Jon Slattery

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A freelance journalist writing from the UK.
Updated: 55 min 32 sec ago

Media Quotes of the Week: From police vs press battle rages on to Alan Rusbridger stands down

11 December 2014 - 4:36pm

Keith Vaz MP, chair of the the Home Affairs Select Committee: "RIPA is not fit for purpose. We were astonished that law enforcement agencies failed to routinely record the professions of individuals who have had their communications data accessed under the legislation. Using RIPA to access telephone records of journalists is wrong and this practice must cease. The inevitable consequence is that this deters whistleblowers from coming forward."

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary: "The NUJ welcomes the Home Affairs Select Committee report and agrees that RIPA is not fit for purpose but we are urging political leaders and the Interception of Communications Commissioner to go further and agree there must be judicial oversight before journalists' records and data can be obtained by the police and other authorities."

Press Gazette: "A new draft Code of Practice on government spying powers has finally been published and states that police should continue to access journalists’ phone records without any outside approval. Not only does it make clear that police forces can continue to sign off their own RIPA requests for journalists' telecoms data, but it emphasises that such records are not privileged. The new code merely requires police forces to make a note of the fact they have accessed a journalists’ phone records."

Daily Mail: "The Home Office was embroiled in a fresh row over Press freedom last night after sneaking out proposals that would still allow police to sign off their own snooping into journalists’ phone records."

Lord Black of Brentwood in a letter to the Home Secretary requesting changes to the primary legislation to safeguard journalistic sources: “The industry is united in its concern about the threat to journalism, journalists themselves and to their sources from unwarranted use of state surveillance and enforcement powers. RIPA, counter terrorism and public order legislation are particularly open to abuse. These draconian legislative powers are being used without proper regard to the protection of freedom of expression and press freedom, an intrinsic part of which is the fundamental principle of protection of sources.”

Sun managing editor Stig Abell @StigAbell on Twitter: "Sun runs good story about MP playing Candy Crush. Parliamentary response: hunt the whistleblower. What is wrong with these people?"

The Sun in an editorial: "This is Britain since the Leveson Inquiry, that declaration of war on the Press by the elite we are here to hold to account. Leveson’s biased witch-hunt empowered them to try to stop the Press revealing inconvenient truths the public has a right to know.  One MP playing Candy Crush isn’t the biggest scandal ever — and we welcome that Mr Mills had the good grace to own up and swiftly apologise. The authorities’ reaction, though, is of graver significance."

James Harding, BBC director, news and current affairs, on the BBC blog"The BBC’s job is to keep reporting and analysing the news, questioning politicians, investigating the issues, and pressing for the real story. The election campaign has begun. The BBC will, undeterred, do its job. A meek BBC wouldn’t be fulfilling its role for the public.

The Guardian in an editorial: "In an era of digital revolution, the future shape of the BBC is of huge importance to every British citizen and its audience overseas. Narrow political squabbles must not be allowed to interfere with a mature discussion of what the BBC brings to Britain and its civic life."

The Sunday Times in an editorial [£]: "Do we need a reimagining of the role of the state? Yes, we do. And we need more imagination and realism in thinking about these things. As Mr Blair put it in another context, the talents of the British people need to be liberated “from the forces of conservatism” in Labour — and the BBC."

Roy Greenslade on his Media Guardian blog: "The very fact that a title has been around for more than a century and has archives containing the intimate records of cities, towns and communities stretching back several generations is no longer a selling point. It’s history. It’s not tomorrow."

Grey Cardigan on The Spin Alley"I keep hearing a suggestion that some kind of subsidy or central funding of the local press might be a good idea. Frankly, that’s bollocks. The fat cats in charge would just run off with the cash and continue to leave local papers under-staffed and under-resourced. And what would happen if one of these government-funded newspapers managed to upset the government – as we all should be striving to do on a daily basis? You could see that grant suddenly disappearing faster than any remaining talent at the Daily Telegraph."

Alan Rusbridger announcing his retirement after 20 years as editor of the Guardian: “It’s been quite an extraordinary period in the life of the Guardian. In February 1995 newspaper websites were, if they existed at all, exotic things: we were still four years off launching Guardian Unlimited. Since 1999 we’ve grown to overtake all others to become the most-read serious English language digital newspaper in the world."

Media Quotes of the Week: From police and press at war to dictator's son complains about obituary

4 December 2014 - 3:30pm

Roy Greeenslade in the Guardian on the police and the press: "Not speaking to journalists is very different, however, from treating journalists as criminals or using their private phone conversations as ways of investigating crime. As many reporters have pointed out, the result will be to scare off whistleblowers. Who will dare to speak to journalists who cannot ensure the confidentiality of their calls and emails? Stories that should be told will not see the light of day. In effect, therefore, the war the police have launched on journalists is really a war on the public’s right to know."

Times journalist Andrew Norfolk after being named British Journalist of the Year, quoted by Press Gazette“Senior officers you once had a relationship with based on what you thought was mutual trust and respect suddenly too scared to speak to you, or perhaps it’s not that, they’ve just got so much on, the poor dears: planning your arrest, wading through your phone records, I think it’s 1,700 phones from my company alone. Cheers for that, Vodafone, by the way.”

Andrew Norfolk looking back at his days on the Yorkshire Post, as quoted by HoldTheFrontPage: "The Yorkshire Post's staffing levels are a skeletal shadow of those days.”

Tim Crook @libertarianspir on Twitter: "Why haven't journalism bodies been demonstrating outside the courtrooms where working journalists face prosecution for doing their job?"

Nick Cohen in The Observer: "Friends who helped break the Snowden revelations are close to despair. The British, who survived the First and Second World Wars, the cold war and IRA bombs appear willing to tear up their civil liberties because of Islamist murderers. The electorate greeted the Guardian’s exposé of mass surveillance with indifference. Neither Labour nor the Tories feels public pressure to reform the secret state."

Nick Cohen in Standpoint: "When James Harding was Editor of The Times he was a decent man who made some bad journalistic decisions. Now he has moved on to head BBC News he is still making bad journalistic decisions and his sense of decency appears to have deserted him."

George Osborne on BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I would have thought the BBC would have learned from the last four years that its totally hyperbolic coverage of spending cuts has not been matched by what has actually happened."

Daniel Finkelstein in The Times [£]: "I used to think (I feel a little ashamed about this now) that my colleagues in the press were spending too much time chronicling the disputes between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Now I think perhaps we didn’t spend enough time on it."

Kevin Maguire ‏@Kevin_Maguire on Twitter: "The Sun's Clodagh Hartley was prosecuted (not guilty) over Budget leaks. Meanwhile Treasury Ministers & staff leak like sieves."

Early day motion 585: CLOSURE OF LOCAL NEWSPAPERS:"That this House regrets the latest announcement from Trinity Mirror newspapers that approximately 50 editorial and non-editorial jobs will be lost as seven newspapers in the south of England, including the Harrow Observer, Reading Post and Surrey Herald, are to be closed; notes that the proposals will mean that the county of Berkshire will be served by a digital-only model; further notes that the latest closures come on top of the closure of 150 local newspaper titles since the financial crisis of 2008, with many more reducing the frequency of publication or the range of locally-specific news coverage; is concerned about the loss of such assets to local communities and the important democratic function they serve in reporting on public life including local and national election campaigning; welcomes the recent cross-party stakeholder seminar organised by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to consider policy responses; and joins the National Union of Journalists in calling for a short, sharp cross-party and inter-departmental government inquiry into securing a future for the industry, in order to protect the public interest and defend jobs in quality local journalism."

Hussein Amin from Kampala complains to the Guardian: “Allow me to raise my displeasure at a Guardian obituary about my father, Idi Amin.”

The Guardian responds by stating the obituary was supported by all the major sources the paper consulted and said it would not be revising it online, adding: "Perhaps the definitive view is that of Amnesty International, as set out in a report in June 1978.Amnesty International’s main concerns are as follows:
1) the overthrow of the rule of law;
2) the extensive practice of murder by government security officers, which often reaches massacre proportions;
3) the institutionalised use of torture;
4) the denial of fundamental human rights guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
5) the regime’s constant disregard for the extreme concern expressed by international opinion and international organisations such as the United Nations, which results in the impression that gross human rights violations may be committed with impunity.”