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October 30, 2012

We may bemoan the beancounters, but it’s justifiable revenge

By Grey Cardigan

We might bemoan the pain that the beancounters have inflicted upon us in recent years but, in hindsight, they’re only getting what’s probably a justifiable revenge. Don’t forget, it was we who tormented them during the good years of massive profits and Bacchanalian excess, their pleas for some kind of financial probity routinely sneered at or simply ignored. Well that bad attitude has come back to bite us in the arse now, hasn’t it?

I am reminded of this because a friend has just been digging around in his ‘black file’ and has come up with an interesting memo. (We’ve all got a ‘black file’, haven’t we? The one where we keep those potentially embarrassing pictures and memos that might be required for the purposes of revenge or retribution at a later date? I’ve got a cracker which would severely embarrass a current regional newspaper executive in the form of a hotel bill for damages to a room which covers a broken sink, trashed carpets and cleaning up after what seems to have been some kind of Bobby Sands-style dirty protest.)

Anyway, back to the memo. It comes from the desk of a clearly despairing financial director and reads, in part, thus: “Despite previous requests for assistance in ensuring all expense claims are authorised, claims are still being processed incorrectly. I have highlighted in management meetings the penalties we would incur if the Inland Revenue inspected our system. However, the phrase ‘bureaucratic bollocks’ was uttered several times.

“The minimum I can ask for is a senior manager’s signature on every claim. I do not believe this to be such an onerous task, but as you can see by the attached, some people are, quite frankly, just taking the piss.”

The attached expenses claim was for a not inconsiderable amount of entertaining, but the ‘senior manager’s’ signature was that of a certain L.Lucan. Is it any wonder that they still hate us?

I SEE that Michelle Stanistreet has been banging on again about the newspaper industry’s exploitation of unpaid interns. She complains that some work for free for anything from three months to a year and that the practice should therefore be banned.

Let me spell it out to her, from a mere regional editor’s chair. We give local youngsters who have shown an interest and some initiative the opportunity to spend time in a newsroom environment.

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We hope that this will either instil in them a love of the trade, or help them decide that this kind of journalism is not for them. They are with us for a week, two at the most. We send them away with a useful entry on their CV and, hopefully, some cuttings for their book. In recent years, two have subsequently got a job with us.

Were we forced to pay them even a token rate, I simply couldn’t afford to give them this opportunity.

As far as editorial is concerned, there is no money. Frankly I’d rather continue to give these bright youngsters a chance, rather than slam the door on them because of some ideological bollocks.

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