Piers Morgan's share dealings earned him the second-worst reprimand in the brief history of the Press Complaints Commission last week. He was pipped for the top spot by himself - while on the News of the World. There has been a rash of journalists condemning the PCC for not going far enough, and Morgan for going too far; and it's hard not to agree that if Morgan were a less successful editor, then Trinity Mirror would by now have dispensed with him.
But it is that very success that means the comments of rival journalists have to be put into context.
The Mirror's year-on-year figures are down 1.83 per cent compared to The Sun's fall of 4.24 per cent. And that might have played a part in Sun editor David Yelland's handwringing that last week was "a terrible one for newspapers". The Express, whose month-on-month rise is helped by price cutting, knows that Morgan has moved The Mirror upmarket into their territory.
Morgan's method has been to return The Mirror to its old role as a campaigning newspaper - his targets have ranged from Gurkha widow pensions to making Manchester United play in the FA Cup. The success of the intelligent women's supplement M not only saw off a Daily Mail version, also called M, after a few weeks, but it showed the up-side of Morgan's gung-ho attitude. He invested £10m in M and took a bold decision to create a temporary price differential of 2p higher than The Sun.
One fact that is sobering for those of us who like to think that readers are as interested as we are in our own affairs, is that the Mirror newsdesk received only two phone calls of complaint about the shares scandal. Yet 20 per cent of Mirror readers see The Sun at least once a week. Despite David Yelland's best efforts, they don't seem to care.
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