It has not been a good week for newspapers. Once again, we have seen
that it is much harder to launch them than we thought it would be when
the printing unions’ mafia was smashed in the 1980s to allow the use of
Ask Tom Rubython who lost a major potential backer for a new 200-page
business newspaper in the week before its launch last Sunday. I can
only admire the courage of those who, after Today, seek to capture the
attention of British readers when their interests are already
The Tory party’s new tabloid Look!, intended to print all the good news
others refuse to recognise, made a calamitous appearance. A businessman,
ballerina, milliner, soccer club, the Brewers and Licensed Retailers
Association and the Retail Consortium all immediately distanced
themselves from examples of the cheer which Look! claimed the
Government’s policies had brought to the nation.
This may not have come as a surprise. The Government and its party seem
singularly incapable of doing anything right these days. But Look! does
illustrate the problem of producing official Government or party
newspapers, I should know, I launched two departmental newspapers - DE
News, for the Department of Employment and Energy Management.
The latter was easier - a manager’s guide to using energy more
efficiently. Making DE News interesting was a real challenge when you
could neither knock nor directly promote ministers or their government,
only an understanding of their policies.
The problem is even more acute for political parties. It is not just
persuading people to read an unrelieved diet of good news when the
accepted journalistic definition of good news is bad news; it is also
making sure that your examples of good news are fair and accurate and
that those concerned will stick with you when the pressure of publicity
Which brings me to the Financial Times. Some 170 members of its NUJ
chapel have given their editor, Richard Lambert, a unanimous vote of no
confidence. They claim that he and his deputy have failed to defend ‘the
quality, values and future business success of the newspaper’ because a
management efficiency programme proposes a cut in editorial staffing.
It is interesting to discover that a paper which has never hesitated to
tell British business how to get managerially with it is stuck in a
1970s time warp. Dammit, the NUJ is even balloting its members on
Not a good week for newspapers, indeed. But don’t begrudge company PROs
their immense satisfaction at finding the FT biter bitten.