Banks' Notes

By David Banks

It ill behoves a new columnist to say so, but say it I will: columnists are trouble.

They cost money, get too big for their boots and keep news out of the paper. So why have the nationals gone comment crazy?

Allison
Pearson, pinched from the Evening Standard to be the Mail’s new Lynda
Lee- Potter, joins Sun defector Richard Littlejohn and dear old Max
Hastings (when he’s not doing the other day job at The Guardian).
Little wonder there was no room in the mink-lined Dacre dungeon for
Simon Heffer, newly defected to the Telegraph.

But that’s almost
insignificant compared to Veronica Wadley’s wall of wise words at the
Standard. Ms Wadley mobilised The Independent’s Johann Hari, The
Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland and ex-Telegraph city editor Neil
Collins. And they’re just the reinforcements. Anne McElvoy, Nick Cohen,
Victor Lewis- Smith and the rest are already sniping from the trenches.

A
recent Peter Preston piece in The Observer (a column disgracefully full
of information by Fleet Street standards) provided a “news v columns”
count from the 76-page relaunch edition of the Standard – 14 pages of
news against 13 of columns.

So how does that square with the
words of the Standard’s managing director, Bert Hardy, who celebrated a
boost in the paper’s July sales courtesy of the London bombing campaign
with: “News sells evening newspapers in a far greater manner than it
does national dailies. Evening papers must have news first and
foremost.”

Bert had hardly got the words out of his mouth before
the Standard was boasting another “name”: Laura Topham (pictured), two
months earlier Press Gazette’s Student Journalist of the Year and now a
byline-plus-headshot in the capital!

Tomorrow’s readers, it is
argued, get their facts from TV’s rolling news and the internet – and
even from those bits of fluff between the discs on Kiss and Capital.

Me? I comb the Tube and trains for abandoned comment-free Metros.

And, if it isn’t a mite disingenuous to say so, to hell with the columnists.

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: Ich bin mein Berliner – or at leastI WILL bin it if Rusbridger doesn’t supersize G2 back to normal!

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