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."

News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
A polar bear’s diet is rich in seal blubber and half of its own body weight is composed of fat
i100
Life and Style
fashion David Beckham fronts adverts for his underwear collection
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel you sales role is li...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £45000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Key featuresA highly motivated ...

Creative Content Executive (writer, social media, website)

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum + 25 days holiday and bonus: Clearwater People Solut...

Legal Recruitment Consultant

Highly Competitive Salary + Commission: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL BASED - DEALING ...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape