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A bishop wrote gravely to The Times inviting all nations to destroy ‘the formula’ of the atomic bomb. There is no simple remedy for ignorance so abysmal. Peter Medawar, The Hope of Progress, 1972
In March, 1915, the JP Morgan interests, the steel, shipbuilding, and power interest, and their subsidiary organizations, got together twelve men high up in the newspaper world and employed them to select the most influential newspapers in the United States and sufficient number of them to control generally the policy of the daily press ... They found it was only necessary to purchase the control of twenty-five of the greatest papers.
An agreement was reached; the policy of the papers was bought, to be paid for by the month; an editor was furnished for each paper to properly supervise and edit information regarding the questions of preparedness, militarism, financial policies, and other things of national and international nature considered vital to the interests of the purchasers. Oscar Callaway, Congressman 1917
In the 1980s [Sun] it was dramatically overhauled at the East London headquarters of Rupert Murdoch’s News International. The British at Work: To Have and Have Not 1980-1995, BBC 2011
That the individual shall have full protection in person and in property is a principle as old as the common law; but it has been found necessary from time to time to define anew the exact nature and extent of such protection. Political, social, and economic changes entail the recognition of new rights, and the common law, in its eternal youth, grows to meet the demands of society.
The press is overstepping in every direction the obvious bounds of propriety and of decency. Gossip is no longer the resource of the idle and of the vicious, but has become a trade, which is pursued with industry as well as effrontery. To satisfy a prurient taste the details of sexual relations are spread broadcast in the columns of the daily papers ... The intensity and complexity of life, attendant upon advancing civilization, have rendered necessary some retreat from the world, and man, under the refining influence of culture, has become more sensitive to publicity, so that solitude and privacy have become more essential to the individual; but modern enterprise and invention have, through invasions upon his privacy, subjected him to mental pain and distress, far greater than could be inflicted by mere bodily injury. Louis D Brandeis & Warren, The Right to Privacy
Somebody who only reads newspapers and at best books of contemporary authors looks to me like an extremely near-sighted person who scorns eyeglasses. He is completely dependent on the prejudices and fashions of his times, since he never gets to see or hear anything else. Albert Einstein
To read a newspaper is to refrain from reading something worthwhile. The first discipline of education must therefore be to refuse resolutely to feed the mind with canned clatter. Aleister Crowley
By office boys for office boys. Alfred Harmsworth, Lord Salisbury, re Daily Mail
I ran the paper [Daily Express] purely for propaganda, and with no other purpose. Lord Beaverbrook, evidence to Royal Commission March 1948
I read the newspapers avidly. It is my one form of continuous fiction. Aneurin Bevan 1897-1960, British Labour politician, The Times 29th March 1960
RAAF Captures Flying Saucer on Ranch in Roswell Region. Roswell Daily Record headline 8th July 1947
UFO Lands in Suffolk: And that’s Official. News of the World front page
If I had not already been a socialist, the astonishing events at the Daily Mirror in the last few days would have quickly made me one. They are calling the Maxwell Robbery the greatest financial scandal of all time.
He robbed some £300 million from the workers at The Mirror, either from their company or from their pension fund.
All around there is a great tut-tutting. Newspapers which only weeks ago were describing Maxwell as a ‘swashbuckling buccaneer’ now fall over one another to denounce him for what he was – a revolting crook. Nowhere is the embarrassment greater than in the City.
In 1971 a distinguished lawyer and a distinguished accountant declared after a careful examination of Maxwell’s relations with a company called Leasco that Maxwell was not fit to chair a public company.
In the early 1980s Maxwell became chairman of one of the biggest public companies in the country, the British Printing Corporation.
In July 1984, on what we on the Mirror called Black Friday, he became chairman of the Mirror Group of Newspapers – which ran five national newspapers with a combined circulation of four million copies every weekday and six million every Sunday. How could this happen? Paul Foot, article December 1991, ‘They All Knew He Was a Crook’
Nothing can be more discordant than the noise of editors and proprietors of British newspapers howling in unison about their dedication to the freedom of the press. A group of people more dedicated than any other in the country to the distortion and corruption of the truth cover themselves with glory for their truth telling. Loaded down with bias and deceit they proclaim the values of fairness and veracity. Ignoring a million lies, they unearth a rare expose and pretend that it is the norm. From Kelvin MacKenzie of the Sun to Andreas Whittam-Smith of the Independent, the editors and their masters stuff their newspapers with frenzied diatribes in support of their right to do just as they please.
A perfect example of this hypocrisy was the Daily Mirror leading article of 11 January. It started:
‘The freedom of the press is no more no less – and must never be more or less than the inalienable right of every citizen to speak his mind in public without fear of penalty, prosecution or persecution.’
Five days later Tim Minogue, a subeditor on the Sunday Mirror, who had written a marvellous defence in a letter to the UK Press Gazette of those like him who had been summarily sacked without a word of explanation a few weeks earlier, was told he must swear in writing that he will never again denounce his employers in public – or be sacked. Thus did The Mirror management practise the ‘freedom from persecution’ which it preached ...
Competition between newspapers and the desire to bring readers new and fresh material occasionally allows a bold spirit or an inquiring mind to break free from the mould. A whole host of exposés even in the last 10 wretched years, even in some of the most Tory newspapers, are evidence that the rich do not always get everything their own way. For all their reaction and corruption, the newspapers do publish a good deal of information which is hostile and embarrassing to ruling class interests.
It is this material which is constantly threatened by the oppressive measures with which the ruling class protects its privacy and its purse. The law of libel, more vicious in Britain than in any other industrial democracy, and the associated laws of confidence and even copyright, are a constant menace to anyone who threatens the rich (the poor are not protected, since actions under these heads are not eligible for legal aid) ...
Rotten as the press is, it is better without a law which would still further boost the people responsible for its rottenness. Paul Foot, article February 1993, ‘Stop Press’