NOW HERE’S a funny thing. Yesterday the Mirror ran a story claiming that Jeremy Clarkson had used the word ‘nigger’ when reciting the ‘Eeny, meeny. miney, moe’ nursery rhyme in an unbroadcast Top Gear clip from 2013, a charge he denied and then later sort of admitted.
When I saw that those notorious lentil-munchers at the Guardian had launched an online poll into whether or not Clarkson should be sacked by the BBC, my first reaction was: “What’s the point? We all know what the outcome will be.” The petrol-headed poltroon is, after all, high up on the hit list of any self-respecting Leftie.
But wait, what’s this? At the time of writing (late Thursday), the people have spoken and only 38% want him sacked as opposed to 62% who think he should keep his job. There are two conclusions to be drawn from this. Firstly, I should not resort to lazy stereotypes when describing a newspaper’s readers. Secondly, newspaper and website editors should remember that they cannot tame or manipulate the digital audience quite as easily as they can their print readers.
AS AN editor I always worked just inside the limits of the law. If it was legal (or if we thought we could get away with it) then we published every name and detail in a story. However, I am glad that Jeremy Clifford, editor of the daily newspapers in Leeds, resisted the temptation to print the name of the 15-year-old boy charged with stabbing to death teacher Ann Maguire. He could have done so; a loophole in the law relating to minors who have yet to appear in court meant that the name was safely in the public domain. He chose not to, a decision probably vindicated by the fact that the Sun was the only mainstream media outlet to identify the kid. Why? I have no idea. It was hardly going to sell them thousands of copies, was it?
Clifford sensibly highlighted this in drawing a distinction between the national and regional press: “This absolutely underlines the differences between the practices of the national media and the local media which were exemplary in their behaviour and which should therefore not be subject to any modifications to press freedom.” Good point, well made.
IT’S TREBLES all round at Johnston Press, where chief executive Ashley Highfield and finance director David King have been declared eligible for bumper bonuses. Highfield will be able to earn up to 180% of his £400,000 salary while King could get 150% of his £250,000 pay cheque.
The bonus opportunity is dependent on meeting targets for digital revenue, audience growth, advertiser and staff satisfaction and profit targets – i.e. sacking staff, slashing resources and shutting down offices.
Unfortunately, the ‘staff satisfaction’ metric won’t take into account the views of the company’s photographers because… err… they’ve sacked most of them. All snappers on JP titles in the North West, the Midlands and now Northern Ireland have been made redundant, with those subsequently offered freelance contracts less than happy with the derisory offer of just £12.50 a job and no travelling expenses. But hey, if it helps Highfield trouser a million quid, who am I to interfere?
Time and time again we’ve seen this across every group in the country. In comes a new boss, the business is butchered, board bonuses are pocketed, and then they all fuck off to their foreign villas while the poor bastards left behind lose their jobs, their homes and their marriages. It really does make me want to puke.
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