Grey Cardigan
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The Heat Is On…

YOU MIGHT have noticed that it’s been a bit warm of late. As well as causing productivity problems for those of us who work from home (I write this with my feet in a child’s paddling pool and with a bag of frozen peas on my head. For some reason the child’s mother is threatening to call the police), it has also caused difficulties for the dozens of newspaper staffs working from new, and almost certainly smaller, newsrooms for the first time in summer.

Viewed on a cold, damp November day, these offices for downsized staff must have seemed quite cosy. I’m sure that the issue of air-conditioning hardly arose. And, given the cheapskate nature of the bastard bean-counters signing the lease, you can bet that it certainly wouldn’t have been paid for as an optional extra.

Thus we have poor bloody reporters (sorry, content curators) fainting behind the filing cabinets while sweating like Liam Gallagher waiting for Jeremy Kyle to open the DNA results envelope.

One editor of my acquaintance, observing his quite literal pool of staff earlier this week, took pity on them and sent out for a box of Mivvis which were then distributed throughout this shoebox of an office above a fishmonger’s shop. On Tuesday he submitted his expenses and on Wednesday he got a call from the centralised group accounts department.

“We see that you are claiming recompense from the company for 24 ice cream comestibles which were consumed by company stakeholders,” said the Dalek on the line.

“That’s right,” he said. “Is there a problem with that?”

“Well, HR are a little unhappy about you distributing foodstuffs from an unauthorised source because if someone fell ill the company could be liable, but that’s not why I’m calling. You see, the… what were they… ah, yes, Mivvis could be classed as a benefit in kind and therefore a taxable item. Could you possibly let me have a list of those staff who consumed one?”

My friend is not a volatile man. That is why he is still in a job and I’m not. However, the kettle was now coming to the boil.

“Do you really expect me to go round the office asking who had an ice lolly and who didn’t, just in case HMRC decide to have a day off from trying to get Google to pay some tax and instead investigate the liability due on a £1.20 frozen comestible?

“You can fuck off, and anyway, they’ve eaten all the evidence…”

He now awaits retribution.

HOORAY! Treble flat whites and quinoa cookies all round! Guardian News & Media, publisher of the doomed newspaper, grew digital revenues by 28.9% in the year to the end of March 2013.

Boo! The print and online operation still managed to lose £31 million, or over half a million pounds a week. That’s half a million fucking pounds a week.

Those made redundant by the group will be reassured to know that their pain is being shared by the people whose stewardship of the company resulted in the loss of their livelihoods. Editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger opted to take a 10% pay cut, so only received a remuneration package of £491,000. Chief executive Andrew Miller, who also took a noble pay cut, took home £739,000. Solidarity, brothers.

You have to wonder how long the Guardian – once a fine, historic newspaper – will be allowed to limp along now that the Digital First (and all for fucking free) mantra has destroyed the newsprint model. And the more you look at the Guardian operation, the more you wonder what business these people are really in.

There’s the Guardian coffee shop the company has opened in Shoreditch (where you can’t, of course, buy a copy of the Guardian) to the multitude of courses being offered on its website. How To Pitch Your Book? That’s £220, please. How To Start Up A Street Food Business? Just £129. Investigative Journalism? A pricey £499, but then it is a full weekend. (How to be an investigative journalist in just two days? The mind boggles.)

You get the distinct feeling that this is a company that no longer wants to have anything to do with the grubby business of printing. Rusbridger caused a stir when he suggested, a couple of years back, that the Guardian might one day cease to exist in print. Sadly that day looks a damn sight closer now.

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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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