Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Oxbridge? Groaniad indeed...

In my opinion, this 'research' is vastly underestimating that proportion.

I would estimate it's nearer 50 or 60 per cent, but that's just a guess - which basically makes it a fact, going by the same criteria as the research itself.

What other background could Guardian journalists have? I mean, no aspiring reporter - no matter how good - could afford to work in central London, have travelled to far-flung parts of the world and studied at Oxbridge before deciding they fancy having a go at journalism.

And that's before we consider the cost of the clothes these people wear, be it in court, a press conference or elsewhere.

No, these guys and gals wouldn't be seen dead in an ink-stained shirt that fitted you nicely in 2003 (the last clean one you had in the wardrobe), your old school shoes and a tatty suit your mum bought you for the interview.

And unfortunately, the distant reality enjoyed by these employees is coming through in the printed product and its agenda more and more.

The very idea that anyone doesn't already know this, or gives a flying fuck about where little Crispin wasted three years studying philosophy, is proof enough of the arrogance The Guardian now uses as fuel with which to power the continual production of inane drivel under the guise of 'proper' or 'meaningful' journalism, which is largely wide of the mark and equally wide of the agenda such a paper should be pursuing.

I am not a Guardian hater, but the percentage of what it does that has any merit or integrity is decreasing at a rapid rate.

The Guardian is now surviving on the very same principles as its reporters; portraying a fashionable facade with very little real content inside.

However, should anyone at The Guardian feel the need to correct my opinions, feel free to do so via thehaplesshack@gmail.com, or via Twitter - @haplesshack

Friday, 20 May 2011

Someone said it for me. And well.

As a follow up to my recent berating of 'aspiring' hacks who wouldn't know a story if it bit them on the arse, I thought I'd post this piece by former Guardian editor Peter Preston, who has expressed my sentiments far better than I could ever hope to do.

However, to chip in my foul-mouthed tuppence worth, read this you fucking wannabes and stop bleating on about how The Guardian is impartial while sitting in Starbucks.

And MDs across the country could do with reading it too, perhaps then they may take that 'mission statement' which is on the wall of their office on a nice plastic plaque a bit more seriously.

Anyway, Peter's piece full:

"Journalism isn't about sitting in some lofty office thinking great thoughts. It is about knowing the people you're writing for, understanding their concerns, their hopes and fears. And you can only do that if you’re out there amongst them, being part of the community you aim to serve.

"I started in journalism, long ago, doing school holiday shifts on my local paper, writing my first features about life at the university just up the road. When I went to university myself I did every job going on the twice-weekly student paper there - and then learned my trade on Liverpool's big evening and morning papers. I did funerals, Rotary Club speeches, dog shows, council rows and rugby matches. And at the end of that stint, when I moved on to cover local politics for the Guardian, I think I’d learned something precious. That politics doesn't exist in some rarefied world at Westminster. That democracy lives, breathes and reacts in the minds and the lives of the people you catch a bus to work with every morning. That the local dimension isn't some remote step ladder on the route to the top. It's where everything begins. It’s the foundation stone of society.
"And that's as true today as it ever was. Your local paper, in villages, towns and cities up and down the land, is there to reflect you, yourself - your own running commentary on life. In the mazy world of the world-wide web, where nothing seems more than a click away, it is still the place where the people around you put down their roots.
"There's been a local press in Britain for as long as there have been newspapers. There will be newspapers - in one form or another - for as long as people care about what happens around them. News is a necessity, your link to your neighbours. Prize
it, relish it, support it... because, not just in Local Newspaper Week but every week of the year, it helps your world go round."

Keepin' it real.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

The beat (-ing of reporters) goes on...

NOTE: May I apologise for my absence in recent weeks - there appears to have been some 'suspicious activity' on my account which needed sorting... Interesting... However, let's carry on.

So, the industrial disputes continue as newspaper groups up and down the land continue to preach about 'difficult trading conditions'.

For what feels like the first time, the sacred business run by the saviour himself, Ray Tindle, has been in the news.

The 'Enfield Nine' - union members of Tindle's Enfield division - walked out of the office on April 19 and returned on May 4, thanks to some handily placed bank holidays.

The resulting spat has proved reasonably entertaining for those of us still struggling to hold down a job in the industry, as the relative inexperience of Tindle comes to the fore.

In a statement that read more like the ramblings of a bitter and jealous child than the reasoned outpourings of a large company the firm said: "During the strike all the papers were produced by the remaining staff and management with as much editorial if not more than a normal bank holiday week."

So hang on, rather than simply make no comment, or issuing a stock quote saying the dispute is on-going, blah blah blah, the group instead goes on the offensive like a wounded animal.

The statement, translated, seems to say (with a thumb clearly pressed to nose): "Well, they weren't here and we did even more editorial than before, so fuck you journalists, who needs you anyway. Na na nana na."

Clearly, this will be bullshit, and is offensive to everyone involved, including those journalists not in the union who probably bled themselves dry trying to fill those papers.

It's also offensive to readers, who are not stupid and would be well aware of the inevitable drop in quality those editions would have experienced.

As if to make things worse, Tindle actually published a statement in one of the editions produced during the strike which was, frankly, embarrassing.

It read: "Nine journalists of this newspaper who are members of the National Union of Journalists remain on strike for a second week so this is the second edition produced by the remainder of the staff and management.

"The dispute is about the paper’s non-replacement of staff leaving by natural wastage in this recession and is despite the company making huge and unsustainable losses.

"The group is the only one so far not to make journalists redundant in the downturn. That meant non-replacement of those who left for other jobs. We hope this edition is both local and acceptable to you, our readers."

Why run such a statement if the papers were as good, if not better, than previous weeks?

Tindle, who are you trying to kid?

Elsewhere in the world of industrial dispute, our friends in south west London have hit another barrier.

Earlier this week, editorial staff were told every position was under a three-month review with a view to making redundancies.

The irony, as always with these announcements, is in the wording.

Because while that entire newsroom sweats over whether they will get a pay cheque in three months' time, they should rest easy, because it is all in a bid to make the operation "more efficient".

Well thank fuck for that, for a minute there I'm sure they thought you were just looking to dump journalists in a bid to make more money.

Indeed, the week before, I understand the news editors of two of the group's titles - the Richmond & Twickenham Times and the Surrey Comet - were told they would be competing for a single job.

So two news editors, running sizable papers, are to be whittled down to one.

And how the fuck are they supposed to do that? Presumably, the management at Newsquest doesn't actually want to kill people through their jobs, but I can see a severe case of burnout on the horizon for the news editor lucky (or unlucky) enough to land that job...

However, I was mildly amused to read of the south west London NUJ chapel passing a vote of no confidence in the MD Roger Mills and advertising director Dene Stuart.

How refreshing to see an advertising name in there!

All too often chapels will attack an editor, or a regional publisher or whatever nonsense title such people now reign under, when the decisions are often taken by others.

This union seems to have at least recognised that while editorial staff are being thrown away left, right and centre, often the blame lies with an under-performing advertising department.

Good for them I say.

And let it be a message to advertising execs the world over: Yes, you are often too stupid to understand pretty-much anything, but we are wise to your game you muppets, so up your fucking game as what you do affects many, many lives.