Communications disease

Another planet

The Londoner is great.  It only costs you people £3 million and it tells you how great I amThe Mayor and his press people are showing how totally up themselves they are today. They are celebrating how well the Londoner did at one of those black tie, West End hotel type shindigs where everyone congratulates themselves on how great they are.

How can this be news? How can this be a reason for this expensive press management organisation to produce a finely crafted press release?

Astoundingly the Londoner got the award for journalism in a council publication at the Good Communications Awards 2007. Since when was the Londoner journalism? One-sided cheerleading for the Mayor it certainly does. It never, never does journalism. At its best journalism is a process which looks at news from all sides. The Londoner only ever talks about the projected benefits of the Mayor’s policies. Never the costs. It never discusses failure. How can an in house puff piece ever be described as journalism?

Apparently the judges said:

A worthy winner. A tabloid paper that competes on equal terms with the London frees. It offers a good range of bright stories both news and features, but what really sets this item apart is the quality of the writing, with great intros and not a wasted word. This is journalism of national newspaper quality.

The line that really stands out is “A tabloid paper that competes on equal terms with the London frees”. As some of you may know from a previous posting the Londoner is not a conventional newspaper. It does not have to compete with anyone. The Mayor simply gives it £3 million per annum.

Redmond O’Neill, the Mayor’s Director of Public Affairs, is quoted in the press release as follows:

Since we launched the Londoner five years ago, the percentage of people who say they are informed about the work of the Mayor has almost tripled. Today, more people get their information about the work of the Mayor from the monthly Londoner, than the daily Evening Standard.

People have a choice about spending 50p on the Evening Standard. Its coverage is not perfect but you get stories that cover London from a whole range of angles. There is no choice with the Londoner, except to throw it in the bin.

Redmond O’Neill is not a conventional civil servant. He was not recruited to the GLA by any kind of conventional selection process. He is one of Livingstone’s cronies from Socialist Action described by the Guardian as a “Trotskyite splinter group “. O’Neill’s Trotskyite days are behind him now of course, according to the TaxPayers’ Alliance Town Hall Rich List O’Neill earned £117,882 in 2005/6. Lovely.

Coincidentally Ealing’s own Around Ealing magazine won the award for design at the same awards. The Ealing comms people have had the good sense not to do a self-indulgent, look at me job. To the Ealing team I say well done on your very credible award and well done on your good taste.

One reply on “Another planet”

You are quite right to highlight this nonsense.

The awards themselves are pretty bizarre. Four of the seven judges all work for the National Computing Centre. By what Bizantine process that qualifies them as experts in evaluating written communication is completely beyond me.

Journalists who work on the national press tell me that the salaries paid to writers on The Londoner are higher than on any national newspaper. This is odd as these writers are generating text for a tabloid sales document selling how wonderful the Mayor is. Sadly these rich writers are being funded by Council Tax payers in Ealing and in the other London Boroughs.

Around Ealing is a useful, well produced vehicle which communicates well on what the Council is doing and plans to do; publicises Council events and meetings as well as volunteer run events. I’ll bet the folks who write the text get paid nowhere near what The Londoner propaganda writers receive!


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