Saturday, October 18, 2008

Newsquest jumps the shark

It's difficult to pin down the exact moment when Newsquest lost its last remaining shred of credibility as a 'local' newspaper company. Think outsourcing local work to India probably clinched it. This is a 'local' newspaper company that doesn't think supporting its local communities is important. Its senior management don't give a toss, its regional management lacks the intelligence, foresight, will or means to challenge the bosses. The majority of the workers just grin and bear it or up and leave.

Which, ultimately, is what I did a good couple of years ago now. And therein lies the reason I'll no longer be posting to this blog (not that I have done for some time now). Newsquest isn't the only company letting its local communities down through cutbacks and greed. It isn't the only company whose leaders lack the foresight and intelligence to abandon the old 'cut costs and hope for the best' business model and take advantages of the new opportunities the internet presents. In fact recent events at Trinity Mirror suggest it's no longer the worst - although has a Newsquest manager ever had the decency Birmingham Mail editor Steve Dyson had, in explaining directly to readers what his company is doing and why? His comments/excuses are laughable, but he deserves credit for at least making them.

I'll still be commenting, hopefully a good deal more often, over on my other blog. If you want more cerebral comment on Newsquest's parent company Gannett, try here. For general media stuff, not all of it I agree with, try Greenslade, Press Gazette (especially the Grey Cardigan). For local newspaper news (including a few too many happy clappy stories and a dismal approach to style) try Holdthefrontpage. How-Do is good for north west stuff as well.

I can be contacted by email ( - and fully concur with these comments from the BBC's chairman

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

More blogging about the evil empire

Gannett Blog is a good read, a bit more cerbral than Newsquestwatch with plenty of big words and market analysis of the sort that I've not got the time (or, likely, the brains) to do. They've linked to me so I'll link to them! Possibly even more interesting is the Slog of the Gannetoids - plenty of tales on there that Newsquest hacks will be able to relate to I'm sure!

Monday, September 17, 2007

More action on Newsquest

As you may have read elsewhere, Terry Brannigan's brave attempt to get the authorities to take some action against Newsquest over its actions in drowning out his newspapers in Sussex. He's now set up his own website fighting the evil empire. As blogging has been light lately (and is, I'm afraid, likely to remain so due to work commitments) I commend his site as a place to learn more about the operations of a firm which doesn't give a toss about its employees, its customers or the communities it supposedly serves. Take a look at it.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Do they have no shame?

Newsquest has, apparently, decided to pilfer employees' retirement income in order to benefit US shareholders. No surprise. They stopped the final salary scheme for new staff last year as well. The fact is Newsquest would barely notice a £65 m bump - but unfortunately that doesn't compute with the penpushers.

Let's hope staff nationally follow those in Glasgow along the lines of industrial action. Perhaps, with the changing political climate in Scotland, the parliament could get involved? Surely the SNP's standing could only be boosted by a fight with some foreign profiteers?

Please be sure to sign the NUJ petition on Newsquest's activities as well

Incidentally, by far the least surprising aspect of the Greenslade piece above is that group editorial manager/'PR' flunky/scapegoat Margaret Strayton doesn't have the decency to give a timely response to a 'fellow' journalist. Getting rid of this fat waste of space would be a great way of saving some cash. Her and a good few others.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Hark the Herald angels sink

Of all Newsquest's ill-starred deicisions in recent years, plunging into the wacky world of the Scottish media is, potentially at least, the most disastrous.

They tried a cost-cutting drive after buying the Glasgow Herald which, hilariously, resulted in them giving a pay-off to national award winner who subsequently ended up at The Times.

Now - after a not entirely unpredictable slump in sales, they're asking for tips on how to make another £3 million in savings. When even Newsquest bosses run out of asset-stripping ideas, you know they're in trouble. Get those for sale signs up before it's too late!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Email me, please!

Finally got a blog-friendly email address (eg suitably anonymous)

get in touch!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Top class investigative reporting on Newsquest website!

So, a local authority with its eyes on a major development scheme sets up a 'steering group' of local worthies, including a senior representative of a major local business, to look into options for an improved concert hall.

The group then reports back to the local authority strongly backing a development which will lead to the acquisition of a major property - owned, interestingly enough, by the very company of which the panel member is an official!

A nice little earner for the firm as £4m is earmarked for the purchase - but it stinks and the public has a right to know all the details.

So well done to the Telegraph and Argus in Bradford for allowing visitors to its website to learn the facts of the case. But there the praise ends, because there's a sting in this particular tale...

...The company is, of course, Newsquest, the senior offical is T&A editor Perry Austin-Clarke and the investigator is a poster on their website forum and local blogger who, fortunately, has documents which appear to demonstrate the facts of the case - always a help.

Of course there's nothing illegal here, but I can't help but recalling what Charles Kennedy, amongst others, called the Private Eye test for probity in public life;

"If it appeared in Private Eye, would you be embarrassed by it? If so, you should not be doing it in the first place."

Replace Private Eye with the front page of his own newspaper and I wonder what Mr Austin-Clarke (who I actually have some time for, although his staff detest him) would say to that.

And what are Newsquest/Gannett going to do with their haul? Are they going to reinvest it or are they going to pilfer £4 million in public cash from a deprived community and hand it over to wealthy shareholders in the USA? Now that's a scandal...