Alex Massie

Newspaper Days

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As I always say, Scoop isn't really fiction. From John Gaskell's obituary in the Telegraph today:

Plagued by ill-health, Gaskell reduced his commitments to working half a week   so that he could write a novel about obituaries. Unfortunately, he mentioned   this to a man he was interviewing, and the man then sold the idea to a   publisher as his own. The shorter hours, however, saved Gaskell’s bacon when   there was a cull of staff. Some weeks later he went to have his contract   renewed, and was told that the management had forgotten him: “We meant to   sack you.”

Sadly, I suspect that these days there'd be no escaping the axe. One of the sadder developments in publishing - of both books and newspapers - is the business's increased professionalism. At least the people running the ink trades think they're more professional than their bumbling predecessors even if you, the dear reader, might not think so to judge from the papers and books they produce...

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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