Thursday, 23 April 2015

Quotes of the Week: From Operation Elveden undone to an interview tip from Lynn Barber



Stig Abell ‏@StigAbell on Twitter: "Operation Elveden: 42 charges against Sun journalists, 0 convictions."

The Times [£] in a leader: "The acquitted journalists, three from The Sun and one from the Mirror, are relieved but understandably angry. Like ten others before them and those spared and still awaiting trial, they have been subjected to long legal ordeals at a cost of £20 million in a process that juries have consistently rejected as flawed. The prosecutions appear to have ignored almost to the end the real nature androle of journalism as a foundation of free speech. Only today has that fundamental right been acknowledged but only as an attempt to justify previous misjudgments."

Ex-Director of Public Prosecutions Lord Macdonald on the Today programme: “It looks as though in the charging decisions that were made in the past in the Elveden cases, not enough weight was attached to the public interest in free expression and the freedom of the press, and that was an error I think the DPP [Alison Saunders] has tried to correct by dumping these cases.”

Tim Walker ‏@ThatTimWalker on Twitter: "Surely we are at the point where the people who approved Operation Elveden ought to be considering their positions."

Mick Hume on Spiked: "The authoritarian fiasco of Operation Elveden is only the end result of a campaign to sanitise Britain’s unruly press, involving everybody from political leaders and top judges to police chiefs, celebrity crusaders and assorted media snobs. All of them share the same contempt for what one top prosecutor called ‘the gutter press’."

Brian Cathcart on Inforrm's blog: "It might be thought that News International (now News UK), having failed to give its journalists proper legal advice about paying public officials and then having presented evidence against them to the police, might have shown shame and humility. The fact that it now attacks the police and the CPS for taking proper independent decisions demonstrates, yet again, the breathtaking hypocrisy to which the big newspapers are particularly prone."


Simon Usborne in The Independent on Katie Hopkins: "Hopkins has children to feed and dress - and we can unfollow her, and avoid what she writes and says. Free country, free speech. Just look the other way. But when a national newspaper, which gives this brand an audience of two million people, happily prints language that might give Hitler pause, is that still OK? Or is it worth responding this time, even if she’ll love every minute?"


Daily Mirror ‏@DailyMirror on Twitter: "As a public service we are live blogging pictures of nice things while @KTHopkins is on@LBC"

Jonathan Liew in the Telegraph: "Increasingly, and worryingly, a consensus is emerging that the only interpretation of sport worth hearing is by those involved in it. 'You’ve never played the game' is a frequent jibe aimed at reporters, and yet this world-view is an assault not just on the media, but on everyone. Had sport been allowed to write its own history over the years, Lance Armstrong would still be a seven‑time Tour de France winner, the Pakistani spot-fixers would have gone unpunished, and everyone would be looking forward to a wonderful 2022 World Cup in Qatar."


The Times [£] in a leader on Twitter: "But, contrary to its image, Twitter is not just a medium for exchanging banal experiences. It is a means for social exchange whose value lies precisely in its capacity for being used as the individual wants or needs. If you want to promote a book or an idea or a product then Twitter can connect you to a discriminating audience. If you want to receive links to the best expert arguments at home or reports from far-off countries, a judicious use of Twitter will furnish you with them. And if you merely want to be involved in some small way in the nation’s conversation, then you can do that too. Without paying."


An interview tip from Lynn Barber in @XCityMag"A trip to the loo is often instructive - it's where people put their awards and cartoons - things they're proud of and want visitors to see...look for the pills!"

[£] = paywall

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Media Quotes of the Week: From political parties' pledges on press to what made Murdoch a radical?



Labour Party manifesto: “We remain strongly committed to the implementation of the recommendations of the Leveson Inquiry. We expect the industry to establish a mechanism for independent self-regulation, which delivers proper redress for individuals, as set out in the Royal Charter, and agreed by all parties in Parliament. We made a promise to victims of the phone hacking scandal. We stand by that promise and will keep it.”


Conservative Party manifesto: “We will continue to defend hard-won liberties and the operation of a free press. But alongside the media’s rights comes a clear responsibility, which is why we set up the public, judge-led Leveson Inquiry in response to the phone-hacking scandal, created a new watchdog by Royal Charter and legislated to toughen media libel laws.”


Liberal Party manifesto: "Introduce statutory public interest defences for exceptional cases where journalists may need to break the law (such as RIPA, the 2010 Bribery Act, and the 1998 Computer Misuse Act) to expose corruption or other criminal acts. Ensure judicial authorisation is required for the acquisition of communications data which might reveal journalists’ sources or other privileged communications, for any of the purposes allowed under RIPA; and allow journalists the opportunity to address the court before authorisation is granted, where this would not jeopardise the investigation."


NUJ general secretary Michelle Styanistreet: "The National Union of Journalists is deeply concerned about reports from local newspapers and our members in the BBC that reporters and photographers, many of them with local knowledge of the area where an election event or photo-opportunity is being held, are being denied access or are being blocked from asking the questions they know their readers and viewers want to hear."


Richard Desmond in the Express on why he is donating £1 million to UKIP: "I firmly believe in Ukip. It's a party for good, ordinary British people. It is not run by elitists.They are struggling to have a voice. They do not have a massive party machine or highly paid public relations people. They are human; they are not perfect and they do not pretend to be. But what they believe in is the best for the British people. They are the sort of people who will stand up for people who are struggling."


Matt Wells ‏@MatthewWells on Twitter: "Another one for 'Only in the British election" - Nigel Farage backs Ukip candidate in sausage roll bribery row http://gu.com/p/47d8d/stw "


Nick Robinson ‏@bbcnickrobinson on Twitter: "Good to be back on air. Don't worry about the voice. It doesn't hurt & I'm not risking my recovery. I'm listening to Drs & speech therapist."


From Press Gazette: "At least 3,400 press officers and other communications staff are employed by the UK's local councils. Press Gazette used the Freedom of Information Act to ask 435 city, borough and district councils across the UK how many people they employ in their communications departments."


Andrew Morton asked in the Telegraph about the reaction to the success of his book on Princess Diana: "There was a lot of jealousy. I was dubbed a 'tabloid oik from Leeds'. I’m quite sure if I’d been an effete former Etonian, everything would have been fine."


David Yelland ‏@davidyelland on Twitter: "Very few people in public life have been made to suffer again and again like Andy Coulson has. It just seems too much to me. It really does."


From Exaro: "Rebekah Brooks is set to return to The Sun following her acquittal last year of all charges related to the “phone-hacking” scandal. The former chief executive of Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper division in the UK is being lined up to take charge of the paper’s digital operation and its video offering, according to well-placed sources at The Sun."


Rupert Murdoch ‏@rupertmurdoch on Twitter: "Guardian today suggests my dad's expose of Gallipoli fiasco led to my anti-establishment views. Maybe, but confirmed by many later events."

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Media Quotes of the Week: From newspapers are crazy not to nurture their older readers to rise of the SNP freaks out a fearful Fleet Street



Stefano Hatfield in the Guardian: "Newspapers are crazy, newspapers spend so much money chasing a market that is not really interested in them, young people, instead of nurturing the audience they’ve got, that is, 50 somethings. I think they are just beginning to wake up to that, just beginning to change.”


Grey Cardigan @thegreycardigan on Twitter: "Is this really the front page of a national newspaper?"



Sean O’Neill, crime and security editor of The Times [£], : "Welcome to post-Leveson Britain — whose leaders march in Paris for free speech and declare 'Je suis Charlie' while at home they undermine the same principle. The buzzwords of our 'information age' are transparency, scrutiny, big data and 24-hour live feeds. The reality is that we face a blizzard of 'content' which is blinding us to the fact that we are being led by the nose into a sinister period of state secrecy, control and censorship."


The Daily Mail in a leader on Edward Snowden: The Mail is passionate in its defence of free speech, but this right has to be balanced against public safety and we remain convinced these leaks have seriously weakened Britain’s ability to protect its citizens. Snowden has made us all less safe and the Guardian, in its self-righteousness, has been his willing accomplice."



Roy Greenslade on his Media Guardian blog: "The supposed virtue of a journalism of the people by the people for the people is nothing more than a way of publishers maximising profit. Media companies are using the technology as a way of reducing labour costs rather than as a way of democratising, and thereby enhancing, editorial content."


Guardian readers' editor Chris Elliott on protests over the paper commissioning a piece by Kelvin MacKenzie on immigration: "My journalistic instincts tell me it is wrong to ban MacKenzie, not least because readers wouldn’t have read his admission that the Sun maligned minorities. But what I realised on re-reading the emails is that this may appear an indulgent, abstract view of the world to those whose lives were shattered by the deaths at Hillsborough and who have lived with it every day since. We acknowledge that."

Nick Davies in the Guardian: "A man who worked closely with Rupert Murdoch for years says: 'Rupert is very loyal … until he isn’t any more.' There is no sign of his retaining any loyalty to his disobedient prime minister. Nor is there the faintest glimmer of affection for Ed Miliband, who had reached only the earliest stage of attempted hand-holding before speaking out against the hacking and – much more serious – organising the sabotage of the Murdoch bid for BSkyB... So,Cameron and Miliband and anybody else who fancies themselves as a political leader might as well speak out – to protest against news organisations that print propaganda and call it journalism, who are happy to smear and to expose the sex lives of those who dare oppose them, who behave as though it were their job to decide who runs the country, who after all the scandal and all the exposure of their crimes and abuse of power still enjoy the prerogative of harlots. What do those politicians have to lose? Nothing but the chains of fear."




Meanwhile In Scotia @MeanwhileScotia on Twitter: "Can anyone spot the subtle difference between the English and Scottish versions of The Daily Mail#NoCashPrize"



BBC Scotland's James Cook @BBCJamesCook on Twitter: "What an extraordinary level of vicious abuse I have received today for simply reporting the news. Is this the country we want folks? Is it?"

Fraser Nelson on his Spectator blog: "To nationalist zealots, a BBC journalist asking challenging questions of the Dear Leader is inherently reprehensible and demonstrates a collapse of journalistic standards. Today, even serious SNP-sympathising commentators have been demanding that the Telegraph apologises for revealing a leaked memo...The SNP leadership are, in my experience, refreshingly open-minded, good-humoured and intelligent. But the problem with nationalisms as a creed is that it attracts, as its followers, an angry mob – in the SNP’s case, a digital lynch mob. I suspect we’ll hear a lot more from them before this campaign is out."

openDemocracy: "Anyone could be forgiven for thinking that Westminster has been replaced with a bouncy castle, and our political class with hysterical children. As the long anticipated rise of the SNP looms closer into sight, the Conservative press seems to have wet itself in fear."

[£]=paywall

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Media Quotes of the Week: From the online chase for clickbait turns journalists into thieves and liars to should star columnists hit sub editors?



Nick Cohen blogs on the online chase for clickbait: "The system turns journalists into thieves and liars. Not the traditional journalistic frauds in the Jayson Blair/Johann Hari mould but liars who lie because lying is a corporate imperative. To get traffic, fewer and fewer news sites can afford to send out writers to find original content. So they steal from other news sites, or lift and repackage a YouTube video or Twitter exchange that may go viral."


Nick Clegg, quoted in the Guardian: “I have long been concerned that the laws of the land are not clear enough on the public interest defence for journalists and other people who are covering information in the interests of the public. It’s just far too opaque, in too many of our laws, exactly what is the strength and nature of a public interest defence. I would like to see that clarified in law, my party has always advocated that. The fact that prosecutors are relying on 13th century laws, that we don’t have an up-to-date definition of what a public interest defence is, shows the need for a proper review and a proper reform of the law in this area.”

Daily Mail in a leader: "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts. Posing as a champion of Press freedom, Nick Clegg pledges a law offering special status to journalists and a public interest defence for responsible reporting. Forgive the Mail if we sound ungrateful – but no, thanks. Indeed, the last thing any true freedom-lover wants is self-interested and often self-enriching MPs defining what is in the public interest.  But then Mr Clegg, whose stitch-up led to the disgraceful post-Leveson clampdown on newspapers, has hardly a true liberal bone in his body. How significant his latest idea was floated in the Guardian, whose ability to lose eye-watering sums of money is matched only by its almost psychotic hatred of the commercially viable free Press."


Lord Thomas, quoted in The Times [£] after allowing an appeal by a former News of the World journalist convicted of“This is without doubt a difficult area of the criminal law. An ancient common law offence is being used in circumstances where it has rarely before been applied.”


NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet, speaking in a debate on state surveillance at City University:  "The secret back-door accessing of data – which has led to sources being identified and outed – puts journalism and journalists in an incredibly vulnerable position. It renders our collective ability to work safely and in a way that genuinely guarantees the safety and confidentiality of others nigh on impossible."


The Grey Cardigan on TheSpinAlley: "I thought all my friends in Newsquest who have had their livelihoods taken away might want to know how the boss of their parent company is muddling by.
Gracia Martore, president and CEO of Gannett, earned an eye-watering total of $12.4 million in 2014, compared with a measly $7.9 million in 2013. Just think of that when you’ve got to go home and tell your wife that you’ve got to take the children out of school, sell the house and move to Wales to work in a ‘subbing’ factory."


Ad agency boss Sir Martin Sorrell, quoted in The Times [£]: “There is an argument at the moment going on about the effectiveness of newspapers and magazines, even in their traditional form, and maybe they are more effective than people give them credit [for]. There is some interesting data that I have seen recently on consumer engagement in terms of newspapers and magazines — just like we’ve seen in traditional TV.”


Rupert Murdoch @rupertmurdoch on Twitter: "Thanks for 2 mentions, Ed Miliband. Only met once for all of 2 minutes when you embarrassed me with over the top flattery."


Kay Burley ‏@KayBurley on Twitter: "Oh look @guardian have bothered to write about my frock. My 37 years as a journalist have all been worth it."


Graham Stringer, MP, in a letter to The Times [£]: "Sir, Having defended the continued employment of Jeremy Clarkson at the BBC, can The Times inform its readers which of its star columnists are allowed to hit its sub-editors?"

[£]=paywall

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Media Quotes of the Week: From smiling Sun to why Jeremy Clarkson 'adores' the tabloid press



David Dinsmore ‏@davedins on Twitter: "Tomorrow's p1. Put together by a great team in tribute to a great team."

Cleared Sun executive editor Fergus Shanahan, interviewed by Press Gazette: “It’s been a very barren, painful and miserable existence.”

The Times [£] in a leader: "Journalists are citizens. When they break the law they should be prosecuted. But when successive juries in long, complex and colossally expensive cases refuse to convict them, those pressing charges should pay attention."

The Daily Mail:  "For its part, the Metropolitan Police has taken the default position of treating suspects like gangsters. And certainly no sign of retreat by the zealots at Hacked Off, who want State-backed Press regulation. The result? It was rather eloquently put by defence barrister Trevor Burke QC. He said: '(The) very worrying trend is that journalists that only report the news accurately, honestly and fearlessly now face being prosecuted in our criminal courts. 'You might be aware of events in Moscow . . .where free Press has long ceased to exist. It never did in China.' He said a public interest approach was paramount: 'It is the very basic function of a journalist in a free society to report the news without fear or failure. To expose hypocrisy and to reveal the truth.' The jury agreed. Operation Elveden has become a national shame. The runaway train has to be stopped."

The Sunday Times [£] in a leader: "Our significant, if not total, libel victory [over Peter Cruddas] was followed by the acquittal of four journalists from The Sun on Friday on charges of encouraging misconduct in public office by paying civil servants. Our experience in the libel courts was that victory came after a long and costly battle. The wave of prosecutions of recent years is affecting the way journalists do their jobs. Freedom to report what is in the public interest and to expose wrongdoing is vital. We need to ensure that it is preserved."

The Guardian in a leader: "The relationship between source and reporter is complicated enough without adding the element of moral compromise which is introduced by handing over money. If payment is involved, it is strongly arguable that this should be declared at the time of publication. This may be an area on which the new press regulator Ipso might wish to issue guidelines. Meanwhile there needs to be a clear and consistent public interest defence to the entire battery of laws aimed at journalism, including official secrecy."

Richard Littlejohn in the Daily Mail: "This was part of the concerted campaign to control the flow of information and bring the Press to heel. The Gestapo tactics have been a monstrous abuse of police powers. Journalists have been dragged from their beds at dawn, their homes ransacked, their families intimidated."


Alan Rusbridger on the Guardian: "We are delighted the Supreme Court has overwhelmingly backed the brilliant 10-year campaign by Guardian reporter Rob Evans to shine daylight on the letters Princes Charles has been writing to ministers. The government wasted hundreds of thousands of pounds trying to cover up these letters, admitting their publication would ‘seriously damage’ perceptions of the Prince’s political neutrality. Now they must publish them so that the public can make their own judgment. This is a good day for transparency in government and shows how essential it is to have a fully independent judiciary and free press."


Martin Rosenbaum on BBC News politics: "Forty police forces across the country have dismissed as 'vexatious'a BBC freedom of information (FOI) application about police monitoring of journalists' communications. It appears the police have adopted a virtually blanket policy of now rejecting all FOI requests about the use of their surveillance powers to collect communications data on journalists - irrespective of the questions actually asked or how often, if at all, that requester has raised the issue before."


Kelvin MacKenzie in the Guardian: "During my 12 years as Sun editor I am sure minorities – and even majorities – were maligned. Editors think they know everything, that they have an umbilical cord to the thought processes of readers. They simply don’t."


John Plunkett ‏@johnplunkett on Twitter: "New BBC News website has 'find local news' button. Much more of this, may need 'find local newspaper' option."


Kath Viner on being appointed editor-in-chief of the Guardian: "I intend to lead a media organisation that is bold, challenging, open and engaging. It will be a home for the most ambitious journalism, ideas and events, setting the agenda and reaching out to readers all around the world.”


Mike Lowe ‏@cotslifeeditor on Twitter: "Rather relieved that the Clarkson Rule wasn't in place back in the days when I was editing newspapers."

Piers Morgan @piersmorgan on Twitter: "If he'd stuck to just punching me, he'd have been fine." #Clarkson


Jeremy Clarkson in the Sunday Times [£]: "I adore tabloid newspapers. Anyone can say, 'Mr Paddy Ashdown, leader of the Liberal Democratic party, today admitted to an extramarital affair.' But it takes a special type of wit and brilliance to come up with 'It’s Paddy Pantsdown' and cover the whole damn thing in three words."

Or in five words, like this...





[£]=paywall

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

The chill in relations between press and police - and when journalists went to jail to protect sources






I've done an article for InPublishing on the chill in relations between the press and police following Leveson, the arrests over allegations of hacking and paying public servants, plus the use of RIPA to access journalists' communications with their sources.

I also look back to a time when journalists went to prison rather than reveal their sources and were regarded as heroes by their peers. You can read it here.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Media Quotes of the Week: From Chancellor offers tax break hope for local press to Van Morrison says lazy rock journalists need a sense of humour


Pic: Jon Slattery
George Osborne in his Budget speech: “Local newspapers are a vital part of community life – but they’ve had a tough time in recent years – so today we announce a consultation on how we can provide them with tax support.”

Johnston Press chief ashley highfield on Twitter: "Osborne's local newspaper tax relief consultation great news for JP, and indicate strong Govt. desire to help us thrive."


The NUJ in a statement: "The NUJ has launched the Local News Matters campaign to reclaim a vital, vigorous press that is at the heart of the community it serves and is owned and operated in the public interest. As part of this, we have called for:
  • a short, sharp national inquiry into the state of local news.
  • local papers to become community assets to prevent newspaper titles closing overnight and to give potential new owners, including local co-operatives, the time to put together a bid for a paper.
  • action to stem the job cuts and attack on quality journalism.
  • research into new models for local journalism, levies, tax breaks and other measures to fund community media."


Guardian readers' editor Chris Eliott after the paper received 300 complaints over a Steve Bell strip cartoon about the SNP: "He is a cartoonist who makes Marmite seem like skimmed milk and he is unrepentant about the cartoon."


Jeremy Clarkson in The Sun [£]: “I think it’s fair to say that nature made a mistake when it invented the dinosaur. It was too big, too violent. So one day, all the dinosaurs died and now, many years later, no one mourns their passing. These big, imposing creatures have no place in a world which has moved on.”

A.A. Gill in the Sunday Times [£] on Clarkson: "At The Sunday Times, he and I work for a big corporation. But there is a sense that if things get lairy then the editor and management would stand by us.  At the BBC, some of Jeremy’s colleagues have treated him as a liability. Not just failed to appreciate him but briefed against him while taking the hundreds of millions his talent earns them and using his image and Top Gear to promote themselves around the world."

Award winner: Andrew Norfolk
Peter Preston on Andrew Norfolk in the Observer: "Andrew Norfolk, the Times reporter in Rotherham, is the hero of most press awards these days and was again at the press awards. Warm applause, but also a warm lesson as Norfolk thanked his editors, going back years, for giving him time, especially time listening quietly in court, to nail a great, sickening story. Time is the essence of investigation. Courts are the underreported casualty of staff cuts. We no longer sit through trials. We don’t register detail after an opening statement or two. We believe in open justice: but we’re shutting the door on it."



Gideon Spanier in The Times [£]: "The owner of the Daily Mirror is in talks with Richard Desmond about buying the Daily Express and has been given access to his newspaper group’s confidential accounts, The Times has learnt."

Roy Greenslade on his MediaGuardian blog: "Overall, no deal involving any of the Express titles makes sense for Trinity Mirror. It would appear that both [Richard] Desmond and [Simon] Fox are engaged in fishing expeditions. But neither looks likely to make a catch."


Roger Mosey ‏@rogermosey on Twitter: "My initial sense is if Cameron agrees to 1 election debate on terms acceptable to the broadcasters it's harder to empty chair him in others."


The Sunday Times in a statement after the Appeal Court ruling on its long running libel case with ex-Consdervative Party treasurer Peter Cruddas: "The Sunday Times and two of its journalists, Jonathan Calvert and Heidi Blake, are today completely vindicated for reporting that Peter Cruddas corruptly offered access to David Cameron and other leading members of the Government in exchange for donations to the Conservative party. As party treasurer, he told the undercover reporters that if they made substantial donations to the party they would have an opportunity to influence Government policy and to gain unfair commercial advantage through confidential meetings. The Court of Appeal has found that proposing this was unacceptable, inappropriate and wrong. This was an important public interest story. Our journalists acted with professionalism and integrity and with the full support of the newspaper’s editors and lawyers. They and the newspaper have fought this case for three years. Today’s judgment confirms that journalism, and in particular undercover journalism, plays a key role in exposing the conversations behind closed doors which public mistrust. In so doing, it serves a vital purpose in a democracy.”


Van Morrison in The Times [£] insists he enjoys a laugh: “They never write about this stuff in the rock magazines. They never write anything like that. They keep the mythology going — I am grumpy and never have a laugh — because they are so lazy. They might have to get a sense of humour.”