When Richard Addis took over as editor at the Daily Express, he infamously likened the reshuffle of staff he then undertook to cleaning out an old sock drawer.
But that was, let’s see, three editors ago.
The new man, Peter Hill, would envy the amount of hosiery Addis had to fiddle with. He’ll find a few have got lost in the wash since then. Staffing levels in those pre-Desmond days make today’s employee roster at Ludgate House look like Saddam Hussein’s Christmas card list: small, and dwindling fast.
Still, Hill’s achievements at the Daily Star are worth taking a close look at. After dipping under the half million mark in 1999, circulation peaked earlier this year at a remarkable 930,000.
That’s a modern success story bordering on the miraculous, for which he deserves full credit.
He’ll be well aware, though, that the Express is a different breed of newspaper. Getting its sale back up above the million mark – still two and a half times fewer than the Daily Mail – is one of his first targets.
Yet his biggest challenge may be to persuade his boss that you can only cut editorial budgets so far to pay for marketing. After that you’re in danger of having nothing worthwhile to market.
If Hill can’t do that, he might find himself searching the sock drawer in vain to find enough matching pairs.