Thursday, 23 July 2015

Media Quotes of the Week: From save the Freedom of Information Act to Met Police press office handed over journalists' phone details



The Independent on government plans to review the Freedom of Information Act: "In the past 10 years, thanks to the Freedom of Information Act (FoI), the British public has become aware of many important facts of which we would otherwise have remained ignorant. We have learnt about cracks in the nuclear reactor at Hinkley Point B. We have learnt about police using Tasers against children, hospitals incinerating aborted foetuses, and aides to Michael Gove taking part in a ‘toxic’ email campaign. We have learnt about the killing of Afghan civilians by British troops, and about the bullying with which Sir Cyril Smith discouraged police from investigating his sexual abuse of children. Without FoI, we would never have known about the Prince of Wales’s lobbying of ministers, or about the scandal of MPs’ expenses."


Campaign for Freedom of Information director Maurice Frankel, in the Independent: "A new commission, set up by the Government to examine the case for restrictions to the Freedom of Information Act, indicates that the right to know is under major attack. The brief is to examine if sensitive information is properly protected, the Government’s 'safe space' to discuss policy is safeguarded and steps should be taken to reduce the Act’s 'burden' on public authorities. The case for strengthening the Act is not on the agenda."


The Times [£] in a leader: "Freedom of information is under attack. The truth is that there is no good time to weaken the FOI act and there is no good reason to. In the ten years of its existence it has become an essential bulwark of both government transparency and accountability."


David Higgerson on his blog on Government plans to review the Freedom of Information Act: "Politicians time and again carp on about wanting to be open and honest. Very few turn those words into actions. The only difference between this attack by the Tories and others before is that is so blatant. Make no mistake, this isn’t a tweak or a change, it’s an all out assault on the public’s right to know – and journalists everywhere need to fight back."


John Fallon, Pearson’s chief executive, announcing the sale of the FT Group to Japanese media company Nikkei Inc. for a gross consideration of £844 million in cash: “Pearson has been a proud proprietor of the FT for nearly 60 years. But we’ve reached an inflection point in media, driven by the explosive growth of mobile and social. In this new environment, the best way to ensure the FT’s journalistic and commercial success is for it to be part of a global, digital news company."

Steve Bird, FT NUJ chapel FoC: "The FT chapel will do whatever it takes to protect jobs, employee rights and independent, quality journalism. We were all very concerned at the speed at which the deal seems to have been made. The chapel is now considering putting together a charter setting out our principles on editorial independence and working practices."


BBC director general Tony Hall in The Times [£]: "Some blame the BBC for the challenges that other media face in adapting to the internet age — but that is a challenge faced by media around the world, including places that do not have a BBC or anything like it. But I do want to look at how the BBC can help. We are already working more closely with local newspapers to link to stories and are exploring what more we can do by sharing content or paying them for reporting."


Peter Preston in The Observer on the Sun: "There remains an instinctive twitch of the forelock, even when Rupert Murdoch mounts the charge (as he’s done, occasionally, over the years). Yet sometimes the occasional sight of the old Dirty Digger, lobbing mini-missiles on to today’s Palace lawn, is both useful and salutary. It isn’t a secret that the wreck we used to call the Duke of Windsor was a profound national embarrassment. It isn’t a secret that conflicting views of the Nazis split polite society, that Churchill was no universal hero in the 30s – nor that the Windsors were a family divided. But tabloid treatment, putting the boot in hard, at least blows evasions away."


The Sun in a leader: "These images have lain hidden for 82 years. We publish them today, knowing they do not reflect badly on our Queen, her late sister or mother in any way. They do, however, provide a fascinating insight into the warped prejudices of Edward VIII and his friends in that bleak, paranoid, tumultuous decade. The rest of the Royal archive from that period, of similarly immense interest to historians and the public, is still hidden. It should be released."


Jim Chisholm in the Guardian: "To the modern media consumer, news relates to real-time traffic problems, restaurant reviews for that weekend, and available sex within walking distance."


The Times [£]: "Police forces have seized data from the phones of journalists or their sources twice in the past three months in blatant breaches of new rules on snooping...Officers used the heavily criticised Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) to acquire call and text logs without seeking judicial approval as specified in a new code of conduct outlined to parliament in March. One case was a leak inquiry to find a reporter’s police source."


NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet in a statement: "Legislative changes on surveillance must include an independent and judicial process; journalists must receive an automatic and mandatory prior notification of requests to access their sources, materials and communications; and mechanisms need to be put in place so journalists and media organisations can challenge an application to access their sources with a robust right of appeal. There is no difference between the authorities asking for a journalists’ physical contacts book or footage and their telephone and communications records. The effect is exactly the same and the same legal safeguards must cover both."


Press Gazette reports: "The Investigatory Powers Tribunal heard that the Met Police press office provided the mobile telephone numbers of Sun journalists who had called in to check stories and ask for comments to investigating officers. Their phone records and telephone location data were then secretly accessed by police in order to identify confidential sources."

Kay Burley ‏@KayBurley on Twitter: "@metpoliceuk press office - shame on you".
£=paywall

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Media Quotes of the Week: From 'generational cleansing' in digital media to why the BBC should not be blamed for the demise of local newspapers



Michael Wolff on USA Today: "The news media, like most businesses built on craft and culture, have largely worked as an apprentice system. Younger people learned skills and language from older people. A good media job would have been judged on the basis of the caliber of the more senior people you could learn from. Within the last 10 years, with much of the focus on new start-up Web- and mobile-focused media companies, and massive staff cuts (longest in, first out) in the traditional business, that older side of media has been depleted if not decapitated. There is, too, the view that an older generation has nothing to teach anyway, possessing neither the new skills nor new language. It is not part of the native digital world. Hence, it's been a natural kind of generational cleansing."


Culture secretary John Whittingdale on the BBC Charter Review“We need to ask some hard questions during this Charter Review. Questions about what the BBC should be trying to achieve in an age where consumer choice is now far more extensive than it has been, what its scale and scope should be in the light of those aims, how far it affects others in television, radio and online, and what the right structures are for its governance and regulation.”


BBC director general Lord Hall, quoted by BBC News: "The last time politicians got creative, we ended up with the Millennium Dome."


Martin Beckford in the Mail on Sunday: "Police have accused a Mail on Sunday reporter of criminal voyeurism after he exposed a top children’s doctor who was abusing Class A drugs just before he went on duty at an NHS hospital. The award-winning journalist set up hidden cameras that captured Dr Colin Ferrie snorting cocaine and an illegal party drug. But despite the reporter handing the footage over to detectives and offering to help with their case, West Yorkshire Police last week called him in for questioning as a suspect. He was interviewed under caution at a police station on suspicion of voyeurism and supplying drugs, and even asked if he had made the secret film for his own sexual gratification. He denies the allegations."



Mail on Sunday in a leader: "The Crown Prosecution Service and the police have subjected a Mail on Sunday reporter to an absurd interrogation. Following his exposure of illegal drug-taking by an eminent surgeon, he was asked insulting and ludicrous questions in which it was suggested that he might have been engaged in the supply of illegal drugs or in voyeurism. This humiliation and intimidation of an individual by the use of state authority is an abuse of power. Nobody involved can have had the slightest real belief that these suspicions were justified or that charges could ever have been brought. That, at least, was the theory until recently. Both co-operated in the interests of all. But in the strange atmosphere which followed the Leveson Inquiry, a disturbing change has taken place. Police forces have in many cases begun treating all contacts with journalists as suspect and potentially corrupt. They have even sought to use their investigatory powers to probe the private telephone records of journalists."


Former Director of Public Prosecution Sir Keir Starmer in The Times [£]: “A new law should clearly establish a public interest defence for journalists.”


Martin Beckford in the Mail on Sunday: "Thousands of criminal court cases are being held behind closed doors under a new fast-track scheme that ends centuries of open justice. For the first time, details of cases are not being read out in an open court, and there is no bench made up of magistrates, no lawyers, no defendant and no access for the press or public. The introduction of the Single Justice Procedure (SJP) by the Ministry of Justice is the result of a little-noticed provision in a law passed earlier this year. Under the SJP, a single lay judge reads the background papers and passes sentence while sitting in private with a legal adviser. In the past few weeks, about 3,000 cases have been dealt with by dispensing with the need for traditional hearings."


Labour leadership candidate Andy Burnham indicates on BBC's Sunday Politics North West  he won't give an interview to the Sun: "I give interviews generally and people can report my words. But I don't do special favours for newspapers that attack me and attack my party."


West Highland Free Press founder Brian Wilson after being sacked by the paper as a columnist, as quoted by the Telegraph: “They published Donald Macleod’s column and then got rid of him, and then they published my column and get rid of me. The joys of employee ownership. It is all a bit sad. If it had to be on any issue then I’m glad it was about freedom of speech, which is something the Free Press has always been very strong on. It is stupid on the issue, it is stupid on journalistic principle, it is stupid on journalistic practice. Once you publish a column it becomes the property of the paper, not of the columnist.”


David Cameron, quoted by the Daily Mail: ‘Our charities undertake vital work, bringing communities together and providing support to some of the most vulnerable members of our society. But the conduct of some fundraisers used by them is frankly unacceptable and damages the reputation of the sector as a whole, which is why we’re introducing a new law to make sure charities raise funds in the right sort of way. I’d also like to express my thanks to the Daily Mail for bringing this to light."



Meirion Jones on Press Gazette, on Freddie Starr losing his defamation case: “Karin Ward was brave enough to tell the truth about Freddie Starr, and more importantly about Jimmy Savile, yet the BBC abandoned her when she was sued for appearing on the Panorama programme 'Jimmy Savile: What the BBC Knew'. This is a very bad precedent and will frighten off whistleblowers from going to the BBC, and raise concerns about why the bosses left her in the lurch. It will intensify suspicions that this was a cynical move in the hope the courts would find Karin Ward was a liar, so they could pretend the original decision to suppress the Newsnight Savile investigation was justified."


NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet on the Guardian on why the BBC is not to blame for the demise of the local press: "The truth is that when the going was good, newspaper group managements milked the profits for their shareholders and executives, made unwise acquisitions and failed to invest in journalism."

[£]=paywall

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Media Quotes of the Week: From the BBC's secret licence fee deal blasted to what's the NME?



NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet in a statement on the BBC's secret licence fee agreement with the Government: "NUJ members trusted that this time round there’d be a fight by the current leadership at the corporation to preserve the BBC’s independence and capacity to continue delivering quality journalism and programming. I’m sure those individuals running the BBC have kidded themselves into believing they’ve got the best deal possible, just like Mark Thompson no doubt did last time round. There will be many more millions of licence fee payers who roundly object to the principle of the BBC allowing itself to be annexed by the Department for Work and Pensions.”

Paul Farrelly in the Guardian: "For the second time in five years, the BBC has been the victim – and a willing one – of a 'drive-by' shooting. Only this time, in buckling to pressure to cough up £600m for free TV licences for the over-75s, the new BBC top brass have shown even less backbone than their predecessors."

Ray Snoddy on mediatel: "It almost defies belief that the Government, this time without any Lib-Dem brake to apply, should impose such a deal for the second time in five years behind closed doors and with no public consultation of any kind."

Dominic Ponsford on Press Gazette: "It’s all been an unedifying exercise in smoke and mirrors politics which has played the public for fools."

Matthew Bannister in a letter to The Times [£]: "Once again, licence fee payers’ views have been ignored in favour of fulfilling unfunded election promises. This is no way to treat a valued cultural institution and one of the UK’s most successful global brands."

The Guardian in a leader: "This is the third settlement in a row where the chancellor of the day has raided the licence fee to fund some other project. First it was the digital switchover, and then the same fund was redirected to extending broadband. In 2005, it was the cost of the World Service. And now, pensioner policy. This may be the way the licence fee ends, absorbed bit by bit into general government spending."


The Daily Mail in a leader: "Nearly 200 local newspapers have closed across Britain in the last decade – causing incalculable damage to local democracy and snuffing out the most effective source people have of finding out what goes on in their community. It means local politicians, police and health services in those areas are far less likely to be held to account and corruption and malpractice more likely to flourish. Several factors have contributed to this sad decline – the migration of advertising to the internet, ever-rising costs of newsprint and distribution, and failure of some papers to adapt to the digital age. But there’s no doubt many were tipped over the edge by the relentless expansion of the BBC website. With its vast resources this behemoth is simply steamrollering papers out of business."



Jon Griffin, the award winning business editor of the Birmingham Mail on taking redundancy, as quoted by HoldTheFrontPage: “The job has changed and my essentially analogue soul finds itself at odds with the digital world and its trolls, its mob-rule mentality, its platforms for abuse and abusers."


Der Spiegel in an editorial on the way the US spied on the German magazine's journalists: "SPIEGEL itself became the target of spying by an American intelligence agency. When the CIA then passed along information about a SPIEGEL journalist's source to the Chancellery, the government took no steps to inform justice authorities about what had happened. Instead it began deceiving parliament and the public. The fact that the press no longer has a special protected status and can be spied upon in the same way as corporations, associations or government ministries, lends a new quality to the spying scandal. That the press appears to have been betrayed by its own government is outrageous."



Ashley highfield ‏@ashleyhi on Twitter: "Johnston Press announces that we've concluded a deal to buy the Brighton and Hove Independent."

Greg Hadfield ‏@GregHadfield: "A momentous day in my 35-year journalistic career - and great news for #Brighton + #Hove, and @BrightonIndy!"


Former editor of The Sentinel, Stoke, Richard Bowyer, on his Media Village blog: “As an editor, I was asked to make decisions on story placement based on how well they performed online, this is now gaining momentum in some quarters. It may have some merit, but falls down on some key principles. Firstly, as we all know, stories which perform well online do so because the audience is different.  If the performance of stories online was reflected in the front pages of our daily papers then editors would be forced to make their front page splash football gossip, food hygiene reports or a trivial video showing probably a cat or dog performing some bizarre trick."


James Brown in the Telegraph on music mag NME going free: "The internet robbed the NME of its reason to exist which was clear seven years ago as I was chatting to a friend’s 16 year-old son. He looked just like I did 30 years before - all teen rebel haircut, band T-shirt and tight jeans. His scuffed Converse were half on, half off a skateboard and he showed me his iPhone and a record sleeve with a woman holding a handful of blood. I told him I used to work for the NME. He replied 'What’s that?'"
[£]=paywall

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Media Quotes of the Week: From has social media turned us into a nation of voyeurs? to more support for Gareth Davies over Met's harassment notice


Sid James in Carry On Abroad

Simon Kelner in the Independent on the media coverage given to the breakup of Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk's marriage:
"Social media has turned us into a nation of voyeurs, and those who know about these things have clearly estimated that there is an appetite among the general public to read about the Danczuks. Not because of Simon’s work in campaigning against paedophiles (his book about Cyril Smith led to an inquiry at Westminster into historical child abuse) but because his wife has large breasts, and she’s not afraid to show them off. We may be a sensitive, mature society, but when it comes to a woman with big bazoomas, we are about as evolved as Sid James in a Carry On movie."


Roger Mosey in the Guardian"Politicians should not waver in their commitment to listed events. The biggest sporting moments should be available to everyone in the UK, irrespective of their financial means. Imagine London 2012 behind a paywall, with the triumphs of Bradley Wiggins and Jessica Ennis seen only by those who paid a subscription; or contemplate the future of the Champions League now wholly owned by BT or the lessons of cricket only live on Sky. However good a job the pay broadcasters do, public service and maximum access for all are still things that matter hugely in the world of sport."


Neil Wallis after being found not guilty of phone hacking, as reported by Press Gazette: "I just want to say I will never get over this. I've been virtually unable to work for four years. It's taken my health, my family's health and all because of a campaign against journalists."


Jane Martinson in the Guardian: "Where is the Taylor Swift of news? Not for glamour or youth, though lord knows the business could do with both, but someone with the singer’s ability to convince technology companies to pay for their work."


Charles Moore at the end of his column in the Telegraph: "These pages have been redesigned. It is a known fact about redesigns that words are always lost in the process. Why is it, then, that any words are left in newspapers at all? It is because, I am glad to say, words never stop growing. They can be cut back by determined gardeners, but they will only creep back in again. Watch this space."



Jeremy Clarkson in the Sunday Times [£]: "I hate Which? magazine. I hate every single thing it does and every single thing it stands for. I hate having to share a planet with people whose job is to test kettles. And I hate, even more, people who read their findings before deciding what sort to buy. It’s an effing kettle, for God’s sake. Just buy the blue one."


Index on Censorship ‏@IndexCensorship on Twitter backs Croydon Advertiser reporter Gareth Davies over the issuing of a harassment notice against him: "Reporters who put questions to criminals should not receive police harassment letters."


Investigative journalist Andrew Penman in the Mirror urges readers to sign the Press Gazette petition backing Gareth Davies: "Every week I  confront alleged rogues, so I presume it is only a matter of time before the police come banging on my door. That’s a view I base on the appalling experience of local newspaper reporter Gareth Davies."


Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors: "It is not the place of the police to threaten journalists about who they question. Ironically, anti-harassment law came about as a result of media campaigns to prevent stalking. Journalists know the law and its principles are enshrined in editorial codes for both newspapers and broadcasters. With those constraints in place, the police should have no role in telling journalists who they should or should not question."


News Media Association chief executive David Newell in a letter to the IPCC: "It is a matter of the deepest concern to us and our members that journalists complying with their ethical and legal responsibility of seeking a right of reply to, or comment on, a story they are investigating could have PINs [Police Information Notices] imposed on them for doing nothing more than complying with the requirements to which they will be held by the Courts as a matter of defamation or by IPSO as a matter of accuracy.”

[£]=paywall

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Media Quotes of the Week: Shameful - IPCC rejects reporter's harassment notice appeal over fraudster investigation to US support for Newsquest strike



Roy Greenslade on his MediaGuardian blog on the decision by the Independent Police Complaints Commission to reject an appeal against the harassment notice issued by the Met to Croydon Advertiser chief reporter Gareth Davies, who was investigating a fraudster (top): "This decision by the IPCC is a disgrace. Davies acted as any reporter worth his or her salt should have done. He approached a convicted person and, when rebuffed, he did no more than send a follow-up email. This was not harassment. It was journalism."


Croydon Central MP Gavin Barwell  in a letter to the IPCC: "Mr Davies is a well-regarded local reporter who was investigating a story that was clearly in the public interest. The individual that Mr Davies was investigating complained to the police who, without checking whether Ms Desai’s claims were true, issued a warning to Mr Davies advising him to desist. This is a very worrying attack on press freedom and to that end I have sent a copy of this letter to the Home Secretary, the Secretary of State for Justice and the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sports."

David Banks ‏@DBanksy  on Twitter: "Peter Preston, ex-Guardian Ed said a reporter's most important quality was persistence. Met Police now define that as one email, one visit."


Press Gazette has launched a petition to have the harassment notice cancelled.



Richard Desmond, in an interview with the Guardian, claims that if he could read just one daily paper, excluding his own titles, it would be the Guardian: “No, I’m not joking. I like the Guardian. I think it tells the truth.”



Sathnam Sanghera in The Times [£] on Katie Hopkins: "Which brings us to the not uncommon theory that Hopkins is damaged in some way. You don’t have to be Oliver Sacks to understand that those who target the vulnerable, as Hopkins does routinely, often turn out to be vulnerable themselves. And journalism, like banking, is one of those trades where dysfunction is actually rewarded."


Steven Swinford in the Daily Telegraph on Justice Secretary Michael Gove's grammar guidance for civil servants: "The guidance also included instructions never to start a sentence with 'however'. However, Mr. Gove himself frequently used that word to start a sentence when he was a journalist."


Mick Hume in the Sunday Times [£]: "Listening to those who want more controls over the hated 'popular press', it helps to recall that the word 'popular' has its origins in the Latin populus — the people. Attacks on the 'popular press' and 'mass media' are often codewords for the elite’s fear and loathing of the populace, the masses who are supposedly stupid enough to be duped by media messages telling them how to vote, whom to hate and which celebrities to worship."


Former BBC editorial director Roger Mosey in The Times [£]: "BBC local radio identified for its staff its typical target listeners, imagined as a middle-aged couple called Dave and Sue. A leaflet for all local radio stations included a section on their hypothetical attitudes. 'Now it’s an established everyday reality that Dave and Sue live and work alongside and socialise with people from different ethnic backgrounds,' producers were told. 'They are interested in and open-minded about adapting aspects of other cultures into their own lives — in entertainment, medicine, belief, food, clothes and language. Their community-minded attitudes mean they are interested both in projects which advance social cohesion in this country and in international development issues.' It must have been something of a shock to the writers of this leaflet when many real-life Daves and Sues joined Ukip."

Former BBC business editor Jeff Randall in a missive to Mosey, also reported by The Times [£]: “Does anyone in the BBC’s policy unit/Thought Police read Richard Littlejohn? They should. He reflects popular opinion far more accurately than the views of those whose idea of a good night out is reading the Indy over a vegetarian meal in a Somali restaurant.”


Bernie Lunzer president of the US media union News Guild-CWA, in a message of support to NUJ strikers at Newsquest: "What these journalists are fighting for, we are all fighting for. Our members face exactly this kind of greed and arrogance from Gannett and other corporate media owners. They reward top executives with fat salaries and bonuses but plead poverty when it comes to raises for employees, even though they are working harder than ever. In the strongest possible terms, the Guild calls upon Newsquest/Gannett to show its employees the respect they deserve by paying them fair wages, maintaining adequate staffing levels, ending the constant cycle of cuts and reinvesting in its news products."
[£]=Paywall