Happy Christmas: Six of the best stories from 2008

2008 has had a pretty miserable end it to it for many journalists – especially those working in the regional press, where the big companies seem intent on a wholesale retreat from the local communities they have served – and made great profits from – for more than a hundred years.

But enough of that – it’s Christmas, and 2008 was a great year in all sorts of other ways.

Here’s my six of the best from 2008. Happy Christmas and good luck for 2009.

1. Flat Earth News – Nick Davies’ book attacking “Churnalism” and in particular singling out The Observer, the Sunday Times, PA and the Daily Mail for criticism. After initially running our much-legalled exclusive extracts, the book itself was publicly dissected in the pages of Press Gazette by those Davies had lambasted, prompting lots more work for Press Gazette’s lawyers.

It provided us with corking copy for several weeks, and even prompted a lively debate at the London College of Communications. Click here for all the stories on this.

2. Kingston Crown Court throwing out the police charges against Sally Murrer last month. God knows why Thames Valley Police threw its full force against a part-time local paper journalist who did nothing apart from receive the odd story tip-off from a police source. She was doing her job, doing what any crime reporter worth their salt does every day. Weird. Thank goodness she won.

3. Michael Donlevy calling all trade journalists wankers. The Maxim editor showed less than brilliantly developed PR skills when he responded to an article on Brand Republic about is flagging circulation by sending an email to staff slagging off trade journalists, which was promptly leaked to Press Gazette.

Among other things he said:

“Trade journalists are wankers. They don’t like Dennis – never have, never will. So they will give us a kicking instead of reporting that Esquire sold 15,000 or Arena sold four fucking copies.”

Donlevy departed from the title last month.

4. National newspaper web traffic.

The national titles are more than making up for their loss of print readers with some astonishing website growth. The Guardian leads the way with 26 million unique users a month. Now they just need to find a way to make money out of them.

5. Press Gazette surviving – again. We’ve had more relaunches and comebacks than David Bowie – and this summer, after 43 years as a weekly, we went monthly.

I’m delighted to report that since the move we’ve gained more subscribers than we’ve lost – even though the per copy cost has gone up substantially. And web traffic is booming. We currently get well over 100,000 unique users a month, which – I am reliably informed – is shedloads considering the size of our editorial team.

So thanks readers for sticking with us!

6. Giles Coren’s expletive laden email to the Times subs who had the temerity to tinker with his copy:


“I have written 350 restaurant reviews for The Times and i have never ended on an unstressed syllable. Fuck. fuck, fuck, fuck.”

It’s become the stuff of journalism folklore and even prompted this hilarious Youtube clip:

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