SO here you are. A young and thrusting sub who’s battled their way up from the provinces to the heady heights of what used to be Fleet Street. You’re now sitting on the back bench of a national newspaper … and not just any national newspaper. You’re working for the Independent’s baby sister, the i, perhaps one of the most exciting newspaper projects of recent years.
And on a historic day, the front page is yours; your chance to literally make a splash. But what to do? It’s a picture-rich environment, almost an embarrassment of riches. What can you do to make your page a collector’s item, to clinch its place amongst those classic treatments referred back to in years to come?
Ten minutes later the job is done. One mouse-click and the front page is off to the press, bearing the historic heading: ‘Rain fails to dampen Jubilee celebrations”.
Dear God. With wit and flair like that, surely we need have no worries about the future of the industry?
THEY say that if you stand by the river long enough, you see another dodgy Sun Tzu quote float by. Enter stage left Lord Sugar and Jeremy Clarkson playing pooh sticks with Piers Morgan’s absymal viewing figures on Twitter last week. (Have I mentioned that the porky poseur still owes me two grand?)
Apparently, across the whole of America, just 39,000 people tuned in to his CNN programme which amounts to fewer viewers, as Clarkson gleefully points out, than BBC daytime fodder like Bargain Hunt and Homes Under The Hammer.
As our inspirational headline writer on the i would no doubt say: ‘It’s gonna end in Piers”.
I’VE been in their position myself, so I do sympathise with all those regional editors forced by fear for their salaries and pensions to utter glib platitudes on behalf of inept and unthinking managements.
Luckily, some others occasionally speak out. Following the Johnston Press masterplan of taking daily newspapers weekly, Tony Clarke, Northampton’s former Labour MP, took to the Northampton Chronicle & Echo’s own website to state the case for the dissenters: ‘It’s the staff of the Chron and us as a town who will now pay for the mismanagement of this bunch of clueless chancers who wouldn’t even know where Northampton was even if the sat navs on their executive pool cars brought them here by mistake.’
Well I think that just about sums it up.
GREAT line from Rory Bremner to fellow newspaper reviewer Polly Toynbee, submerged beneath acres of Jubilee newsprint on the Andrew Marr programme: ‘You must feel like Richard Dawkins on Christmas Day.”
OUR old friend Professor Greenslade digs up a choice anecdote from Ian Skidmore regarding those much-maligned copytakers.
‘I remember putting copy about icons to The Times. I got stroppy when the copytaker queried a fact. Foolishly I demanded to know if he knew more about ikons than the expert I was quoting. ‘Probably,’ he said ‘ My book on icons was well received.’” Marvellous stuff!
This column originally appeared In Press Gazette – Journalism Weekly, the new weekly digital magazine. To receive a free copy and read Grey Cardigan every Thursday sign up here.