New Daily Mirror editor Richard Wallace has signalled his intention to concentrate more on appealing to readers rather than “our friends in the media” by axing several sections, writes Dominic Ponsford.
Daily gossip column, The Scurra, has been dropped and columnists Jonathan Freedland and Matthew Norman, brought in by previous editor Piers Morgan to take the Mirror upmarket, have also gone.
Christopher Hitchens also loses his column but will continue to report from the United States on the US presidential elections.
The departure of senior features writer Jenny Johnston to the Daily Mail was also revealed this week and there has been speculation that the Mirror under Wallace is less interested in feature spreads.
According to off-the-record sources at the paper, there is still room for “big reads” but with a greater emphasis on real-life stories.
Wallace is understood to be keen to strengthen the Mirror’s North and Northwest editions and for the paper to appeal more to working women with families. New additions over the next couple of weeks are expected to reflect this.
According to Mirror sources, the new regime believes that in the past few years the paper has been appealing to “our friends in the media”, rather than readers, and this has been reflected in circulation figures.
The Scurra column was produced on a full-time basis by Dominic Midgley and former Punch editor James Steen.
Midgley is understood to be working on a book about Roman Abramovich. Steen said: “Since the column has finished, we’ve had the most incredible response from the most unexpected quarters – from influential people in showbiz to politics.
“It was very much a Piers column. It was his idea originally and a new editor has come in with new ideas.
Richard likes to end things on a high and that’s the way it goes.”
One Mirror insider suggested that saving money may have been a key reason for some of the changes.
Trinity Mirror chief executive Sly Bailey plans to make savings across the company of £35 million next year.
Over nearly 10 years as Mirror editor, Morgan won awards and plaudits but he presided over a period when circulation fell from around 2.5m to its current total of 1,833,980.