Jon Slattery

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A freelance journalist writing from the UK.
Updated: 8 min 5 sec ago

Media Quotes of the Week: From being a journalist means never having to grow up to Llama Drama Ding Dong! the famous headline that just won't die

1 October 2015 - 11:58am

James Delingpole in the Sunday Times [£] on why he revealed in Call Me Dave he had smoked dope with David Cameron in their student days: "Was this naive, irresponsible and impulsive of me? Well, of course. That’s why I chose to be a journalist rather than, say, a diplomat or a senior civil servant or a lawyer. The whole point of being a hack is — or should be, I believe — that you never grow up. You spend your whole life in a state of arrested adolescence, forever the cheeky fifth-former at the back of the bus, waving for attention, gurning for easy laughs and flicking two fingers at authority."

David Cameron on Sky News says he won't sue authors of Call Me Dave: "No. I'm too busy running the country, taking decisions, getting on with work. If you do a job like this, you do get people who have agendas and write books and write articles and write all sorts of things. The most important thing is not to let it bother you, get on with the job."

Jeremy Corbyn in his speech to the Labour conference: "Now some media commentators who’ve spent years complaining about how few people have engaged with political parties have sneered at our huge increase in membership. If they were sports reporters writing about a football team they’d be saying:  'They’ve had a terrible summer. They’ve got 160,000 new fans. Season tickets are sold out. The new supporters are young and optimistic. I don’t know how this club can survive a crisis like this'.”

Peter Oborne in the Daily Mail: "No one who is loathed by the bankers, the BBC and Tony Blair all at once can be that bad. Corbyn is the first genuinely original party leader to emerge in Britain since a certain Margaret Hilda Thatcher made her first speech to Conservative conference in 1975. Remember: the establishment hated her, too."

Peter Barron, editor of the Northern Echo, on the way the national press covered the closure of Teesside's steelworks with the loss of 1,700 jobs: "At best underwhelming, at worst pretty pathetic, and a failure to understand the consequences of what is happening in part of the United Kingdom. Imagine if a 150-year-old industry in the Home Counties was being consigned to the scrapheap, with 1,700 jobs axed. I respectfully suggest the national press might find it would have different priorities. Thank goodness for local papers."

Peter Preston on Newsquest-owner Gannett in the Observer: "Gannett is not well-loved here, or in the US. Gannett seems to exist to keep shareholders cheerful and pay executives royally. Gannett is a row of figures on the bottom line."

Sean O'Neill in The Times: "He hosts the most salacious show on daytime TV — a raucous parade of abandoned spouses, jilted fiancées and bitter ex-boyfriends. Yet Jeremy Kyle emerged yesterday as Britain’s most unlikely shrinking violet with a plea for privacy over his own private life.  Famous for curating controversy and confrontation on his eponymous ITV show, Kyle, 50, has hired lawyers to request a media blackout over his recent separation from his wife, Carla Germaine, 40. It is understood that the break-up is amicable and the couple are anxious to protect their three children from media intrusion."

Daily Mail in a leader: "In what looks like a stitch-up between the Civil Service and Government, Sir Jeremy [Heywood - Cabinet Secretary] told his audience of fellow mandarins that an ‘independent panel’ had begun work to look at the ‘pros and cons of the current regime’. Its membership? The five person cabal includes the chairman of Ofcom, which is itself subject to FoI, and two ex-Home Secretaries – including Jack Straw, who has repeatedly argued the law allows too great a level of disclosure. Little wonder that 140 freedom of information campaigners wrote to the Prime Minister this week to complain that the commission is prejudiced and appears to have been established to propose savage new curbs on the public’s right to know.David Cameron – who, let’s not forget, was elected on a promise of greater ‘transparency’ – should stand ready to throw this biased panel’s findings in the Downing Street bin."

Daily Star resurrects a famous headline over the story of love rival zookeepers. I blogged about the origins of Llama Drama Ding Dong! here. It first appeared in the Lancashire Evening Post above a story about a llama that escaped and caused havoc in a school playground. It was adapted by the Sun over a story about President Obama meeting the Dalai Lama despite sparking a row with China: Obama Llama Ding Dong; and was the title of a book on headlines.


Media Quotes of the Week: Lefties love the Daily Mail and at last Jeremy Corbyn gets a good press

24 September 2015 - 12:38pm

David Wooding ‏@DavidWooding on Twitter: "Who'd have thought it? Suddenly, all the Lefties just love the Daily Mail!"

Former Met Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson on the setting-up of the Leveson Inquiry, quoted in the Daily Mail from its serialisation of Call Me Dave: ‘It’s that classic leadership trick, which a number of us pull when we’re in deep difficulty, to say: 'This is disgraceful and we must have an inquiry.’ I think they deliberately spread it wider to try and take the flak away from the decision to employ Coulson . . . I think there was a very strong agenda there to spread the heat around."

Oliver Letwin, who led talks with editors, as quoted by the Daily Mail from Call Me Dave"‘I don’t know why I’m doing this. I hate journalists, I hate all journalists,’ he wailed at one point. It was a strange thing to admit to a room full of editors."

Isabel Oakeshott, co-author of Call Me Dave on Channel 4 News, quizzed about the pig allegations: "We're very careful about the way we worded the story, and as I say it's up to people to decide whether they think it's true or not. We don't say whether we believe it to be true."

Francis Beckett ‏@francisbeckett on Twitter: "I fear Oakeshott can't stand it up. She bought a poke in a pig."

Simon Heffer in the Telegraph: "By – so far - avoiding the evils of spin and speaking in proper sentences he [Jeremy Corbyn] may well create a public demand for other, more successful politicians to do the same. And if we end up not being patronized quite so much, or treated as blithering idiots, we would have something to thank him for."

Ed Vulliamy in The Observer:  "The Observer – a broad church, to which I’m doggedly loyal – responded to Jeremy Corbyn’s landslide with an editorial foreseeing inevitable failure at a general election of the mandate on which he won. For what it’s worth, I felt we let down many readers and others by not embracing at least the spirit of the result, propelled as it was by moral principles of equality, peace and justice...Instead of a stirring leader, which did not have to endorse Corbyn but could celebrate the spirit of the vote along with those who delivered it, we’ve left a lot of good, loyal and decent people who read our newspaper feeling betrayed."

Noel Whelan in The Irish Times: "With typical self-regard the British media have made the change of opposition leadership about them. Large chunks of the news cycle have been given over to whether Corbyn’s media style, or lack of it, has already fatally damaged his leadership. It is no surprise that Corbyn has faced trenchant hostility from the Tory and Murdoch press since they oppose the politics he espouses. This week, however, even the coverage of him on the supposed fair or left of centre media has been over the top. Frankly, some of it has been disgraceful and undemocratic. It is as if the Oxbridge university elites, who dominate much of Britain’s political media, as they do much of Britain’s establishment politics, have determined that Labour is not entitled to elect a leader of his views."

Peter Preston in The Observer: "Former speechwriters, aides and spin doctors have never had it so rich. The in-office tangles where 'Corbynites' and 'Blairites' snipe away are just as vitriolic as anything you find on the net. And both sides, naturally, can cite 'media distortion' as a reason for their failures, a scapegoat in waiting."

Professor Jane Chapman, Jeremy Corbyn's first wife, in the Mail on Sunday: "I think a better communication strategy can complement his natural authenticity. There is an amount of anti-media feeling in the Labour Party historically. That's always been the case and for good reason – the press have always been very damaging to Labour, so I can understand that antipathy to the media. But this is the 21st Century and we've got to accept that the media won't go away."

The Telegraph in a leader: "It is only because of investigative journalism that the conduct of Sir Malcolm and Mr Straw became known to the voters they were supposed to serve. Yet the committee 's report amounts to a warning to journalists not to carry out such investigations in future, promising to 'consider further the role of the press in furthering…understanding and detecting wrongdoing'. At a time when politicians have still not ruled out new laws to muzzle the free press, such veiled threats from a parliamentary committee risk having a chilling effect on journalism, to the detriment of British democracy. "

Dominic Ponsford on his Press Gazette blog: "If a journalist was secretly filmed suggesting they would take money to use their influence to get stories in the paper they would get drummed out of the profession. They would probably also be sent to prison for committing an offence under the Bribery Act. Yet when reporters expose MPs keen to take thousands from foreign special interests, the MPs are exonerated and Parliament's watchdog accuses the media of unfairly tarnishing their reputations."

Met Police spokesman on the decision not to prosecute Lord Sewel after the Sun on Sunday's drug taking allegations: "The investigation, led by officers from the Special Enquiry Team of the Homicide and Major Crime Command, has now concluded. Following a review of all the material, including a forensic examination of an address in central London, there is insufficient evidence to proceed with this investigation and the matter is now closed.”

Andrew Barrow in the Guardian on art critic Brian Sewell who has died aged 84: "Sewell was high-spirited to the end: passionate, cruel, kind, far-sighted, puffed up, self-hating – and, the author of many secret acts of kindness, always loyal to old friends and new."

Ian Hislop asked by Press Gazette's William Turvill who his favourite editors and journalists are: “Oh God no – I’m certainly not [going to answer] that. No. Absolutely not. None. No admiration at all.”