Thursday 27 May 2021

Media Quotes of the Week: From aerial abduction of journalist is an act of 'state thuggery' to the Bashir scandal is being exploited by BBC haters

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, in a statement on the abduction of journalist Roman Protasevich who was removed from a flight and detained by the Belarusian authorities after the plane was instructed to divert to Minsk: 
"This is breath-taking behaviour and demonstrates just how far President Lukashenko will go to in order to silence journalists and those critical of his regime. This act of state thuggery cannot be allowed to go unchallenged – the international community must do more to stand up to this unacceptable behaviour from a regime set on dismantling press freedom and instilling fear in journalists in Belarus."
  • There are 29 journalists currently detained in Belarus

Boris Johnson on Twitter:
"The video of Roman Protasevich makes for deeply distressing viewing. As a journalist and a passionate believer in freedom of speech I call for his immediate release. Belarus' actions will have consequences."

Dominic Cummings at the select committee hearing on Covid claimed he had wanted to move Downing Street away from a culture of being a "press answering service" and reacting to what was in the papers every day: 
"The media realised I was trying to massively diminish their influence and they wanted to get rid of me." 

Max Hastings in The Times [£]: 
"As long as the pandemic persists, which seems likely to be many moons yet, so will the invisibility of other issues and of lesser politicians. Johnson’s licence to address the nation at will, without facing tough scrutiny from a shamefully tame media that defers to the national emergency, confers a huge advantage upon him."

Richard Pendelbury in the Daily Mail on the death of Max Mosley:
 "He used his fortune to try to erase the [News of the World] orgy story and images from internet search engines — a Sisyphean task. He also waged a bitter war against elements of the print media. In this campaign he backed draconian new laws to curb what he saw as the excesses of the Press and his opponents regarded as fundamental freedoms. His was the money — more than £500,000 — behind the private office of Labour's deputy leader Tom Watson. A Mosley family trust even donated millions to fund a new Press regulator, Impress, hoping its existence would trigger the imposition of ruinous fines against his Fleet Street critics. Not least among those critics was this newspaper, which in 2018 published a series of investigative articles showing Mosley had misled, if not lied to, the court at his privacy trial about his neo-Fascist past. Labour dropped his funding like a hot brick. Mosley once again summoned his lawyers, this time with no success. The articles were accurate in every shocking detail."

Alan Rusbridger in the Observer"This has been a bleak week for the BBC. The Bashir saga is shaming. But we can’t allow the future of the corporation to be defined by its enemies. And the prime minister would do well to approach any questions about journalistic ethics with a degree of humility."

Janice Turner in The Times [£]: "
Journalists having fainting fits about Bashir know that in his stealth, cunning and, above all, plausibility he is the quintessence of our trade. Bashir lied, forged, deceived; but such methods have exposed monsters. Journalism encompasses great integrity and deep shadiness, sometimes in the same byline. Bashir could convince Diana her closest confidantes were selling stories to newspapers only because so many already were."

The Times [£] in a leader: "Another inquiry is now needed to answer the many questions excluded by his tightly drawn terms of reference. These include the inexplicable decision by the BBC to rehire Mr Bashir in 2016 and the way in which the BBC treated whistleblowers. Only by acting with complete transparency can the BBC expect to win back public trust."

The Guardian in a leader: "An institutional reluctance to confront hard choices may indeed have been part of the problem when Mr Bashir came up with his bombshell interview in 1995 too. But the BBC is far too important for that failing to be used as an excuse to bash or trash a corporation that should be defended and cherished, and whose hallmark, as Lord Dyson says, is its high standards."

David Aaronovitch on Twitter:  "I hold no brief for Martin Bashir, but there is an industrial level revision of history going on about whether Diana 'would have given that interview' if he hadn't deceived her brother. Lord Dyson makes clear in para 1 his view that she would."

Lionel Barber on Twitter: "The issue is not whether Diana would have given the interview. It’s Bashir’s deep deception, the half-assed BBC investigation into the case, Bashir’s exoneration and later rehiring by Tony Hall. Colossal failure of editorial judgment all round now exploited by enemies of BBC."

 David Yelland on Twitter: "How dare Boris Johnson, himself fired from The Times, for making up quotes, get on his high horse on journalism ethics: Bashir is a disaster but it is being used by BBC haters including Johnson and his luddite mates...All those in glass houses, editors past and present, should pause before attacking the BBC and remember Bashir, then, was typical of our culture. The Beeb is still a national asset, a prized thing, a force for good."


Thursday 20 May 2021

Media Quotes of the Week: From families condemn News of the World for paying 'Babes in the Wood' murderer to mapping the newsiest town in Britain

The families of murdered schoolgirls Nicola Fellows and Karen Hadaway in a statement released by Sussex Police after Jennifer Johnson, ex-girlfriend of convicted Babes in the Wood killer Russell Bishop, was found guilty of lying at his 1987 trial in which he was acquitted: “The now defunct ‘News of the World’ also provided encouragement for Johnson to lie. As a key witness in Bishop’s 1987 trial, she lied knowing that there would be a huge financial reward if Bishop received two acquittals for the double child murders. He did indeed receive the wrongful acquittals. The News of the World got their stories. The perpetrators got their payday. Our two families were devastated again after those verdicts, yet on the same evening, Johnson and the Bishops celebrated with a funded champagne dinner at the Hilton Hotel. They should all hang their heads in shame. They all had their part to play. They all have blood on their hands."
  • During the trial, the prosecution claimed Johnson stood to benefit from Bishop selling his story as "an innocent man" to the News of the World for £15,000. The Court of Appeal quashed the 1987 acquittals and Bishop was found guilty of murdering the girls after a second trial at the Old Bailey in 2018. Bishop was already in prison. He was jailed for attacking a seven-year-old girl three years after the acquittals. Johnson was jailed for six years for perjury and perverting the course of justice.

Lord Dyson in his report into Martin Bashir's Panorama interview with Princess Diana criticises the way the BBC investigated allegations that fake documents were used: "The investigation conducted by Lord Hall and Mrs Sloman was flawed and woefully ineffective... The answers given by the BBC to specific questions by the press were evasive. And by failing to mention on any news programme the fact that it had investigated what Mr Bashir had done and the outcome of the investigations, the BBC fell short of the high standards of integrity and transparency which are its hallmark."

BBC director general Tim Davie said in a statement: "Although the report states that Diana, Princess of Wales, was keen on the idea of an interview with the BBC, it is clear that the process for securing the interview fell far short of what audiences have a right to expect. We are very sorry for this. Lord Dyson has identified clear failings."

Prince William in a statement:
 "It is my view that the deceitful way the interview was obtained substantially influenced what my mother said. The interview was a major contribution to making my parents’ relationship worse and has since hurt countless others. It brings indescribable sadness to know that the BBC’s failures contributed significantly to her fear, paranoia and isolation that I remember from those final years with her. But what saddens me most, is that if the BBC had properly investigated the complaints and concerns first raised in 1995, my mother would have known that she had been deceived. She was failed not just by a rogue reporter, but by leaders at the BBC who looked the other way rather than asking the tough questions."

Bashir, who quit the BBC on health grounds before the publication of the investigation, said in a statement, reported by the Evening Standard: "This is the second time that I have willingly fully co-operated with an investigation into events more than 25 years ago. I apologised then, and I do so again now, over the fact that I asked for bank statements to be mocked up. It was a stupid thing to do and was an action I deeply regret. But I absolutely stand by the evidence I gave a quarter of a century ago, and again more recently. I also reiterate that the bank statements had no bearing whatsoever on the personal choice by Princess Diana to take part in the interview."

BBC News media editor Amol Rajan: "This report will not just injure the BBC, but scar it. And it should be granted that though it shows the historic failures of BBC journalists, it also shows the power and merit of journalism. It is thanks to determined reporters, not least at the Daily Mail group and the Sunday Times, that we today have the first full account of the real story behind the most remarkable - and arguably consequential - interview in television history."

The Committee to Protect Journalists' Middle East representative Ignacio Miguel Delgado in a statement, after Israeli planes destroyed the Al-Jawhara building in Gaza which housed the offices of more than a dozen media outlets, including AP and Al Jazeera:
“It is utterly unacceptable for Israel to bomb and destroy the offices of media outlets and endanger the lives of journalists, especially since Israeli authorities know where those media outlets are housed. Israeli authorities must ensure that journalists can do their jobs safely without fear of being injured or killed.”

Alan Rusbridger on Twitter: "Sometimes, when Prince Harry says sensible things (eg this morning about parenting), it would be nice if journalists discussed what he said rather than whether he has pissed off the Royals or Meghan put him up to it."

New Yorker
journalist Patrick Radden Keefe asked in an Observer interview if he had been intimidated by dozens of letters and emails from lawyers representing some of the Sackler family while writing Empire of Pain, his new book about the opioid scandal in the US:
 "Of course, it was in the back of my mind, it had to be. But I wasn’t intimidated. On the contrary, I was emboldened to be honest with you. In part, because they don’t do that sort of thing unless you’re on the right track. I thought a little bit about my colleague, Ronan Farrow, who had a similar experience when he tried to write about Harvey Weinstein. These are the sort of tactics these types of people employ. And they work until they don’t. And with Weinstein, they worked for a long time until they didn’t work any more. And the truth caught up with him."

BBC's Jon Sopel on covering the U.S. after Trump, in an interview with Press Gazette:
 “If you’re a journalist, and you need your daily heroin fix of being on the news, Joe Biden ain’t great. Because a lot of it is just the smooth whirring of the machine of government. It’s pretty dull. Whereas with Donald Trump, it was fireworks every day. So from that point of view, it seems a much quieter, stiller place.”

Matt Dathan in The Times [£]: "Spreading fake news on behalf of a hostile state like Russia or China could become a crime under government plans to overhaul the Official Secrets Act. Priti Patel, the home secretary, has published proposals to create a number of new offences to modernise Britain’s 'outdated' laws to combat evolving threats. The changes would also increase prison sentences for breaches of the Official Secrets Act."

Kevin Bradford on Twitter: "A map of nowhere - but somewhere only #news stories happen."

Paul Wiltshire on Twitter: "I do love a map. Particularly if it's of the newsiest town in the land. Happy memories of covering it - and training other people to cover it."


Thursday 13 May 2021

Media Quotes of the Week: Russian billionaires use London libel courts to sue journalist over Putin book to silly season arrives early with gunboats

Nick Cohen in the Observer on how journalist Catherine Belton is being sued in the UK libel courts by four Russian billionaires and a Russian oil company over her acclaimed book Putin's People: "The former Moscow correspondent for the Financial Times now faces a pile-on from Russian billionaires on a scale this country has never witnessed...London’s lawyers are hard at work. Carter-Ruck, CMS, Harbottle & Lewis and Taylor Wessing have a billionaire apiece in a kind of socialism of the litigious...Rosneft and Abramovich are not only suing HarperCollins, they are suing Belton personally If they are successful, they could strip her of what few assets she owns. You can see why journalists walk around on tiptoes."

The Financial Times in a leader:
"Despite reforms curtailing so-called libel tourism, England remains a venue of choice for claimants. Unlike in the US, there is no constitutional protection of free speech and fewer requirements for public figures to meet before they can successfully sue...Claimants must be able to vindicate their rights in court where claims are well founded. But the costs of the current system hand the super-rich an advantage and can distort outcomes. The scales of justice must balance accuracy with greater tolerance of free speech. Without a recalibration, the system could enable privatised censorship."

Hillary Clinton, interviewed in the Guardian“The technology platforms are so much more powerful than any organ of the so-called mainstream press, and I do think that there has to be not just an American reckoning but a global reckoning with the disinformation, with the monopolistic power and control, with the lack of accountability that the platforms currently enjoy.”

Kelvin MacKenzie on Press Gazette on the Sun's former chief reporter John Kay who has died aged 77: "He loved his gossip but what you could never prise from him was the source of his stories. Disgracefully Rupert Murdoch did that when he ordered the details of payments made to public officials by Sun journalists should be handed to Scotland Yard. John was among 22 staff that Murdoch threw under the bus to save his own skin when threatened with a corporate charge which would have forced him out of his own company. In my years of running The Sun Murdoch never asked where John’s fantastic tales came from; he was only interested that we had them so we could sell more papers, make more money and stuff the opposition. All 22 were cleared, but what broke John was one of his best contacts over the years ended up being jailed."

Roy Greenslade on Twitter:
"UK press guilty of ignoring innocent victims of Ballymurphy. Inquest coverage: Guardian, p1 with pic; Times p1, one par + p19; Telegraph, p1 one par + p9 (with that insensitive headline); Mail, p22; Mirror, p21; Express, p21; Sun, p20; i, p1 mention + p4. Editors just don't care."

Mr Justice Cohen refusing a request by Telegraph owner Sir Frederick Barclay to keep details of his divorce settlement private, as reported by the Guardian:
“[Barclay] is a public figure who should have been aware of the potential consequences of disobedience of court orders and his behaviour in the proceedings should not be allowed to pass completely under the radar.”

All Party Parliamentary Group on Religion in the Media report Learning to Listen
: "Journalists must be able to question freely and criticise religious beliefs – such criticism may well be merited. Highlighting shortcomings and exposing hypocrisy is a vital feature of public interest journalism and a responsibility not to be shirked in a democracy that values freedom of the press. But too often in our evidence sessions, we heard that media reporting on religion can be sensationalising, that it can reinforce problematic stereotypes, commit basic mistakes and use imprecise language, and that it homogenises faith communities whilst ignoring the diversity within faith groups."

The report recommends: "We argue for a corrective to the current system of press regulation to enable groups to make complaints on the grounds of discrimination. We also call for government to look again at press regulation arguing that there is a need for greater public confidence that the press is meaningfully, independently regulated...We propose religious literacy training be formally incorporated into professional media qualifications and journalism courses."

The Observer in a leader: "Oh, what a lovely war! The summer silly season arrived early for the Brexiters and their Fleet Street cheerleaders, and didn’t they enjoy it! In a week that commemorated the death of Napoleon, and on the eve of today’s Europe Day, which celebrates peace and unity across a continent for which greater generations of Britons fought and died, they picked a foolish scrap with the French for old times’ sake, then claimed a spurious victory...Real battles threaten communities around the globe. But what’s the big news for foreigner-baiting tabloids? The imaginary “Battle of St Helier”, a fake story told with sick relish, bad puns and shameful jingoism."

Thursday 6 May 2021

Media Quotes of the Week: From London journalists please stop patronising the North to Putin's trolls are targeting UK national newspapers

Janice Turner on Twitter:
"What’s the point of a @BBCr4today reporter getting on a train to Doncaster (my home town as it happens) just to talk to local people in a condescending voice & report they haven’t heard of various politicians? Shallow, patronising & reveals nothing but their own snooty prejudices. Also the self congratulatory tone of  'I’m not in London, aren’t I amazing'. Mate, there are four London trains an hour. You haven’t crossed the Sahara."

Jane Bradley on Twitter: "Hartlepool has been through a lot over the years and it doesn't deserve the onslaught of lobby journalists bravely venturing up north for the day."

Huw Edwards on Twitter: "
A polite word from my Cameronian shed to remind fellow journalists that elections in Wales and Scotland are not 'local' or 'regional' but NATIONAL. The English elections are local and regional."

The Guardian in a leader celebrating its 200th anniversary: "News organisations, at their best, are concerned with the public interest; social media firms are happier to peddle only the news and views that readers agree with. The Guardian will respectfully disagree with those who don’t share its preoccupations and aims to persuade them with reason. A newspaper is an essential building block of any democracy. It has a role to supply voters with sourced and verifiable information about politics and the state of the world."

Newsquest chief executive Henry Faure Walker 
announcing a £1.5m per annum investment in local journalism with the recruitment of 50 new digital journalist roles across the UK: “The focus that we have placed on growing engaged local digital audiences over the last few years is paying off, with most of our sites now reaching almost 80% of their local population. This coupled with the success we are having with digital subscriptions, gives us the confidence to launch a major expansion in local journalism."

The Observer
"An epidemic of online violence against female journalists worldwide is undermining their reporting, spilling over into real-life attacks and harassment, and puts their health and professional prospects in jeopardy, the UN has warned. The avalanche of misogynistic abuse and threats is not only damaging women working in media, it is also weaponised 'to undercut public trust in critical journalism and facts in general', a report commissioned by the UN’s cultural agency Unesco has found."

Nick Cohen in the Observer:
"It is now a cliche for political journalists to write that Conservative voters have 'baked in' Johnson’s sleaziness, as dopeheads bake in hash to a brownie. I will leave it to Conservative readers to say whether the insulting conviction they don’t care about charlatanry and crookedness is true. I will leave it to lawyers to say whether the defence 'you cannot jail my client, your honour, the public has baked in his guilt' has ever worked in court'."

Jon Snow announcing he is leaving Channel 4 News after 32 years at the end of the year: 
“After three incredible decades on Channel 4 News, it is time to move on. I am excited by the many things I want to accomplish but I have to say I have enjoyed every minute of my time with the programme. It has brought me adventure, as well as sorrow in some of the stories that I have had to report and also joy in reporting others, but above all, it has brought me community in working with the most fantastic group of people who are bound in intellect, humour and understanding."

Committee to Protect Journalists Africa programme coordinator Angela Quintal after two Spanish journalists working on a documentary about poaching in Burkina Faso were killed when gunmen ambushed a convoy: 
“Authorities in Burkina Faso must thoroughly and transparently investigate the killings of journalists David Beriain and Roberto Fraile and ensure that those responsible are found and brought to justice. Too often journalists are killed with impunity; authorities must ensure that does not happen in this case.”

The Sunday Times [£] reports:
 "Britain is to launch an international effort to combat Russian propaganda this week, after a new study found that a network of trolls is targeting national newspapers to spread pro-Moscow views. Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, accused Russia of 'behaving exceptionally badly' and said Britain was in an 'attritional struggle' with Vladimir Putin’s regime over fake news and misinformation. Research funded by the Foreign Office has found that pro-Russian trolls are posting provocative statements in the online comment sections of The Times, the Daily Mail, The Sun and the Daily Express to give the false impression that the public supports Russian aggression towards Ukraine. These are then picked up by Russian state media as evidence that the UK public backs Moscow."

 [£] =paywall