That newspapers are increasingly having to deal with changes dictated by the shift to more and more online readership is not a new thing. But the steady exodus from the Maily Telegraph was becoming a little obvious. Even so, the events of the past few days were as unexpected as they were dramatic, as all those going of their own volition were joined by at least one sacking.
Tony Gallagher - out at the Tel
The phrase “at least” will become clearer, but to start with what we know, Tony Gallagher, the editor of the weekday edition, left abruptly on Tuesday morning. He was “banged out” as he passed through the newsroom. Roy Greenslade at the Guardian noted that there had been a clash of personalities with recently hired “Chief content editor” Jason Seiken.
Benedict Brogan - next to go?
So there was the Tel with a new weekday editor for its print edition, when later the same day came a Tweet from Michael Taggart at MRM telling “I hear Benedict Brogan might be on his way”. “Famous last words” Brogan, who memorably talked of “Andy Coulson’s staying power in Downing Street” just before Young Dave’s then chief spinmeister resigned, was Gallagher’s deputy.
And both of them had previously worked at the Daily Mail, where the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre is on a rolling contract extending his tenure of the editor’s chair for just 12 months at a time. Was there any truth in the rumour? Well, the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog thought so, as they signposted Brogan’s potential exit yesterday evening.
But morning came, and he was still in place, as evidenced by his morning email appearing right on cue. Had the Fawkes folks jumped the gun when they told “If there’s a Brogan email this morning, it won’t be from the deputy editor. Not fired, stripped of title and said to be consulting lawyers”? The man himself gave the impression that this was the case, but he would, wouldn’t he?
Nonetheless, The Great Guido stuck to his guns, asking “Is Brogan ‘In Office Without Power’?” in the style of Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse). Other strands to the rumour are that freelances are being offered next to nothing for their copy, something that will frighten rigid those who make a nice little earner from well-remunerated commissions from the likes of the Mail.
After all, if Dacre goes and rates go through the floor in his wake, who else is there? Right now we have the perfect storm: demoralised staffers at the Tel, not knowing who’s being thrown overboard next, and jumpy freelancers, queuing up to perhaps elbow their way into a bit of TV work as a hedge against a race to the bottom. But while we wait on Brogan, there could be a silver lining here.
Next expensive waste of space for the chop could be Boris. Cripes chaps!