Steve Bell in Press Gazette on the ending of his If cartoon strip in the Guardian after 40 years: "The Guardian’s got more cautious about things and recently there’s been more strips bumped back for various reasons because somebody thinks it’s transgressing something or other, but I have been there a long time and have got used to it. Maybe I’m out of kilter with the zeitgeist. My stuff is probably too vulgar for the current regime. ”

Richard Brooks in the Observer:
"It was one of the most controversial and shattering TV programmes the BBChas ever broadcast. And early next month, the corporation is to return – in a Panorama special – to its 1995 interview with Princess Diana by the then little-known Martin Bashir. This time, however, the spotlight will be turned on the programme itself and whether it was set up fairly and honourably – and, when a few months later it was shown that some falsehoods had been used to obtain the interview, whether the BBC failed in its own internal inquiry."

The Times [£] reports: "Peers including Lord Heseltine and Baroness Boothroyd have been forbidden to speak to the press by the House of Lords after they failed to attend anti-bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment workshops. ...The peers, who maintain that they were unaware of the need to undergo the training, are now facing an investigation into their conduct. They have been warned that they will be in contempt of parliament if they speak publicly about the inquiry."

George Greenwood in The Times [£]: "
Last year Open Democracy revealed that the government had been flagging reporters who make freedom of information requests to a central screening team. This breaches a key principle of FOI, that requests must be handled impartially...It appears this impartiality is breaking down. I’ve now seen first hand how I have been targeted, after a nine-month battle to access information the government holds on me. Sometimes this targeting was rather entertaining. One civil servant asked an official at the government’s secretive 'clearing house', a team that advises departments on how to respond to FOI requests, whether they had received a request from the 'ever-active Mr Greenwood'. Others were more concerning. One Environment Agency official referred to my request about safety issues at dams, made after the partial collapse of Whaley Bridge reservoir in Derbyshire, as 'sensitive because the customer is a journalist'...While the Cabinet Office maintains that 'all FOI requests are treated exactly the same', the sharing of such details risks creating a culture of targeting journalists."

Ex-Downing Street director of communications and Mirror journalist Lee Cain in the Spectator:
 "Even those who do make it into big professions can struggle to break through the ‘class ceiling’. Britain’s most powerful jobs are still dominated by the tiny proportion (7 per cent) who attended private school. No surprise that Fleet Street and Whitehall are among the worst offenders. It still matters what school tie you wore, it matters what accent you have and it matters what class you are. This is a disaster for working-class boys and girls."

The International Federation of Journalists in an article on mental health problems faced by journalists: 
"First of all it’s important to admit that mental health issues are not new in the media industry. Before the Covid-19 hit our lives, journalists were already struggling with a 'perfect storm' of factors that challenged their mental health. From job insecurity to the economic crisis of the media, from higher polarisation of media to growing attacks from elected officials against journalists, from a relentless breaking news cycle to journalists’ hyperconnectivity, media workers were already highly exposed to mental health problems. On top of this, there’s still a taboo over mental health conditions in many parts of the world and a fear of media workers losing their job or putting at risk their career if they admit mental health problems."


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