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."


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."


Thursday 10 June 2021

Media Quotes of the Week: From Government's FoI blocking 'Department of Secrets' shamed to worldwide press freedom at a historic low point

Julian Richards, the openDemocracy editor-in-chief, quoted by the Guardian 
after openDemocracy won a legal victory against the UK government which forces transparency on a secretive unit accused of ‘blacklisting’ Freedom of Information requests from journalists, campaigners and others: “This tribunal ruling completely vindicates openDemocracy’s journalism, which has shown how freedom of information is being undermined at the very heart of government. There is a toxic culture of secrecy and evasion that has to stop. We should not have had to go all the way to a tribunal to force the Cabinet Office to comply with basic transparency requirements.”

The Times [£] in a leader: "This ruling is a victory not only for openDemocracy, which was taken to court by the Cabinet Office, but for all those who recognise the need for the government to be subjected to rigorous scrutiny. There are increasing concerns about the department’s policy of stonewalling requests from journalists and the public until being ordered to respond by the regulator. In doing so it has been accused of failing to meet its obligation in either the letter or the principle of the Freedom of Information Act. The result has been that successful requests have fallen to the lowest level since the law was introduced 20 years ago...the judgment is particularly shaming for Michael Gove, the relevant minister, who had sought to brush off investigations into the workings of the clearing house as 'ridiculous and tendentious'.”

Andrew Neil, interviewed by Susannah Butter
 in the Evening Standard, on the chances of Piers Morgan joining GB News: “It would be nice to have him. But he’s got his own idea of what he is worth and we have a slightly different idea of what he’s worth. He is in a lucky situation because ITV are continuing to pay him a tonne of money so he doesn’t have to do anything in the short run. I don’t think he’s going to go anywhere else in the UK. If he has a huge American offer that’s a different matter. No one in the UK can compete with that but if he’s going to do more UK news TV I hope it will be with us.”

Tom McTague in The Atlantic in a profile of Boris Johnson: "Johnson often carries a notepad around, a habit from his days as a journalist. A former aide told me that you know he has taken your point seriously if he writes it down. He runs meetings like an editor, surveying his staff for ideas, always looking for 'the line'—cutting through dry and occasionally contradictory facts to identify what he sees as the heart of the matter, the story."

“ 'What am i doing this for?' Johnson asked his aides, looking at his schedule for the day and seeing a slot carved out to talk to me. 'It’s for the profile I advised you not to do,' James Slack, Johnson’s then–director of communications, said."

Sathnam Sanghera in The Times [£]:
"My heart sank on hearing that the print circulation of my hometown newspaper, the Express & Star, has dropped to around 20,000 a day. In the 1980s it was selling 350,000 every evening, the editor would send writers to Afghanistan, the Gulf War, Sarajevo, and, on my first day on the Financial Times, I did myself no favours whatsoever by pointing out to new colleagues that their paper sold less nationally than the local paper I’d started out on. It still operates a fine website, but the slow death in general of local newspapers is nothing less than a national tragedy."

Joshi Herrmann, publisher of digital newspaper 
Manchester Mill, on Press Gazette“There is no long-term viable solution to the problems in local journalism that doesn’t come from getting people to pay for local news again.”

Van Morrison on Lewis Merenstein, the producer of his classic album Astral Weeks, in a GQ interview: "He liked to wind up the press because he said the media were like insects. He used to tell lies to people. One journalist asked him what it was like working with Van Morrison and he said, 'It’s terrible. He put a chair through the booth window while we were recording.' I asked him why he said that and he said because the press are idiots and they’ll print anything."

Hugo Rifkind in The Times [£]: "The Leveson Inquiry was shaming for newspapers, but they — we — still fought off the encroachment of government into who got to say what and how. It seems obvious to me that state regulation of social media is the same fight on a bigger battlefield. Yet traditional media distrusts social media too much to go into battle on its behalf."

Jason Rezaian 
in the Washington Post: "While the Trump era may be over, attacks on journalists in far-flung corners of the world are a frightening reminder that the former president’s record of inciting harm against reporters is an indelible part of his legacy — one that will have residual effects for generations if President Biden doesn’t act."
  • Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, quoted by the Washington Post: “If you look at the data we maintain, especially on journalists in prison around the world, there’s a consensus in the advocacy and research communities that press freedom is at a historic low point.” 


Thursday 3 June 2021

Media Quotes of the Week: From sports press conferences are a 'cynical game' to when a local paper had as many staff as a modern day national

Jonathan Liew in the Guardian after Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open after refusing to do press conferences:
 "The modern press conference is no longer a meaningful exchange but really a lowest‑common‑denominator transaction: a cynical and often predatory game in which the object is to mine as much content from the subject as possible. Gossip: good. Anger: good. Feuds: good. Tears: good. Personal tragedy: good. Meanwhile the young athlete, often still caught up in the emotions of victory or defeat, is expected to answer the most intimate questions in the least intimate setting, in front of an array of strangers and backed by a piece of sponsored cardboard."

Nadeem Badshah in the Guardian:
"Journalists are being encouraged to share their experiences of being threatened, abused and intimidated as part of a government drive to protect their safety. The Home Office said the call for evidence would help to better understand the scale of the problem, the criminal justice system’s response to it and the impact that such incidents have on the industry. The National Action Plan for the Safety of Journalists in the UK was formed after the government received reports of journalists facing abuse and attacks while going about their daily work – including being 'punched, threatened with knives, forcibly detained, and subjected to rape and death threat' – and hopes to implement measures to tackle the problem."
  • The call for evidence ends on 14th July 2021

Alistair Osborne in The Times [£] on the decision to re-run the selection of the new Ofcom chair after claims Boris Johnson's favourite for the post, Paul Dacre, had been rejected by the independent assessment panel:
"For the PM to rip up an appointments process running six months late because the four-strong assessment panel is said to have rejected his preferred candidate — Dacre — is still a shocker. Ofcom is supposed to be an independent regulator, not the plaything of whatever government happens to be in charge."

Justin Webb on UnHerd:
"University these days encourages a way of thinking about the world that is homogenous. Those who go — even those who have seen hardship and adversity — are smoothed around the edges. They don’t question the establishment because they (alright, we) are the establishment. At its worst, all this leads to a deadening. A weeding out of the kind of prickly cussed characters who bring vivacity to any line of work — and have made British journalism what it is."

Nick Davies on Twitter: "In amongst all the news from Cummings' evidence, there is an important background point, that most of this never made it into the news before. Why? a) the UK has a culture of official secrecy and b) our mainstream news media are too weak to break it."

Ray Snoddy on MediaTel:
"Rather wearily, we must now dust down the old arguments and go into battle once more in protection of the concept that for Channel 4, privatisation is the solution to a problem that does not exist. The channel was hit hard, as was every commercially-funded broadcaster, by Covid and the lockdowns, but like others such as ITV, the bounce back is well under way. There is no reason to doubt that Channel 4 is perfectly sustainable in its present form, for the foreseeable future...This populist Conservative government, unlike any other we have ever had, does not like Channel 4 and Channel 4 News in particular. Shamefully no minister, let alone Prime Minister Boris Johnson, will appear on Channel 4 News for fear of being asked difficult questions and being held to account."

John Ware in the Observer:
"For all the post-Dyson ballyhoo over Bashirgate, there aren’t that many lessons for the BBC to learn – other than the fact that Martin 'whatever it takes' Bashir is a one-off: shameless and irrepressible. That and the fact that incuriosity, if that was indeed Lord Hall’s failing, is one of journalism’s biggest sins."

Jim Waterson in the Guardian"Fifteen years after the phone-hacking scandal began, more than 20 individuals have recently filed legal proceedings against the owner of the Mirror, with more cases waiting in the wings. Although the phone-hacking scandal has largely faded from the public eye, legal cases brought by potential victims seeking damages continue to make their way through the court system, amid predictions the final industry-wide bill for damages and legal fees could hit £1bn."

National World chief executive David Montgomery on Press Gazette:
 “We have editors who have been involved in the community for years, decades in some cases, and in some respects the previous management didn’t take account of that expertise and drafted very experienced people into central functions rather than having them do what they do best which is serve their communities and provide leadership in those communities. We have tried to get those experienced journalists back into the jobs they love and excel at and it has made a huge difference to the service we’re providing.”

Trevor Kavanagh in XCity magazine, published by City University's department of journalism: 
"When I started on the Surrey Mirror, the staff at head office would have been as big as some minor national newspapers today. I think we have lost an enormous resource by not having local newspapers covering the very fundamentals of our democracy: how local government works, how major trials are conducted."