Bill Hagerty on the Press

The Telegraph boss is the star of our very own 'West Wing'

When, at a lunch to discuss Time magazine's annual selection of its person of the year, I nominated The West Wing's Jed Bartlet, my American friends disabused me gently. Time has never bestowed the accolade on a fictional character, they said - and, despite Bartlet being the president much of the world wishes America had, he is, of course, the product of Aaron Sorkin's imagination and Martin Sheen's acting skills.

Get real, advised Time, but don't necessarily get heroic - the person of the year doesn't have to be noble, but a major player, for good or ill, over the 12 months (they subsequently proved the point by choosing George W Bush).

This set me wondering who was Britain's print-journalism person of the year. Not the most worthy, but the man or woman whose fingerprints, grubby or otherwise, were left most indelibly on 2004. Of course, the virtuous editor of this newspaper would have been a leading contender, had the compact revolution that galvanised the industry not started in 2003.

Following the Time guidelines, I was not concerned that candidates should be of impeachable honour. But, from among the less salubrious, I swiftly discounted Boris Johnson, Petronella Wyatt, Rod Liddle, Simon Hoggart and, yes, Kimberly Quinn, on the grounds that sexual high jinks, while doubtless good for recruitment at The Spectator, had probably not much affected the industry.

A better case could be made for Lord Black, erstwhile proprietor of that magazine and the rest of the Telegraph Group. Conrad lost his power - though not his peerage - but did so with indefatigable chutzpah. According to Hollinger International, over seven years Black and his associates paid themselves almost $391m in assorted unauthorised fees. Yet he fought his detractors to the end (indeed, he fights still), describing them as "truly evil people, who are a menace to capitalism as any sane and civilised person would define it". But bravado alone does not make a person of the year, especially as the curtain may well have been drawn on Conrad's British newspaper career.

Then there was Piers Morgan, the cavalier former editor of the Daily Mirror, who undeniably made an impact during 2004. Often resembling an accident waiting to happen, Morgan followed his brave but, in terms of circulation, disastrous anti-war, upmarket, stance by publishing bogus photographs and thereby ending an eight-and-a-half-year editorship.

As his new and burgeoning television career proves, he is a mercurial talent, but hardly person of the year, even though the "faked" photographs of British servicemen ill-treating Iraqi prisoners have mysteriously disappeared from sight and, presumably, the minds of the investigating authorities.

So, following a pause during which I considered awarding the title to Lord Rothermere for putting financial muscle behind Associated's Big Idea of the (London Evening) Standard Lite - but, then, he's got one already - I turned my attention once more to the Telegraph Group. There, one Jeremy Deedes - the son of a newspaper icon, and who had retired as managing director in 2003 - was catapulted back in March again to run the paper he had served loyally for almost 20 years. He proceeded to steady the holed ship brilliantly and remained unfazed as the battle for control of it raged.

His demeanour remained unruffled even when, at a meeting, Richard Desmond, a failed suitor for the group, goose-stepped and described the German Axel Springer group, rivals in the bidding, as "fucking Nazis". (The Express Newspapers boss, having paid himself £46.2m, is presumably one of those sane and civilised capitalists to whom Conrad Black was referring.)

Politics aside, there's something of Jed Bartlet about the unflappable, resolute Jeremy Deedes, which is why he's my person of the year.

OBE? Oh, bemused more like

Like God, those who control Britain's honours to the great, the good and those whose names appear simply to have surfaced in life's lottery move in mysterious ways.

Honours to journalists often appear as random as those in other areas, even if Margaret Thatcher rewarded with knighthoods and other gongs working editors, whose papers had not only fallen to their knees in adulation but very nearly got their noses stuck in the carpet.

Therefore, while congratulating Michael Maloney on his New Year OBE for service to photojournalism, I cannot help but wonder why he has been so honoured and my friend Kent Gavin - the multi-award-winning Daily Mirror photographer - ignored. Gavin, a Mirror legend for not far short of 40 years until his "retirement" - he's still a valued contributor - a year ago, is regarded as a giant of his trade.

Maloney is probably best known for having danced one night with Robert Maxwell. Used by the late Captain Bob almost as his personal photographer when at The People, Maloney was summoned to the yacht, from which the publisher was later to plunge, in order to take pictures for a promotional brochure.

One night, when Mrs Maxwell had retired, Maxwell demanded: "Let's liven this place up." Maloney followed instructions to switch on the salon's disco lights and the pair moved around the small dance floor, face to face, snapping their fingers to Chris Andrews' "Yesterday Man".

Perhaps that OBE is for service beyond the call of duty.

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Head of Marketing - London

£60000 - £85000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Interim Head of Marketing / Marketin...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Digital Project Manager

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Digital Project Manager is needed to join an exciti...

Paid Search Analyst / PPC Analyst

£24 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Paid Search Analyst / PPC...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments