Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Death of the Industrial Correspondent

Kevin Maguire is bemoaning the death of industrial journalism. He writes...
When I covered employment and industrial relations for the Daily Telegraph in the first half of the 1990s there must've been 30 or 40 hacks doing similar jobs across Fleet Street and the airwaves. Now I can only think of three specialists: Christine Buckley on the Times, the FT's Andrew Taylor and the superb Alan Jones on the Press Association news agency.

Excellent. The fact that industrial strife had more or less been eliminated by the time Kevin left his post is a cause for celebration. And the fact that a couple of dozen lefty hacks - for they were virtually all on the left - moved on to other things too, is something I shan't lose much sleep over.

I spent several years dealing with various industrial correspondents between 1987 and 1994 and I can tell you that they were a complete shower. Maguire, it has to be said, was the exeception. When he worked for the Telegraph he kept his lefty sympathies to himself.

I can remember acting as the media spokesman for the port employers during the 1989 dock strike and encountering two industrial correspondents who were so pissed that they couldn't actually write their copy. I was only too delighted to dictate their stories, which duly appeared word for word in their papers the next day. It would never happen nowadays, of course. No Siree.

14 comments:

tory boys never grow up said...

Wasn't Bernard Ingham an industrial correspondent - so I presume he belongs to the complete shower!

So the only thing of any interest that happens in industry that is interesting and warrants reporting is industrial strife?


As for dictating copy I think that you will find that plenty of that is still going on for financial journalists - remember this was Dave's only real job so be careful what you say. It is quite easy to spot financial jounalism which is based on corporate press releases and never challenges the guff which is fed to them by corporate communications departments.

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

A relic of the past. Their job was to stand outside the T&GWU's offices late at night, without a hat, and update us on the employers' intransigence. It was often raining, I am glad to say.

On the other hand: how many real journalists do we have now, standing in the rain and picking up snippets of information? Mostly they sit in offices churning the stuff they get over the wire from the Press Association, the government and celebrities' publicity agents.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Richard Littlejohn an industrial correspondent? Not exactly a leftie.

For once - and I can hardly believe I am writing this - I agree with Kevin Maguire. Whereas once national newspapers had teams of industrial relations reporters, many of whom went on to be political reporters, now papers employ teams of showbiz correspondents writing about celebrities.

Philipa said...

but Iain, darling (I've been watching David Lean movies - I may take up smoking), the fact is that the manufacturing base in this country has died a death, which is NOT good. And wasn't Peter Hitchens an industrial correspondant at one time? (and millitant lefty?) And you like him.

Now that you've given Kevin Maguire an ample legnth of blog space I'm sure he'll be pleased. You must write whatever you choose on your own blog. And hang the consequences!

Unsworth said...

Industrial Correspondent?

Don't you need an 'Industry' in order to have an 'Industrial Correspondent'?

I thought it had all been outsourced.

Anonymous said...

Good analysis Iain.

As the lizards put it 'No shit no story' and no need for Industrial Correspondents who had to cosy up to trade unionists to get their copy.

Ian Thorpe said...

The curse of corporate conformity has killed many of life's more pleasant features - the long lunch, the acceptance of "hospitality" and I believe in some companies the office affair is now banned.

No wonder so many people are stressed out.

stalin's gran said...

Name names Iain!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps those industrial correspondents are off learning Chinese - that's where the industry is.

Freddy said...

"And the fact that a couple of dozen lefty hacks - for they were virtually all on the left - moved on to other things too, is something I shan't lose much sleep over."


Bet they're all environmental correspondents now.

Jess The Dog said...

Wasn't Nicholas Jones an industrial correspondent? He was an excellent chronicler of New Labour in the early days and spotted the spin when most correspondents had tongue firmly inserted up the government's collective rear!

Splashitallover said...

that's right. i had a few dealing with the industrial lobby as they used to title themselves, in the late 90s. a lot of them basically failed to readjust to the new world of work as globalisation and technology changed work in the 90s and 00s. they failed to find new seams of stories about work, work-life balance, the labour side of the economy. those whose only contacts were union hacks found that their stories weren't wanted anby more. some of them did move on, to be fair, and specialised in comment or politics or transport or other areas. a lot of them didn't.

Anonymous said...

Unsworth said...

"Don't you need an 'Industry' in order to have an 'Industrial Correspondent'?

I thought it had all been outsourced."

All destroyed or outsourced by the cretinous Thatcher regime.

Paul Linford said...

I can remember acting as the media spokesman for the port employers during the 1989 dock strike and encountering two industrial correspondents who were so pissed that they couldn't actually write their copy.

A bit like the average journo at a party conference, then.