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Media: Things are bad? Time to look at the big picture

YOU CAN tell when Fleet Street has had a bad month: the newspapers concentrate on the year-on-year figures. The Observer and Daily Mail reported year-on-year success, though both had a poor November, as indeed did virtually everyone, despite a flurry of big stories. (The Independent and The Mail on Sunday were the other papers who had year-on-year increases).

The Financial Times recorded a 2.45 per cent increase, and an eye-catching 11.96 yearly increase. But sources within the Financial Times report that ft.com does not know its place. Reporters at the online service have been zooming in with story queries rather more rapidly than the daily paper itself, whose staff find puzzled chief executives saying they have already spoken to the Financial Times. Is this a warning of fights to come between print and online wings of the same organisation?

Elsewhere, The Express hovers precariously just above the psychologically important one million mark, with a year-on-year decrease of 4.86 per cent. The Sunday Express's 4.65 per cent decrease took it below a million.

There is speculation, strongly denied by Lord Hollick, United News and Media chief, that following the Carlton/ United marriage, The Express may be offloaded. Lord Hollick will not want that; but his shareholders will not want the figures to fall further, either.