Matthew Norman's Media Diary

Like father, like son? Let's hope not

What mirth and merriment at News Corporation, where in keeping with the company's fervent meritocratic principles control passes smoothly from father to son. And already we note a break with tradition.

Where for so long Rupert upheld the absolute editorial independence of The Times, as he promised Parliament he would, we now find an editor appointed before the meeting of the board that had been expected to make the choice this week. I should state an interest, by the way, and admit to making a tentative application myself (I'm desperate to get on a few quangos, and on the Simon Jenkins precedent editing The Times seems the perfect launch pad). Despite the disappointment, it must be said that the slightly unnerving fact about James Murdoch is that he seems rather a good egg and certainly less likely than his old man to use pliant editors and politicians to further business interests. Although James is said to share his father's views on the EU, he is impeccably green and instinctively liberal, and not the kind of chap to sit on the loo (you may recall a profile of Rupert by a former butler) yelling "bloody pooftahs". A while ago, in fact, I heard James give a terrific speech in honour of the youth theatre company Chicken Shed, which Sky generously sponsored at his behest, and he seemed such a likable soul that for some reason an old anecdote came to mind one about how, when his sister Elizabeth was a little girl, Rupert gave her beloved pony away in a News of the World readers's competition. Sometimes, perhaps, the apple does fall some way from the tree. Let's hope so anyway.

A WORD about outgoing Times editor Robert Thomson before we bid welcome to his replacement. On the one hand, Robert technically made The Times stronger in almost every respect. On the other, few editors of a supposedly serious title have ever put it so shamelessly at the disposal of a political machine. Some reporting of New Labour misdemeanours, and even more so some non-reporting, staggered even this wizened old cynic. A mixed record, then, and we wish him well at The Wall Street Journal.

AND SO to new Times guv'nor James Harding. First, let's say how tremendous it is to see another city journalist promoted. A glance at the careers of David Yelland on The Sun and Patience Wheatcroft at the The Sunday Telegraph confirms that money hacks invariably have the breadth of interest good editors require. As for Mr Harding, I've only come across him as part of the same group of Spurs fans that included Daily Telegraph editor Will Lewis, yet another city hack, and Andy Coulson who ironically lost his News of the World berth due to lack of fiscal nous (the poor lamb failed to notice that a chunk of his editorial budget was being paid to someone to bug princely mobiles). Exactly how exposure to the perpetual defeatism that goes with supporting Tottenham hot houses these careers is one for a doctoral thesis. All I can say about Mr Harding is what I said about Mr Lewis he too, to borrow from the late Larry Grayson, seemed like a nice boy which isn't very much at all. No doubt we will come to a more considered view in time.

SIMON HEFFER treats Telegraph readers to an account, dusted off in the wake of the weirdo Geordie donor fiasco, of how Harriet Harman once tried to leave a restaurant with his expensive umbrella rather than her own plastic cheapo. Students of Simon's oeuvre will be reminded of an account, in his poignant rite of passage memoir Son of PC Gone Mad!, about how, during a surprise visit to the Heffer's Southend home during the election campaign in the autumn of 1974, Barbara Castle tried to nick the hot plate from his mother's new hostess trolley by slipping it under her blouse. This is widely believed to have turned him away from socialism.

THE EYE is caught, finally, by a Daily Telegraph interview in which Gaby Roslin ascribes her dwindling career to ageism, sexism, her refusal "get my tits out" and a wicked press deciding "it was my turn" over her mid-90s chat show one that made Davina McCall's recent effort seem like a hybrid between the best of Brian Walden, Dame Edna, Jonathan "1000 journos" Ross, John Humphrys and David Letterman. Motherhood also played a part in her absence from the screen, she adds, which reminds me of a dinner yearsago during which Gaby told her neighbour how she was bullied at school (although God knows why) because of her name. This was why she'd taken such care, she went on, to ensure her new born daughter would never suffer on this ground. So what, she was asked, have you called the baby? "Libi-Jack," she said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Brand Marketing Manager - Essex - £45,000 + £5000 car allowance

£40000 - £45000 per annum + car allowance: Ashdown Group: Senior Brand Manager...

Guru Careers: .NET Developer /.NET Software Developer

£26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a .NET Developer /.NET Software ...

Guru Careers: Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing Exec (SEO / PPC)

£18 - 24k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing...

Guru Careers: Technical Operations Manager

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Technical Ope...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?