Friday, June 27, 2008

Trouble at the Labourgraph

Today sees another round of sackings at the loss making Telegraph. Rumours abound that Heffer is off to the Daily Mail affronted by the spiritual decline of the paper – as well as an unsympathetic attitude to his hero Enoch Powell from the editor Will Lewis. The £10 million loss last year was they claim due to the move to the Victoria newsroom and the website’s multi-media revamp.
This year’s losses should be more limited – though the website is still not making money for anyone except ITN who supply content. Morale is low, even the Barclay Brother’s consigliere, Andrew Neil, was reported in the Indy on Sunday saying “The bloodletting at the Telegraph has gone on too long. After any takeover there is an element of blood on the carpet, but you have to go forward then and take your staff with you.” Admininstration staff on the foreign desk were fired Wednesday, 8 more staff hacks face the sack.

The paper’s editorial line is confusingly mixed, for a paper that was once considered the house paper of the Conservative Party it harbours a number of hacks who are determined enemies of Cameron. It is seeking to gain readers from the Daily Mail by emulating the Daily Mail. The only problem being the Mail does it so much better.

The other problem is the problem faced by all newspapers worldwide. Office based readers increasingly read their paper online and do not buy the inky dead tree version for the commute. They are also more promiscuous in their reading choices. The better the website, the less attractive the paper. Guido spoke last night at the journalist’s Frontline Club on a panel with digital hacks from the Press Gazette, Guardian and the Telegraph. As digerati they were a bit more clued up than most hacks – so they were very pessimistic. Guido of course cheerfully reminded them that he was the only one on the panel from a profitable publisher…

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Who’s Miserable Now?

Polly is moaning about the Daily Mail, The Sun and “the dominant voices of the blogosphere” being malicious pessimistic miserablists. Is she having a laugh?

Guido miserable? Has she seen the polls? Labour polling the worst since polling began, Gordon the most hated Prime Minister in history with the most negative ratings ever? If Quentin Letts and Richard Littlejohn fancy coming out to lunch we would probably all die laughing… (don’t get your hopes up Polly).

UPDATE : According to a co-conspirator Polly said on Radio 5 this morning that she earns £117,000 for her column.

Totalled

Blogging was light yesterday as it was a busy day for Guido. Met David Farrar of Kiwiblog fame. He is in London on a European pub tour for an IDU meeting in Paris, it ended up being a bit of an afternoon session in the sunshine down the pub. Went from there with Mike Smithson of PoliticalBetting and LabourHome’s Jag Singh to Iain Dale’s Total Politics launch party to see if Guido could drink the place out of Pimms. Cheers to Lord Ashcroft.

Got increasingly “tired” and incoherent as the night wore on. Everyone wanted to see the tag. Crowd was mainly media-political rather than politicians. Avoided Mark Oaten, argued with Angus MacNeil, congratulated Sunny Hundal on making Liberal Conspiracy work (was clearly more than merry by this point), harangued a certain former Newsnight producer, worried at how much weight Jon Craig has lost – he was delicately sipping a glass of champagne – on the way out Jonathan Isaby’s girlfriend told Guido to stop bullying him.

Total Politics bills itself as being positive about politics and politicians, as such it is aimed squarely at the political class. Which is very different from the way Guido takes aim at them…

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Case for Elite Politics and Not Listening to the People

Fresh from telling people that if only they were as clever as him they would vote for Ken Livingstone, Steve Richards has a pricelessly revealing piece in The Indy this morning. It reveals a core trait shared with many fellow pundits who are fully paid-up members of the political class – an elitist contempt for democracy.

Richards accepts that a referendum on Europe would be lost in Britain, he blames this rightly on “distant bureaucrats that run the EU, apparently incapable of producing documents that are comprehensible to voters. We cannot hold these officials to account if we do not know what they are doing or supposed to do.” Does he accept this signals that Europe needs to be reformed? No, it means a referendum should not be held.Bizarrely he goes on to argue that politicians “are so in touch with the mood of voters they are fearful of their own convictions… Party lines are already blurred because leaders fear the voters too much. If they became less neurotically attentive, politics would become more interesting and, I suspect, more progressive.” There we have it. In print. If only politicians ignored the voters, the policies he favours could be implemented. If only the voters weren’t in the way…

The arrogance and contempt for the will of the people that Steve Richards shows again is breath taking, he makes no bones about it, he wants a progressive tyranny run by people who think like him. He knows the voters do not want the same, so he thinks politicians should ignore the voters. He laments that this is “unfashionable”, on the contrary, it remains a core belief of many members of the political class in the Westminster Village and in Brussels. Is it any surprise that an anti-politics culture is growing as people and politicians become disengaged?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Online Market Share and Mind Share Means Profit Share

Guido gets asked to speak at more and more dead-tree-press industry events, the stump speech has changed over the last year or so, whereas in the past Guido has said basically we (bloggers / new media) are going to have your (columnist’s / newspaper’s ) breakfast. The line has evolved even as the mediasaurs embrace blogging. The numbers tell the story:

Across the Atlantic old media is dealing with imploding advertising revenue and decreased mind share. After the New York Times and Washington Post the most powerful media force in politics according to academic studies is the Drudge Report, courted by Democrats and Republicans alike A three man operation versus old media titans?

Guido, with only part-time technical help and the occasional intern doing research, is run at a profit – unlike The Independent, Guardian or Telegraph – giving their online operations a good run for their money. The traditional commentariat now also has to deal with well funded professional newcomers such as PoliticsHome which has established a quality niche for political obssessives. The Guardian and New Statesman are embracing Liberal Conspiracy as the new media champion of the left, with news values and editorial judgement that has until now been lacking in comparison with ConservativeHome. They might reflect that when regime change comes, the media opposition to the Conservatives might be marshalled by Liberal Conspiracy rather than their own somewhat tired media clique.

New media operations like Gawker, HuffPo and Federated Media in the U.S. are earning tens of millions for bloggers, hitherto in Europe it has been more like tens of thousands, but that is now changing. Economic viability is important because as producing original content for new media becomes profitable, it will become better. Bloggers have mind share, they increasingly have mass market share and will therefore increasingly take a share of the profits…

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Diary Change

On the Indy’s Pandora column Olly Duff is moving to the news desk. So he clearly didn’t disgrace himself too much in the eyes of Roger Alton at the leaving moving party for Simon Kelner. The gossip column will be left in the hands of Henry Deedes. Floreat Etona!

Over at The Times Hugo Rifkind is moving to features and apparently there may be no successor gossip column in the newspaper (although there seems to be one today, by-lined Adam Sherwin with a familiar story about Nadine employing her daughter). The editor obviously aims to boost sales by making the paper even less entertaining.

Katy-Taylor Richards is no longer a gossip columnist and is now a serious lobby journalist she tells Guido. Which is very confusing, because she writes for the Daily Express.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

"Torygraph" European Coverage Attacked by Own European Correspondent

Guido went all out on European gravy affairs last week. Speaking to one of the most media-savvy players on these issues Guido ventured that the Telegraph’s coverage was surprisingly thin (in the dead-tree-version) – which given their hardline Euro-sceptic editorial stance seemed bizarre.

“Bruno was spiked” came the reply – which explains some of the more bizarre blog posts by Bruno Waterfield their Brussels correspondent. Guido is not referring to the four-letter flecked references to dick sucking or his identification of the actual high-speed Euro gravy train. It has been deleted now, but he actually complained on his own Telegraph blog about his story not appearing in the paper with words (from memory) like “what do you expect, it is the Torygraph”. Bruno clearly not a happy Brussels bunny…

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Didn’t We All in the 80s?

The incoming editor of the New Statesman, Jason Cowley, has confessed to liking to dress up with “arch ostentation” and stealing his mothers’ make-up. Nothing wrong with that…

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Price of Freedom of Information

After spending over £100,000 and losing his appeal the Speaker is going to finally hand over the 14 MPs expenses to Heather Brooke tomorrow at 4pm. She will then be chauffeur driven to Wapping, where the Sunday Times will pore over the expenses of 14 leading politicians going back three years.
They have bought from Heather exclusive rights – the Sunday Telegraph is only getting the details of the two MPs it FoI’d and the rest of the media is being carved out completely. The Speaker is desperately keen to smother the story in the post Crewe and Nantwich media wake. The other papers are up in arms that the normal practice with FoIs is not being followed – once the applicant has been given the information it is normally freely available. The Sunday Times has effectively bought up an FoI with the connivance of the Speaker.

Guido doesn’t blame Heather – she along with her co-litigant Jonathan Ungoed-Thomas have got their hands on the one and only copy of the material – she wants to look at it herself first before throwing it open – which she plans to do on Sunday. The Speaker is not following normal practice – it is not his job to give exclusives out.

Heather told Guido that

I get the bulk as I asked for 10 over several years. Initially I asked for all 646 MPs but the Commons authorities said that would cost too much so I was forced to narrow it down. Funny how they had no money to compile the expenses but plenty to go to Court to stop them being made public!

As is always the case, the money I get for my articles goes back into my campaigning. Unlike the Speaker, I don’t have unlimited taxpayer funds on which to draw so this is how I make my living. It’s certainly not a profitable venture I can assure you (3 1/2 years for one story is not a good business model) but worth doing I think.

The receipts will number in the thousands. The sooner Heather gets them online – the faster we will be all able to hold our pigging politicians to account…

The Speaker is now hiring a dedicated Legal Counsel for £100,000, plus bonus and package. Heather financed her legal fight herself, the political class uses taxpayers’ money to fight against the public interest. Trebles all round for them and you pay…

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Guardianista Class

Ever wonder why it is that the Guardianistas are against grammar schools? A co-conspirator points out that this post keeps getting mysteriously deleted from the Guardian’s CiF comments:
Editor Alan Rusbridger (Cranleigh); political editor Patrick Wintour (Westminster); leader writer Madeleine Bunting (Queen Mary’s, Yorkshire); policy editor Jonathan Freedland (University College School); columnist Polly Toynbee (Badminton); executive editor Ian Katz (University College School); security affairs editor Richard Norton Taylor (King’s School, Canterbury); arts editor-in-chief Clare Margetson (Marlborough College); literary editor Clare Armitstead (Bedales); public services editor David Brindle (Bablake); city editor Julia Finch (King’s High, Warwick).; environment editor John Vidal (St Bees); fashion editor Jess Cartner-Morley (City of london School for Girls); G3 editor Janine Gibson (Walthamstow Hall); northern editor Martin Wainwright (Shreswbury); and industrial editor David Gow (St Peter’s, York).

If only Guido had had the advantages they did…

UPDATE : A school chum draws attention to Seumas Milne who is an Old Wykehamist (Winchester College) and at Balliol, Oxford, another mentions the Observer’s Andrew Rawnsley – Rugby School and Cambridge University.

UPDATE II : This was apparently in Private Eye originally. Wouldn’t know – actually don’t read it. Y’know – it is like fortnightly – so twentieth century…

Seen Elsewhere

Polling Averages Trend | PoliticalBetting.com
Speaker Faces Questions Over Pass for Donor | Sun
Tory MPs’ Visit to Israel Condemned | Guardian
Labour Was Too Slow for the Squeezed Middle | FT
Papers Pan Cam’s Immigration Pledge | ConHome
Deane of St Edmundsbury? | Times
Pay Volunteers and They Become Cheap Labour | Jill Kirby
UKIP Fundraiser Was Jailed for Running Brothels | Times
Bercow Faces Probe Over Pass Mystery | Mirror
Harman Breaks Rules on Paying Staff | Express
Labour Whinge About Sandi Toksvig Joke | Mail


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John McTernan told Channel 4 News

“You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, you don’t win in politics without breaking legs.”



Rob Wilson says:

Without Predujice

Darling

What time will dinner be ready this evening?

Yours

Rob Wilson MP

In the interests of me I am placing a copy of this email in the public domain.


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