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Friday, July 20, 2007

First cuttings

Media Guardian, July 30:
Former Mirror reporter Revel Barker, who was editorial adviser to former Mirror owner Robert Maxwell from 1984 to 1991, said Stott was the only man he knew who "stood up to the bullying tactics of Robert Maxwell".
In his blog on the Gentleman Ranters website, Mr Barker added: "It was perhaps fortunate, for both of them, that much of Stott's ready wit and acerbic humour passed over the publisher's head.
"But Maxwell immediately identified him as a 'cheeky chappy' and appeared to enjoy his company and, sometimes, even to take his advice on newspapers.
"Indeed, arguments between them often ended with a resigned concession from the publisher. 'OK,' he would say. 'You are the editor.'"
In the afternoon of Boxing Day, 1989, feature writer Noreen Taylor answered the phone at home and heard a too-familiar voice: ‘Bob Maxwell here. Is your husband at home? I’d like to speak to him, if I may.’
‘Certainly, Mr Maxwell,’ she said, with a laugh. Then she turned to her husband, Roy Greenslade – managing editor of the Sunday Times – and told him: ‘It’s Paul Callan. Doing his Maxwell impersonation, again.’
Greenslade took the phone and said: ‘Piss off Callan,’ into the mouthpiece.
‘No,’ said the caller. ‘It actually is Bob Maxwell. And I’d very much like to offer you the job as editor of the Daily Mirror.’
Maxwell was eventually successful in persuading Greenslade that he was the genuine version. And thus started yet another new era.
Not just another ex-editor, he is a professor of journalism and media commentator of the Guardian and he was kind enough to welcome the launch of this Blog site thus:
Drop in for a quick one at the old hacks’ pub
Calling all ex-Fleet Street journalists! A blog,
GentlemenRanters, has been launched today to enable old hacks to reminisce about their days of wines, headlines and deadlines. It’s a cyber replacement for the pubs of the past - such as the Mucky Duck, Stab, Poppins, Barneys, Auntie’s, Harrow, Wine Press, Tipperary, the Cheese and El Vino’s - so that the veterans can rant, recount and recant.
The ‘editorial board’ includes Paddy Byrne (freelance photographer), Ian Skidmore (freelance), Paul Bannister (
Daily Mail), Geoffrey Mather (Daily Express), and Revel Barker and Alasdair Buchan (Mirror group). Barker’s opening words to his first posting give a whiff of what to expect: ‘I am old enough to remember the days when...’
Professor Greenslade somehow confused the first group of contributors with our Editorial Board, but no matter: a minor error – unless (or until) those journalists end up becoming members of the said board.

And this morning (Friday July 20) Press Gazette’s Axegrinder column reports:
A group of ancient Fleet Street hacks has started a group blog. They are calling themselves the Gentlemen Ranters and they include ex-Mirror executive Revel Barker (who had to cope with Robert Maxwell at his most deranged), ex-Daily Express features editor Geoffrey Mather, author Ian Skidmore and sometime Daily Mail reporter Paul Bannister. ‘Our contributors may not all rank very highly, but they certainly rant,’ says the blog.
Barker, who now lives on the Mediterranean island of Gozo, says from his sun-kissed balcony that the blog was started because washed-up old hacks no longer have Fleet Street bars like El Vino, the Wine Press or the Cheshire Cheese to gather in and tell ‘tales of glory’.
He adds: ‘The blog was created in about three days. Yes, I know… you’ll say it looks like it was. In that case it can only get better.’

Good on you, guys, keep trying, I say.
If it goes on like this we may have to buy a cuttings book.