Bob dances around the burning bush

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In these difficult times, we’re all under pressure to talk things up – like those poor Northcliffe editors who are having to pretend that centralised subbing and one-edition, overnight printing was all their idea in the first place, oh yes.

But what are we to make of the extraordinary comments of Bob Satchwell, former regional daily editor and now executive director of the Society of Editors? Addressing a group of journalism students in Coventry, Satchwell opined that the economic downturn could prove a “blessing in disguise” because it would shake up the newspaper industry.

“This is the most exciting time for young people to be getting into journalism, even though jobs are hard to come by at the moment,” he said. “In two to three years’ time, journalists will once again enjoy a land of milk and honey”.

Once again? Tell me when we’ve ever inhabited those Elysian fields? Like every other regional journalist, my salary has gone backwards for the past decade, any grudging increase always falling behind the rate of inflation – in effect a constant, year-on-year pay cut.

And what of that glorious future, so confidently predicted? We need only turn to the comments of Johnston Press chairman Roger Parry, quoted in the Financial Times: “I have three predictions for the local newspaper industry in the UK by 2014: total local advertising income will be less than it is today; many local daily titles will have been converted into weeklies; and the number of journalists and sales people will be down 50 per cent.”

Milk and honey? You must be fucking joking.

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