Thursday 30 December 2010

How 'soul-sucking fiends' took over the local press

Press Gazette's Grey Cardigan has a Christmas message for the regional press and questions why it's being run by accountants:

"ANYWAY, Christmas has a lot to answer for. Some time in the dim and distant past, well-meaning relatives carefully gift-wrapped a toy abacus and slipped it into Santa’s sack addressed to little Michael Pelosi, Master John Fry or the infant Adrian Jeakins.

These small boys, enraptured by the clanking of the brightly-coloured beads, went on to become accountants, eventually happened upon the newspaper industry and now run Northcliffe Media, Johnston Press and Archant.

And that, in my humble, personal opinion, is where it all went wrong.

This is a creative business, dependant for success on imagination, inspiration and risk-taking. Accountancy, with the best will in the world, isn’t. The grey suited bean-counters aren’t a stereotypical myth; they’re the Dementors of the business world, soul-sucking fiends capable of draining away your happiness.

Now I’m not saying that the gentlemen named above are completely to blame for the industry’s decline. We must also look at Sly Bailey of Trinity Mirror (former tele-sales girl; no previous Christmas misdemeanours known of) and Paul Davidson of Newsquest (who, judging by the way he refuses to communicate with the rest of the industry – or his own staff – was probably a Trappist monk. Actually, given his soaring salary at a time when the rest of his employees are on a pay freeze, plus the ending of their final salary pension scheme while his own pension payments have rocketed, I think we can safely put him down as a rather seedy used car salesman in a previous life).

This thing of ours has always thrived on flair and showmanship, extravagance and extroverts.

Our current crop of bosses might be best buddies of the corporate shareholders (not to mention their own bank managers), but over the past 10 years the dead hand of fiscal prudence certainly hasn’t done our newspapers any favours. We’ve lost thousands of jobs, millions of pounds in revenue and the ‘service’ we provide to our remaining readers is a pitiful shadow of what it used to be and still should be.

Shame on you, the lot of you."

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