Grey Cardigan
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Laying claim to Clarkson and Kath

TOP MARKS to the provincial newspaper in Yorkshire that reported the appointment of Kath Viner thus: “Former Ripon Gazette reporter is new editor of the Guardian”, the new boss having done work experience there in the late 80s. No marks to every pissy little local paper that desperately tried to claim a local angle on the Jeremy Clarkson sacking.

The most risible was the Cheddar Valley Gazette, which promptly posted a story on its website with the immortal headline “Jeremy Clarkson fired just two years after filming in Cheddar Gorge”. Think that’s bad? Read the accompanying article and you come across a final killer paragraph: “James May filmed a sequence with a double-decker bus in Cheddar Gorge. Clarkson is not believed to have been there for the filming.” Don’t blame the poor sod who posted it. Blame the Local World clickbait policy that undermines the credibility of their own newspapers.

So what are we to make of Ms Viner? We must turn to her election address to Guardian colleagues at the in-house hustings. Well, she promises warmth and fun, more foreign reporters and more themed roles, including “correspondents for water, fossil fuels, women’s rights and a 1% correspondent”. (Now help me here – what on earth is a 1% correspondent? Is it someone who keeps count of how many of the Guardian’s editorial executives aren’t privately educated?) But there’s no mention of the role of Lego in story-telling, or of any plans to tackle the bloke in the sports department who’s been sending pictures of his gentleman bits to unsuspecting young ladies. I would have thought that the Guardian wimmin would have had something to say about that.

AT LAST, we have some indication of how much the digital revolution is actually contributing to the coffers of the big newspaper groups. Johnston Press chief executive Ashley Highfield has revealed that in 2014 digital dough made up 17.4% of the company’s advertising revenues.

Perhaps then recognising that print therefore still contributes 83.6%, he then went on to praise the very products JP has ruthlessly dismantled: “Print adds the credibility to the online product and obviously provides a medium many people find preferable to online. Online isn’t always for everyone.”

I’ve said it before, how can a newspaper website possibly survive if there’s no newspaper behind it? At a time when Local World are suddenly investing in print again, maybe the realisation amongst the suits that they’ve almost killed the golden egg-laying goose is sinking in.

THE GOVERNMENT certainly seems to appreciate the crisis with George Osborne announcing in the Budget a consultation on a business rate cut for the local press. Quite how this is supposed to help, I really don’t know. All it will mean is lower costs for the bean-counters and more profit for the shareholders. Unless, of course, restrictions are placed on how the extra money can be used. State-funded journalists, anyone? Nah, didn’t think so…

SPEAKING of which, I thought all my friends in Newsquest who have had their livelihoods taken away might want to know how the boss of their parent company is muddling by.

Gracia Martore, president and CEO of Gannett, earned an eye-watering total of $12.4 million in 2014, compared with a measly $7.9 million in 2013.

Just think of that when you’ve got to go home and tell your wife that you’ve got to take the children out of school, sell the house and move to Wales to work in a ‘subbing’ factory.

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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

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