Kelner drops a clanger at staff leaving do

Belatedly, Axegrinder has received a fascinating account of a mass editorial leaving party at The Independent following the latest round of redundancies at the paper.

On his blog, Charles Arthur, a former Independent man who now edits The Guardian’s technology supplement, was an eyewitness to the send-off party for eight staff with 60 cumulative years’ experience working on the paper.

Arthur recounts: “The pay-offs were massive ‒ as in six-figure massive. The leaving pages went on and on.”

He said that long faces weren’t helped by the opening remarks in editor Simon Kelner’s speech which apparently fell rather flat.

Kelner reportedly said: “I was walking around the newsroom this week thinking, blimey, people are still here after 6 o’clock, and writing away! They must have loads of exclusives! Then I looked, and discovered they’re all writing leaving pages!”

One of the longest serving staff to go, Jason Bennetto, used the opportunity to recount a list of “things I won’t miss about working for The Independent” which included: “Having my exclusive story knocked off the front page by a picture of a butterfly.”

Arthur said: “Not long after I joined in 1995, the Indy had a summer redundancy sweep which was short and vicious. People complained then that the staffing was being cut to the bone. Well, in those days there were two health correspondents, a social services correspondent, a science writer, technology writer, another science writer, religious affairs writer, transport writer, labour writer, environment writer… and they were all different people.

“Now there’s a health writer, science writer, environment writer. Nobody’s doing religion, technology, transport, labour. It’s not just cut to the bone ‒ it’s down to the heart and lungs, kept going in some sort of vat with the brain possibly attached.”

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