Jon Slattery

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A freelance journalist writing from the UK.
Updated: 2 hours 47 min ago


2 August 2015 - 11:11am

Mark Borkowski on his blog: "Cecil’s cause ignited social media like nothing before. Hundreds of one-star reviews flooded onto the Google page for Palmer’s dental practice. The levels of vitriol recorded here could rank Palmer as the most loathed dentist since Laurence Olivier’s Nazi torturer in Marathon Man. The truth-finding integrity of the tabloid media was on full display as Dr Palmer’s past misdemeanors were dragged up as further fuel to the lynch mob. The momentum of hate was seemingly too much for Palmer’s PR consultants, J. Austin & Associates, who dropped their client after 1 day. While we don’t know if he has recruited any other crisis managers you can be sure that the cost to his reputation will be greater than the $50,000 he paid for a shot at Cecil. The most that Palmer can hope for is that, like other infamous nobodies thrust into the slimelight (the cat bin lady et al), he will return to the nowhere whence he came."

Peter Hitchens in the Mail on Sunday: "Please continue to pray, if you can, for my friend Jason Rezaian, now wrongly held in an Iranian prison for more than a year. Jason, son of a Persian father and an American mother, went to live in Tehran so that he could report truthfully on that fascinating, misrepresented place. He took me there a few years ago and opened my eyes to much I had misunderstood or never known. His chief concern was to improve understanding between his father’s people and his mother’s people. He was mysteriously arrested and is still being held, despite the outbreak of peace between the USA and the Iranian government. There is no justification for this. Let him go."

India Knight in the Sunday Times [£] on the Lord Sewel sex scandal: "Like all sex scandals, this is at one level all very funny. The photograph of a recumbent Sewel wearing an orange bra and a leather jacket while smoking a fag sears itself on the retinas. At another level, and this is a post-internet thing, it isn’t funny at all. The scenario is pretty bleak, for a start — the loneliness of it. There isn’t a sexual kink necessitating a prostitute involved here, just a man who hasn’t got any friends to take his wretched drugs with and who clearly can’t rely on anyone he knows to find him attractive enough to sleep with for free."

The Telegraph in a leader: "Newcastle United, under the ownership of Mike Ashley, is henceforth to restrict access to its players and manager to 'preferred media partners' – a single broadcaster and newspaper. This will undoubtedly bring in revenue. But the club’s managing director has admitted that the deal is designed to 'control and reinforce the positive messages the club wished to deliver'. There are many reasons to be critical of Newcastle’s progress under Mr Ashley, the billionaire businessman behind Sports Direct. But, while they have been allowed to, newspapers have also freely celebrated its successes. No longer. Initially it will be the club’s fans who lose out from this censorship. But if the idea catches on – and the deflection of justified scrutiny is certainly tempting to many well beyond football – we will all be the poorer."

Dr Wynne Weston-Davies in the Telegraph claims Jack the Ripper was a journalist: "He names the Ripper as Francis Spurzheim Craig, who at the time of the murders in 1888 was a 51-year-old reporter covering the police courts and inquests in the East End of London."

Media Quotes of the Week: From a sex scandal Britain can be proud of to the Guardian flags up its Britishness after Financial Times sale to Japanese

30 July 2015 - 1:56pm

Lord Sewel on the Huffington Post: “The actions of a few damage our reputation. Scandals make good headlines. Preventive measures seldom do. It is not surprising that more column inches are devoted to scandals than to measures taken by the House to prevent wrongdoing by its Members."

Brendan O'Neil blogs on the Spectator"The Lord Sewel scandal makes me feel proud to be British. For here, thanks to some glorious John Wilkes-style dirt-digging by the Sun — in your face, Leveson! — we have a proper political scandal. This ain’t no yawn-fest about MPs claiming the cost of a Kit-Kat or accidentally favouriting a gay-porn tweet: sad little pseudo-scandals which in recent years have tainted the good name of ignominy. No, the fall of Sewel is a full-on, drugged-up, peer-and-prostitutes scandal, of the kind Britain used to be pretty good at before the square Blairites and cautious Cameroons took over. The disgracing of Sewel is a reminder of British politics at its saucy best. Sewel, I salute you."

Peter Barron in the Northern Echo: "If we needed a reminder of why so many powerful figures would like to curtail Britain’s free press – and why that freedom remains so vital – it has arrived in a blur of white powder and pink, ill-fitting ladies’ underwear."

Meirion Jones on Press Gazette: “People said they won't sack you after Savile but they will make your life hell. Everyone involved on the right side of the Savile argument has been forced out of the BBC.”
Jane Martinson in the Guardian: "Faced with competition from social media sites such as Facebook in which news and information are shared by friends and family, why should anyone trust Gawker, or the FT, or even the BBC if they are seen as prone to overt influence by advertisers, run by faraway private corporations or bullied by the government?"

Patrick Smith ‏@psmith on Twitter: "Doing something that involves looking at court cases across UK and you quickly realise that if local papers don't report them, no one does."

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet, in a letter to FA chair Greg Dyke: "I am writing to you because of our concern over a worrying trend among football clubs to ban reporters and instead have their own hand-picked writers to peddle propaganda from the proprietor's point of view."

The Football Supporters’ Federation, quoted in the Guardian: “An objective and independent press is vital, and is often the only way that fans can find out the truth about what’s going on at their clubs. The NUJ believes censorship by football club owners is unacceptable; they should be held to account for the decisions they make and the way they run the club. It is the fans who will be the losers.”
Santha Rasaiah, News Media Association's legal policy and regulatory affairs director on Government plans to review the Freedom of Information Act: "The Government must not cut away the public right to know. The Freedom of Information Act requires extension, not restriction. It already allows a space for frank policy advice, prevents vexatious use and avoids onerous costs burdens. We must not allow the Act’s tenth anniversary to be marked by an attack upon the Act and a retreat into official secrecy.”

The Observer in a leader: "On the whole, Japanese politicians and business chiefs expect, and receive, a degree of polite media compliance that is wholly alien to British journalism. In Tokyo press interviews, for example, it is routine to be told to submit questions in advance.Will these careful ways rub off on the FT, a newspaper of fierce intellectual integrity and an often unexpectedly liberal editorial line? Time will tell."

Michael Woolff on USA Today: "There are two lessons from the sale of the Financial Times for $1.3 billion by its corporate parent Pearson to Nikkei, a Japanese newspaper company. The first is never believe a media company when it says it won’t sell something. The second is that newspapers, at least some newspapers, heretofore consigned to the dust heap, are back in business."

The Guardian highlights its Britishness after FT sold to Japanese.


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

23 July 2015 - 2:44pm

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."

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".