Tag Archives: Grey Cardigan

More criticism for ATEX

Support isn’t getting any stronger for Johnston Press’s new content management system, ATEX.

Implemented across the country over the last year it has never been far from controversy.

Proposed strike action, a serious of high profile gaffes – most notably the Bedfordshire Times and Citizen’s now infamous ‘headline headghgh’ front page – and widespread criticism from staff have all dogged ATEX.

Now three high profile bloggers have piled into the unpopular system.

Vitriolic Press Gazette columnist Grey Cardigan, former Sun journalist turned media professor Roy Greenslade and ex-Birmingham Mail editor Steve Dyson all had harsh words to say about it.

Greenslade and Grey were responding to a memo from Paul Bentham, the managing director of JP’s South Yorkshire titles, which set out workflow methods for ATEX.

It included advice to editors suggesting they need not read every story.

Grey Cardigan wrote: “Suggesting that an editor need not glance over every story in their newspaper is utter madness. The lawyers must be rubbing their hands with glee.

“Does this silly man know nothing about newspapers? Perhaps in Mr Bentham’s barmy new world, not only are subs expendable but editors too.

“He’s not really thought this through, has he? Because if there’s no editor patrolling the proofs, who’s going to end up before the beak for contempt when a cock-up saunters through? Yes, you, Mr. Bentham.”

Greenslade was equally savage, comparing the document to something produced by ‘those wonderful John Bull printing outfits of youthful memory, a doing-it-by-numbers rigidity leaving very little room for initiative’.

He wrote: “But a couple of sentences were truly alarming:

‘Editors need to ensure that the policy of “right first time” is embedded in the newsroom culture. They should not however continue with the old practise of reading every story.
‘Editors should evaluate the risk for each story based on content and the seniority of the journalist and act accordingly.’

“Editors should not read stories! What, even when their boss confuses the verb practise with the noun practice?”

Greenslade continues: “What also emerges with some clarity from the memo is the death of journalistic creativity. We have always had to get pages off fast and in some kind of order.

“Every paper – local weekly, regional evening and national daily – has always been composed against the clock. But that fact of newspaper life has never stifled the creative process.

“How many times must we say, and mean, that content is king. The very notion that editors should stop doing their job by not reading every story is a disgrace.

“By this memo Johnston Press has reversed several centuries of journalistic good practice. The technology should be our servant, not our master.”

And it was the turn of Dyson, writing in his HoldtheFrontPage blog, to turn his guns on ATEX last week.

Reviewing JP’s Burnley Express, he wrote: ” What struck me about all inside editorial pages was poor design. Content, of course, is king, but the dominance of its crown can be hindered by what to me seemed slapdash, template-driven lay-outs.

“Whether this is down to stressed subbing hubs in Preston, the early days of Atex or both, it would be wrong not to tick Express owners Johnston Press off for allowing cost-savings to result in sub-standard looking pages.

“I just hope that Johnston’s East Lancashire Newspapers bosses resist the temptation to follow their sister company in South Yorkshire, where a recent memo from managing director Paul Bentham suggested that editors ‘should not continue with the old practise of reading every story’.”

Sources: Grey Cardigan, Roy Greenslade, Steve Dyson

State of Play: ATEX remains a blood clot that needs to be removed

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The arrogance of the nationals

Anyone who has worked in the regional press will be able to tell you about the joys of dealing with national journalists.
The undisguised patronising tone of whet behind the ears, straight out of media studies classes national hacks as they sneer at the supposed knowledge of news editors who have eaten more hot dinners than they’ve written scoops.
The joy of turning up at court with your snapper carefully hidden away ready to take that vital snatch shot only to find PA or the BBC have set up camp in full view of all and sundry, allowing your target to sneak out a back door or cover their head with their coat.
Discovering your carefully crafted and researched front page has been copied and pasted into a tabloid under the by-line of some hack better suited to writing about Kim Kardashian or Katie Price.
Of course, there are many, many quality journalists working on the nationals, but for every one of these there is a celebrity chasing churnalist or supremely arrogant desk jockey.
Only last week a hard-working, local entertainments reporter told The Blog how she had sat next to a reporter from The Times at a musician’s funeral.
The conversation went something like this:
Local reporter: ‘So, where are you from?’
Times reporter: ‘The Times. You?’
Local reporter: ‘The local paper here.’
Times reporter, turning his back on her: ‘Oh.’
It is a subject taken up in the Grey Cardigan’s March column.
He wrote:

‘Bizarrely, the local ‘rag’ is now being celebrated in some parts, albeit in an extremely patronising tone. The Times recently ran a piece with the sub-head “The decline of regional newspapers threatens a unique reporting tradition” and then allowed somebody called Jack Malvern to spend 2,000 words rubbishing much of what we do.
‘I don’t think Jack Malvern has ever worked on a regional, so he had to rely on his experience of sifting agency stories during “occasional” shifts as a copytaster.
‘And we all know that, with respect, agency copy often bears little resemblance to the original story that appeared in our pages.
‘But he can also call on his colleagues, many of whom will have got their start on a regional, for more ammo: “The older generation are well served by local newspapers,” he writes, “in part because they make up a substantial proportion of the readership. Michael Shaw, comment editor of the Times Educational Supplement, had to cover his share of 50th wedding anniversaries for the Bristol Evening Post. ‘Get a group of local reporters in a room and it’s always a matter of time before they start moaning about 50th wedding anniversaries,’ he says. ‘When you ask couples, ‘What’s the secret of a good marriage?’ they always say ‘Give and take’.
‘My colleague Will Stewart, formerly of the Yorkshire Post, got a better answer, though. The woman replied: ‘Well, ‘e never ‘it me’.”
‘Oh what jolly japes. Let’s take the piss out of the provincials.’

With thanks: Grey Cardigan

State of Play: Stop biting the hand that feeds you

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Celebrity PR dying? I wish…

Interesting post on the Bristol Editor blog today suggesting the Celebrity PR could be a dying breed.

In his ‘musings from a media maverick’, Bristol Editor suggests the fact everyone knows its spin could consign celebs to the Red Tops:

The client knows its spin.

The Press regurgitates the spin.

The readerships know its spin.

So, where is the value? Is it just to raise newspaper and magazine sales, whilst giving the celebrity and Max a cosy pay packet? My main point is – where is the ACTUAL value to the reader? Do they accept they’re reading a piece of reputation management, without substance, and in some cases, any style, either?

While we can only hope this is right, as far as The Blog can see the cult of celebrity seems to be on the up and up; as shown by the Tabloid and Broadsheet coverage of the John Terry and Ashley Cole sex scandals.

Indeed, as the excellent Grey Cardigan shows, the so-called serious papers seem to have taken a ‘vowel’ to publish more celebrity guff.

With thanks to: Bristol Editor

State of Play: An optomistic pick-me-up for real journalism

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