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on 1 September 2007
NEWSPAPERS: The Power and the Money
by Simon Jenkins
Buying a newspaper in Britain has become a haphazard business. Frequently it fails to arrive in the morning, or the wrong one comes. Newsagents have come to treat papers as scarce commodities, available at the whim of some distant producer. And often when they do arrive, they are
filled with misprints, apologies and even white spaces where text or pictures should have been.
Meanwhile, the industry that produces these papers. Fleet Street, has seldom been out of the news. The past few years have seen an unprecedented series of strikes, takeover bids and suspensions. Individual newspapers have been plunged into crisis, some of them bought and sold by conglomerates who seem ready to lose large sums of money on them--while their employees gaily take home large pay packets. Plagued by atrocious industrial relations, bitterly resistant to technological changes and starved of investment, Fleet Street has come to seem the symbol of the `British disease'--reaching its nadir in November 1978 with the closing of The Times.
Who is to blame for all this? Is it archaic management, bloody-minded trade unions, proprietors blinded by the glamour of ownership? Is Britain on the brink of going the way of America, embarking on a bloody period of newspaper suicide with only the very strongest surviving on the news-stands? Or is it merely the death throes of an industry being remorselessly superseded by other and newer forms of communication?
In this book Simon Jenkins is optimistic about the future of the newspaper--but for perhaps surprising reasons. These reasons lie deep in the motives of the men who own and produce newspapers -- and who still give British readers the most varied press in the world.
Simon Jenkins, who is 35, was until recently the editor of the London Evening Standard, where he brought his paper through a major closure threat arid a take-over bid. He is a former leader writer, columnist and features editor, and he has also run `Insight' on The Sunday Times. He is now the political editor of The Economist.
Front cover photographs
Lord Northcliffe, First Viscount Rothermere, courtesy Syndication
International Lord Beaverbrook. Cecil King. Sir Max Aitken. Lord
Thomson, Rupert Murdoch. Victor Matthews. courtesy Academy
First published 1979, Faber & Faber, London