Archive for the ‘Richard Desmond’ tag

A chastened Express?

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Reading today’s Daily Express is a very odd experience.

It still says ‘Daily Express’ at the top and has the incongruous tagline ‘The World’s Greatest Newspaper’. The paper is the same size, the same price, and has the same font. Yet there is something radically different about it.

There is, for one thing, no mention of Madeleine McCann, or her parents, or anyone else to do with the whole McCann saga. No real surprise there I suppose – Carter Ruck’s warnings and a bill for £550,000 finally appear to have got through to Richard Desmond and his editor, Peter Hill.

But neither is there any mention of Diana, or Shannon Matthews’ family, or Fiona McKeown. Heather Mills makes a brief appearance on page 13, but only as part of Ann Widdecombe’s column. Nor are there any ominous warnings of wild weather. The Islamophobia is even toned down – though the paper could not resist a short piece by Cyril Dixon on p.14 reporting that there will be ‘More attending Mosques than Mass by 2020′ (would this previously have been a p.1 splash?).

Does this signify the end of the Express’ endless recycling of the same 4-5 stories? Have Richard Desmond and Peter Hill become self-conscious about their cynical manipulation of the news agenda? Or is this just a brief moment of respite until the criticisms subside and the calls for an Express boycott die down?

Written by Martin Moore

March 26th, 2008 at 12:45 pm

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Stop buying the Express

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“I fail to see”, comments Kieran216 below Roy Greenslade’s excellent McCann/Express blog, “how anyone of sane mind could have such complete lack of dignity to actually perform the act of walking up to a shop counter and paying money for the Express or the Star”.

S/he has a point. Here are papers that have knowingly printed stories they know to be false and that they know will be highly damaging to the McCann family. And they have done so with a grotesque cynicism and lack of respect not just for the McCanns but for their own readers. Just to take one instance from last October: on Monday 8th the paper splashed with ‘Madeleine parents in the clear: new shock on DNA evidence’. Then followed this on the 9th with ‘DNA puts parents in the frame’ (hat tip Observer).

And it doesn’t stop with the McCann’s. As toxtethogrady comments on the same Greenslade blog: “Can we have front page apologies for the hundreds of made up Diana and weather stories now as well?”. You could extend toxtethogrady’s list to include stories about the family of Shannon Matthews, stories about climate change and, of course, stories about immigrants and immigration.

At the same time the papers’ owner, Richard Desmond, continues to make phenomenal personal profits from his newspapers while cutting the number of staff. Last year, according to The Scotsman, he paid himself £40.7m, a good portion of which came from profits made by the Express and Star titles. Yet at the end of 2006 he cut 60 jobs from these titles and outsourced the whole business section of the Express to the Press Association – to save costs.

Desmond appears to be happy to print anything, true or false, to sell enough papers to make a profit. The more his papers’ circulations decline the more costs he’ll presumably cut until, at some stage in the next decade or so, they eventually become unprofitable to print.

Our only hope is that the people who keep putting their hand in their pocket to buy any of his papers, stop.

Written by Martin Moore

March 19th, 2008 at 9:39 am

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Depressed by the Express

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Can optimism sell newspapers? Back in the 1930s Lord Beaverbrook thought so and made sure his most popular paper, the Daily Express, always looked at things ‘from the sunny side of the street’. So much so that it was accused (fairly) of misleading the public by downplaying bad news in the build-up to the Second World War.
Still, it seemed to work. At the end of the war the Express was the biggest selling newspaper in the world, with a circulation of almost four million.
Then we have today’s Express, owned by Richard Desmond, with a circulation down to about 750,000. Are the depressing headlines one reason why? A few less-than uplifting front pages from the last six weeks include:
On housing: ‘Home loans set to soar again’ (15-2-07), ‘Scrap new tax on house sales’ (22-2-07), ‘Millions in home tax trap’ (5-3-07), ‘Cost of home loans to soar’ (21-3-07).
On tax: ‘Tax spies to invade your life’ (20-2-07), ‘Blair’s road tax lies exposed’ (25-2-07), ‘Brown’s tax plan to bleed you dry’ (8-3-07), ‘Tax cut: it’s just a big con’ (22-3-07).
Then of course there’s the Diana conspiracy (‘Diana: vital evidence was kept secret’, 20-3-07), interest rates ( ‘Interest rates to go up and up again’ 28-3-07), anti-Islamic polemics (‘Muslims tell us how to run our schools’ 21-2-07) and the weather (‘Wet Wet Britain’ 28-2-07, ‘Stand by for more floods’ 7-3-07).
Is life really that bad? Still, there was one reason to be cheerful, on 19th February the paper splashed with ‘Chocolate can save your life’ (perhaps the regular editorial team were out that night).

Written by Martin Moore

March 28th, 2007 at 3:47 pm

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