The feral beast: 22/03/2009

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The Independent Online

Canteen kerfuffle

Feelings are running high at The Guardian over the treatment of two canteen employees, both called Anita. "Two of our longest-serving and most respected colleagues have been asked to work unworkable hours or take (a pitiful) redundancy," writes one journo. "Both Anitas, normally so cheerful, have been in tears for weeks." There is talk of the Guardian's employment practices being in breach of its "Living our Values" ethos and there may well be a canteen boycott this Wednesday.

Inspired by the Von Trapps

Good to see Germany-based Fleet Street stringer Allan Hall has been cleaning up on the Fritzl trial. Ex- Sun and Mirror man Hall is something of an obsessive on Austria. One of his party tricks is to sing, word for word, the Sound of Music. His "Edelweiss" is, says one friend, "a thing of rare beauty – particularly when he does the Julie Andrews bit in a very fetching falsetto."

'Greatest of his generation'

It is a measure of the esteem in which Bert Hardy, one of the real legends of Fleet Street management, was held that very senior representatives of News International, Associated and the Telegraph paid their respects at his funeral on Friday. While Bert would have been surprised – and possibly even a bit riled – at some of the protestations of loyalty from one or two of the "friends" in attendance, the strength and diversity of the turn-out was impressive. To Paul Dacre, whose high regard for Bert was both genuine and reciprocated, he was "the greatest newspaper manager of his generation".

A trip too far for the money men

Belts are being tightened even in the traditionally expansive world of travel journalism. I'm told that both The Times and the Telegraph travel pages are drawing in their horns and are seeking not to pay contributors for what some bean-counters regard as, essentially, going on holiday. On one paper there are even rumours of journalists being encouraged to ask their banker and stockbroker friends to pen a few hundred words of a "what I did on my holiday" nature.

Magazines without borders

In the provinces, it's not only the daily newspapers that are struggling for survival. Some of the shire glossies are finding life hard, too. Archant magazines is making cuts in its West Midlands monthlies and is combining the editorial operations of Herefordshire Life and Shropshire Life, causing the departure of Herefordshire Life's upmarket editrix Hilary Engel (wife of FT scribe and former Wisden editor Matthew, pictured). Merging these two counties is something not even Peter Walker, as environment minister, managed.

Bets on Wapping move for Hinton

An obliging profile of one of Rupert Murdoch's henchmen, Les Hinton, appeared last week in The Daily Telegraph. At Telegraph HQ, odds have now shortened dramatically on editor Will Lewis's next career move being to Murdoch's News Corporation.