Thursday 30 September 2021

Media Quotes of the Week: From don't blame the media for petrol crisis to Trump sues NY Times and reporters over 'insidious plot' to obtain tax records

Iliffe Media editorial director Ian Carter in an opinion article on Kent Online: "For all those complaining about media ‘scaremongering’, ask yourself one simple question - would you really prefer to live in a society where inconvenient truths are hidden from you? Where the media deliberately censors information because it doesn’t feel the public can be trusted with it? Maybe you would; I wouldn’t. Where would that end? Don’t report incidents of serious crime in case it deters people from leaving the house? It’s also obvious that the moment the first garage ran low on fuel it would spread across social media networks at breakneck pace - and then it wouldn’t be long before the mainstream media were getting it in the neck for not warning people...

"Bashing the MSM is something everyone in the industry has got used to and by and large we take it on the chin.In this instance, I think remaining silent would be a disservice to readers - there are people with questions to answer about why we are where we are, and by choosing to scapegoat the media, the spotlight is in the wrong place. The fuel crisis is a complex, concerning scenario involving Covid, Brexit, the logistics of transporting hazardous materials and salary levels. Traducing it to simply ‘media scaremongering’ is plain wrong."

YouGov on Twitter: "
Britons hold the media most responsible for petrol stations running out of fuel."
  • The media - 47% say are most to blame
  • The government - 23%
  • The public - 22%

Henry Winter in The Times [£]:
"Here we go again, footballers should be seen but not heard. So says the Spectator following Gary Neville’s observations about the paucity of political leadership, whether red or blue. Open your eyes. Footballers like Neville, Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling feel and suffer more of life’s vicissitudes in this great country than columnists playing at life rather than experiencing it."

Andrew Neil interviewed in the Daily Mail on his departure from GB News:
"The reason I am quite emotional is that I’m angry. I thought after ten years at the Economist, 11 years at The Sunday Times, the launch of Sky Television and Sky News, ten years as publisher of The Scotsman and, for 25 years working to become the BBC’s premier interviewer, GB News would be the final big career move and then I’d pack it all in. I am angry. I’m also quite unforgiving of this chief executive and the board. They are the ones who put me through this – the disrespect. Why pay me all that money? Why make me chairman? Why make me lead presenter and then just not listen? 

"So I’m angry that what should have been my last big media gig – which, if we’d made it work, could have been great – turned out to be the worst eight months of my career, the worst by far, from early January to last weekend when I finally got free of everything. Don’t forget, I’ve been on the IRA hit list twice. I’ve had special protection – anti-terrorist forces outside my house. I’ve been on the jihadists’ hit list. This feels worse."

Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary of the NUJ, in a statement on the 20th anniversary of the murder of Sunday World journalist Martin O'Hagan“The failure of the authorities to properly investigate the brutal murder of Martin O’Hagan is a stain on the history of policing in Northern Ireland. The passage of time does not obliterate the need for an independent investigation drawn from outside the UK to investigate the murder and the subsequent police failings...Martin would be horrified by the recent threats to journalists across Northern Ireland. The use of social media to undermine journalists is a disturbing trend but Martin would be unsurprised by the cowardice of keyboard warriors, having challenged so many who operated in the shadows during his career."

International Federation of Journalists general secretary, Anthony Bellanger, in a statement after a report published by Yahoo News that the CIA allegedly planned to kidnap and assassinate Julian Assange as they feared he was planning to escape to Russia from the Ecuadorian embassy in London: 
“If these accusations are true, it would cast a long shadow over all independent journalism and they would once again prove that extraditing Assange to the United States would put his life at serious risk. We are calling for a full investigation and for the British authorities to release him immediately."

New York Times
 "Former President Donald J. Trump filed a lawsuit on Tuesday accusing Mary L. Trump, The New York Times and three of its reporters of conspiring in an 'insidious plot' to improperly obtain his confidential tax records and exploit their use in news articles and a book. The lawsuit claims that the Times reporters, as part of an effort to obtain the tax records, relentlessly sought out Ms. Trump, the former president’s niece, and persuaded her 'to smuggle the records out of her attorney’s office' and turn them over to The Times."

New York Times investigative reporter Susanne Craig responds on Twitter: "I knocked on Mary Trump’s door. She opened it. I think they call that journalism."

  • In 2019, three Times reporters — David Barstow, Susanne Craig and Russ Buettner — were awarded a Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting for articles about Trump’s taxes. In announcing the award, the Pulitzer judges called the work “an exhaustive 18-month investigation” that “revealed a business empire riddled with tax dodges.”

Thursday 23 September 2021

Media Quotes of the Week: From pandemic pressures pushing journalists to quit to Culture Secretary's eye-watering threat to reporter

Sara Guaglione on Digiday:
"The effects of the pandemic on journalists are ongoing. People are continuing to quit their jobs, leave the industry or shift roles, citing burnout from the pressures of working under the shadow of a pandemic while already in a stressful career path. The pandemic seems to be pushing journalists who were already on the verge of leaving to the brink, and those that have left are not looking back."
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts journalism jobs in US will decline by 4.8% by 2030, after already shrinking from nearly 66,000 workers in 2000 to 52,000 in 2019.

Andrew Neil, asked on BBC's Question Time about his departure from GB News: "I had made it clear, it wouldn't be a British Fox News, and I think you could do something different without going anywhere near Fox. Fox deals in untruths, it deals with conspiracy theories, and it deals in fake news and that's not my kind of journalism...More and more differences emerged between myself and the other senior managers and the board of GB News. Rather than these differences narrowing, they got wider and wider and I felt it was best that if that’s the route they wanted to take then that’s up to them, it’s their money."

Andrew Neil on Twitter: "After weeks of talks with @GBNEWS, resulting in exit settlement, the channel then broke it by briefing Mail on Sunday with load of smears/lies then unilaterally cancelling exit deal. Leaving me free to do, say whatever I want + never again be on GBNews. Couldn’t be happier."
  • Alan Rusbridger on Twitter: "The BBC should, IMHO, hire back @afneil asap. Whatever his politics, he is a true professional and understands the BBC rules perfectly well. The same, I suspect, is true of @jessbrammar."

Piers Morgan on Twitter on joining News UK's new national television station talkTV and writing a column for the Sun: "I’ve gone home. Great to be rejoining Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation after 28 years. The place I started my media career, with the boss who gave me my first big break. We’re going to have a lot of fun…."

  • Rupert Murdoch on Piers Morgan: “Piers is the broadcaster every channel wants but is too afraid to hire. Piers is a brilliant presenter, a talented journalist and says what people are thinking and feeling.”

Mic Wright on Byline Times:
  "The moment that Andrew Neil – a former sinister apprentice to the dark lord of News Corp during his time at The Sunday Times and Sky – announced his departure from GB News on Monday, Murdoch’s plan for a new right-wing news channel, which had been ‘scaled back’ in April, twitched to life. Murdoch has seen an opportunity to take the anti-woke, far-right slot that GB News has failed to dominate through lack of investment, paucity of talent, and technical ineptitude."

Will Hutton in the Observer:
 "Right-of-centre British newspapers have done an unparalleled job in attempting to move public opinion to the right, but as their circulation declines so their influence wanes. Without a politician of the campaigning zest of Boris Johnson, Tories concede, their chance of winning elections will fade. The imperative is to use the current conjuncture to follow the US and build a broadcast media as effective as the fading print media in cheerleading the Conservative cause. Public service broadcasting and, above all, broadcast regulators’ attachment to impartiality are in their crosshairs."

Journalist and trade unionist in Afghanistan interviewed by the International Federation of Journalists: "
As a journalist it is hard to work under the Taliban because they don't respect journalists' rights, they see every journalist as an enemy or as working against them. They have violated the existing legislation, they have not set out any clear policy, they don't allow access to information and prevent news coverage each time they don't wish an issue to be reported on. I have worked mostly with international media, mainly from the UK and US and they want to punish journalists who have worked with US, UK and other western media. My life is at risk and every minute I fear they will try to find and arrest me or kill me.

"As a unionist I feel my life is even more in danger because I was protecting national and international journalists and media workers' rights and I was critical of the Taliban policy, fighting for press freedom and freedom of expression."

Jennifer Rankin in the Guardian: "EU governments have been urged by Brussels to take action to protect journalists, after an increase in physical and online attacks on members of the press. Issuing its first-ever recommendation on journalists’ safety, the European Commission called on EU governments to set up free contact points for media workers who face physical or online threats, in order to ensure a rapid response from police and prosecutors. It also wants to make sure journalists who become victims of crime have assured access to counselling, legal advice and shelters. According to the commission, 908 journalists and media workers were attacked in 23 EU member states in 2020, resulting in physical and mental injuries, as well as damage to property."

Hadley Freeman in the Guardian in her last column on the changing attitude to columnists: 
 "Ideological disagreements were just a normal part of life on the paper back then, and mixing only with those you agree with would have been seen by many journalists as embarrassingly partisan and unprofessional. I don’t know if that’s quite so true any more. I’ve tackled some highlycontroversial subjects in my time, from Israel to – most controversially – the ugliness of combat trousers, so I’m no stranger to heated debate. But where once people could argue with one another and then go out for a drink, now it feels as if people just argue. A difference of opinion becomes a seismic breaking of alliances, and certain subjects are verboten in social situation."

Our new Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries profiled by Press Gazette: "
In 2013 Dorries threatened to nail a Sunday Mirror journalist’s testicles to the floor after he doorstepped her to ask about her daughter’s taxpayer-funded job. She tweeted: 'Ben Glaze of the Sunday Mirror has an interest in my three daughters which borders on decidedly creepy/ stalker-esque. Here is a message….'Be seen within a mile of my daughters and I will nail your balls to the floor… using your own front teeth. Do you get that?'”

Thursday 16 September 2021

Media Quotes of the Week: Was Andrew Neil's vision for GB News bound to fail? to Taliban will force foreign journalists out of Afghanistan

Andrew Neil on Twitter: "It’s official: I have resigned as Chairman and Lead Presenter of GB News."
Jake Kanter in The Times [£]: "Two camps are said to have emerged at the channel. On one side of the divide are those who consider themselves traditional news journalists, who joined because of the pedigree of senior presenters including Neil and [Simon] McCoy. On the other is a growing roster of populist commentators, who under the leadership of [chief executive Angelos] Frangopoulos are making the station’s agenda more like Fox News."

James Ball in the New Statesman:
 "Neil’s vision for GB News appeared to be based sincerely on that belief: the channel tried to hire local journalists to report – or at least do talking head spots – from across the country for 'out of London' perspectives. The channel hired various presenters and pundits from the BBC and mainstream outfits. There was an attempt to be a mainstream but non-left channel. The result was, frankly, boring. The gap turned out not to exist – and so an amateurish channel with appalling lighting and sound, no half-hourly bulletins and horribly under-rehearsed presenters, producers and tech, was interesting to watch only as an example of how not to produce television."

Marina Hyde in the Guardian
"You’ll recall that Neil launched GB News with a lengthy series of broadsides at the 'metropolitan mindset' and the failures of the 'London media'. Can’t argue with a lot of that. And yet, it must be said that there has simply never, ever been more 'London media' behaviour than that we have witnessed at GB News since then. Backbiting, flouncing, courtly factionalism, seemingly daily resignations, the cancellation of one of its own presenters, briefing wars, declining to come back to work from the south of France for literally months – my dear, the sheer pompous luvviedom of this station has been absolutely unparalleled."

Daniel Finkelstein in The Times [£]:
"Launching a new television station is hard, and I always thought GB News would find things tough. I was surprised they thought there were enough people wanting to watch programmes about cancel culture in the middle of the afternoon. How many viewers would be shouting through to the kitchen: 'I’ll come to dinner in a minute darling, but Dan Wootton is on. He’s just talking to Ann Widdecombe about lockdowns and I want to find out if she’s for them or against them'?"

Private Eye's Adam Mcqueen, interviewed by Press Gazette: "I keep saying to people who take photos of their favourite stories in Private Eye on the Wednesday when we come out and put them all over Twitter: this stuff’s really expensive. Every story that gets in that there’s probably six or seven that each journalist has looked into that haven’t actually come to anything, but you have to put a lot of resources into checking things out and seeing them through. In a lot of cases lawyers get involved, there have been injunctions and things that you ended up spending months and a hell of a lot of money on. And you need the resources to do that stuff. And it is much easier as a lot of publishers [have found out] just to get a load of people who’ve got opinions to come in and spout off about them and with that goes to the picture byline and the personal brand side of things."

BBC News reports:
"A complaint by a journalist over 'a complete failure' by the Police Service of Northern Ireland to properly investigate an online threat to sexually attack her baby has been upheld. Patricia Devlin, a crime reporter with the Sunday World, took the case to the Police Ombudsman last year. Ms Devlin received the threat a year ago in a direct message to her Facebook account, signed in the name of neo-Nazi group Combat 18. Police Ombudsman, Marie Anderson, said the threat made against the journalist was 'repulsive'. She added that it was 'concerning that police failed to take measures to arrest the suspect at the earliest opportunity'."

Andrew Roth in the Observer:
 "For more than a decade, the Kremlin has been engaged in a cat-and-mouse game with Russia’s independent media. Outlets with independent journalists were periodically purged by their businessmen or state owners. Those journalists found new jobs, then founded new media, and sought other means to protect their work, sources and livelihood from the threat of a new government crackdown. But in the past year, since the protests in neighbouring Belarus, the arrest of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and Vladimir Putin’s “resetting” of his presidential terms, the Kremlin is taking broader steps to bring the media and individual journalists to heel. Some think it’s possible to keep on reporting, but others see it as a death knell for the profession of journalism."

Ian Burrell in the i
 on the task of replacing Fran Unsworth at the BBC: "Being BBC director of news and current affairs is probably the most prestigious job in the British news industry, but in the age of social media it is close to becoming an impossible task. Of course, there will always be applicants for a role that comes with immense status and a £340,000 salary but, aside from that, it’s strangely unrewarding and surprisingly powerless. Much of the remit concerns making job cuts and withstanding the political controversies that result from the endless online dissection of the output of a 6,000-strong news division that serves 468m people around the world."

Jake Kanter in The Times [£]:
"There is an atmosphere of fear and loathing at the BBC as demoralised news staff fret over creeping politicisation of senior roles, job cuts and a fresh assault on the licence fee. The Times has obtained a copy of the BBC’s 2021 employee survey, which provides a snapshot of the anxiety about the future among rank-and-file staff. Only 41 per cent of employees believe the BBC will succeed over the next three years, according to the survey completed in May."

 Los Angeles Times
"Journalists from the Etilaat Roz newspaper, Nemat Naqdi, 28, a video journalist, left, and Taqi Daryabi, 22, video editor, show their wounds. They said Taliban fighters tortured and beat them while they were in custody after being arrested while reporting on a women’s rights protest in Kabul, Afghanistan." (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Anthony Bellanger, the International Federation of Journalists' general secretary, interviewed in the Guardian: “The Taliban don’t want to make too many waves right now, but they will want to take control of everything, including the foreign press in Afghanistan. And as often happens in such situations, foreign journalists will be considered agents of foreign governments.  I believe what we will see emerge is an official media – a Taliban media – and no women. All other journalists will just disappear."


Thursday 9 September 2021

Media Quotes of the Week: From Russian trolls infiltrate newspaper comment sections to 200 health journals in joint warning on climate change

The Times [£] reports: "Pro-Kremlin trolls have been inserting Russian propaganda and disinformation in the reader comments sections of western news organisations, including The Times, researchers claim. A report has concluded that trolls used the comment sections of 32 prominent news websites across 16 countries to create a 'distorted picture of public opinion'. The comments, posted between February and April, were favourable to President Putin and against Britain, the US and other western allies. The researchers from Cardiff University were unable to definitively say who was behind the posts, but believe that they are 'indicative of a Russian state operation'. News outlets whose websites were repeatedly targeted included the Daily Mail, Daily Express and The Times in the UK, Fox News and The Washington Post in the US, Le Figaro in France, Der Spiegel and Die Welt in Germany, and La Stampa in Italy."

Ian Burrell in the New Statesman on the the BBC's Secunder Kermani reporting from Afghanistan: "Bearded and often dressed in a long kurta shirt, Kermani blends easily with crowds in Kabul’s streets and bazaars. But his best reporting, notably interviews with grieving relatives of the Kabul airport atrocity who claimed that American soldiers fired on civilians in panic, is testimony to his ability to gain people’s confidence. 'He’s capable of swimming in a wider range of ponds than almost any other reporter I have come across,' says Ian Katz, his editor at Newsnight. 'That is his amazing capacity to rub along with people and win trust and respect'.”

Max Hastings in 
The Times [£] reviewing The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War by Washington Post journalist Craig Whitlock: "Whitlock is a gifted reporter, who with his newspaper deserves full credit for dragging so much evidence into the public domain. This is not a great book, because it lacks literary panache and penetrating analysis. It is, nonetheless, an impressive catalogue of follies and lies. What should shock British readers is that there is no possibility that our own government or courts will release comparable documents about our end of the disaster. We may have lost the art of winning wars, but global Britain can at least boast of its Olympic medal-worthy cover-ups."

Roger Mosey, former head of BBC Television News, in a letter to The Times [£]: "I am unequivocally in favour of free speech. I also believe that there should be a greater diversity of views in broadcast news. However, I am concerned by Ofcom’s ruling that Piers Morgan as the presenter of a news-based programme on a public service channel can give his unfettered opinions on the issues of the day. If Morgan was right to say what he did about the Duchess of Sussex, what was wrong with Emily Maitlis’s more tempered comments about Dominic Cummings? At the time, Ofcom said '[news] presenters should ensure that they do not inadvertently give the impression of setting out personal opinions or views' — and that is surely right. We do not want to hear what Huw Edwards or Julie Etchingham think of the day’s events, and nor should a news breakfast show on a major channel be dominated by the opinions of its presenters. That route leads us to the aggressive polarisation of the media seen in the United States, when the public need in these times is for accurate reporting and cool analysis."

Ex-editor BBC Political Programmes Rob Burley on Twitter:
"I’ve worked with @afneil and he’s a brilliant journalist. He’s never been about Fox News style journalism. If he is getting out of GB News - I don’t know - to avoid that sort of environment then that can’t be easy and is the right thing for him to do."
  • Owen Jones on Twitter: "I keep being bombarded with requests from @GBNEWS producers to go on their channel (obviously I say no or ignore). I’ve checked with other leftwing commentators - the exact same story. As their audience collapse they’re looking to us to save them with outrage clicks."

From The Times [£] obit on showbiz correspondent Donald Zec, who has died aged 102:
"Still not a bona-fide reporter, he decided to take his chance at the Daily Mirror. His first assignment was covering a nightclub fire in Soho, clacking out 200 words that began with the turgid introduction: 'Firemen were called to extinguish a blaze'. His news editor declared, 'This is shit', before handing it to an old hand who showed him the ropes: 'Clad only in her scanties, a blonde, 22-year-old nightclub hostess climbed along a 30ft parapet in a Soho fire last night to rescue her pet cat Timothy.' As Zec observed in the British Journalism Review: 'Here, in a single sentence of slick hyperbole, were all the elements of popular journalism — sex, heroism, drama and pet-worship'.”

Victor Pickard for the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) think tank: "In the wake of a global pandemic, democracies are newly sensitized to how local journalism provides critical information for vitally important issues, ranging from public health to conducting fair elections. But despite this new-found respect for the fourth estate, the newspaper industry has continued to implode, losing 57% of its employeesbetween 2008 and 2020, resulting in hundreds of closures and news deserts sprouting up across the country. Given that the devastation of local journalism will only continue, such glaring market failure should compel government intervention. Public goods — often understood as vital necessities in theory but rarely treated as such in practice — require public investments and protections from unfettered commercialism. Subjecting these services entirely to the market gradually leads to disinvestment over time. In other words, the journalism crisis is a human-made disaster. Allowing the market to drive local journalism into the ground is a political choice."

Ray Snoddy on Mediatel:
"They may only be the first falling leaves of a difficult autumn to come, but parts of the Brexit-supporting media are starting to show signs of responding to current post- Brexit realities. Gone are the uncritical promotions of the 'sunny uplands' and of the politicians who could not see a single disadvantage in leaving the European Union. Instead, the national newspapers who so enthusiastically campaigned for Getting Brexit Done, now have to face up to 'supply chain' difficulties that are leaving gaps in supermarket shelves and the global notoriety of the disappearing McDonald's milkshakes."

British Medical Journal reports: "More than 200 health journals have called on governments to take emergency action to tackle the 'catastrophic harm to health' from climate change. A joint editorial says that while recent targets to reduce emissions and conserve biodiversity are welcome, they are not enough and need to be matched with credible short and longer term plans. The editorial was published simultaneously on 6 September in 233 international titles including The BMJ, the Lancet, the New England Journal of Medicine, the East African Medical Journal, the Chinese Science Bulletin, the National Medical Journal of India, and the Medical Journal of Australia. The editorial says: 'As health professionals, we must do all we can to aid the transition to a sustainable, fairer, resilient, and healthier world. We, as editors of health journals, call for governments and other leaders to act, marking 2021 as the year that the world finally changes course'.”


Thursday 2 September 2021

Media Quotes of the Week: From tv crew feel guilty as forced to leave Afghanistan to civil servants are gutting the UK's Freedom of Information Act

Sky's chief correspondent Stuart Ramsay on leaving Afghanistan:
"The operational commanders wanted us to stay to the very end and leave with them, but the orders to remove us came from the MoD or from Whitehall, or both. We had fought to stay for days but ultimately we found ourselves on a military base and we were being ejected - there is nothing you can do. It was all conducted in a cordial manner, but we WERE kicked out. I suspect the prospect of the withdrawal being filmed in heart-breaking detail was a risk the government wasn't prepared to take, because this will end badly for thousands, I guarantee it...

"We felt guilty we were leaving - myself, my producer Dominique, Sky colleague Martin, and Toby. An easy exit for a group of journalists guaranteed safety by our soldiers and our governments. I'll take the jibes and the scorn for leaving. But I will say this: if we hadn't been there, nobody would have seen any of the scenes of horror and desperation that have engulfed this entire operation, none of the incredible work by the British military, and the Foreign and Home Office staff."

Sharif Hassan on Twitter: 
"Alireza Ahmadi, a dear journalist friend and his younger brother, were among the dead victims of yesterday’s #KabulAirport attack. He worked for different local media outlets for over a decade as a writer, photographer and reporter, giving voice for his people. RIP brother."

A female reporter in Kandahar, quoted by The Times [£]: “The Taliban’s ban of female journalists from TV and radio is not a surprise for me. It was expected as the Taliban started stopping women from work in media, banks, activism and other jobs before they took Kabul. Today, no female presenter or anchor were seen on TV in Kandahar. It’s very sad. I know many female journalists who are in hiding or have fled. There is no space left at all for working women in Afghanistan.”

Hugh Tomlinson in The Times [£]:  "The boom in Afghanistan’s free press was hailed as one of the greatest virtues to come out of the years of conflict that followed the US-led invasion in 2001. The birth of independent broadcasters and radio stations provided job opportunities for a new generation of educated, young Afghans, including many women given the chance to work for the first time. In the months before the final Taliban offensive, however, female journalists and media workers were murdered, apparently to frighten women out of the workplace."

Piers Morgan on Twitter: "I’m delighted OFCOM has endorsed my right to disbelieve the Duke & Duchess of Sussex’s incendiary claims to Oprah Winfrey, many of which have proven to be untrue. This is a resounding victory for free speech and a resounding defeat for Princess Pinocchios. Do I get my job back?"
  • The Times [£] reports: "Morgan said that ITV would have to make a public apology if it wanted to restore him to Good Morning Britain. ITV sources said that executives had no 'current plans' to give him his job back, although there is speculation among insiders that the broadcaster may return to its star presenter. 'I’d put money on it,' one source said."

NUJ broadcasting organiser Paul Siegert in a statement on claims the Government is going to set the BBC licence rise below the rate of inflation:
"Cutting funding to the BBC, via a below inflation rise in the licence fee, will mean the BBC will be able to offer less to the public - less local and national news, less journalism, less on the radio, website and TV, and less diversity and less quality programming and output."

The Sun in a statement: “On 17 September 2019 we published a story titled ‘Tragedy that Haunts Stokes’ Family’ which described a tragic incident that had occurred to Deborah Stokes, the mother of Ben Stokes, in New Zealand in 1988. The article caused great distress to the Stokes family, and especially to Deborah Stokes. We should not have published the article. We apologise to Deborah and Ben Stokes. We have agreed to pay them damages and their legal costs.”

The Guardian in a leader: "Whitehall is too fond of secrecy. It is absurd to think that it was once forbidden to name the heads of the UK intelligence services. In the past decade, revelations from WikiLeaks to Edward Snowden to the Pegasus project have demonstrated the extent of official impunity when it comes to national security. The sensible political response would be to halt such actions and impose a system of oversight and democratic control. Putting state activities beyond sight with laws that control the press would represent a new stage in the growth of authoritarian government in Britain."

Ray Snoddy on Mediatel:
"Can anything save Channel 4 now from an unnecessary, pointless and potential damaging privatisation? At least the Channel seems to have a new, powerful ally – God – or at the very least, Bishops of the Church of England. Archbishop Cottrell of York has written to Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden saying that Channel 4 offers 'something unique and precious in the British public service broadcasting ecology' and how important it was that such important programming should not be lost. The Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines was even sharper in his denunciation. The privatisation plan was 'ideologically driven and therefore short-sighted and wrong, ' he wrote. The voice of the bishops might have achieved more purchase from devout Anglican Theresa May than the occasional, convenient Catholic, Boris Johnson."

Chris Cook in the Financial Times on the Freedom of Information Act:
 "There was no golden age of the FOIA: reporters always needed to disguise what they actually wanted. The law gives the government the right to keep some types of information secret, and many civil servants have long seen their job as stretching those bits of law to cover any information that might be important. Some institutions, particularly the Cabinet Office, have habitually disobeyed the law. Increasingly, though, it appears officials are openly trying to keep secrets secret...MPs are unlikely to vote for the removal of the Freedom of Information Act: after all, it would look pretty rum. But they do not need to. The civil service is quietly gutting it."