Banks' Notes 17.03.06

MUSING as I was on the topsy-turvy, Left-Right-Left-again life of major meejah maestro Roy G the other day, I happened upon a Tom Lehrer recording which seemed to afford an opportunity to burst into song. So, with a sideways glance at the brilliant American cynic’s "Whatever Has Happened to Hubert?" I found myself humming: Whatever became of Roy Greenslade?

Whatever has happened to him?

Once a fellow who wrote mighty essays of note He was cut down in strength to a filler in length Why ever did Roy leave The Guardian?

The Telegraph’s no place for him.

Why’s he looking so solemn? They won’t run his column And Campbell can’t find a home for his spin So Roy placed on The Guardian website What the Tele saw unfit to print Now he’s back where he started, wishing they’d never parted And Rob(ber) Roy STILL makes a mint!

Do I detect that the recent yen for media columns in national newspapers (Guardian, Observer, Independent, Telegraph, Evening Standard et al) is waning? The Guardian’s introduction of a complete meejah page to its finance section has shrunk to what is often little more than half a double column, usually concerning PlayStation or mobile phone stories, or tales of television takeovers that never seem to happen.

Maybe the media is realising that this myopic preoccupation with itself is merely pride-filled preening that turns off "ordinary" readers.

Or perhaps the revival of Press Gazette has filled a need in our industry for news and gossip? I hope so, especially since Max Clifford and I have embarked on rather ticklish negotiations with management to increase our meagre stipends to Blunkett-Of-The-Sun proportions.

THE CASE of the Lancastrian fined £50 for putting junk mail in a litter bin raises interesting questions: the sight of Mrs Banks or me exiting a newsagent’s shop and heading for the nearest bin to dispose of sheaves of free-standing inserts and unwanted sections is not an uncommon one.

But in doing so are we committing an offence in disposing of "household, recyclable material" in a council litter bin? And are we responsible or is it the newspapers from which these noxious contents come from which should bear the blame and the fine?

If I want to stop receiving "junk" mail I can write to the Mailing Preference Service and marketing organisations will refrain from deluging me with their unwanted rubbish. So will it be long, now that fines are being handed out, before demands are made for publishers to organise a similar opt-out for those of us swamped by shoals of unwelcome Dell computer leaflets or Cotton Traders catalogues?

OKAY, I give in: after reading last week’s Press Gazette report on bloggers I, too, have decided to inflict my random and maddeningly inconsequential thoughts at www.banksysblog.co.uk. Should you wish to comment, email me at davidbanks@pressgazette.co.uk.

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