Thursday, 22 June 2017

Media Quotes of the Week: From where was the local media to speak up for Grenfell Tower's voiceless residents? to contempt law not conspiracy shaped press reports on Finsbury Mosque attack


PA
Robert Peston on his blog on the Grenfell Tower fire: "There is a social contract between those of us lucky enough to have voices that are heard and those who don't that we should not put them in harm's way.  Grenfell seems the most grotesque breach of that contract in my lifetime. It shames us all."


Londonhyperlocal: "The area around Grenfell Tower is not served by a proper local newspaper. Neither does it seem to have any well-established online local news provision. It is one of the many areas of the UK which is essentially a black spot for dedicated reporting. People died in Grenfell Tower probably because of the type of cladding that was used in the refurbishment but at some point more fundamental causes need to be identified to ensure this kind of catastrophe doesn’t happen again. One of many issues that needs to be addressed is the increasing estrangement of the governed from those who govern them and the disappearance of local news reporting is both a symptom and a cause of this problem."



Grant Feller on LinkedIn, who started his career as a reporter on the Kensington News 27 years ago covering local issues such as fire safety at Grenfell Tower: "I don’t know whether a vibrant local newspaper staffed by idealistic young journalists who watched All The President’s Men way to often and thought they could somehow change the world, would have prevented the catastrophe all of London has been indelibly scarred by. But it could have. The warning signs were there and the pleas of residents’ groups are plentiful, especially online...I know the days of powerful local newspapers are over but the stories they typically once covered are more plentiful than ever, especially in cities where decisions – not scrutinised - are being taken every day that affect the lives of residents. Local newspapers and their websites are still making valiant efforts to report community stories but staffing levels mean that there’s little time for patient, revelatory journalism."


Dominic Ponsford on Press Gazette: "Kensington and Chelsea has a population of nearly 160,000 who are served, as far as I can establish, by not a single journalist dedicated only to covering news in the borough. Its one remaining local newspaper, the Kensington and Chelsea News, has a staff of one journalist who must also file copy for other editions...The sort of grassroots local newspaper journalism which might have picked up on the Grenfell Tower fire safety concerns in advance is being lost...London is in danger of becoming woefully unreported. Its transient population makes local newspaper publishing in the capital a nightmare – over and above all the other issues local newspapers face."


George Monbiot in the Guardian on why the mainstream media misjudged support for Jeremy Corbyn: "It is partly because this industry, in which people without a degree could once work their way up from the floor, now tends to select its entrants from a small, highly educated pool. The use of internships narrows the selection further. Wherever they come from, journalists, on average, end up better paid than most people. Whatever their professed beliefs, they tend to be drawn towards their class interests."


Former NUJ president Jacob Ecclestone in a letter to the Guardian: "The explanation for why young people from working-class backgrounds have, over the past 30 years, been steadily excluded from all forms of mainstream media is to be found in the anti-union legislation of the 1980s and 90s. Media companies were encouraged to derecognise the National Union of Journalists (and other unions), to scrap collective bargaining, to withdraw from agreements on training and – crucially – to kill the longstanding convention that prohibited non-journalists from being given jobs on national newspapers – people like George Osborne [Pictured], for example."


Paul Foot Awards chair of judges Padraig Reidy on this year's winner, Emma Youle, published in the Hackney Gazette: “Emma Youle’s Hidden Homeless campaign combined investigation and campaigning to shed light on a problem many people don’t realise is happening right in front of our faces. She has made a difference to people’s lives, which is the best a journalist can hope for. It’s also important to recognise that in an age of squeezed resources for local papers, a brilliant journalist like Emma is given the support to pursue a story like Hackney’s Hidden Homeless.”

John Harris in the Guardian: "Of course, there are media people and politicians whose view of Corbyn and his supporters was hostile and mocking from the start. If they are now switching on their phone to find daily explosions of ridicule and bile, I am sure they can take it: this is the sport they chose. What’s much more questionable is the way the same vengeful attitude is extended to anyone who ever portrayed the last two years of Labour politics in terms of doubt, concern and malaise, and who are being similarly instructed to say sorry for their alleged heresy or be escorted from the building."

CNN president Jeff Zucker on attacks on US media, reported by HuffPost: "I think it is shameful on the part of the administration and other politicians to cause a frenzy against something that is guaranteed in the Constitution of the United States. And it does disservice to this country and its position in the world and ... allows for a heightened sense of rhetoric against journalists and media organizations. And it is unconscionable and dangerous and they should know better."


Guardian letter on the switch from Berliner to tabloid from Richard Griffiths, King’s Lynn, Norfolk:"I understand your reasons for going tabloid but fear that, despite your good intentions, you will, like the Independent and the Times, lose that aura of gravitas and je ne sais quoi – is it dignity? – that goes with being a broadsheet."



David Banks@DBanksy on Twitter: "If Finsbury Mosque attacker doesn't get coverage you think he deserves compared to London Bridge or Manchester, it's because of the law...He is alive and will stand trial, so restrictions now apply to reporting by msm. It's not a conspiracy, or a D Notice, just the law."

BuzzFeed UK news editor Alan White‏@aljwhite on Twitter: "I have a hot take. I think contempt of court and defamation should be taught in secondary schools. We're all publishers now."

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Media Quotes of the Week: From Guardian glee as Tory tabloids take beating over May election flop to it's goodbye to Berliner and hello to tabloid format



Polly Toynbee in the Guardian: "But oh to see Paul Dacre’s face when the exit poll came in! After the Daily Mail editor’s 13-page savage trashing of the Corbyn team, he saw his greatest acolyte, May, fail, despite a hysterical anti-Labour hate-campaign from his paper, the Sun and the Telegraph. But expect no humble pie from them."


Suzanne Moore in the Guardian: "It’s the Sun wot didn’t win it. And despite the Mail’s pages and pages of frenzied warnings about how electing communist terrorists would be the end of the world, the Mail didn’t do it for their woman either."


Ex-Guardian journalist David Hearst in Middle East Eye says the Guardian has run many anti-Corbyn articles: "The Guardian ploughed on, planting the knife in Corbyn's back so many times and in so many ways, that Caesar's murder looked like the work of a lone wolf."


John Simpson @JohnSimpsonNews on Twitter: "I suspect we've seen the end of the tabloids as arbiters of UK politics. Sun, Mail & Express threw all they had into backing May, & failed."


Ex-director of communications at Downing Street Katie Perrior in The Times [£]: "If you run a presidential style campaign with a woman who doesn’t like media interviews, then you have to accept that it’s better to do them and run the risk that they go badly than look like you are running scared. Journalists have been falling over each other to complain that this was the first election in 40 years in which the serving prime minister had not appeared on their shows. Tony Blair was mocked in 2001 as being willing to crawl over cracked glass to get himself and his team on their airwaves. By not participating, it looks like the prime minister thought it was all beneath her."


Will Gore in the Independent: "Just as the Remain campaign last year misjudged the degree to which voters can be motivated by fear, so in this campaign the Conservative leader and her friends in the media wrongly assumed that attacks against Labour’s leaders would be enough to secure a Tory win. It was, not to put too fine a point on it, the politics of hate. And it didn’t work. The Prime Minister this morning is weakness and wobbliness personified. But make no mistake, this is an extraordinary moment for Britain’s right-wing press, which for so long has been perceived to have a hold over the electorate. The Express is on the ropes. The Daily Mail is bruised. The “Currant Bun” is crumbling."


Will Hutton in the Observer: "The Sun and Mail may want a hard Brexit and continued austerity, bullying and bamboozling Mrs May that the majority does too: but a majority in the country does not – the heart of her and her party’s dilemma. It is not the citizens’ fault that in desperation they feel their only reaction is to bin the papers that helped create this pretty pass. It is the proprietors and their editors who have so abused the role of journalism in a democracy. It has also become self-defeating. After all, it was the Sun wot hung it."


Boris Johnson on WhatsApp warns against mischief-making media:



The Guardian confirms it will drop the Berliner format to go tabloid next year: "The Guardian and Observer will relaunch in a tabloid format next year as part of a three-year plan to break even in their finances. Guardian Media Group (GMG), the parent company of the Guardian and Observer print and digital businesses, has decided to move from its Berliner newspaper format to the smaller size as part of a major cost-saving drive. The Guardian has signed a contract for Trinity Mirror, publisher of the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People, to print the titles from early next year."

[£]=paywall



Thursday, 8 June 2017

Media Quotes of the Week: From confronting the London Bridge terrorists to the 'tactile pleasure' of a new newspaper defying the digital age



Sunday Express journalist Geoff Ho on confronting the London Bridge terrorists, as reported by Press Gazette“I had to shield my friends and the people there. Then I noticed they had what looked like suicide vests on. I tried to slow them, they attacked. It happened so quickly. The bastard in the Arsenal shirt came at me first. I think I got a hit in on one of them, but either he or his accomplice got me with a shot to the throat. They got my friend who was behind me with a minor stab wound in the face and hands and ran off. I picked up my friend and bundled him into the store room. I called the police and within moments they arrived. I gave the police descriptions of the three and we were evacuated.”


The Society of Editors in a statement: “The confirmation by Labour and the Liberal Democrats that they would fully commence Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act if elected is extremely disappointing. While both parties have given assurances that they value the freedom of the press and the media’s important role in a democratic society their position on Section 40, an appalling piece of legislation, is in direct conflict with this."


Daily Mail in a leader on the BBC: "We have expressed our admiration before for the neutrality and objectivity of the corporation's journalists in the lead-up to the EU referendum. Sadly, it is difficult to apply either word to its election coverage. The truth is the tone and texture of so much BBC output, whether comedy shows or current affairs programmes, betrays a distinctly anti-Tory tinge. Normally, this paper doesn't approve of politicians complaining about the BBC, but in this instance, Downing Street is absolutely right to register a formal protest."


Emily Thornberry answering a question from The Times' political editor Francis Elliott, as reported by Press Gazette“Alright, alright, everybody no, no, no, come on…we all agree we should have a free press, they should be allowed to ask questions, no matter how stupid [cheers and applause] and shouldn’t be booed, sorry Francis…”


David Higgerson on his blog suggests local press should endorse political parties: "In some ways, journalism and democracy hug the same iceberg. The less people are engaged in democracy, the less likely they are to value our work. Taking a neutral standpoint might avoid tricky conversations with people who disagree, but at least we’d be playing a more active role in democracy – advising people based on our research, our knowledge and our passion for our local areas. Daily, I see reporters expressing political opinions on Twitter and Facebook, because they are human beings. It does not call into question the ability of their titles to be fair and balanced? I don’t think so. There would be flack, there would be stick, and there probably would be abuse. But journalism will only survive if it gets better at being part of an ongoing conversation."


David Barnett in the Independent on 'death knocking': "So why do newspapers do it? For the human interest stories, of course. Tragedies sell papers, get clicks. But also because it can be a form of public service, done right – the number of calls and notes journalists get thanking them for the results of their death knocks are testimony to that. For every Twitter thread complaining about journalistic practices and harassment, there will be many more people who felt that they were perhaps allowed some closure through speaking to a reporter."


Greg Gianforte, the Montana Republican representative, who assaulted Guardian journalist Ben Jacobs (above), in a letter of apology:  “My physical response to your legitimate question was unprofessional, unacceptable, and unlawful. As both a candidate for office and a public official, I should be held to a high standard in my interactions with the press and the public. My treatment of you did not meet that standard...I made a mistake and humbly ask for your forgiveness.” 
  • Gianforte has also agreed to donate $50,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists


Jailed Turkish journalist Tunca Ogreten in a letter to The Sunday Times [£] from his cell: “I’m in prison because I ask questions, investigate the things that the public should know, I’m in prison because I did what a journalist must do.”


The Times [£] on its new Irish print edition: "The Times is delighted to display its own confidence in the republic’s future by launching an Ireland print edition, starting today. It will join our digital version of the paper that has been published since 2015 and will sit alongside the Irish edition of our sister paper, The Sunday Times. Some thought that the rise of digital media would kill print as a medium, but new ventures such as this give lie to such gloomy prophecies. Demand for the unique, tactile pleasure of leafing through a newspaper has proven robust."


[£]=paywall


Thursday, 1 June 2017

Media Quotes of the Week: From Stephen Fry flays Facebook to bashed up journalist's broken glasses are donated to news museum in Washington


Pic: BBC
Stephen Fry at the Hay Festival on reforming the internet, as reported by the Guardian“One thesis I could immediately nail up to the tent flag is to call for aggregating news agencies like Facebook to be immediately classified as publishers. At the moment, they are evading responsibility for their content as they can claim to be platforms, rather than publishers. Given that they are now a major source of news for 80% of the population, that is clearly an absurd anomaly. If they, and Twitter and like platforms recognised their responsibilities as publishers, it would certainly help them better police their content for unacceptable libels, defamations, threats and other horrors, that a free belief in the value of the press would, as a matter of course, be expected to control.”


The Times [£] in a leader: "YouTube added a black ribbon to its logo this week as a mark of respect to those killed and maimed in Monday’s gruesome attack. Yet as the site mourns today’s victims, it aids tomorrow’s terrorists. The Times reveals that YouTube, which is owned by Google, is publishing how-to guides for mass murderers, including video manuals for bomb-makers. Facebook publishes similar content. With every week that the internet giants continue to shirk their moral and legal responsibilities as publishers, the case for robust regulation grows stronger."


The Society of Editors in a statement on the MEN's coverage of the terror attack in Manchester: “Not only did the paper’s journalists work throughout the night to put together 34 pages of coverage in the immediate aftermath of the atrocity, they have continued to provide comprehensive, sensitive and informative updates on a daily basis in the wake of the attack. A fundraising appeal set up by the paper to support the victims of the bombing has also raised more than £1 million in a matter of days. In what must have, at times, been challenging and difficult circumstances, the paper has produced timely reports, asked the difficult questions and provided a voice to a community that is both grief stricken and united. An example of truly exceptional local journalism, the MEN’s coverage has provided a trusted and valued source of information and updates for the people of Manchester and a national and international community that stands by its side.”


Jeremy Corbyn after antisemitic attacks on BBC presenter Emma Barnett [above] who interviewed him on Woman's Hour: “Journalists . . . do a job that does require asking difficult questions . . . Under no circumstances whatsoever should anyone throw personal abuse at anyone else because they are doing the job that they have been employed to do and I will not tolerate it.”


Peter Preston in The Observer: "The proudest accolade for correspondents during this churning election campaign is already evident: the Award of the Raised Finger for TV reporter most booed and heckled at party meetings. So far, to her credit, Laura Kuenssberg is in the lead, with Michael Crick of C4 News in hot pursuit. Watch Robert Peston of ITV these next weeks, though. Plenty of time for catcalls during the pauses in mid-question as well as at the end."


Brendan O'Neill on Spiked on Katie Hopkins being sacked by LBC: "It doesn’t matter what you think of Hopkins. It doesn’t matter if you violently hate her, as the Twitterati does, or if she just think she’s a foghorn made flesh, as I do, or if you like her: whatever, you should still be worried that she has lost her job at the behest of a clamouring mob of self-righteous tweeters and bleaters."


Hugo Rifkind in The Times [£]: "The Twitter-age shock-jock doesn’t cause offence by mistake, or even just for the thrill of it. Enrage opponents and they’ll do your outreach work for you, having no means by which to express their anger without saying again the thing they don’t think should have been said. Even after [Katie] Hopkins had deleted her tweet, those who were appalled kept sharing it via screengrabs. Of course they did. That was the point."


Marina Hyde in the Guardian: "Still, this latest unemployment development is all exactly as predicted in the Book of Hopkins. As she explained portentously last year: “One day I will say something that takes it so far over the line I will have to go and I accept that too. I think that is part of the condition of living your life on the line.” Living your life on the line … I do like how Katie makes “being a twat on the radio” sound like fighting in ’Nam."


Donald J. Trump‏@realDonaldTrump  on Twitter: "Whenever you see the words 'sources say' in the fake news media, and they don't mention names...it is very possible that those sources don't exist but are made up by fake news writers. #FakeNews is the enemy!"


The Guardian in a leader after Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte was accused of “body-slamming” its reporter Ben Jacobs: "The incident comes amid the demonising of journalism by the US right, which Donald Trump has escalated dramatically. The constitution enshrines freedom of the press; the president has declared reputable media organisations “the enemy of the American people”. Earlier this month a reporter was arrested for trying to ask the health secretary a question. Ask yourself why those who purport to serve the people, or say they want to, do not simply reply or walk away. No one should be assaulted. But when it happens to someone asking important and unwelcome questions, it is not only an attack on an individual, and on the media, but on the public’s right to know."


From the Guardian: "Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs replaced his glasses on Tuesday, after they were broken when he was assaulted by Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte. At the request of the Washington DC media museum the Newseum, Jacobs has agreed to donate his broken glasses to the museum for display in their collection."


[£]=paywall


Wednesday, 31 May 2017

InPublishing: Press regulation the mess we're in




I've written an article for InPublishing magazine about the confusing mess UK press regulation is in.

Newspapers can now chose from two press regulators, IPSO or IMPRESS, or, as in the case of the Financial Times, the Independent and the Guardian, opt for no regulator at all.

In the article I argue that the strong protests over the threat of Section 40 being imposed on the press are based on the experience of publishers and journalists who have suffered frustrating, lengthy and expensive dealings with libel lawyers. If section 40 is enacted, publishers not signed up to a Royal Charter-backed regulator like IMPRESS could end up paying both sides legal costs even if they win a libel case.

Also, many journalists and publishers believe there are more urgent issues facing the press than that of regulation: such as the survival of the local press and the way internet giants like Google and Facebook are hoovering up so much advertising revenue.

You can read the article here:

  • The article went to press before the announcement of a General Election. The Conservatives have pledged to repeal Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act and to scrap Part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry.  Labour has pledged to implement the recommendations of Part 1 of  Leveson and commence Part 2. It has also said it is concerned about closures of local media outlets and the reductions in number of local journalists. Labour says it will "hold a national review of local media and into the ownership of national media to ensure plurality."
  • Labour and the Liberals have confirmed to Press Gazette that they would fully commence Section 40 even though the pledge is not included in their manifestos.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Media Quotes of he Week: From terror attacks and lazy journalism to defending 'death knocking' and is a vote for the Tory Party a vote for a free press?



Indira A.R. Lakshmanan on Poynter on the Manchester terror attack: "Yes, the attack is news. But does replaying footage of victims for hours or turning over the entire homepage to the story, as CNN, Fox News and Breitbart did, elevate the public understanding of why terrorism is committed or how to stop it? Or is it just lazy and sensationalist tabloid journalism, blowing the murder of 22 people out of proportion to stoke fear?...Does flooding the public with images of terrified innocents further the malevolent agenda of those who seek to foment fear and hate in civilized society, by terrorizing those watching at home?"


Manchester News MEN‏@MENnewsdesk on Twitter: "We are aware of the leaked images circulating of evidence at the Arena after the bomb. We have taken the decision not to publish them."


Rodney Edwards‏@rodneyedwards on Twitter: "So much respect for journalists at @MENnewsdesk as they report amid such personal difficulty with care. Proud to be a regional reporter."


Dominic Ponsford on Press Gazette in defence of 'death knocking': "It was suggested to me yesterday on Twitter that journalists should refrain from contacting the families of those killed in the Manchester terror attack out of respect. I would argue that when you are writing a story about someone’s death or serious injury it would be disrespectful not to contact the family. This gives them a chance to put their comments on the record and gives the reporter an opportunity to make sure they get their facts right. It is a task which no journalist enjoys, but it has to be done. And as a mark of respect it is something which should be done face to face."


Adam Tinworth on One Man & His Blog on "death knocks" in the digital age: "The single local face at your door has been replaced by a digital barrage of national and international journalists and “journalists”, at the time in your life that you’re least well placed to manage that onslaught. You might say “just ignore them” – but they’re coming through the very device you’re using to keep in contact with friends and relatives: your phone. The journalist at your door is no longer a singular chance to tell your loved one’s story – but just another wave in the endless tide. The death knock that [Dominic] Ponsford [above] describes can no longer exist, because the new context is the relative being besieged on social media before the local journo has got to his car, let alone arrived on the doorstep."


Media academics in a letter to the Guardian: "Our concern as media educators, however, is that whole sections of the media are already committed to a narrative that paints Labour as unelectable and Corbyn as a barely credible candidate. This is not a new phenomenon. Academic surveys have shown how newspapers belittled him from the moment he won his first leadership election, while broadcast bulletins systematically gave more coverage to his opponents than to his supporters. Serious discussion of Labour’s proposed policies has been negligible – drowned out by memes focused on Labour’s apparent lack of opposition and Corbyn’s lack of leadership. We are not asking for eulogies of Corbyn, but for reporting that takes seriously the proposals contained in the manifesto and that doesn’t resort to a lazy stereotype of Corbyn as a 'problem' to be solved."


Brian Cathcart on Byline: "If there is a single leading national journalist, in broadcast or in print, who is seriously concerned that modern British journalism might itself be an important problem, and might be contributing to our national troubles, he or she is keeping quiet about it. The Mail, the Sun and the Express lie and distort on their front pages today to a degree that would have astonished Lord Beaverbrook or Lord Northcliffe, the most swaggering and thuggish press barons in British history. The journalists doing this are a disgrace, but they are beyond hope: nobody expects them to change. The people who are really failing the country and failing journalism are the rest of the trade, the journalists with platforms who are not under the yoke of the proprietors – at the BBC and ITV, the Guardian and the Financial Times, the New Statesman and Huffington Post."


Emily bell@emilybell on Twitter: "Wondering if there will be a pause in the 'journalism is broken, let's fix it' talk, while we fix all the things journalism has exposed."


Neuroscientist Dr Tara Stewart announcing the results of her study into the mental resilience of journalists at the London Press Club: “It shows that the highest functions of journalists’ brains were operating at a lower level than the average population, due to dehydration, self-medicating, and fuelling their brains with caffeine and high-sugar foods. However, the pressures of the job are not affecting journalists’ ability to endure and bounce back from adversity in the long term, due to a belief their work has meaning and purpose.”


Index on Censorship in a statement: "Index on Censorship welcomes the Conservative Party’s promise in its manifesto to repeal Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013. This repressive legislation would gravely jeopardise the local and regional press and endanger investigative journalism."


Toby Young on the Spectator Coffee House blog welcomes Tory manifesto pledge to scrap Section 40 and Leveson 2: "So the decision not to activate section 40 is a victory, not just for the press, but for Brian Leveson too. I daresay he’s not too unhappy about the fact that he won’t be holding the ring in another three-ring circus, either. But the price of freedom is eternal vigilance and the enemies of the press in the Lords will no doubt already be plotting to insert something similar to section 40 in another bill in the next Parliament. Let’s hope the fact that the manifesto could not be clearer on this issue means they won’t succeed."