Tuesday 26 October 2021

Media Quotes of the Week: From if you want Royal scoops pay Palace footmen to BBC urged to appoint a pro-Brexit political editor to replace Kuenssberg

Kelvin MacKenzie on Twitter: "
John Inman sound alike Nicholas Witchell is moaning on BBC that The Queen's people tipped off @theSundaily rather than him when she overnighted in hospital. Why would she tell a pinch-faced tosser like him anything. The answer is for the BBC to bung footmen like Murdoch does."

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries expressing her fury at the BBC’s Nick Robinson after he told the prime minister to “stop talking” during a tense interview, according to The Sunday Times [£]: “Nick Robinson has cost the BBC a lot of money.”

Nick Cohen in the Observer:
"Opposition to censorship should not be based on sympathy for the censored but fear of the censors. To loud applause, the UK government says it wants to implement the most far-reaching web regulation of any western democracy. Too few are noticing that the Conservatives’ answer to the question of how to curb online hate is to give its politicians excessive powers and make Paul Dacre the country’s internet censor-in-chief."

Matt Hancock in a letter to the Independent Press Standards Organisation, as reported by Guido Fawkes: "
I am writing to ask your help to protect my children, following widespread media coverage of my personal life in the last few months. Now, more than three months after my resignation as Secretary of State, there is no longer any public interest whatsoever in any publication about my private life, or the private life of my partner Gina Coladangelo or either of our families. While a perfectly reasonable case could have been made while I was in Government, there is clearly now no public interest case for invasion of our privacy."

The Times
 [£] reports:
 "Paris Match announced a change of editor amid a row over compromising photographs of Éric Zemmour, the far-right pundit who is expected to run for the French presidency.
Hervé Gattegno lost his job as editor a month after putting on the magazine’s front cover a photograph of Zemmour, 63, embracing Sarah Knafo, his 28-year-old assistant, on the French Riviera. The scoop angered Zemmour, who announced that he was taking legal action for breach of privacy."

Jake Kanter in The Times [£] reporting  the departure of Emily Sheffield as editor of the London Evening Standard: "
There have been persistent rumours that [Evgeny] Lebedev is seeking to close the newspaper down and turn it into an online-only publication, as he did with The Independent in 2016...'There is a lot of sentimentality attached to the Standard, but keeping the brand alive in a digital capacity seems a sensible strategy,' a well-placed source said. 'Evgeny has got what he wanted from being a press baron, not least his peerage'.”

Kent Chief Constable Alan Pughsley in a letter to photographer Andy Aitchison, who was arrested after taking pictures of a protest outside Napier Barracks, as reported by the NUJ: "Further to the damages received by Mr Aitchison in compensation, I apologise unreservedly to him for his unlawful arrest, false imprisonment and breach of his human rights. I expressly acknowledge there was no culpability on the part of Mr Aitchison who was performing an important function publicising the protest in the public interest. I recognise the fundamental importance of free speech and the independent of journalists; I accept they should not be at risk of arrest and of having their equipment seized when acting lawfully in reporting matters of public interest.” 

Mail photographer Gary Trotter, who has died aged 65 , on his ideal assignment: "A small war, a beach and a bar that serves Jack Daniels."

Iliffe editorial director Ian Carter, quoted on HoldtheFrontPage, about the departure of Cornwall Live chief reporter Lee Trewhela who said abuse on social media was one of the reasons he was leaving: “This is happening at one end of the spectrum, while at the other we are seeing far fewer people enter the industry. I’ve no doubt that is, in part, due to a reluctance to open themselves up to abuse from morons. The anti-press sentiment is exacerbated by lazy politicians shouting ‘fake news’ every time something they don’t like is published, police officers warning victims of crime not to speak to local journalists etc etc.”

Julian Knight MP, chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee, on who should succeed Laura Kuenssberg as BBC political editor, as reported by the Telegraph"This would be an opportunity for the BBC, maybe, to look at journalists who had a much more pro-Brexit [approach]. In front of our committee [BBC director general], Tim Davie could not name any senior person he had employed during his watch who supported Brexit. Maybe this is a chance to correct that."

 [£] =paywall

Thursday 21 October 2021

Media Quotes of the Week: From Murdoch's remade Britain in his own malevolent image to journalists vilified daily just for doing their jobs

Lord Puttnam in a speech announcing his retirement from the House of Lords: "
Mirroring the anxieties of many of those angry Brexiteers in 2016, I feel I’ve had my country of birth, and the values I believed it to represent, stolen from me. It’s worse than that, I find myself embarrassed by what, on an almost daily basis I see it becoming – my old enemy Rupert Murdoch’s dream made real. He never liked Britain, and he’s kind of won, he’s helped remake it in his own malevolent image."

Didi Tang in The Times [£]: "China will require more than 200,000 accredited journalists to take at least 90 hours of continued education each year to ensure they are “politically firm”, “professionally excellent” and toe the party line. The move, announced in a draft document from the National Press and Publication Administration and the country’s human resources ministry, is the latest attempt to tighten control over journalists."

Robert Peston talking at the Cheltenham Literary Festival on how he became obsessed with getting scoops when he was covering New Labour in the 1990s, as reported by the Sunday Times [£]:
“There were a couple of occasions around then when people told me things as friends that I put in the newspaper that I should never have done, and it actually almost cost me quite a lot personally. And I did eventually sort of grow up and wake up a bit. But news is, because of the excitement and the adrenaline, intrinsically addictive and I have a very strongly addictive personality — and a bit corrupting. Sometimes I was just too obsessed with getting the story. And that was bad.”

Government advisory notice to press: "Following the arrest of a man in Essex on Friday 15 October, the Attorney General reminds editors, publishers and social media users that for the purpose of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 (the Act), proceedings are active and the strict liability rule under the Act therefore applies. In particular, the Attorney General wishes to draw attention to the risks in publishing material, including on-line, that asserts or assumes, expressly or implicitly, the guilt of any of those arrested, or that otherwise interferes with the administration of justice in this case, for example allegations of wrongdoing of any individual arrested in relation to this matter.The Attorney General’s Office will be monitoring the coverage of these proceedings."

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, on The Times investigation into police misconduct hearings:“The findings by The Times which show the level of secrecy surrounding police misconduct hearings is deeply alarming, especially in the light of the Sarah Everard case. The fact that the newspaper has had to use FOI requests to gain clarity on this issue tells its own story. The results of their investigations show that one in four hearings were held in private, that journalists were routinely blocked when they argued for open proceedings, and that almost half of 40 misconduct outcome notices relating to officers and staff in England and Wales in the past month were anonymised."

David Sassoli, the president of the European parliament, after the inaugural Daphne Caruana Galizia prize was awarded to the journalists from the Pegasus Project coordinated by the Forbidden Stories Consortium
: “Daphne Caruana Galizia’s death has brought about a resurgence of investigative journalism by colleagues committed to continuing her work. Recent examples, such as the Pandora papers, have demonstrated the unique power of journalism that is daring and adamant, particularly when carried out in the context of an international consortium. By creating transparency, investigative journalism allows voters to make informed decisions. Protecting and supporting journalists is in the vital interest of democratic societies.”

Committee to Protect Journalists reports:
"Leading press freedom organizations Free Press Unlimited, Reporters Without Bordersand the Committee to Protect Journalists launch The People’s Tribunal to indict the governments of Sri Lanka, Mexico and Syria for failing to deliver justice for the murders of Lasantha Wickremathunga, Miguel Ángel López Velasco, and Nabil Al-Sharbaji. The Tribunal, a form of grassroots justice, relies on investigations and high-quality legal analysis involving specific cases in three countries. The opening hearing will be held on 2 November in The Hague."

Marianna Spring on BBC News:
 "I'm the BBC's first specialist disinformation reporter - and I receive abusive messages on social media daily. Most are too offensive to share unedited. The trigger? My coverage of the impact of online conspiracies and fake news. I expect to be challenged and criticised - but misogynistic hate directed at me has become a very regular occurrence. Messages are laden with slurs based on gender, and references to rape, beheading and sexual acts."

Chief reporter Lee Trewhela on leaving CornwallLive after 30 years covering Cornwall: "
I have to say that one of the reasons I'm going is down to the amount of abuse and negativity journalists face on social media these days. Regional reporters live in the communities we write about, share the same concerns as the people we write about, and despite many people's opinion of CornwallLive the reporting team cares deeply and thinks long and hard about what is published. And, yes, that does mean we have to challenge sometimes."

Reach's first online safety editor Dr. Rebecca Whittington, quoted by Press Gazette: “Journalists are vilified online on a daily basis simply for doing their jobs, with types of abuse ranging from personal attacks to hate crimes. Not only does this cause harm to the victims of abuse, but it also causes harm to the audience witnessing it. It is time these issues were addressed and by leading the way and creating the position of online safety editor, Reach is taking an important step in doing just that. In my role I aim to support staff facing online abuse and harassment and I also want to address the issue externally, by working with platforms and audiences to prevent and protect.”


Wednesday 20 October 2021

Press Freedom in the UK: Article for InPublishing


From lofty promises to media boycotts, attacks on the BBC and C4, an unlawful police raid, libel laws and threats to jail journalists and whistleblowers. My article on Press Freedom in the UK is up on InPublishing.

Thursday 14 October 2021

Media Quotes of the Week: From Nobel Peace Prize award is a tribute to journalism to concern over journalists SLAPPED with legal proceedings

The Nobel Peace Prize: 
“The Norweigian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2021 to Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace. Ms Ressa and Mr Muratov are receiving the Peace Prize for their courageous fight for freedom of expression in the Philippines and Russia. At the same time, they are representatives of all journalists who stand up for this ideal in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions.”

Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire in a statement on Ressa and Muratov: "This prize is an extraordinary tribute to journalism and a mobilisation appeal, because this decade will be absolutely decisive for journalism. It is a powerful message at a time when democracies are being undermined by the spread of fake news and hate speech.”

International Federation of Journalists general secretary Anthony Bellanger in a statement: “We welcome the Nobel Committee's recognition of the importance of freedom of the press and the role of journalism in the service of democracy and peace, especially at the moment when journalists' rights are under unprecedented threats globally".

Committee to Protect Journalists' executive director Joel Simon in a statement: "These are journalists under personal threat, who continuously defy censorship and repression to report the news, and have led the way for others to do the same. Their struggle is our struggle.”

The Times
 [£] in a leader: "
The award of the Nobel peace prize to two journalists who have exposed crimes of the powerful is among the best decisions in the history of this often contentious accolade. Maria Ressa, co-founder of a Philippine news site, and Dmitry Muratov, a Russian investigative journalist, have shown raw courage in exposing repression perpetrated by the rulers of their respective nations...The Nobel award may not sway the regimes whose depravities are exposed by courageous journalists, but the world is a better place for such heroism."

John Simpson on Twitter:
"Two journalists win the Nobel Peace Prize for their courage in reporting the truth about the Philippines and Russia, at the moment when Newcastle United is bought by someone accused of murdering a journalist who had the courage to report the truth about Saudi Arabia."

BBC News reports:
 "Hours after independent editor Dmitry Muratov was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Russian authorities have designated several publications and journalists as foreign agents. Investigative group Bellingcat and BBC Russian journalist Andrei Zakharov are among those listed."

Kelvin MacKenzie on Twitter: "
Just heard that Rupert Murdoch is paying an astonishing £50million over 3 years to @piersmorgan for his nightly show which will be broadcast in the UK, US and Australia. Rupert at 90 negotiated the deal personally. Piers is now the highest paid TV guy anywhere outside the US. Murdoch's London arm couldn't afford the deal so Fox is bearing most of the cost. It was so expensive because Murdoch wanted Piers to move his columns and 7million followers from Mailonline and the Mail on Sunday to The Sun and New York Post. ITV's management do look idiots."

The Guardian
"Tommy Robinson has been given a five-year stalking protection order after he shouted abuse outside the home of a journalist and threatened to repeatedly return to her address. The founder of the English Defence League, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, went to the property of the Independent’s home affairs correspondent Lizzie Dearden and her boyfriend, Samuel Partridge, in January of this year. Westminster magistrates court heard he stood outside Dearden’s house and shouted unsubstantiated allegations about Partridge. The deputy chief magistrate Tan Ikram said Robinson’s behaviour 'crossed the line between mere harassment and stalking'.”

News Media Association chief executive Owen Meredith in The Times [£]:
"In its BBC Across the UK plans, the Beeb reveals ambitions to use its privileged position to encroach further into local news in an unprecedented assault on the space already well-served by commercial news media...By increasing its local news footprint, the BBC would create a democratic deficit by putting local publishers out of business. That does nothing to enhance the voice of the overlooked, hold the powerful to account, or sustain media plurality and access to high-quality journalism."
  • Paul Wiltshire on Twitter: "So utterly bored of this tired, demeaning, divisive line. The regional media faces many challenges. The BBC recruiting more journalists is not one of them."

Gill Phillips, GNM director of editorial legal services, in the Guardian:
 "Freedom of speech is a fundamental part of any democracy, but exercising and defending it can be a difficult and expensive thing.The rich, the famous and the powerful don’t like criticism and don’t like having their dirty laundry aired in public. They can be well-resourced, and will spend heavily on expensive lawyers. They don’t always tell the truth, or fight fair."

The RAID website reports:
 "Fifteen organisations express their serious concern at the legal proceedings that have been filed in a UK court against journalist and author Tom Burgis, his publisher HarperCollins, and his employer the Financial Times. Two lawsuits have been filed by Kazakh multinational mining company, Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC), for what it claims are a series of 'untrue' and 'highly damaging' allegations made by the defendants about the company...'We are extremely concerned that the lawsuits against Tom Burgis, HarperCollins, and the FT are Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation (SLAPPs). SLAPPs are a form of legal harassment used by those with deep pockets to silence journalists and other public watchdogs by exploiting intimidatingly long and expensive legal procedures,' the organisations said."


Thursday 7 October 2021

Media Quotes of the Week: From Culture Secretary says BBC has forgotten about the working class to best of British journalism is often in local press

Culture secretary Nadine Dorries interviewed in the Sun: "
When I talk about access, I mean the make-up of who works at the BBC. They often tell us what percentage of their employees are gay, black or trans. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about what the BBC is doing to represent the vast number of low socio-economic, non-diverse areas in the UK. Places like Breck Road, like Leicester and Bradford. Towns and cities with big council estates and strong working-class communities. It’s almost like they have forgotten about them. They didn’t think they really mattered because nobody was raising the issue. It’s about group-think. The BBC thinks in one way about lots of issues. But that groupthink is out of step with what the majority of other people in the UK think.”

Nick Robinson interviewing Boris Johnson on the Today programme:
"Prime Minister, stop talking. We are going to have questions and answers, not where you merely talk, if you wouldn’t mind."

John Simpson on Twitter:
 "Margaret Thatcher was the first British political leader to question publicly whether the BBC should have a future. ‘It’s so left-wing,’ she told a group of us. ‘But you say you never watch tv; how do you know?’ I asked. ‘Rupert Murdoch keeps me informed about it,’ she replied."

Michelle Stanistreet NUJ general secretary in a statement on the £75k a year pay increase for BBC director general Tim Davie: “NUJ members gave their all over the past 18 months to provide the best possible service to the public during the pandemic. Their reward was a pay freeze last year, and a below-inflation deal this year. This lavish bung for the director general, accompanied by briefings that try to justify his pay in relation to the so-called ‘market’, is tone deaf and represents an insult to staff whose remuneration is repeatedly approached through the prism of public sector constraints."

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists on its Pandora Papers investigation:
"The ICIJ obtained the trove of more than 11.9 million confidential files and led a team of more than 600 journalists from 150 news outlets that spent two years sifting through them, tracking down hard-to-find sources and digging into court records and other public documents from dozens of countries. The leaked records come from 14 offshore services firms from around the world that set up shell companies and other offshore nooks for clients often seeking to keep their financial activities in the shadows. The records include information about the dealings of nearly three times as many current and former country leaders as any previous leak of documents from offshore havens."

Ed Cumming in the Observer on doing work experience at the NME:
"One evening I was offered 24 cans of Carling to stay late and transcribe an interview with Keith Richards. The next morning I was asked if there were any 'news lines'. Not really, I said. Just the usual Keith Richards stuff. A few days later I saw some of the words I’d typed up on the front page of the Sun under the headline: KEITH: I SNORTED MY DAD."

Joe Thomas in the Liverpool Echo on Kier Starmer writing for the Sun: "
When Mr Starmer stood on a stage in this great city and vowed not to speak with the S*n during his leadership campaign he was content to receive the support that followed. Now that he is leader he may argue he is involved in a different campaign that requires a different approach. Yet if this is a calculated political gamble it is one that, to many on Merseyside, renders his past words hollow and creates the sense that it is the support of this Labour stronghold that he is willing to risk in his pursuit of power."

Afghan journalists in an appeal to the international community via Reporters Without Borders:
"In the short term, we need strong support for evacuations of journalists in danger, by assigning them all necessary diplomatic, consular and financial resources. Journalists who have fled the country must be given facilities so that they continue to work as journalists. At this historic and also chaotic time, the disappearance of Afghan journalism would be disastrous. Ensuring the safety of media professionals is crucial in order to preserve the fundamental right of all Afghan citizens to receive accurate news and information, a prerequisite for any hope of one day seeing Afghanistan on the road to a lasting peace. Help us to make Afghan journalism survive."

Bill Browder interviewed by John Sweeney for  Index on Censorship on the libel action against ex-Financial Times journalist Catherine Belton's book Putin's People: “I’ve known Catherine for many years. She’s one of the most rigorous reporters I’ve ever come across. I’ve read her book. And my own view is that the libel action against her is creating a climate of fear among journalists...This is, in my opinion, not just about terrorising Catherine Belton, this is an act of terror that terrorises you and every other journalist and every other publishing company. And so I fear this will have a huge damping effect on vigorous reporting about what’s going on in Russia, without question. And I think it goes well beyond Catherine Belton."

Alastair Campbell on Twitter: 
"It’s such a shame that most people in the country do not see the best of British journalism. So often it is local and regional. Most of the national front pages these days are now either propaganda or trivia."