Stephen Glover: Unfinished revolution at The Daily Telegraph

Media Studies: The paper's news pages have become sharper and more interesting

My first reaction when I looked at last Thursday's Daily Telegraph was that the paper had gone over the top. Under a banner headline and dramatic standfirst, and accompanied by large pictures, the paper's "splash" informed us that Learco Chindamo, who murdered the headmaster Philip Lawrence in 1995, had been arrested for an alleged violent mugging four months after he was released from prison and allowed to remain in Britain.

The more one read on, however, the more obvious it became that this was an important story. The Telegraph linked it to a Tory broken pledge to reform the Human Rights Act – under the provisions of which Chindamo, who lived in Italy as a child, was allowed to stay in Britain.

It dug up a quote from David Cameron, who said in 2007: "The fact that the murderer of Philip Lawrence cannot be deported flies in the face of common sense. It is a glaring example of what is going wrong in our country."

A year or two ago the Telegraph would not have given this story such prominence. Now – and not for the first time over the past 12 months – other papers followed its lead, with the Mail, Sun and Times changing inside pages for later editions, and the Mail giving the story the full treatment the next day. The Telegraph again showed how it has developed a taste for scoops, many of which follow a populist or even tabloid agenda.

The main explanation, of course, is that the paper is edited by an ex-Mail newshound, Tony Gallagher, who has surrounded himself with former Mail colleagues. Before he became editor a year ago, I used to think the Telegraph's pale imitation of the Mail an error, but Mr Gallagher has indisputably brought new conviction to the operation. The paper has had a string of scoops which were not handed to it by helpful government spin doctors.

It was the Telegraph which caused the downfall of the Lib Dem David Laws, after he had been a Cabinet minister for only three weeks, by revealing his questionable £40,000 expenses claim. The paper also encouraged the Government's "enterprise adviser", Lord Young, to dilate injudiciously a couple of weeks ago. In September it carried a leaked letter from Liam Fox to David Cameron warning about the scale of defence cuts. And, of course, it brilliantly extended its coverage of the MPs' expenses scandal over many months.

Some former Telegraph hands grumble that this more aggressive form of journalism shows scant respect for institutions – Parliament, the Tory party – which it once held dear. Some of the paper's older readers may be dismayed by this institutional irreverence, and many would doubtless be alarmed if it spread to the Church of England or, God forbid, the Royal Family.

All the same, it is impossible to deny that, since Mr Gallagher became editor, the paper's news pages have become sharper and more interesting, as well as better presented.

Work remains to be done on the features pages, however, and particularly the comment pages. (I exclude the excellent obituaries, which carry the spirit of the old Telegraph, and are in this instance all the better for that.) Though the paper has several excellent columnists such as Charles Moore and Peter Oborne (a recent signing from the Mail), its opinion pages seems slightly flat and inconsequential.

Reading the news pages, I sense the enormous amount of thought and energy that has gone into them, whereas the comment pages seem to lack a unifying intelligence, and the leaders do not cry out to be read.

Oddly enough, 30 years ago The Daily Telegraph had fine news pages but limited comment. Of course the opinion pages, for all their weaknesses, are very much better than they were then. Still, they are not as good as they could be, and their improvement marks the second, and in some respects more difficult, part of Tony Gallagher's challenge.







What power has the D-notice now?



In the pre-internet age, the secretary of the Government's D-notice committee was a personage whom editors took seriously. His role was to inform them that a story had implications for national security and request them not to publish. As patriotic chaps they were expected to comply.

It is difficult to see how the advice of the present secretary of the D-notice committee, Air Vice-Marshal Andrew Vallance, will inhibit The Guardian, which is carrying the latest batch of Wikileaks documents.

If its editor, Alan Rusbridger, got out his black pen and began to cross things out, that would have no effect on what is published on the internet or by newspapers abroad, where no one gives a fig for British national security. Our enemies have no need of The Guardian.





The Spectator's twilight saga



In the past I have shared my concerns that The Spectator is not, in fact, first and foremost a magazine but a front for a manic party-giving organisation. Now my fears have deepened that it may also be some kind of bizarre religious bacchanalian sect trying to take over the world. Word has reached me of what is described as "an unforgettable evening of carols, exquisite singing and readings" at St Bride's in Fleet Street next week, organised by The Spectator.

Refreshments, including wine and canapés, are served in the Crypt of St Bride's (doesn't that sound rather sinister?) followed by music and readings. Most disquieting is the promise that among the readers will be chief executive Andrew Neil and the columnist Rod Liddle. Let's hope Mr Liddle will not have overindulged in the Crypt before he makes his way to the lectern.

The most disturbing part of it all is that tickets for this "religious service" cost an amazing £50 each, or £40 if you miss out on the goings-on in the crypt. My blood is chilled to the bone by the thought of where all this money might be going, and I call upon the sect's leaders, "Bishop" Neil and "Brother" Liddle, to make a full disclosure.

s.glover@independent.co.uk

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
News
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
News
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
television
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
art
Sport
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
football
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
fashion
News
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
news
Sport
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
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: Digital Marketing Executive - West London - £35,000

£28000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A luxury fashion retailer based in W...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer / Front-End Designer - City of London

£27000 - £33000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End Devel...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger & Credit Control Assistant

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Ledger & Credit Control...

Recruitment Genius: Junior PHP Web Developer

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable