Saturday, 7 March 2009


"I’m not going to lie. I grew up not reading newspapers. I got into journalism even though newspapers were never my favorite medium because I liked to write and communicate with people. A lot of people my age don’t read newspapers regularly. (Many of those who do read them online, and others don’t read them at all.)"
This quote comes from a young journalist who can be arsed to write this toilet on a blog but can't be bothered to pick up a newspaper in the morning.
And you wonder why newspapers are in decline.
What a cunt. Come and work for me and I will probably arse rape you.

After care service

I had a very interesting conversation with a household name who works for one of the nationals.
I will call it the 'dead-kid' concept. As a journalist we get to wade through life's grittier events. Not a week goes by without at least one (and in some cases more than a dozen) references to suicide, violence, rape, child abuse or just good old fashioned murder.
A crime reporter is forced to swallow this grief pill on a daily basis. So my point is this, how can a reporter get emotionally involved with every story they write. I say you can't, you would go insane. So if a kid dies, no matter how horrible the circumstances, can you really afford to give a shit?
Sure we empathise and symapthise with the family - in order to get collects and a chat mainly. But do we carry every dead kid with us? I don't. It's just another tale to me. Do it, write it up and move on. It has to be this way.
But my new friend became quite agitated as to my seemingly callous attitude. She had covered the Dunblane massacre many years ago. Seventeen dead - 16 of those children - and it had, and still does have, a profound effect on her.
This I can understand and so my 'dead-kid' concept fell a little flat in the face of such a momentuous fucked-up situation.
But she made an excellent point. All of the fire, police, medical services responding to events like this and others receive counselling to come to terms with what they have seen and done.
But what do our touchy-feely newspaper companies offer in terms of grief therapy.
That's right, absolutely nothing.
Just get on with it.
And lo, the 'dead-kid' concept is revived.

The future

With all this misery at the moment about how this whole industry is doomed I started to think about the future of newspapers.
Undoubtedly newspapers can and still do make dosh. In some cases they are making a lot of dosh. No matter what the useless management tools tell you about how newspapers are dead and the web is the future, this is mainly bollocks.
People still want to know what is going on around them and many people still do not use the internet to get hold of that information.
But if you are producing a shoddy rag of a paper filled with press releases and cheque presentations from a central news centre 50 miles from the actual town, who will read or buy that?
Over time advertisers drop out the paper gets smaller and less people read it.
The title inevitably closes, ending sometimes a print run of more than one hundred years. This is scandalous but there is a very real reason behind it.
The internet has exceptionally low running fees, no print costs, low staffing levels, no need to distribute it or sell it in shops - essentially as long as your servers are big enough there is no stopping the size or scale of the site.
This is the real reason the big companies are paring newspapers to the bone and closing titles that were making profits as little as five years ago.
They want news print to die so they can make more money. Ask your MD when they are a bit drunk at the next Christmas do (like Christmas is not forever cancelled) they may just admit it.
But there is a way to carry on printing. I have come to the conclusion the only way newspapers will survive is to remove them from the hands of the big owners. Take them back from Newsquest, Trinity Mirror, Northcliffe et al. and get them back into independent hands. Remove the greed factor for starters, get rid of shareholders and fat cat directors who only look at the numbers and not the brilliant work we do.
As long as the title makes a profit - and believe it or not many of them still do - they are sustainable.
This way staff at the papers can pay themselves a half decent wage through a healthy profit share. We can have investment in editorial to create a product people want to read again rather than something fit for cat litter. Have the company run by its staff and not bean counters. If it's making a profit the newspaper and all those precious jobs are saved.
Journalism shouldn't be all about the money.
Bring it back to the area. Open a small office in the town centre, become a part of the community again, become relevant, become necessary, start setting the agenda again.
I am a firm believer in local newspapers and with a bit more thought about their role in the future - especially with the demise of the celebrity obsessed national media - we might just start saving our industry.
Let's lose the fat cat management arseholes first though.


Loyalty- It's a funny term when used with newspapers. This situation with newspaper companies treating their often exceptionally , hardworking staff with little more than disdain is not new. For years the journalists drive to bring out quality newspapers has been exploited by the management idiots who run the papers into the ground through cutting staff, removing perks and slashing budgets to save a few quid in the short term.
These mongs - and I use this word with great venom - have not the first clue how to run a newspaper. Indeed, I doubt one of them could actually tell you how important the role of a local newspaper is within a community.
So I have this attitude. Fuck them and their company cars. Fuck them and their efficiency drives. Fuck them and their bloated wage packets. Fuck them and their memos, edicts, orders and ideas. They are all shit-eating mother fuckers and don't deserve your respect let alone your loyalty.
I work for the newspaper I bring out. The masthead, not the management. My loyalty is to my team of reporters, the photographers and subs, my colleagues working on other titles alongside me. My loyalty extends to the door to the newsroom. Anybody outside of that space deserves nothing more than contempt.
If everyone in the other departments worked as hard or took as much pride in their own jobs, as I know our band of hacks do, newspapers would not be in the state they are in.
Give loyalty in those you know are looking out for you, have pride in what they do, and fuck the rest of 'em.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Positive shizzle

I consider myself a hard-nosed journalist, adept at shrugging off the nastiest shit life can throw at me (or at least I think I can). I laugh in the face of horror and cock-a-snook at death and its myriad of guises. But just recently I have become bored of the dead and want something a little more uplifting. Whether it's all the bullshit recession news or just too much grimness.
So today I am pleased to say we ran a very upbeat story on our front page.
A positive, nobody-died-everyone-lived sort of story. Not to say it was a load of shit either. It was genuinely a great scoop, a credit to my reporter for getting it. It doesn't mean to say I am turning into some kind of positive news bore, but after the year of hideous shit we have had to report on it's nice to have a front page you know people will get a lift from.

Drink drunk

What is it about journalists and drink? What is it about journalists and being a fuck up?
We don't really see the grim reality of life. Not all of it. Cops do, firefighters do, ambulance men and doctors and nurses do. But we don't. No dead burned corpses, no murder victims, no drowned kids. So why does this thing inevitably fuck us up.
I think I know the reason. It's because we wallow in the clear up of the shit all the time. The chat with the grieving family, the tribute to the dead son, the front page about the murdered wife. We soak up all the bile and the hate and the suffering and filter it for the readers.
Many people outside of editorial think readers actually send in pictures of their dead loved ones. In the rare occasions it happens, I can count on one hand.
Instead it us up to us to go round often just a few hours after the death and not only get a full chat but a handful of collects as well.
Most journalists hate death knocks. I didn't care. They would always either say yes or no, on some occasions a mild threat. Maybe that is why I was never very successful. I could persuade and empathise but never sympathise. Just another story.
Maybe that is why I drink. To stop the stories becoming real.