The Leader

 

An inspiring lesson in good Manners.

Another truth universally acknowledged is that incoming editors are programmed to rubbish the old regime. What impels them is what drove Pol Pot to rewind Cambodia back to Year Zero, the better to clear the territory for a monument to his magnificence.

Such vanities might have been expected to apply in spades and diamonds to the installation of editors netted by the current Northcliffe Newspapers trawl of Fleet Street for senior executives frustrated in their ambition to be Number One.

So students of conditioned editorial reflexes will have been confounded by the behaviour of Terry Manners in his opening weeks in the chair of the Western Daily Press.

The new editor has clearly left behind not only Fleet Street but one of Fleet Street’s least lovable traditions.

Advertising for feature writers, reporters and subs, Manners handsomely acknowledges the successes of the paper under his predecessor. His ad reflects the remarkable run of awards won under Ian Beales, editor for the last 20 years. This self-confident generosity must encourage potential recruits to join Manners in "our next big step forward".

The Manners trail is in the steps of Eric Price, creator of the modern Western Daily Press, who moved from the brilliant Daily Express of the Sixties and applied its techniques to raise the circulation of the Bristol morning from 12,000 to 80,000.

The Northcliffe initiative is good for an industry in which traffic between London and the regions in either direction is not as healthy as it was.

None of Fleet Street’s current editors has been in command of a regional daily. How things have changed since The Sunday Times recruited Harold Evans (ex- Northern Echo), the Daily Mail brought in Guy Schofield (ex-Yorkshire Post), The Times was led by Sir William Halcy (ex-Manchester Evening News), Eddy Shah signed Brian MacArthur (ex-Western Morning News) to launch Today, and the Murdoch Sun was founded with four ex-regional editors in its dream team.

There is much that Manners, a master of his art and craft, can bring to Bristol. And there is much that Bristol can teach him about working miracles with limited resources.

But sure as Manners can not only demonstrate expertise, they can also dredge channels to improve the flow into Fleet Street of balanced young journalists who have trained in depth in the real world of the regional dailies, closer by far than Fleet Street to the heartbeat of the human race.

Now that can’t be bad.

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