I couldn't help but think of some regional newspaper publishers when reading a brilliant column by Charles Moore (top) in the Daily Telegraph about the rise of "managerialists" and the "bloodless bean-counters".
Managerialists are defined as: "They are not interested in the content of the
work their organisation performs. They are a caste of people who think they
know how to manage. They have studied 'The 24-hour MBA'. There is a clear
benefit from their management, for them: they arrange their own very high
salaries and bonuses. Then they can leave quickly with something that looks
good on the CV. The benefit to the company is less clear."
Moore writes: "With the rise of the managerialist comes a special language – a weird
combination of semi-spiritual banality (“unlocking energies”), euphemism,
and legalese. If you want to see the difference between people steeped in
their trade and people steeped in managerialism, compare the testimony, at
the Leveson Inquiry, of the Murdochs, father and son. The wicked old man
spoke in the language, simultaneously sharp and blunt, of people who know
and run their business. The evasive son adopted the locutions taught in
business-school courses, honed by big law firms, footnoted by anxious
A contact who used to work in a large organisation tells Moore: " 'Consultation' is a word
meaning that managerialists tell you what they are going to do, 30 days
before they do it”.
Moore adds: "The people who tell you they are 'passionate about' X or Y are usually the
most bloodless ones in the outfit.
"In such cultures, just as the experts, the professionals and the technicians
bitterly resent the managerialists for neither understanding nor caring, so
the managerialists secretly detest the professionals who, they believe, get
in the way of their rationalisations. They are desperate to 'let go' of such
people. Very unhappy organisations result."
Moore concludes: "No one sensible thinks that a large organisation can exist without being
managed. Old stagers in companies, regiments, professions and, in my own
experience, newspapers, easily over-romanticise their achievements and are
unfair about the poor “bean-counters” who make the sums add up. But
management should not dominate. As Lord Slim, who brilliantly led the
British Army through the Burma campaign, put it: 'Managers are necessary;
leaders are essential.' We now have unprecedented numbers of the former, not
so many of the latter."
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