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Sunday 22 February 2015

Telegraph - No Rest For The Wicked

If the dwindling band of hacks and pundits at the Telegraph thought that the ruckus generated by the gratuitous attack copy aimed at the Guardian, Times, BBC, and anyone else whose name could be recalled was going to recede, they had another think coming with today’s papers. The condemnation over reporting two alleged suicides of News UK employees has made sure of that.
Laughing all the way to HSBC, allegedly

On today’s edition of The Andy Marr Show (tm), former spinmeister Alastair Campbell, with his mental health campaigning hat on, was particularly severe on the Tel for its reporting. When Big Al considers an issue important enough to take time out from his bashing the Tories, you know it’s important. The problem seems to be, as I observed yesterday, that nobody is present on the bridge of the SS Telegraph to do anything about it.

This has been echoed by former Guardian editor Peter Preston, who asked “Why on Earth was Peter Oborne, doughty political columnist, trooping back and forth to the chief executive’s office complaining about black holes and white flags?” His conclusion was that “the damning fact is that – lost in the melee of digital change, buried by the Barclay brothers’ indifference – the Telegraph doesn’t have an editor any longer”.

There are “directors of content”, a “digital content director”, a “director of audience development”, and a “director of transformation and talent”, but when Tony Gallagher was sent down the road, he was not replaced. So the head of advertising is allowed free rein to stick his bugle in on the editorial floor, and where that leads was made only too clear with Oborne’s departure amid silence on HSBC.

Nobody stops the impromptu ordering of attack pieces, so after the successful intervention of whoever instructed the hacks to invent the “Guardian changes headline because Apple” story, the yet more malicious News UK attack was only a matter of time in coming. The Tel’s only response includedWe are now putting in place guidelines on how our editorial and commercial departments should work within a modern multi-media environment”.

All of which is stuff all use unless there is someone calling the shots. There is no-one. So while there is condemnation for the failure to even mention the Samaritans’ media guidelines, the Tel is silent on the subject. That may prove harmful, if not fatal, because the rest of the press is anything but silent, and its mood is not sympathetic. One look at the concluding paragraph of today’s Observer editorial is all you need.

In every business there’s pressure and scope for tragedy. But to equate these deaths [at News UK] with the decision – the commercial decision – to go easy on a big bank in trouble is gross far beyond any Fleet Street club. It demeans those who wrote it and those who ordered it. It will not be forgotten, or easily forgiven”. Meanwhile, as Iain Dale has told, the Tel has lost Brussels point man Bruno Waterfield - to News UK.

It’s not yet too late for the Telegraph. But sooner rather than later, that moment will come.

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