Fresh cracks in the House of Usher… I mean Rothermere. First there was the fire sale of The Evening Standard for £1 to a former KGB agent, an act of impiety that would have made the late earl turn in his grave.
Now news of something much worse. The government has decided to put down that mangy old bulldog, Paul Dacre. It’s official, according to Cabinet Office minister Liam Byrne – who told the Commons public administration committee this week that the days of the Daily Mail setting government agenda are definitely over.
So what does set the governmental pulse racing these days, Liam? Well not the tabloid newspapers any more, which sell 22m fewer copies than in 1997. And not the TV news channels, whose viewers “have collapsed” (does he mean they’re now so old they need zimmer frames, I wonder?).
No, these days it’s all about Facebook, YouTube and freesheets. But he did draw the line at cultivating Twitter. Apparently, ministers are far too busy saving the world/fending off inquiries into their illegitimate expenses to be tweeting.
For someone who’s got a Harvard MBA, Liam is acting incredibly dumb. He doesn’t seem to have noticed that none of his preferred media vehicles is capable of making money. Give the Noughties Depression another 12 months and the government may well have to rethink its ‘new’ media strategy rather quickly.