SO, George Osborne is to edit the Evening Standard. Everyone’s a journalist these days. Anyone can write a column and put it online. And now anyone can edit a newspaper, even if their newspaper experience extends little beyond having generated a fair few headlines. Some editors have written a lot of headlines; some, it appears, have had a lot written about them.
I don’t know when he found the time to do his NCTJ exams and fitting in his shorthand must have been a nightmare, what with earning £650,000 a year from US fund manager Black Rock – for one day’s work a week – and trousering £800,000 in nine months for making speeches to bankers and Americans. Oh, and that bit of pocket money he earns as MP for Tatton. I am surprised he even gets out of bed for his MP’s salary of £75,000. Mind you, perhaps he’ll end up not going to bed at all at this rate.
Here is some handy information for George. Headlines are those big words at the top of the page. The ones in the Standard usually support your lot, so you should feel at home – although you may feel tempted to attack Theresa May (nice short surname, fits a headline well).
When a story is spiked it is dropped, and this refers to real spikes that used to sit in newsrooms, often in a tin filled with lead. Assorted bits of paper would be stored on these spikes. Sometimes they were bent; sometimes they went straight up. I once wrote a novel in which an editor was murdered by one of those spikes, so be careful.
Intros are the words at the beginning of a story; a crosshead is a word that breaks up a column of type (although a crosshead may also refer to the incredulous journalists who can’t believe that you are now their boss).
Leading is the space between lines of type; and lead piping is something you might want to watch out for if you go to visit Theresa May (that’s if she’ll let you through the door).
The more I think about it, the more I can only conclude that George Osborne’s qualification for the job is down to having been in the news a lot. Perhaps that’s all it takes nowadays, and it is part of a strange bit of job-shunting. The editor of the Standard, Sarah Sands, is a very experienced journalist with virtually no broadcasting experience; so naturally she is off to edit the BBC Today programme. And her job is being passed on to a Tory politician with no newspaper experience.
Then again, the US is being run by a man with zero experience of politics; and less than zero common humanity, so there you go.
Former Labour leader Ed Miliband mocked Osborne by joking that he was going to be made editor of Heat magazine. That was quite amusing, unlike Jeremy Corbyn muntering on in the background about this being “yet another example of the establishment revolving door, a closely knit clique who are holding back the British people…” Yes, Jeremy, you have a point but dear me you are determined to bore everyone to death with it. Why didn’t you just say: “Well, I’m off to edit the Beano then” or something vaguely witty?
A few serious points…
Should George Osborne still be an MP with all this extra work? Being an editor is a difficult and demanding job, not something to be quickly fitted in with everything else. Being an MP is a difficult and demanding job. Doing both while also having to cram all that money into your wallet just doesn’t seem right and proper. If nothing else, Osborne ought to step away from Parliament – and from Knutsford with its nice kitchen shops and flashy cars (it’s south of Manchester, George, in case you have forgotten, not far from the airport)
Is a Tory MP, and one known for his devious politicking, the right person to edit a newspaper and won’t he just display total bias towards his party? There are two answers to that: one, yes probably, but the Standard is pretty much a Tory-sheet anyway; two: isn’t Osborne more likely to use the paper to push himself and to settle scores with Theresa May?
Downing Street was said to be “very surprised” by the announcement of George’s new job. You and the rest of us, Mrs Maybe.
This new job is being shaped for George in that he will only edit the paper four days a week, and will still have time to pop to Parliament later in the day, apparently. Presumably his deputy will do most of the real work, you know, all that newspaper stuff. As Osborne told his staff: “I may have run the country but I’ve never run a paper.”
Oh, I bet that had them rolling in the aisles. And wondering if anyone had kept any of those old spikes.