Donald Trelford On The Press

Some red-top editors are about to find their heads on the block
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hree national newspaper editors fell off their perches in 2005 - Andrew Gowers at The Financial Times, Martin Newland at The Daily Telegraph and Dominic Lawson at The Sunday Telegraph. That strikes me as slightly above the average annual cull. So who's for the chop in the year ahead? It's surprising that all last year's sackings occurred at the serious end of the market, at a time when sales at the other end were falling like never before. Yet all the red-top editors survived. It looks a safe bet that this situation will not continue in 2006. Rebekah Wade was saved at The Sun after her experience in a police cell because her boss, Rupert Murdoch, happened to be in town, obviously likes her, and played the situation down brilliantly. The fact that Murdoch hasn't removed her over Christmas, as is his habit, suggests she is being given more time. When that time is up, Andy Coulson, editor of the only thriving red-top, The News of the World, is expected to move seamlessly across.

Over at the Mirror group, editors must be on constant alert, since they are part of a ruthless plc that has to keep its investors happy. Richard Wallace, who took over the daily from Piers Morgan less than two years ago, deserves more time, though the longer-serving Tina Weaver (The Sunday Mirror) and Mark Thomas (The People), must have question marks against them, as indeed must any editor whose sales are down more than the market trend. Peter Hill and Martin Townsend at The Daily and Sunday Express, and Dawn Neesom at The Daily Star, survive on the whim of their unpredictable proprietor, Richard Desmond.

Two of the new editors of serious papers - Lionel Barber (The Financial Times) and Sarah Sands (The Sunday Telegraph) - should be immune, though the situation at The Daily Telegraph remains opaque. John Bryant, as I reported two weeks ago, seems to have settled in as interim editor, but if the long-term position has to be clarified by the end of 2006, there are several obvious contenders for the job, including Jon Steafel of The Daily Mail, Will Lewis of The Daily Telegraph and Matthew D'Ancona of The Sunday Telegraph.

Alan Rusbridger has just presided over the major Berliner format change at The Guardian and should be around until the results are clear. Candidates for his job, if and when the time comes, are said to be Ian Katz and Jonathan Freedland.

Roger Alton oversees a similar change at The Observer this coming weekend, putting his job out of contention for the time being. The two Independent editors, Simon Kelner and Tristan Davies, have also successfully relaunched their papers as tabloids.

Robert Thomson seems settled at the tabloid Times. If change were to come, one man tipped for the top is Gerard Baker, the paper's correspondent in the United States, an ex-FT man who shares Murdoch's geo-political approach to the world. Ben Preston, son of Peter and the paper's news supremo, also seems destined for an editor's chair somewhere. John Witherow's formula continues to prosper at The Sunday Times. If he were ever to move up to management, his deputy, Martin Ivens, looks a natural successor.

Paul Dacre is impregnable at The Daily Mail, and that probably goes for his protégé, Peter Wright, on the Sunday. Veronica Wadley must be getting weary of her uphill struggle at the London Evening Standard, especially now veteran manager Bert Hardy is putting the emphasis on news rather than on the features which are her forte. Hard man Martin Clarke is said to be Associated's editor-in-waiting.

Watching your back is a professional hazard of editing - I know, I did it for 18 years. Happy new year to all those still in the hot seat.

Donald Trelford was editor of The Observer 1975-1993.

Newspapers aim to give Fifa rules the golden boot

IMAGINE: it is 7.10pm on Sunday, 9 July at the Berlin stadium and Wayne Rooney has scored the early goal that wins England their first World Cup for 40 years. According to the initial rules set out for the media by Fifa, the picture of that goal could only be put out by newspapers after 10.45pm that night, two hours after the end of the match. Newspapers will be barred from running pictures on their websites in the immediate aftermath of the game and first editions would not be allowed to carry the key images.

This is obvious madness, since the goal would have been seen live by hundreds of millions of viewers all over the world. It's just one of a number of restrictions Fifa have sought to impose on coverage of the World Cup finals in Germany. The two-hour ban has already been cut back to one after representations by the World Association of Newspapers (Wan), who are seeking to have this and other rules changed at a meeting in Zurich next week with Sepp Blatter, the President of Fifa. At present picture editors are allowed to crop Fifa pictures, but not to impose text, headlines or tabulated material on them. Nor can they use the Fifa logo on the front page without special permission. The World Cup sponsors have to be given full accreditation, and so on. The Wan has appointed an international media rights sub-committee, chaired by Britain's Steve Oram, director of the Newspaper Publishers' Association, to make Fifa see sense. Oram says: "We are cautiously encouraged by the willingness of Blatter to meet us."

FEISTY news from Nick Clarke, the World at One presenter who sadly had a leg amputated just before Christmas because of cancer. He has sent an upbeat e-mail to friends reporting good medical progress and describing how he arranged from hospital to have Alistair Cooke's step-daughter interviewed for The World at One (Nick wrote a biography of Cooke). He also quotes his surgeon as asking: "How many legs do you need to make a radio broadcast?" His many fans look forward to hearing his mellifluent voice on air again before long.

Stephen Glover is away

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