Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Last Post

Well, it limped on doggedly, looked at with pity & sympathy by a bunch of incredulous onlookers. How much longer could it survive, they wondered. Outside the boardroom of Trinity Mirror the reaction was equally mystified. Today, however, the last rites were administered to the Daily Ghost; it will soon be no more ( ).
The Ghost will become a weekly one-hundred page publication in the new year, retailing at a humble quid. To change from daily to weekly publication would be seen by many as a retrograde step. Not on Oldham Hall Street, though, where bullishness is presented as confidence; Roy Greenslade is moved to comment:
"Editor Mark Thomas did his best to put a good face on the decision."
The "good face" is, to be frank, a brazen denial of reality which would have shamed Comical Ali during the last days of Saddam Hussein's rule in Iraq ( ):
"Post Editor Mark Thomas said today: 'It is never easy to lose jobs but the changes to format and to staffing sets the Post up for an exciting new future.
" 'We are lucky to possess one of the great brands in journalism and we've been serving our city for 156 years. This change sets us up to serve it for the next 156 -- in print and online and through whatever channels readers seek to receive it.' "
Hear that, all you naysayers & cynics? It's "an exciting new future" that awaits the staff at the Ghost. I'm sure their initial reaction when they heard the news was "yippee, that sounds like an exciting new future for us!"
The sour reality is that the Daily Ghost has been on Trinity Mirror's life support system for the last few years. Today the tubes were withdrawn from the patient. Contrary to the view held by Messrs Machray & Thomas, I take no pleasure in seeing the paper's demise (jobs will be lost); this is no time for schadenfreude. Nor, however, is it a time for management bollockese when the paper's staff know full well what this "switch" really means. To entertain the conceit that those who still regularly purchase the daily paper will maintain their habit on a weekly basis is delusional. Weekly papers rarely succeed, particularly in the UK. Moreover, dated content on the newsstands every Thursday will not be an enticing prospect.
Larry Nield remarks on Liverpool Confidential's coverage of the decision ( ):
"Let's hope its switch to a weekly is not a case of placing the Post into a media hospice to await its final demise."
Yet that is precisely what it is. Isn't it, Larry?
And yet, and yet, and yet...
It could all have been just that little bit different, as Wayne pointed out earlier ( ):
"Alastair Machray has let a lot of people go, some skilled and with the experience of decades of writing, with a knowledge of the locality that would be hard to replace."
Retaining such staff wouldn't have saved the paper from its eventual demise, but Big Al's decisions, at the behest of Trinity Mirror, certainly hastened it.
There are those who tonight assert that the Ghost has been less sensationalist than its grotesquely downmarket sister, the Oldham Echo. Not always, as the front page at the top of the screen demonstrates. The city urgently needs balanced, informative reporting without fear or favour, & where certain business interests are not treated with a lack of rigour which borders on the servile.
The death of the Daily Ghost does nothing to change that.              

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