It’s not something you read everyday: a media trade magazine praising the business tactics of Express Newspapers owner Richard Desmond, publisher of the Express and Star titles and OK!.
But that’s exactly what Media Week editor Steve Barrett has done this week by giving the controversial Desmond a rare positive appraisal in an editorial.
The Express was pleased enough to merit the article itself worthy of a news story.
Desmond has been described as “the worst newspaper publisher in 60 years” and is an arch-enemy of the National Union of Journalists for his staff-cutting, the latest installment of which involves axing 86 production staff on the Express titles.
But, as Barrett says:
“There are others who, on the quiet, profess grudging admiration for the way Desmond and his long-standing associate Stan Myerson make solid pre-tax profits out of print in these challenging times – £52m in 2007.
“Desmond and Northern and Shell will never be eveyone’s cup of tea. but the ruthless devotion to profit and scaling a business up or down according to circumstances is hard to argue with.”
And Desmond isn’t afraid to invest in new ventures. He spent $100m on OK! in US, and Barrett points out that despite scepticism over the move the magazine is set to start recouping that investment.
But one aspect of Barrett’s analysis will prove interesting reading to Trinity Mirror investors and employees: “Desmond has always had a liking for the Mirror and some think he may one day mount a bid for the struggling paper. The regulators would have something to say about it, but that would really put the cat among the pigeons – and who’s to say that Desmond and crew wouldn’t confound the critics and pull it off once again.”