Kim Fletcher

December 3, 2007

Editorial Intelligence’s Kim Fletcher has been on some sort of media merry-go-round of the right-wing press, mostly during the glory years of Mrs Thatcher and her many supporters in the press:

” …consultant editor of The Daily Telegraph and editorial director of Hollinger Telegraph New Media from March 2000. He joined The Sunday Telegraph as a reporter in 1988, becoming news editor and then deputy editor before leaving in 1998 to edit The Independent on Sunday. Kim Fletcher began his career at The Star, Sheffield, in 1978, after graduating from Oxford University with a degree in law. He joined The Sunday Times in 1981 as a news reporter, later becoming labour correspondent and home affairs correspondent. He worked as a news reporter for The Daily Telegraph from 1986 to 1987 and has contributed during his career on Fleet Street to most national newspapers. “

Married to Sarah Sands, the editor of The Sunday Telegraph (after being deputy editor for 10 years) who relaunched the Sunday Telegraph as “something lovely,” but not that many readers could bring themselves to believe the paper had changed from the ancient bastion of reactionary piffle, conduit for the intelligence-connected right’s disinformation and so on.

“…aimed more directly at women, circulation is playing a distinctly depressing tune. Last month, after a launch buoyed by marketing and a free DVD, sales fell back by more than 10 per cent to 642,000 copies, of which just 249,000 were bought domestically at full price. “What I have now is a very attractive package for advertisers””

Something did manage to annoy Sir Peregrine Worsthorne —although obviously as the custodian of the Telegraph’s values he is in a state of permanent disgruntlement with aspects of modernity that do not conform to his imaginary concept of the past. Worsthorne let it be known that “Once the representative of conservatism at its nicest…No other British institution” has been “so badly degraded,” which other papers were only too happy to print.

After just eight months and 20 days in the post, Sands was replaced as one of a string of editors presiding over the ongoing drop in sales. Could it be that Conrad Black and the Barclay brothers just don’t want something lovely and that a free DVD is not the saviour of the human race that it is thought to be. Even Rupert Murdoch’s wary:

“Sales go up for a day. And are right back to where they were the following day. People just grab the paper, tear the DVD off and throw away the paper … That’s got to stop.”

Yes what we want is good investigative journalism into the people controlling they way we think. We need to train armies of journalists…

Oh Yike it’s David Icke!

Fletcher is on the case as Chairman of the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ), he said: “I hope that I can play my part in developing its vital role in promoting the highest standards of journalism among new generations coming into the industry.”

One can see where this ‘National Council’ is heading in their ‘hall of fame’ which boasted a list of: ‘Just some of the celebrities who undertook NCTJ training,’ (this has recently and understandably been changed on thier site):

Kate Adie, Michael Buerk, Jeremy Clarkson, the late Jill Dando, Anne Diamond, Frederick Forsyth, Roy Greenslade, Anthony Holden, David Icke, Sue Lawley, Richard Littlejohn, Kelvin McKenzie, David Montgomery, Andrew Morton, John Motson, John Piennar

What are we boasting about here…? David Icke!

Fletcher is also a media columnist with The Guardian and a member of the British Journalism Review editorial board. Fletcher has one notable distinction:

“Only one paper opposed the war on principle: The Independent on Sunday. In the aftermath of Kosovo, its editor has just been fired. He is an accomplished journalist and honorable man named Kim Fletcher. His successor is, suitably, the former presenter of downmarket television talk shows..”

Yes — imagine being replaced by Janet Street Porter.

We work with you

Should we feel sorry for Sands and Fletcher as they went along with Murdoch MacLennan’s repression on behalf of ‘the Kray Twins’ (as the Barclays were known in Scotland). It took a ‘Hard man’ to clear the way for the soft Sands:

“The Scots-born former Associated Newspapers hatchet man started with the Telegraph board, replacing all but two members in six months. Then 90 daily and Sunday editorial staff were made redundant in this year’s infamous spring cull to pay for extra pages and stateof-the-art colour presses.”

The Telegraph’s revelations brought down Blunkett (or so they say) but didn’t do so well with George Galloway. It should be pointed out that although this husband and wife team are reponsible for the Telegraph they retain a certain measure of dignity. It’s small but it is there and probably looks like disdain to most of us. When interviewed as editorial director of the Telegraph group Fletcher confessed: “I don’t think journalists have got much dignity, insofar as they’ve got any. It’s slightly below dignity, I guess.”

Despite this (or perhaps because of this) for Fletcher it is now a journalists job to ‘create’ the news:

“Well, I think it is a journalist’s job now, because newspapers are having to look for all sorts of ways in which they can sell newspapers, and it’s not enough anymore, certainly in this country, in Britain, [for] the newspapers just to report the news.”

Obviously a great amount of stuff has to be concocted to meet market (and indeed in Galloway’s case political) pressures. We can’t just blame the lack of interest people show in reading the papers on the reputation of the Barclays or Murdoch — they have an army of conviction-led slightly dignified journalists we can blame too.

Fletcher was forced to leave his job as editorial director of Telegraph Group following his wife’s appointment because it was seen as a possible conflict of interest. One wonders at this point do the Telegraph employ a phoney baloney consultancy perchance:

‘Market Evolution’ work with the Telegraph and just two other clients, and tell us:

1. We dig out the key consumer data

2. We build target-specific consumer insight and commercial value

3. We give on-going measurement, analysis and refinement

4. We work with you

“To ensure we deliver real and demonstrable value to our clients Market Evolution works closely with some of the best and most experienced brains in international media”. Well two brains really and one of them is Kim ‘possible conflict of interest’ Fletcher. Its a real pity Fletcher didn’t share all this accumen with his missus. That is the magic of a consultancy — conflict of interest disappears like genitals under a fig leaf: just because Fletcher is working with the Telegraph doesn’t mean he is working for the Telegraph. Slightly below dignity remember. Outsourced dignity then.

Neither husband or wife noticed anything untoward concerning Conrad Black during his time as ruler of the Telegraph universe, in fact you might say Fletcher is quite chummy with management.

“Rumours of redundancies in the paper’s production department had led Father of the Chapel John Carey to seek a meeting with Fletcher, who until this week had led management negotiations with the NUJ. Carey said he was told by Fletcher that editorial redundancies were a possibility “at some stage” but there was no plan in place and the NUJ chapel would be informed before any plan was put out more widely. Two days later chief executive Murdoch MacLennan sent letters to the homes of staff informing them of the proposal to cut about 90 editorial jobs. Carey said: “It is beyond our belief that that plan was not in place two days before.””

But the Press gazzette obviously have it in for Fletcher — they just lack faith. MacLennan and Fletcher became a double act arguing with a straightish face that “the cuts were necessary to help finance a £150m investment”. Cuts mean investment. Fletcher used the time-honoured method of “categorically den[ying] impending cuts days before the news was announced.” Do they teach this stuff in journalism school?

Fletcher offers an interesting diagnosis of the crisis: “Kim Fletcher blames the dwindling circulation of Sunday papers on the plethora of extra sections now appearing in their Saturday rivals. Fletcher, as he admitted in his piece for the MediaGuardian, is married to Sunday Telegraph editor Sarah Sands, who has recently presided over a slump in sales. Must be nice to have the old man doing the PR for you.”

Heh! consultant technically, but now that Editorial Intelligence has popped up its all one, but will EI’s existence not also contribute to this decline? Yes… all is not sweetness and light in EI’s snake pit world: you might say they have a PR problem. Sarah Sands has reviewed Hobsbawm’s ‘Where the Truth Lies: trust and morality in PR and journalism’ and found journalists to be quasi-honest if somewhat trusting victims, easily seduced but quick to make amends (when caught red-handed).

“Julia Hobsbawm is, by instinct and professional self-interest, a peacemaker. She sits comfortably in a world of forums and summits and international conferences. Recently, she set up an organisation called Editorial Intelligence, which promised to bring together the best minds in journalism and PR. It was a grown-up but false proposition, and naturally it ended in a great big punch-up. Cristina Odone, writing in the Guardian, accused the journalists who signed up to Editorial Intelligence of being appeasers. How could the two tribes ever be friends when they were founded on opposing principles? Journalists uncovered the truth and PRs repressed it. There was a hurried series of resignations. Some journalists claimed that the commercial nature of the venture – disguised lobbying – had not been made clear. Is Editorial Intelligence a microcosm of the doomed relationship between PR and journalism?”

Don’t know — ask your husband.

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