Monday, September 17, 2012

Omnipotent editorial practices and lousy leadership dooms the Irish Daily Star


Last week the editor of the Irish Daily Star published an unwanted and intrusive  photograph of the Duchess of Cambridge taken while she was sunbathing topless on vacation and at a private venue.

The editor of this newspaper described his decision as ‘a service to the paper’s readers’.  The Irish Daly Star is owned in a joint venture company, Independent Star Limited controlled by Independent News & Media Plc and Northern & Shell.

The outraged Jewish chairman of Northern & Shell, Richard Clive Desmond  (aged 60), 57th richest man in Britain with a net worth of £590 million, has announced a decision to dismantle the joint venture underpinning the Irish Daily Star while the other partner describes the publication of the photograph as a ‘poor editorial decision’.

If this was ‘a service to readers’ that the Stars readers’ really wanted, desired and valued the consequences would be reflected in higher circulation figures for the issues concerned. If it was not a service to readers it was an exercise to feed the pocket of a mercenary parasite.

But while daily newspaper circulation in Ireland has declined from 2006 to 2011 by 14%, from an average of 635,595 newspapers per day in the first half of 2006 to 536,025 in the latter half of 2005, the reduction of circulation of the Irish Daily Star has been significantly more severe.

An average of 104,054 copies of the Star sold each day in early 2006 according to statistics published by National Newspapers of Ireland but the corresponding figure for the latter half of 2011 was 81,105, a decline of 22%, or a drop of almost 23,000 copies daily.

Turnover has dropped from €43.1 million in 2006 to €40.6 million (-5.9%) in 2011 while profit on ordinary activities before taxation dropped from €5,841,787 to €4,293,102 (-26%) in the same period, a trend that would make Mr Desmond’s instincts edgy and uncertain, to say the least.  His wife apparently divorced him on grounds of ‘unreasonable behaviour’ but is he likely to make such a definitive statement about the future of the Irish Daily Star and back away from the consequences? Hardly, if a history of ‘unreasonable behaviour’ has been eliminated.

How could the apparent omnipotent attitude of a newspaper editor who panders like a poodle to a voyeuristic predatory parasite with a camera really consider the publication of compromising photographs of a married woman to be ‘a service to readers’?

What consequences could such arbitrary decision making have on the interests of advertisers?  What reputable corporation would want to compromise the image of their products through association with a media that is so detached from the social values of Irish people?

Clearly waning circulation and growing disinterest in the Irish Daily Star by newspapers readers have taken their toll on the patience of at least one participant in the controlling joint venture.

But if Chairman Desmond’s decision to cut and run is devoid of commercial rational and the standard of leadership of the Irish Daily Star is not risible millions of euro in new venture capital will emerge and a new source of income will arise for Irish professional service providers.  Advertisers will flock to the paper to promote their strategically important products and services.  Readers will return in their tens of thousands and Editor O’Kane’s judgement will have been vindicated.

If it is not vindicated 80 people will be out of work as another Irish newspaper fails.

Last week Editor O’Kane stated that ‘I can think of no reason not to publish them’ referring to the photographs, having presumably paid the parasite who snapped them. 

Today it is reported that media controlled by Silvio Berlusconi (aged 76) is to publish similar photographs. He may regard this as another noteworthy milestone of his long life but perhaps the most important facet of his durable legacy will be feeding the appetite of a million starving maggots from his carcass after his demise, while a thousand hookers look elsewhere to make a living after he takes tenure in a chipboard coffin.

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