Tuesday, July 25, 2006

News on Sunday - leftwing incompetence at its best

On TV last night was a hilarious documentary called “lefties” where the BBC reminisces about the “good old days” when unreformed communists were fighting for a socialist Britain. This has been a series that I have largely been missing, but last night was classic – it was about a failed attempt at a national socialist newspaper in Britain (bigger than the Morning Star and more leftist than the Guardian) – the News on Sunday. It was inspired by John Pilger and the desperation of trade unions and socialists “convinced” that despite Thatcher winning two elections, the mass of the British public could be encouraged to vote Labour (pre-Blair get Britain out of NATO Labour) because socialism was good for them – if only they realised it!
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The News on Sunday attempted to mobilise the working classes to support Labour and its hard left agenda of socialism. It failed, the Daily Mirror and the Sun have proved that, by and large, the British working classes want newspapers with royal/celebrity gossip, football and pictures of women with big tits - they don't want to read about strikes in Mexico, Brazilians selling kidneys for cash, or any bunch of murdering militia that the left supports this decade.
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However, back to the paper. It was a catalogue of disasters in many ways, and showed a litany of sheer incompetence. Remember, these sort of people wanted to take more taxes, run your education and health system and economy. Why oh why would you trust them?
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1. In the early days Pilger fled to Australia to make one of his “documentaries” for several months, and when he found out the editor was putting together the paper in ways he didn’t like and not running it past him (kind of hard given he was far away), he immediately resigned and wrote articles in other papers damning the News on Sunday before it was even published.
2. The paper was based in Manchester, because it didn’t want to be London focused and saw its heartland as being the working class north. As a result it was distant from capital city politics, and advertising agencies and a pool of more experienced potential employees.
3. The paper advertised for journalists. Something not done in the print media as people usually are discovered or passed on by word of mouth. The number of applications were so high that most did not get a reply, after a few were looked through they were given jobs, there were few interviews and no screening of the vast bulk of applications. Very fair employment policy.
4. Virtually all of the senior staff had never worked on a national newspaper before, many not in the newspaper sector. So there was very little experience of the business.
5. Many of the senior staff had no experience in their administrative roles. For example, the head of personnel had never worked in HR (a qualification that is positive in my view for today), the head of finance had never done accounts for a business, ever!
6. There was an “equal employment policy” which effectively meant if you were an ethnic minority, disabled or gay/lesbian you were more likely to get the job. The goal was to have more diverse points of view in the paper – the result was a combination of hiring people with little skill or at worst incredible patronising of some groups. The black editor had no experience being an editor before. The head of HR described how the paper treated disabled people “we hired all deaf people in the mailroom and to do deliveries, because they could communicate together”. How fucking patronising is that?
7. There was a focus on political correctness rather than good management. One former staff member described how around a week before the first issue he had arrived to work at the office to find it empty. The whole staff were sent on a “deafness awareness course” which consisted of “walking around Manchester wearing earplugs”. How mind numbingly stupid is that?
8. Decisions were made on “consensus” were certain key individuals having “golden shares” that meant they could veto decisions. In effect, there was no clear leadership and endless committee meetings and relitigation of decisions. A democratically controlled workplace saw people observed saying one thing in one meeting and changing for another. As a result, it was dysfunctional.
9. The £6.5 million raised to fund the paper came from trade unions and local authority pension funds. The stereotypical loony leftwing Labour council was not just a stereotype, as several Labour controlled councils frittered away their employees’ savings on this venture. How utterly incompetent is that? What pension fund decides a good way to make money is to back a new leftwing newspaper that is run by amateurs? Why weren’t the councillors being sued by the union? Gee, I wonder.
10. The paper commissioned an advertising agency to launch it. The agency came up with the slogan “no tits but lots of balls” to make the point that it wasn’t a page 3 girl tabloid, but “gutsy journalism”. It upset the feminists too much that the word “tits” was mentioned (as it is degrading to women to use the word – shame so many women use it”), that the campaign was dropped.
11. Leftwing millionaire businessman Owen Oyston offered to take over the paper and inject more money into it if the “golden shareholders” agreed. They didn’t, he walked away and it went bankrupt.
12. The paper ran at a loss through to the 1987 general election, with the staff working to ensure it didn’t go bankrupt before the election – because it would look like major Labour supporters can’t even run a viable newspaper. Which of course, they couldn’t.
13. Owen Oyston bought it off the receivers, and lost around £2 million before folding it 8 months later. Subsequently Oyston was sentenced to six years for raping a girl of 16, this was not the first allegation of rape against Oyston and he claimed it was a conspiracy to “set him up”.
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The first issue sold 500,000 issues, not bad? Well it needed 800,000 to break even. By the eighth week it was down to a circulation of 200,000. Alan Hayling, who is now head of BBC documentaries (!! Yes the BBC is so demonstrably unbiased) who used to work at a Ford assembly plant, became the Editor – and got several ex. Ford employees to piss money down the drain invest in the project. Those workers were more abused by Hayling and the left than by Ford.
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Pathetic really - a wonderful test of trust (pillaging pension funds and pissing them down a drain), anti-capitalist principles of running business (no decision making, no accountability - everyone blamed everyone else, few with skills or competence) and the reality of leftwing politics - it is an orchestrated arrogance of intellectual minnows who claim to know what's best for the so-called "working classes" when the working classes don't actually want it!

1 comment:

CD said...

A really good read Scott, thanks.