The Grey Cardigan 24.03.06

ANYONE WHO works in this communications industry knows that we’re particularly crap at one thing — communication. Hence the number of phone calls last week from assorted Northcliffe people I know asking if I could tell them anything about the group’s future strategy. Me? How the hell would I know?

My snouts can only tell me that since the plan to sell the group off as a whole was scuppered, bulletins from the John Street bunker in London have been limited.

Just five emails, I am told: one demanding attendance at an important meeting with Lord Rothermere; another the following day cancelling said meeting; one responding to queries about future strategy by saying that there was, as yet, no future strategy; one informing worried execs that group managing director Michael Pelosi was going on holiday for a week; and one pointing out the appalling financial implications of a massive over-ordering of paper clips in Truro. (My information may be a little shaky on that last one.)

Meanwhile, it’s one step forward and two steps back for the newspaper group that was once the envy of the industry. The initial target for Northcliffe’s cost-reduction project, the start of the madness if you like, was a mere £20m. Yet buried in DMGT’s trading update last week was the revelation that putting the group up for sale and then withdrawing it again has cost a cool £5m in professional fees. The lunatics have truly taken over the asylum.

PICKING UP a copy of Saturday’s Daily Express in the doctor’s waiting room (just a touch of the Chalfonts, but thanks for asking), I was puzzled by the page-one splash reading: "Inheritance tax scandal: It’s going to treble".

Isn’t inheritance tax paid at the rate of 40 per cent? And isn’t 40 per cent trebled 120 per cent? How does that work then? Do you start paying it before you die? Or is it just that the Express is so short of subs that they’re letting innumerate tossers write the splash?

A COUPLE of weeks ago I noted the obvious relish with which tabloid subs embrace stories about nonces and rapists. The News of the World was at it again on Sunday, catching Lotto rapist Iorworth Hoare eating a pie in what was clearly a threatening and licentious manner.

Hoare also had the bare-faced temerity to twice glance at a group of girls as he walked down a street, sorry, prowled the neighbourhood.

The value of the piece was all in the pictures of those backward glances. Is it only me who wouldn’t be surprised if there had been a photographer’s assistant calling his name from behind a tree?

WHO GOT paid for The Sun’s pictures of Lotto yob Michael Carroll disporting himself in the nick? And how much?

If it wasn’t for fear of a shower room beating for being a grass, I might be tempted to draw this to the attention of the Press Complaints Commission, who can get a bit tasty about this sort of thing. In fact, I can just picture Sir Christopher Meyer, KCMG, slipping a pool ball into a sock…

I WOULD LIKE to say that Professor Roy "Gotcha" Greenslade’s weekly missive in The Daily Telegraph will be sadly missed.

Unfortunately, when the tea fund is £2.80 light, one of the NUJ dissidents has flooded the toilets in an attack on corporate greed and they’ve just banned smoking within 50 yards of the building, a shape-shifting lizard banging on at vast length about how many Chinese journalists are in prison in Beijing doesn’t really cut the fucking mustard.

You can contact me, should you be minded, at thegreycardigangmail.com

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