When I was appointed editor of this newspaper it’s fair to say there was a little scepticism in the media industry. Maybe even incredulity. After all, I hadn’t worked my way up through the ranks of a newsroom.
I was an outsider. For some in the trade I was little more than an imposter. While I felt at the time that I was capable of doing the job - I also realised that it was perfectly reasonable for media commentators to question my appointment - and that all I could do was learn fast, be grateful for the opportunity and try to make an impact.
It’s very nearly two years since I was offered the editor’s job and I’m still learning, still grateful and still striving to make an impact with each edition of the paper.
I found myself reflecting on all of this as George Osborne started work as editor of the Evening Standard. Understandably, there has been much interest in his editorial positions, with journalists and pundits analysing every page for signs that he’s going to make Theresa May’s life difficult.
To be fair, people didn’t have to look hard to find evidence of such an approach, but Osborne will have had more on his mind this week than how to wind up a PM who sacked him.
Taking the editor’s chair is a daunting and exhilarating process. I was inexperienced when I started. By industry standards, I still am.
But the reality of a daily newspaper ensures you learn fast. Osborne may have been a surprising appointment, but he is more then capable of doing the job and I fully expect him to be a success.
Editorials criticising Theresa May give other journalists something to write about, but there are more important aspects to the job. He has to get to know the team, earn their respect and confound his critics. He has to shape his life to the rhythm of the paper and decide where he wants it to go.
It is the most enjoyable and satisfying adventure and from one outsider to another, I wish the new editor of the Standard the very best of luck.
Jimmy Wales in a Daily Fail
Is fake news a serious problem? Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, certainly thinks so.
He’s launching a “community driven news platform...by the people and for the people.”
Frankly, I think it sounds tedious, pious and arrogant. Wikipedia has already decided to ban the Daily Mail as a reference source on the site, claiming that the paper is “generally unreliable” and has “a reputation for sensationalism.”
The fact that Wales still allows propaganda outlets such as Iran’s Press TV and the Kremlin’s Russia Today to stand as sources suggests his problem is more to do with the fact that he and his team of volunteer editors just don’t like the Daily Mail very much.
Who is he to rule on the paper’s credibility? When apparent concern for ‘fake news’ is used as an excuse to purge voices and perspectives with which a minority disagree, we’re in dangerous territory.
Wales has done a tremendous amount for the global spread of information. It’s a shame he’s now leading the charge to restrict and censor it.
Strong and stable sloganing
Pop quiz: what is Theresa May’s campaign slogan?
If you answered “strong and stable leadership” then congratulations - you are in the 15 per cent of Britons who have heard the phrase.
Reporters and pundits on Twitter have spent the week pulling their hair out at the way in which May repeats this line, but according to YouGov just 15 per cent claim to remember hearing it in the past week.
This proves the rule that only when the political class is absolutely sick to death of a slogan can you be sure that the wider public is starting to hear it.
Brexit grind yet to begin
If you thought the last few days of Brexit-related briefings and spin were bad, just remember that negotiations haven’t even started yet.
The decision by team Juncker to leak their version of events after a No 10 dinner resulted in a bloody war of words with Theresa May’s government, generating more heat than light.
Michel Barnier appeared to slap down Juncker when he called for an end to the “theatrics” and Donald Tusk echoed that sentiment yesterday.
Nevertheless, a tone has been set and it’s hard to see peace breaking out.