Richard Desmond’s philosophy appears to be to concentrate on putting resources into two or three good ‘properties’ for the papers, like celebrity columnists, leaving newsgathering to agencies.
He is planning a £30m promotional spend this year and has invested £15m in the Daily Star on increased pagination and extras.
Editors Chris Williams and Peter Hill, plus executive editor of the Sunday Express, Michael Pilgrim, are said to be backing the strategy. But they already have their hands full deflecting a nightly battle with Desmond over editorial content.
He is spending around 90 minutes each night on the newsroom floors of the titles, telling staff what to do and trying to change headlines, claim insiders.
"He has caught proprietor fever," said a senior journalist. "He loves being asked to No.10, seeing Alastair Campbell and William Hague coming into the office, and talking on a special phone to Murdoch MacLennan, [managing director of Associated Newspapers], so that everyone can hear him."