Whenever I read media guru Roy Greenslade's stuff I am reminded of Mrs Heidelberg - as played by Joan Collins in the movie The Clandestine Marriage. The old Restoration broad is prone to the over-use of the word quality - or "Kwalla-tay" as she pronounces it, in an attempt to add airs and graces to the very word itself. Everything must have kwalla-tay.
Roy is a great one for kwalla-tay even if he doesn't much use the word - today in his Evening Standard Media column he attributes the decline of the red-tops to a lack of aspiration in the editorial: readers are simply not "stretched to better themselves" but are put off by a "relentless diet of celebrity". Where's the kwalla-tay, dear?
This is an odd view for two reasons. First, newspapers (even the tabs) are chock-full with travel pieces about expensive holidays, advertorials for the latest technology and extensive health and beauty pages and supplements. The qualities and the quali-pops groan with high-lifestyle pieces written by a variety of sub-Sloanes, often the spawn of journos made good, who worship wealth.
Second, on the matter of celebrity, Roy should take a look at the last story in the In The Air column, about five inches right of his lead piece. It's a story about rocketing celebrity magazines - Heat and Closer are due to take over OK! in the weekly market. Perhaps the real message of this is that there's not enough celebrity in the papers and too many kwalla-tay columnists like Roy stuffing up the white space.
When a website like TMZ.com can beat the red-tops at their own game, with the Mel Gibson story, or when something like the Guido Fawkes site takes the lead on, say, the Prescott affair (prepare for ITV1's movie Prezza, by the way), then you don't have to be too clever about diagnosing the problems in the nationals.