Jon Slattery

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A freelance journalist writing from the UK.
Updated: 2 hours 14 min ago

Media Quotes of the Week: From McDonnell says Labour will break up ownership of UK media to the Guardian attacks the Sun over Muslims' poll

10 hours 14 min ago

Pic: BBCLabour shadow chancellor John McDonnell quoted in the Morning Star: “This last seven weeks that we’ve been in administration, the media assault on us has been, I think, a disgrace. I’ve never been comfortable with the way media ownership is in this country, but it does mean, to be frank, we have to commit ourselves now to media reform … break up the ownership of our media.”

Tim Yeo filmed by undercover insight reportersMartin Ivens, the editor of The Sunday Times, quoted in The Times [£], after the libel action brought by ex-MP Tim Yeo over lobbying allegations was thrown out: “This is a victory for investigative journalism. It vindicates the role of the press in exposing the clandestine advocacy by MPs for undisclosed interests. The Sunday Times’s Insight team has a long history of reporting on the conduct of politicians and is proud to have forced reform of standards in public life.”

Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors: "Every time journalists write or say: ‘following a Freedom of Information request’ they should send a tenner to the Campaign for Freedom of Information which desperately needs our support to maintain its vital work."

Jon Snow in the Observer defending BBC reporter Graham Satchell for showing emotion while covering Paris terrorist attacks: "Journalism makes no sense to the citizen without some emotional engagement. That doesn’t mean we have to sensationalise, or struggle to be emotional in our reporting. But we do have to tell it like it is. If we deny the impact an event has upon us, we deny not only ourselves, but those who depend on us for at least some of their information."
The old Manchester Guardian and Evening News buildingGuardian editor Katharine Viner on plans for the paper to return to its Manchester roots and expand reporting in the north of England: “I’m delighted to be building on the Guardian’s fine heritage in Manchester by putting more reporters on the ground to get scoops, break news and provide context and analysis about the north of England.” 

John Simpson, quoted by the Huffington Post: "I suppose it's the dawn of the new century, but I'm really very kind of depressed about the way that newspapers and television has developed. The jobs are fewer, the pay is much much less. I'm afraid we're back to where we used to be a century or more ago, in the late Victorian or early Edwardian period, when journalists were pretty much self-financed. So all those courses in media studies which were producing really high qualified and able people have suddenly kind of hatched up in the sands because the money to employ them is not there any more."

John Witherow, editor of The Times, interviewed in Press Gazette“We have not cut back on journalists, if anything we have invested in them. And that’s our firm commitment... people will only pay for subscriptions if you have quality. You shoot yourself in the foot by cutting back on journalism, because they won’t subscribe and then our whole model falls apart.”

Douglas Jehl, the Washington Post’s foreign editor, after the paper's correspondent Jason Rezaian was jailed for an unspecified term in Iran: “Every day that Jason is in prison is an injustice. He has done nothing wrong. Even after keeping Jason in prison 488 days so far, Iran has produced no evidence of wrongdoing. His trial and sentence are a sham, and he should be released immediately.”

liz gerard ‏@gameoldgirl on Twitter: "There comes a point when @dailyexpressuk crosses the line from ludicrous to irresponsible."

The Guardian bashes the Sun in a leader: "Terrorists only win if they force us to abandon our way of life and instead live in terror. What better way to do their work for them than to make up a story that leaves Britons believing that 20% of a particular community wants to blow them up."

Sun managing editor Stig Abell in a letter to the Guardian: "It is perhaps not surprising that the Guardian chose to get angry at the Sun’s poll in your editorial. It is ironic, though, that the Guardian makes play of complaints to the newspaper industry regulator Ipso [Independent Press Standards Organisation], an organisation it has itself declined to join."

IPSO in a statement on the Sun's front page: "IPSO’s policy when dealing with a large number of complaints about a particular issue that requires investigation is to select a lead complaint. In this case, IPSO has selected MEND (Muslim Engagement & Development) as the lead complaint. We have written to The Sun to inform them that we have commenced an investigation into this matter. As of this morning, Thursday 25th November, IPSO has received around 2,600 complaints relating to the article. The majority of these refer to Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice."


Freedom of Information Under Threat

13 hours 51 min ago

I've written an article for InPublishing magazine on the threat posed to the Freedom of Information Act by the FOI Commission review of the the Act which, critics believe, could lead to it being watered down.

The article gives examples of some of the powerful public interest stories produced by FOI investigations by magazines, local and national newspapers. You can read it here.

Media Quotes of the Week: From defiant Charlie Hebdo to FoI should be strengthened not diluted

19 November 2015 - 12:52pm

Charlie Hebdo: "They have arms. Fuck them. We have the Champagne!"

Jonathan Calvert in the Sunday Times [£] on IAAF president Lord Coe and the doping scandal engulfing athletics: "Coe had the opportunity to reconsider when The Sunday Times and Seppelt revealed in August that the IAAF had ignored evidence of widespread doping among athletes. Instead he led a public relations campaign to undermine the disclosure. He gave interviews claiming it was his 'seminal moment' and that this newspaper’s article had been a 'declaration of war' on his sport."

Peter Barron, editor of The Northern Echo, on claims Cleveland Police used the RIPA laws to get phone records of his journalists in a bid to identify a police whistleblower: “These allegations are a matter of serious concern – that a police force should apparently go to these lengths to identify the source of a story which was clearly in the public interest. This is surely not what the legislation was intended to do and the fact that Cleveland Police will neither confirm nor deny the allegations adds to our concerns.”

Ken Livingstone, speaking on Russia TV's UK-based Going Underground, on press treatment of Jeremy Corbyn, via the Guardian: “The smearing of Jeremy is exactly what happened to me back in the 1980s and to Tony Benn. The key part of that is not just the smearing by some MPs, it’s the fact that four billionaires own three quarters of the papers that the British people read. I mean Murdoch, Lord Rothermere and the Barclay brothers. They will do anything to prevent a Labour prime minister who’s going to make them start paying their fair share of tax, because they’re all tax dodgers.”

Stewart Lee in The Observer: "Last week’s newspaper attacks on Jeremy Corbyn have moved from the dishonest into the deranged."

Jeremy Clarkson in the Sunday Times [£] on Jeremy Corbyn: "I’m getting a bit bored with the endless criticism of Labour’s little beardy man. And embarrassed, actually. Because he seems a nice chap, and endless criticism of every single thing he does will be driving him mad with despair. I don’t like that and think that if we want to bully someone, we should stick with his deputy, Tom Watson, who deserves everything you can throw at him, up to and including the tractor unit of a Scania lorry."

Bauer publisher Gareth Cherriman on the move to end publication of lads' mags FHM and Zoo: “I would like to thank our advertisers and retailers who have supported the brands and I’m sure that everyone who has worked on FHM and ZOO over the years will be sorry to hear this news.”

Peter Preston in the Observer: "Look around the developed world and paywalls are the norm for newspaper websites. Germany, the Netherlands and Slovakia, indeed, have gone further still, constructing a total wall around printed-press sites. Only Britain has a different balance: the FT, Telegraph and Times against the rest. Free access around the globe can produce startling figures – Mail Online has topped over 200 million a month - and such huge numbers allow the BBC to argue that its site causes nil problems. Except that huge numbers don’t equal profit, especially at a time when digital ad growth has stalled. Mail Online may rule the world, but it doesn’t make money yet. And, back in Britain, the existence of limits options and constrains development."

Sue Cameron in the Daily Mail: "I believe the real reason some politicians and officials want to curb FoI is simply to cover their backs. They want to stop the public knowing when there are disagreements between ministers, or between ministers and officials. They also want to stop the public knowing about any risks and potential downsides from policy decisions. Their fear is that these might be exploited by opposition politicians and the media."

Information Commissioner Christopher Graham in a submission to the Freedom of Information Commission: "The media plays an important role in FOIA as a user. Less than one in a thousand members of the public makes an FOIA request, so the media is the main route via which the public receives information disclosed via FOIA."

The News Media Association in a submission to the Freedom of Information Commission: "Diluting or reversing aspects of the Act would be a quixotic attempt to go against the grain of irreversible cultural and social change. A far better idea would be to look at the ways in which the Act could be extended so that it keeps up with the public’s evermore informed and discerning expectations of those in authority.”

[£] = paywall

Media Quotes of the Week: From 'too old and expensive' specialist journalists face the sack to the rock star who just loves giving interviews

13 November 2015 - 7:30am

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet in the Guardian on the decline of specialist journalists: "Newspapers which have shed their specialists – putting them in the line of fire during redundancy rounds because they were probably older and more expensive – have pursued a shortsighted policy. These are the people who come in with the best stories and usually have a feature or two up their sleeves if holes need filling."

From The Independent: "Jeremy Corbyn’s lodger is reportedly working for MailOnline as a freelance journalist, it has emerged. Gian Volpicelli has been writing science stories for the right-wing news website, one of Mr Corbyn’s fiercest critics in the media."

Oxford Mail editor Simon O'Neill launching a campaign against weakening the Freedom of Information Act:
“The Act is, if I am not mistaken, about to be severely curtailed and made subject to hefty charges, all because a few politicians who got caught fiddling their expenses and some well-remunerated Sir Humphreys see it as a pain in the proverbial butt. That must not be allowed to happen for the sake of a government and society that is truly open. This is our information, not theirs.”

The Press Association, in a submission to the Freedom of Information Commission on the possible introduction of charges for FoI: “Requests for internal review, or appeals, would, under a charging system, almost certainly be beyond the reach of the PA, as they would for all but the wealthiest news organisations."

The Sunday Times [£] on the Government's plans for a new Bill of Rights to replace the Human Rights Act: "The bill will grant soldiers and journalists greater protection from people using human rights law to sue for damages. There will be an explicit statement backing 'freedom of expression' for the press."

Simon Jenkins in the Guardian: "Any journalist acquainted with professional sport over the past half century has known about drugs. We were told the Ben Johnson scandal at the 1988 Olympics would put a stop to doping. Nothing put a stop to it. The money and prestige is too great. In the case of soccer’s Fifa, it was clear for decades that Sepp Blatter’s operation was rotten to the core. A lone British journalist, Andrew Jennings, struggled to expose the IOC and Fifa’s Blatter, to the silence or ridicule of British representatives on both bodies."

Adele, interviewed in Rolling Stone: "There's a lot of things I don't think I'll ever get 'round to doing. Not because I'm famous, but just because I just don't think I'll ever have the time. Like being a journalist, or like being a teacher."

MP John Mann in the House of Commons, quoted by Press Gazette: "Evidence from the University of Reading shows that if people buy a newspaper, they will live longer. Why will they live longer? Because some of the people who buy newspapers on a daily basis walk to buy them and walk home. By doing that, if people buy The Sun, the Daily Mirror, the Daily Mail or even The Daily Telegraph, they will live longer. I do hope the journalists are listening: that ought to be their banner headlines, because it is true. A bit of activity on a daily basis assists, which is the beauty of the great outdoors."

Kelvin MacKenzie in the Sun after prison officer Amanda Watts was jailed for a year for selling stories to the paper about George Michael : "So what did Amanda Watts, 43, who worked at HMP Highpoint, Suffolk, do that earned her such a long sentence? She revealed who visited Michael and gave The Sun a sketch of the singer’s cell. Big deal. Old Bailey juries repeatedly refused to convict journalists for paying public officials so when a judge gets a chance to make an exemplary sentence he takes it with both hands."

Noel Gallagher asked in an Esquire interview by Alex Blimes if he has any hobbies:“This is my hobby!...
Blimes: “You mean, music?“
Gallagher: "No! This: doing interviews. I fucking love it. I could do this all day long. It’s sick.”
Blimes: “Why do you love it so much?”
Gallagher: “Because I get to be a gobshite, and I get to do that thing: to be the last of a dying breed.”