Grey Cardigan

Beware the killer goats, but blame the cost-cutting owners

MUCH HILARITY on Twitter this week over an extraordinary correction in the Brighton Argus which went viral concerning an interview with Brighton Science Festival director Richard Robinson. It reads, in part:

We would like to clarify that the quote ‘I have become increasingly convinced that we are heading for a disastrous confrontation and that the 21st century will be remembered for a terrible war between mankind and goats’ was a reader question and not a response from Mr Robinson.

The next paragraph: ‘People often underestimate how dangerous a goat can be – I personally know six people who have become severely injured by goats, and the annual death toll racked up by goats is over 2,000,000′, is also a reader question and not a response from Mr Robinson.”

OK, funny ha ha. Killer goats wiping out mankind. Brilliant.

Well forgive me if I’m not rolling on the fucking floor laughing, but there is a serious point to this. And that is how did the original story get into the newspaper in the first place without someone spotting what was clearly a quite ridiculous error? Sadly, I suspect that it wasn’t properly proofed, and that no second (or ideally third) pair of eyes were cast over it. It smacks of a writer filling a templated box and then pushing the button to send it to print. 

This is the future, my friends. The Brighton Evening Argus used to be a decent newspaper, but few titles have seen such a cataclysmic fall from grace. In the early 1980s it sold over 100,000 copies a night. The latest ABC figures show it shifting a little over 15,000. This is not the fault of the poor bastards who cling on there, but that of owners Newsquest, who have systematically ripped the guts out of it.

I suppose we should just be thankful that such a dreadful error didn’t involve a legal issue, rather than just something that has made a once proud newspaper the focus of worldwide derision.

WHILE we’re on about scumbag owners, step forward Johnston Press, who are planning to cut the mileage rate for staff using their own cars for business from 45p a mile to 25p a mile. To demonstrate how unreasonable this is, even the taxman regards 45p as an acceptable rate.

What really sticks in the craw about this despicable deduction is that the company has been busy selling off its offices, so that many staff now have no permanent base and are expected to work on the move. A cynic would suspect that this has seen mileage costs increase dramatically, sparking panic amongst the bean-counters and resulting in the sudden cut. Sometimes you do wonder if the left hand even knows where the right hand lives, never mind what it’s doing.

I WAS on the phone to a mate who edits a regional daily this week when I suddenly heard singing in the background. “What’s going on,” I asked. “Have your bosses finally been embarrassed into giving the staff a pay rise?”

Don’t be silly,” he said. “It’s the ad team. Every time someone makes a sale, they all have to burst into this appalling motivational song.”

Such is the curse of open plan (and now much condensed) offices. I suffered similarly on the Evening Beast when a David Brent clone of an ad manager decided to install a bell in the sales department that had to be rung to celebrate any minor success. I just didn’t get it. Why do you need to make such a fuss of people just doing the bare minimum of what they’re paid for? They haven’t won the X-Factor. If I pop into the greengrocer and buy a bag of spuds, he doesn’t start ringing a fucking bell while counting out my change. I never see the newsagent doing a little knee-bend and fist pump when I buy a packet of fags. It’s stupid and pathetic.

Needless to say, that Evening Beast bell didn’t last long. Did you know that your local scrapyard will pay you £2.50 a kilo for yellow brass? 

TORQUAY Police tweet from last night:An Historic moment for the team. We have just published our own story directly to @TQHeraldExpress website with a picture. Amazing.”

So that’s the police, posting their own stories directly onto the website of the Torquay Herald Express, without any intervention or examination by journalists. Amazing? No, fucking terrifying.

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Grey Cardigan

Written by Grey Cardigan

The Grey Cardigan has been in newspapers since the days of hot metal and expense accounts. After a lengthy career as chief sub on several regional newspapers, plus a multitude of shifts on the nationals, he was appointed editor of the Evening Beast in 2009 before being ignominiously 'rationalised' last year. He is currently collecting gas in jam jars in case the Russians cut us off. @thegreycardigan

  • Chris Woolley

    Grey, I picked up on the police story too. What are the chances of there being any truth out there? But consider, circulation started falling before the cost cuts. The retrenchment was a response, not a cause. You have to look at society and technology for your killers.

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