Monday, October 17, 2011

Chris Blackhurst: Is the Independent editor a bit of a cunty?

Jemima Khan
I have no idea. But given that blogging and journalism are about nine-tenths hearsay or speculation or gossip or plain wrong, we should not permit mere complete absence of any knowledge whatsoever to inhibit a voyage into the fog bank.

A story in the Guardian today informs us that Jemima Khan has departed the Indy for the New Statesman and its sexy former mascara'd New Romantic editor Jason Cowley. Apparently, Jemima - who as guest-editor this year single-handedly reinvented the Staggers by showcasing Hugh Grant's espionage skills in the phone hacking scandal - was disinclined to tolerate de facto demotion and reduced column inches as decreed by Indy new editor Chris Blackhurst.

Troublingly, these saddening events were preceded by 'warm' praise for Khan from Mr Blackhurst.

This reminds me of the fate of Richard Ingrams. The former Indy columnist reported a reassuring lunch with Mr Blackhurst, but the pabulum had scarcely reached the ex-Private Eye editor's sigmoid colon and he learned that he had been dropped by the paper.

Now, we've all done it as editors. Not been entirely straight with contributors before the axe is swung, usually to get the publication through a tricky, holiday-strewn Christmas or mid-summer schedule. But Mr Blackhurst must beware of saying one thing and doing another: not only is the Indy supposed to be nicer than the rest of the Dacre-alikes but he is alienating luminous revengers. No one forgives surprise dismissal, constructive or otherwise, and the tentacles of tit-for-tat spite are without end, though I'm sure Mr Ingrams and the investigative Goldsmith plutocrat are honourable exceptions.

Mr Blackhurst didn't entirely do himself credit in the Johann Hari scandal, either: there he was on Newsnight gamely attributing Hari's mishaps to a lack of journalistic education while the viewing public scoffed on their sofas. I'm afraid even the rather pleasant face of Mr Blackhurst betrayed a little of his own inner-scoffer, as the smiles waxed and waned a little too readily.

It pains me to write this as the Indy has been so sweet about Madame Arcati in the past. Then again I always question face value, as we all should in these uncertain times.


Smashie said...

Where did you get the idea the Indy's a 'nicer' place than other newspapers? It's a slow-payer and employs people who have worked on other papers, including your favourite Stefano Hatfield. No one would have called Simon Kelner 'nice'.

Anonymous said...

Did it occur to you that Khan maight be a bit crap?

Ciaran Rehill said...

Blackhurst banned Jody McIntyre, and Ciaran Rehill/Ron Broxted. Voodoo doll at the ready.

Mrs de Winter said...

Well. I guess that explains why she was so touchy over her review of Imran Khan's memoirs. She posted linky on twitter back on Sept 26, together with a pout about the headline. As a sub-editor, I rushed to defend my brethren and got drawn into a toe-curling (on my part) exchange about how, hey, subs are only doing their job and the headline had prolly been dictated by a senior exec... grovel-grovel. Still. At least now I know why she felt strongly enough to engage in a debate with a lowly Dublin-based sub.