Matthew Norman: How to get ahead in hackery...


There are many compelling reasons to offer up what was known in her most memorable Sun headline to date (on the death of Dr Harold Shipman) as a rousing "Ship, Ship, Hooray" on Rebekah Wade's ascension to become News International's chief executive.

Firstly, its a breakthrough for neo-feminism in general, and for Women In The Media, which she honoured on becoming editor by plugging on with the Page Three girls that she had fought to jettison under her predecessor, in particular. Above even that, it is the ultimate triumph for the power of networking over journalism.

Best of all, it brings a blessed sense of relief to those of us ridden with angst at the prospect that the Murdoch-government axis that has ruled us for 30 years, with a brief break during the Major years, might be coming to an end. From arriving at Elizabeth Murdoch's Christmas party on the arm of then prime minister Tony Blair, via attending Sarah Brown's pyjama party at Chequers, to including David Cameron as well as Gordon among her wedding guests, Rebekah's ungodly talent for charming leaders past, present and future explains her rise better than any unknown commercial acumen.

The Murdoch newspapers' profitability may decline and even vanish, but while they retain the power to finesse government media policy to Sky's advantage, and to open potential revenue streams by undermining the BBC and its grip on the licence fee, there could no one better to sit at the centre of this enchanting web weaving her magic. As an editor, Rebekah has spent six years as a paradigm of bare adequacy. As an operator, she stands entirely alone.

The heir apparent

The first show of betting is in, meanwhile, for the race to replace her. Much has been made of Rebekah's failure to mark her ascension by naming her moose-headed deputy Dominic Mohan, but he remains the clear favourite at 11-8. Sun TV suprema Victoria Newton is next on 4-1, with the Mirror's Richard Wallace and Lady Gaga both looking short priced on 11-2. Top Tory spinner Andy Coulson gets a 15-2 quote "with a run" (he may well be more useful to the company at David Cameron's right hand), although his laissez-faire approach to editing the News of the World (you will recall his absolute ignorance of the six-figure payment to a freelancer to bug royal phones while running the paper) – strikes leading professors of journalism as a stumbling block.

Bunched on 14s are Bizarre editor Gordon Smarm, Linda Lusardi, Kelvin MacKenzie and Sir Lenny Lottery. Myleene Klass is on 18s, with Star editor Dawn Neesom, TV's hardest man Ross Kemp (Ross Wade as was), Tina Weaver, Carol Ann Duffy, lucky cardigan-wearing Sun columnist Fergus Shanahan and Dear Deidre all available on 25s. It's 40-1 bar those.

A Gaunt-like intellect

Even my so-called rival Paddy Power, whose book looks frankly nonsensical (Paul Dacre at 20-1, forsooth), finds no place for Jon Gaunt, but he will always be a favourite with us. Gaunty was on fire on Friday, confining references to his SunTalk radio show to just the three ... one less than the asterices required to bowdlerise "pr**ks" and "ar*e" in a demand for the full publication of BBC freelance salaries to go with executive expenses. Most touching was his confession to failing the 11-plus, despite which he supports the grammar school system.

The pernicious thing about the 11-plus, of course, is the burdening of failures with a misplaced sense of intellectual inadequacy from which some never recover. Thankfully, Gaunty's more resilient than that ("I don't care what you write, you c***," as he put it when calling me following his inclusion of Rolf Harris in his Ten Greatest Brits, "but I'm not having you make out I'm thick"). Others, such as John Prescott, are not.

Aim a few at News, Mark

Speaking of BBC expenses, time for yet another futile plea to Mark Thompson to hoist himself up (why he didn't claim for a new pair of knee pads I've no idea; no one could question the legitimacy of that), and throw a few punches back.

He might, for example, make the tediously obvious point that while he and his chums have claimed a few hundred thousand (if anything, those exes are depressingly tiny), Mr Murdoch has cost us hundreds of millions by avoiding taxes in the most legal of ways. He could suggest that, since even the minuscule amount that News Corp does pay is reduced by off-setting reimbursements to staff against corporation tax, there is a public interest in the publication of the exes claimed by the likes of Rebekah.

He might even commission a documentary examining, in intimate detail, how News Corporation comes to pay a little less tax each year than a mini cab controller in Warrington.

A well-timed departure

Mark's one stroke of luck was that the story was driven off Friday's front pages by Michael Jackson. Out of all the ceaseless coverage of that death, Victoria Derbyshire deserves a word of praise for locating the crux of it so quickly on her splendid BBC Radio 5 live phone-in. At 11am on Friday, some 12 hours after the news broke, Victoria introduced a feature on how to get your money back if you had bought tickets for one of Mr Jackson's gigs.

'Tis but a scratch

As for The Times, its online coverage on Thursday night was barely less impressive. "BREAKING: Jackson 'dies' after suffering heart attack" was the main headline. Below it, and an inch to the right, was "Jackson denies ill health after concerts are delayed". Ah well, one out of two ain't bad. Although once Rebekah takes charge, it may not be quite good enough.

people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Articles
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
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

Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

£20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

Trend Writer / Copywriter

£25 - 30k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Trend Writer / Copywriter: Retail, Design and...

Business Development Manager / Media Sales Exec

£28 - 32k + Uncapped Commission: Guru Careers: A Business Development Manager ...

Digital Marketing Assistant

£17 - 27k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Digital Marketing Assistant to join ...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering