Magazine article Marketing

Raymond Snoddy on Media: Dame Marjorie Packs a Real Punch

Magazine article Marketing

Raymond Snoddy on Media: Dame Marjorie Packs a Real Punch

Article excerpt

What a great week it has been for editor stories. Sun editor Rebekah Wade decking EastEnders hardman husband Ross Kemp is as close to 'man bites dog' as we are likely to get in the real world.

It is hardly surprising that Dame Marjorie Scardino's decking of Financial Times editor Andrew Gowers didn't attract quite so much attention. Yet it is difficult to underestimate the drama, in the world of the FT, of an editor being summarily removed.

Such things simply don't happen at Pearson. The rules are supposed to be set and as well-scripted as the election of a Pope.

A candidate emerges after years of honest toil as deputy editor, often having worked nowhere else of significance during their career. Unless they make a spectacular hash of things, the deputy gets the chair in the fullness of time - although other candidates can apply and are respectfully interviewed.

The chosen one is then editor of the FT for about a decade before announcing that 10 years is quite long enough for anyone and pushing off, complete with knighthood, to write learned books at the London School of Economics or sit on the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee.

Editors of the FT simply do not get abruptly removed after less than four years over 'strategic differences' - the PR cover story dreamed up to cover the embarrassment of all concerned.

Take away the diplomatic euphemisms and the reality is that Gowers resigned from the FT in much the same way as Greg Dyke was required to resign from his post as director-general of the BBC. He admitted as much himself on BBC Radio 4's Today programme last week, when he said that he recognised the right of a newspaper's proprietor to change editors.

That the depth of the strategic differences came as something of a surprise to Gowers can be seen from the fact that he has no idea what he is going to do next. At the age of 48, he is not quite ready for either the LSE or the Monetary Policy Committee.

Clearly, the amiable Dame Marjorie's right hook is on a par with that of Rebekah Wade.

Despite the hush-hush nature of the 'strategic differences', it is pretty clear that Gowers was undermined by his inability to do anything to resolve the continuing weakness of the FT's UK edition, even though the overseas circulation is brighter. Full-price sales are less than 100,000 in the UK heartland, and building up sport and more general news coverage before removing it did not help. …

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