This week’s Estates Gazette makes interesting reading in light of today’s news about the Indy. A report in the property trade journal claims the Lebedevs are planning to move the Evening Standard from their current offices sharing with the Indy and the Mail in Kensington. Apparently they are looking for a new 40,000 square foot space in Zone 1. Will there be room for a new online-only Indy there too?
Farewell SunNation, the Sun’s outside-the-paywall experiment with a blog format has now gone with the raison d’être of the paywall. This again brings into focus the future of tabloids now it has been established that in the age of social media paywalls for popular papers are counter-productive. As far as Guido knows no mass market tabloid in the world has successfully made the transition to a digital model.
Digital first sceptics point out that for all the traffic success of Mail Online and The Guardian, they don’t really make much profit. In the case of the digital Guardian they make no profit. That is because undifferentiated general traffic does not command a high premium from advertisers. Also free online versions inevitably cannibalise the print readers…
Digital first optimists argue that there is no choice other than to deliver content where people increasingly want it, to their phones and tablets. And deliver it fast and first if you want to succeed.
How will we make any money ask the digital sceptics? If paid subscriptions don’t work for tabloids in the digital era will it be Buzzfeed style advertorial? Video ads? Product placement? The digital first optimists point out that tabloid print sales are collapsing and soon they won’t make money either…
The Mirror is contemplating a cut-price, slimmed down version of the paper along the lines of the i, The Independent’s successful cut-down version. The more successful print innovator is actually the London Evening Standard, London’s now free high-quality evening paper is brimming with advertising. Could a tabloid thrive on advertising revenue alone? Metro and City AM show that advertising-only supported papers can be viable. It is possible that a national could go free, double or triple circulation, and suck up more than enough advertising to make up for the lost cover-price revenue. Guido noticed that last weekend the Sun on Sunday was distributed free in some places in Ireland…
Word reaches MediaGuido that Martin Bentham, the Evening Standard’s home affairs editor, has been suspended pending investigation following an altercation with another journalist at the paper. The fracas is said to have taken place in the newsroom loos, with Bentham allegedly going all Clarkson and punching top features writer Joshi Herrmann three times. Newsroom sources suggest Bentham was uspet with Herrmann being gonged by the Press Awards for bringing in stories on his patch, which ironically includes crime and the Metropolitan Police.
Herrmann seemingly walked straight to lunch to give a blow by blow account to fellow Standard and Indy hacks, reporting “a very poor uppercut to the chin”. MediaGuido contacted Herrmann to ask if he was going to press charges: “Can’t comment sorry, but I hope Martin is back covering violent crime in London very soon”.
Bentham hasn’t written for the paper or tweeted for over a week. By the sounds of it he has lot to learn from the big boss about how to throw a fist…
UPDATE: This is the official line: “Martin Bentham is currently on a long-planned family holiday”. But no response when asked to deny the suspension…
After a terrible run editing the Indy – where he tried to sign the paper up a government backed press regulator – and then sitting on his arse at the Standard for a year on huge money, Lebedev has finally booted Chris Blackhurst out. Sorry, he’s gone to extend his “range of interests”:
From: Doug Wills
Sent: 15 January 2015 16:00
To: ES ALL
Subject: Changes in the Business department
Chris Blackhurst has decided to step down as the multi-media head of business across the Evening Standard, Independent, Independent on Sunday and i titles.
Chris will continue to write regular columns and conduct weekly interviews for the newspapers and London Live TV.
Jim Armitage has been promoted from his current position as deputy city editor to City Editor for the titles.
It may be helpful to know that the following statement has been released by the company:
THE multi-media head of business at the Evening Standard and Independent, Chris Blackhurst, has decided to step down.
Blackhurst, who oversees the group’s business coverage, will continue to write regular columns and conduct weekly interviews for the newspapers and London Live TV. However, he will now also be free to pursue other ventures.
“I’ve been thinking about extending my range of interests for some time,” said Blackhurst. “I made up my mind over Christmas. I’d like to see what other journalistic opportunities in print, digital and broadcast, directorships, advisory and consultancy roles are out there. I’ve been with this organisation 14 years, longer if you include my first spell with the Independent which began in 1992 – it’s time to broaden my horizons.”
Blackhurst was City Editor of the Evening Standard for nine years, before becoming Editor of The Independent for two years. He was then promoted to Group Content Director, and in September last year, he took on the multi-media business role. He’s won numerous awards for his journalism.
ESI Media Chief Executive Steve Auckland said: “We are delighted that Chris will continue to be a high-profile writer with our titles as we know how highly regarded he is by our readers and throughout the business world.”
The spin has been met with newsroom incredulity.
A very sympathetic double page spread in tonight’s Evening Standard, giving a generous plug to lefty playwright Roy Williams’ latest production. For some reason the piece doesn’t mention Williams’ other half is Fiona Hughes: the deputy arts editor of the Evening Standard…[…] Read the rest
Though notice is yet to be served on the paper’s management, Guido understands that tensions over that the Indy are boiling over and the NUJ chapel has moved to ballot for industrial action. The latest round of cuts see 25 editorial jobs on the line and further integration with the Standard looms.[…] Read the rest
Tidings of great joy over at the Standard this afternoon after Evgeny announced is rewarding his troops by giving each one an iPad, apparently to celebrate their new return to profit, Olympic success and general greatness. Guido’s eyes and ears over at High Street Ken says “people are actually really happy!” Meanwhile downstairs at the Indy…[…] Read the rest
The Sun’s business editor Steve Hawkes is off to the Telegraph to become their consumer affairs editor. The Standard diary had prematurely reported he was off to the Times, but the Telegraph have got their man this morning.
Evgeny Lebedev has suffered a huge hit to his pocket after his company announced losses of £24 million for the Independent, i and Evening Standard newspapers over the last financial year. Things were particularly bad for the Indy, which made a pre-tax loss of £18 million.[…] Read the rest