An article I wrote about Press Gazette for the September/October issue of the NUJ's magazine The Journalist has gone online here . It was very hard to be optimistic about the future of the magazine which has switched to monthly publication after 43 years as a weekly to try and stem financial losses. One point I was trying to make in the article is that I felt it was very important to have an independent magazine covering the national press because they are so partisan when covering each other. They also can't stand criticism from their rivals, as shown by the no holds barred attack on Roy Greenslade by The Independent's media commentator Stephen Glover in his column on Monday. Glover was furious about Greenslade's article on the revamped Independent in his Evening Standardcolumn. Glover wrote: "We pundits are sometimes cruel or unfair. I have certainly written things I later regretted. But I wonder whether I have ever sunk as low as my esteemed colleague Professor Roy Campbell-Greenslade did in his media column in the London Evening Standard last week." Ouch!
Cost-cutting, job losses and the demands of expanding across new media platforms is making it tough for newspaper journalists. There is a very interesting debate here on Roy Greenslade's blog on the digital future and what it is like working in the Telegraph's high-tech newsroom. This is blogging at its best with insiders giving what seems a very authentic, although anonymous, view of working life at the Telegraph. Some give a grim description of the demands being made on staff and claim it is leading to a fall in the quality of journalism and more mistakes getting into the newspaper.
Managements faced with falls in traditional advertising and circulation revenue are demanding more and more from less editorial staff. Kent Messenger Group managing director Chris Bisco has told HoldtheFrontPagethat around half of 61 redundancies sought by KMG would come from editorial, but added: "No papers are closing. We'll be working smarter and consolidating operations. All of our titles will be continuing and at the same time we're expanding our multimedia output."
A comment about a regional newspaper on Press Gazette's story by Patrick Smith that the Teesside Gazette is to increase citizen journalist team to 1,000 claims cost-cutting is leading to more errors. The correspondent said: "I despair of the future of our profession. Profit rules above all else now and subs appear to be out of the equation. Yesterday, a distinguished city daily newspaper include the phrase 'peddle cycle' in its lead story and the other week, I saw the phrase ‘heart and sole of the community' printed. Don't these cost-cutting owners realise that when a paper becomes a laughing stock because of its slipshod content, people stop buying it."
Guardian Media commentator Roy Greenslade has a real go at the News of the World today accusing the paper of burying its apology to Kate McCann, for printing extracts from her diary without permission. He claims it was a mealy-mouthed apology. But in his media column today in The Independent, Stephen Glover accuses The Guardian of the very same sin over its handling of an apology to Tesco. Glover says that even though it was carried on the front page, the Tesco apology was "tucked away" down page and turned to page 32. The truth is all newspapers hate to have to apologise and, perhaps with the exception of The Sun's front page grovel to Elton John, never give the apology the same prominence as the original story.
I am a freelance journalist based in the UK and was deputy editor of Press Gazette, the journalists' magazine, from 1993 until 2006. I want to give an independent view on media matters.
You can contact me with stories, ideas and comments by email at firstname.lastname@example.org You can also follow me on Twitter @jonslattery