The Grey Cardigan 20.01.06

ONE OF the most valuable lessons I was ever taught was to always look after the secretaries.

You
see, editors and managers might think that they run the business on a
day-to-day basis, but it is their secretaries who are the real
deal-makers and strategists. They make things happen. And that is why I
never forget a birthday and I always send a bottle of wine over when I
see a cabal of them in the pub.

This modest expense buys me
access and information way beyond my remit. I know who’s in and who’s
out. I know the management mood. And when I’m summoned by the Boy
Wonder I know before setting foot in his palatial office whether it’s
good news or bad.

It also allows me to share with you an extract
from a top secret briefing document presented to board members by the
consultants in charge of the Evening Beast’s cost-cutting programme.

The
title of the document tells you a great deal. It is called the “Initial
Programme Briefing Senior Staff Orientation for Editor/MD/FD”

and
is couched in the impenetrable language known as management bollocks.
And under the title “Quantitative Analysis Methodology” it spells out
the formula for our brave new tomorrow thus: CONTENT OUTPUT divided by
INPUT RESOURCE APPLIED equals MEASURE OF RESOURCE APPLIED PER UNIT OF
OUTPUT.

Got it? Come on, it’s simple. A newspaper needs 100
stories a day to fill its pages. A story takes 22 minutes to write. A
reporter should therefore write 20 stories a day. A newspaper therefore
only requires five reporters.

I don’t know why we haven’t thought
of this before. You can bleat on about the good old days all you want,
but Harry Evans (pictured above) never sussed this out when he was
wasting all that time on his silly Thalidomide campaign.

I SEEM
to remember that theguardian used to be particularly sniffy about the
phenomenon of “laddism” and quite vitriolic about its principal
purveyor, Loaded magazine.

After all, who wants the newsstands
littered with pictures of naked ladies and childish features like “The
Crisp World Cup”, wherein a group of experts sampled all known
varieties of extruded potato concentrate and tried to decide which was
best.

Imagine then my surprise to find across the cover and four
pages of a recent G2 supplement “The Great British Crisp Test”, wherein
a group of experts sampled all known varieties of extruded potato
concentrate and tried to decide which was best.

I suppose we
shouldn’t be too hard on G2. At least there are signs of life there,
not a thing that can often be said of the disappointingly bland main
section of the paper.

At least The Obfucking- server, (right)

as its potty-mouthed editor would probably call it, has so far managed the transition to Berliner without dulling down.

IT
IS gratifying to note that most of our newspapers have behaved
impeccably in getting the message across to the general public that not
all Muslims are a threat to national security.

But let’s be
honest, who hasn’t felt vaguely uncomfortable about spending too long
in the company of people who are clearly from the Middle East. You
never know, do you? That friendly bloke making small talk on the
commuter train might just turn out to be an imposter bent on wreaking
havoc and destruction.

Like the News of the World’s fake sheikh.

You can contact me, should you be minded, at thegreycardigan@gmail.com

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