Monday, 9 January 2012

Leveson. Mackenzie v Mohan

IT WAS good to see Kelvin Mackenzie and Dominic Mohan on the same stage today.
One, a garrulous, cavalier batsman and redoubtable lobber of exploding hand grenades.
The other, a pensive, calm strategist with an undertaker’s demeanour and a bank manager’s eye for detail.
They are both brilliant editors. Yet one of the only things they have in common is a sniper’s instinct for whom to target on the news agenda.
Otherwise baggy trousered Kelvin and pointy shoed Dominic are different beasts in our jungle.
But their vastly different styles are an indication of how tabloid journalism is already on the move down the road of reform.
Kelvin was undoubtedly one of the most gifted tabloid editors of all time.
But he had the luxury of a much clearer pitch to play on.
A modern editor must negotiate the obstacles of privacy, super-injunctions, no win no fee libel actions, Parliamentary scrutiny and now Leveson.
All this demands a supreme tactician. A brigadier rather than a bombardier.
Add to that my recurring theme that young people do not understand or want us anymore and you need an editor who listens to the heartbeat of his younger readers like never before.
Mohan went some way towards indicating that he gets this point when he said:  "I like to describe the paper as celebrating modern life and that it's 2012 rather than pining for and wishing it is 1955 again, which I think is what a number of other papers do."
It is one of the reasons why the Sun is still regularly picked up by the under 25s. You even see the odd one floating around in university JCRs.
The Murdoch preference for gung-ho editors like Kelvin Mackenzie, Derek Jameson and Piers Morgan has been replaced by shrewder operators.
Tabloid veterans may pine for Kelvin’s blazing front pages which lit up the news agenda every morning.
But it is to the likes of Mohan that we must invest our hopes for the future.
All red-tops follow and mimic the Sun.
And it falls on the modern man at the top to show them the new tabloid style.
So when Leveson points us in the direction of reform in 12 months time, we can greet it and accept it knowing we are already nearly there.


  1. AnonymousJan 11, 2012 02:32 PM

    Loved hearing the Kelvinator drawing the subtle distinction between 'chucking' something and the much more tender 'lob it in' there..

    It's as if Mr McKenzie is planning to teach Andy Murray a few tricks come Wimbledon fortnight..

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