Telegraph chief political journalist quits because paper lacked the stones to publish things that might upset their advertisers
PETER OBORNE QUITS TELEGRAPH http://t.co/NOvMzG5wbE
â€” Tim Murphy (@tmurphyNZH) February 17, 2015
Tim Murphy from the NZ Herald tweets about Peter OborneÂ the chief political journalist of The Telegraph, who has resigned because the paper lacked the stones to publish things that might upset their advertisers â€“ for example the recent scandals around HSBC bank.
This isÂ a big story over there at the moment.
Circulation was falling fast when I joined the paper in September 2010, and I suspect this panicked the owners. Waves of sackings started, and the management made it plain that it believed the future of the British press to be digital. Murdoch MacLennan, the chief executive, invited me to lunch at the Goring Hotel near Buckingham Palace, where Telegraph executives like to do their business. I urged him not to take the newspaper itself for granted, pointing out that it still had a very healthy circulation of more than half a million. I added that our readers were loyal, that the paper was still very profitable and that the owners had no right to destroy it.
The sackings continued. A little while later I met Mr MacLennan by chance in the queue of mourners outside Margaret Thatcherâ€™s funeral and once again urged him not to take Telegraph readers for granted. He replied: â€śYou donâ€™t know what you are fucking talking about.â€ť
Ahhh the arrogance of mainstream media editors and executives.
Solecisms, unthinkable until very recently, are now commonplace. Recently readers were introduced to someone called the Duke of Wessex. Prince Edward is the Earl of Wessex. There was a front page story about deer-hunting. It was actually about deer-stalking, a completely different activity. Obviously the management donâ€™t care about nice distinctions like this. But the readers do, and the Telegraph took great care to get these things right until very recently.
The arrival of Mr Seiken coincided with the arrival of the click culture. Stories seemed no longer judged by their importance, accuracy or appeal to those who actually bought the paper. The more important measure appeared to be the number of online visits. On 22 September Telegraph online ran a story about a woman with three breasts. One despairing executive told me that it was known this was false even before the story was published. I have no doubt it was published in order to generate online traffic, at which it may have succeeded. I am not saying that online traffic is unimportant, but over the long term, however, such episodes inflict incalculable damage on the reputation of the paper.
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