Welcome To Zelo Street!

This is a blog of liberal stance and independent mind

Saturday 21 February 2015

Telegraph In Meltdown

When I called Peter Oborne, who departed the Telegraph very publicly this week, the “Last canary in the mine”, I was unaware how prescient the comparison would prove. Since Oborne left, every criticism he made of the Tel has been proved correct and justified, and in spades. This proof has come not from former employees, or even rival newspapers, but the actions of the Tel itself. The stench of poison has flooded the mine.
Murdoch MacLennan

Following Oborne’s exit, the Tel went on a bizarre rant accusing the Guardian and BBC of being behind an attempt to bring down Young Dave. This sub-Daily Mail self-parody for some reason also accused the Murdoch Times of being in on the plot. All were claimed to have been at work behind the scenes. The only criticism it failed to address, apart from merely gainsaying it, was that from Oborne - who was the first one to criticise.

It got worse: there then appeared an attack on the Guardian, claiming “Guardian ‘changed Iraq article to avoid offending Apple’”. Note the quotation marks. Note also the sub-heading: “Guardian facing series of allegations from insiders over its relationship with advertisers, including suggestions that it changed an article on Iraq amid concerns that Apple might object”. And, as Jon Stewart might have said, two things here.

One, there is no evidence to back up the headline - hence the quote marks. The “objection” from Apple is entirely fictional. The “allegations” are from “insiders”, which could mean nothing more than someone from the Tel who went round to King’s Place once for a job interview. And two, to put the lid on this hokum, nobody at the Tel was prepared to put their name on the by-line. The story is attributed to “Daily Telegraph reporter”.

That was bad, but today has brought something far, far worse: the Telhas published an anonymous story on its front page suggesting that two suicides at a rival newspaper could be connected to pressure to hit commercial targets”. The article “said News UK, which publishes papers including the Times and the Sun, had launched an internal investigation into the deaths”. Anonymous. Could be. Look over there.

News UK has confirmed that the deaths were unconnected, and has pointed out that its HR procedures are robust - which would be expected in such an organisation. But why run this story, which is not only barrel-scraping of the lowest kind, but potentially a flagrant breach of the Editor’s Code of Conduct? Does the Telegraph brand not mean anything to Murdoch MacLennan and his team? Is anyone on the bridge?

The attack on News UK has been universally condemned - especially by Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger. Thus far the remaining big-name columnists have remained silent. All eyes are now on Charles Moore, the Tel’s former editor and the title’s conscience, and of course London’s occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. Will Bozza keep on scoring that £250k a year “chicken feed” now?

A once great newspaper is disintegrating before our eyes. This is not going to end well.


Brian Moylan said...

Can it get any worse for the Telegraph?
On that "bastion of the free press": The Daily Telegraph.

Future liccer said...

I almost feel embarrassed for the Telegraph. They've taken a bad situation and made it exponentially worse.