Oh, the indignity, once more to be overlooked in the Media Guardian 100. While fully understanding why this column is considered not to carry quite the weight of Rupert Murdoch, Lord Rothermere or even Piers Morgan, failing to creep into the list ahead of the ITV Digital Monkey and Jimmy Young replacement Jeremy Vine is, I confess, galling.
It’s the same every year. No matter how pithy are my comments in Press Gazette about those who prowl Medialand – many of them the very people featured in the Media Guardian 100, come to think of it – I always fail to make the cut. Yet such as Katherine Everett arrive with one mighty bound, in her case to land at No.96. And who’s Katherine Everett when she’s at home? Well, I’m not sure about when at home, but when at the office she is controller of new media at the BBC. "Controller" of new media. What’s that when it’s at home?
Trawling through the list, I noticed other omissions that cheered me a little, but not much. A cluster of current editors did not make the hot 100: Tristan Davies at The Independent on Sunday, two from Trinity Mirror – Tina Weaver and Neil Wallis – and neither of the buffeted pair at the helm of the Expresses, plus Peter Hill, one of the most successful of current editors but presumably not considered a serious mover and shaker because he does his moving and shaking at the Daily Star. Hill’s absence meant a hat-trick of failure for Northern and Shell, but I don’t suppose Richard Desmond gave a hoot as The Guardian saw fit to elevate the owner of the self-proclaimed World’s Greatest Newspaper by two places to 27th.
Andrew Neil was nowhere to be found, either, a shock that may have straightened his hair but which probably prompted undisguised glee from Fleet Street to the South of France, but especially in Edinburgh. No doubt the 17 journalists who are to lose their jobs at The Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday following the merging of some of the papers’ departments would have raised a glass or six. Not Aidan Barclay, however, chairman of Press Holdings and publisher Neil’s boss, who helter-skeltered down the list, from 34 to 80, and has circulations plunging just as steeply to contemplate.
Some of those riding high in last year’s list are gone and almost forgotten. Stuart Prebble, failing to match Monkey following the ITV Digital debacle, Chris Tarrant, presumably because not so many people now want to be millionaires, and Peter Stothard, who swapped his editor’s chair at The Times for a more modest one at the Times Literary Supplement, all slipped out of sight and mind. Stothard’s vanishing act should be a salutary warning to those national paper editors who think it is their power of personality or winsome charm that keeps the invitations to such desirable soirÅ½es as those at No.10 and Chequers popping through the letter box. Ex-editors are instantly expendable.
But, despite the vacancies, still no room for moi. Nor Michael Grade, now chairman of the National Lottery but obviously no Thunderball in media terms, nor Terry Wogan, whose ever-burgeoning Radio 2 audience looks likely soon to earn him a return to TV blathering on Channel 5. They, alongside the great Boris Johnson – MP and moonlighting editor of The Spectator, or is it the other way round? – are all bubbling under the hot hundred.
Still, there’s always next year. With any luck, by then they’ll be needing a replacement for Monkey.
Think tanks … ah yes, I remember them well. Five or six hours of intense discussion about the future of the paper, followed by what appeared to be several days of intense "relaxation". You know, the kind of relaxation that, on one occasion, saw the art editor jump from what he thought was a ground-floor window, only to make a man-shaped indentation in the lawn a storey below.
But spectacular though those Daily Mirror executive conferences could be, they were tame affairs indeed compared to the recent Observer summit, which reached such a frenzy of excitement that a full eight column inches were necessary to record it in Private Eye. For those who missed the item, it appears that some Olympics-standard drinking resulted in a bonding session between Observer news editor Andy Malone and business editor Frank Kane. So enthusiastically did they bond that Kane ended up in the fireplace with fractured ribs and Malone injured his leg when collapsing to the floor. In a friendly game of football the following morning, acting review editor Tim Adams had his nose broken.
So impressed was I by this exhibition of what I believed to be a long-dead art that I contacted Observer editor Roger Alton to congratulate him and his staff. Alton had gone to bed before the cabaret began, he told me with what sounded like regret, but had no complaints about the Eye story on grounds of accuracy: "The miracle was that anyone at all pitched up for the five-a-side footie – though, to my shame, I was in the gym at the time and didn’t see the game."
Those as impressed as I by the transformation of The Observer into Sunday’s mustn’t-miss title now realise just how potent creative tension can be when applied properly in a paper. Alton is obviously very much undervalued at No.84 in the Media Guardian 100 and it cannot be long before Malone and Kane are leaping – or hobbling – up the ladder.