The Media Column: It will take more than razzmatazz to revive the flagging Daily Mirror

"I wasn't absolutely convinced that I was the right person for the job," said the editor of the Daily Mirror. "I just thought I'd be mad not to do it." Hardly surprising sentiments, you might think, coming from someone with a background dominated by frothy showbusiness journalism and lacking the political sophistication the best of previous Mirror editors brought to a seat hot enough to burn the backside.

The editor in question was Piers Morgan, talking some 12 months before Trinity Mirror decided that the latest wayward shot from its journalistic loose cannon would be his last in the company's employ. But the deficiencies Morgan recognised in himself when offered the editorship in 1995 could equally apply to his replacement.

Richard Wallace, former showbusiness editor, co-creator of the 3am Girls and a political enigma - most colleagues with whom I have spoken confess to not knowing whether their new boss is a Labour supporter, even - is a chip off the young block, a 43-year-old facsimile of Morgan when he was appointed at the age of 30.

If Wallace's credentials are as questionable as his predecessor's, the situation facing the new editor is even more daunting than that existing eight-and-a-half years ago. The disastrous decline that began under the Mirror Group stewardship of David Montgomery had then yet to reach the velocity that would see it hurtle past the two million mark in the wrong direction like a meteorite on its way to self-destruct. Last month's average circulation figure of 1,846,734 is far enough adrift of the morale-boosting two million mark for there to be serious doubts about the paper's continuing viability.

Other factors do not lessen the pressure that accompanies the enormity of Wallace's task. He knows he was not first choice as editor - two outside candidates turned down the job, one of whom, Andy Coulson, occupies the same editorship, at the News of the World, vacated by Morgan when he accepted the Mirror challenge. One can understand Coulson's reasoning: the national newspaper circulation ladder may be slippery, but better to be sitting on top within Rupert Murdoch's muscular organisation than scrabbling for a finger-hold in a public company where, when the going gets rough, the shareholders are likely to grease the rungs.

Wallace must also be aware that adopting an editorial formula too similar to The Sun's won't work. The Mirror's difficulties may make those at The Sun look insignificant, but the downward drift there may indicate that the celebrity-fed, bloke-culture era of gargantuan red-top sales is at an end. And if he needs further convincing, the new editor need only look at previous occasions when the Mirror took on The Sun in its tits-and-bum territory. Each time, the Mirror withdrew with a bloodied nose.

Somehow, Wallace has to recreate the ethos of the past, in which political and social awareness and vigorous campaigning on behalf of the broad Left gelled with the entertainment potpourri essential at the popular end of the market. In all areas, the Mirror should contain intelligent, quality writing - Wallace inherits some practitioners, but not enough - while avoiding the overlong, overbearing presence of such members of the journalistic literati as Jonathan Freedland, who was drafted in from his principal Guardian beat by Morgan.

If initially Wallace looks scantily equipped for pulling off the greatest comeback since Lazarus, he has one important factor in his favour: the goodwill and absolute commitment of his staff. The newsroom cheers that greeted the announcement of his appointment may have been spurred onby relief that authoritarian acting editor Des Kelly had not been confirmed in the role: outsider Wallace was always the journalists' choice. Those working at the sharp end of the paper who had dismissed him as a rock'n'roll lightweight when he was made head of news soon grew to like and respect him - and they hadn't forgotten.

Kelly's departure from Canary Wharf before Wallace even had the chance to get his feet under his desk leaves open a senior executive position that will be crucial to the editor's future plans. Wisely, he has decided to delay appointing a deputy for the several weeks it will take to settle in and take stock. He has indicated that there may be other changes in personnel. The workforce awaits developments with a renewed spirit and enthusiasm that had gone through the shredder the day the popular Morgan's tenure bit the dust.

One must wish Wallace and his team well, and hope the new editor's razzmatazz past does not overtly influence the direction in which he takes the paper. It will have been a gross disappointment if he arrived in his new office whistling, "There's No Business like Show Business."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
US comedian Bill Mahr
people
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Sport
football
News
Rob Lowe
peopleRob Lowe hits out at Obama's snub of Benjamin Netanyahu
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
News
Davies (let) says: 'Everybody thought we were having an affair. It was never true!'
people'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
News
Staff assemble outside the old City Road offices in London
mediaThe stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century at Britain's youngest paper
Life and Style
The Oliver twins, Philip and Andrew, at work creating the 'Dizzy' arcade-adventure games in 1988
techDocumentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Arts and Entertainment
Krall says: 'My hero player-singer is Elton John I used to listen to him as a child, every single record
music
News
Friends for life … some professionals think loneliness is more worrying than obesity
scienceSocial contact is good for our sense of wellbeing - but it's a myth that loneliness kills, say researchers
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
News
i100
Environment
Number so freshwater mussels in Cumbria have plummeted from up to three million in the 20th century to 500,000
environment
Life and Style
Models – and musicians – on the catwalk in Dior Homme for the men’s 2015/16 fashion show in Paris
fashionAt this season's Paris shows, various labels played with the city boys' favourite
News
i100
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

Sauce Recruitment: Programme Sales Executive - Independent Distributor

£25000 - £28000 per annum + circa 28K + 20% bonus opportunity: Sauce Recruitme...

SThree: Talent Acquisition Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Are you an ambitious, money mot...

Guru Careers: Investment Writer / Stock Picker

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: A freelance Investment Writer / Stock Picker ...

Guru Careers: PPC Account Executive / Paid Search Executive

£20 - 24K + Benefits: Guru Careers: An enthusiastic PPC Account / Paid Search ...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us