The Canary Wharf readership of The Spectator soared last week as journalists scrambled to study media commentator Stephen Glover’s headline story: The Daily Mirror will be sold within six months.
Cynics reckoned Glover was being cautious: six weeks, more like. For the record suggests Trinity Mirror would not need much prayer and fasting to find a buyer for its burdensome national titles.
Look what happened when the Express was up for grabs. There were five immediate bidders. Wannabe press barons fall from every branch (or, please yourself, emerge from under every stone). And suddenly, there is a new boss, hardly heard of, never mind predicted.
Which of the following names tripped from Fleet Street tongues before a flash of lightning revealed them as new proprietors? Roy Thomson? Rupert Murdoch? Conrad Black? Victor Matthews? David Stevens? Tiny Rowland? Clive Hollick? Richard Desmond? Robert Maxwell? Tony O’Reilly?
Would-be press barons rush in where wouldn’t-be press barons fear to tread. Vanity is the spur. There is no quicker path to power and the A-list. Overnight, you’re taking tea
at No.10. Doffing toppers in the Royal Enclosure. Selecting a Latin motto. Swapping mobile numbers with Mark Bolland and Vanessa Feltz.
And yet we continue to be amazed at the response when the For Sale sign goes up.
So, Mirror, Mirror on the wall – who’ll be next to own you all?
Associated? With News International in control of four nationals, the Competition Commission could hardly block a buy-up that would give Rothermere no more nationals than Murdoch (assuming The People was sold on).
Desmond? His plus-point, as a generous Labour donor, is that he would guarantee the party’s old faithful newspaper would become more faithful than of late. Another masochistic regional chain? No chance. The Return of David Montgomery? All he has to do is find some soft-hearted venture capitalists. A Piers Morgan consortium? Anything’s possible.
The likeliest new owner may again be some unfamiliar outsider. The Mirror is still an exciting brand. And the only popular daily with a 21st century look.
And of course it was the nation’s favourite a generation ago. Mind you, no paper, having dropped from first (as also did the Mail and Express) has clambered back again.
Perhaps Stephen Glover, one of the talented entrepreneurs who founded The Independent, will enter a bid, if only to prove himself right. He has six months to do it.