Former Chancellor George Osbourne has been appointed the new editor of the Evening Standard. (Source: Birmingham News Room via flickr)
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Osborne is lowering the Evening Standard

By Maria Mellor

When I first heard the news I thought it was a joke. George Osborne? Editor-in-chief?? Absolute crazy talk. What’s next – Katie Hopkins becoming Prime Minister?! Then it turned out to be true and I experienced a range of emotions one after the other: confusion, denial, rage, sadness. It was like the goddamn stages of grief.

Sure it was great to get involved with the whole meme-fest splurging out of the seams of social media, but genuinely it upset me that out of every eligible candidate in the UK, they chose this man.

Not only is he a public school posho or an avid tory, but he is also a standing MP. A current politician is going to be a ‘hard hitting’ journalist. It’s a terrible career move from him, not counting the massive increase in his earnings, and a terrible decision from the paper.

Cardiff Student Media celebrated the doing-away of having a sabbatical officer (ie. someone who is being paid by the students’ union) running us and running Gair Rhydd. It means we can properly report on SU matters, properly scrutinise student politics. Yet a ‘real’ paper seems to find no concern with having an editor-in-chief so integrated in politics that he might as well have lived up David Cameron’s bum for the good part of a decade.

There’s a little thing called bias Mr Osborne might want to look up in the dictionary. Fine, they don’t have to have neutrality, as what newspaper does these days, but I can see the Evening Standard becoming a nepotistic farce.

When it comes to politics of course George will have the inside scoop, but he’ll also have plenty of MPs on his back saying ‘please don’t publish this’ and ‘please don’t put in that picture’ amongst screams of NO COMMENT wherever he goes. Will he have to sign a bunch of non disclosure agreements when he goes to private meetings in parliament? Or will they just not let him come to their meetings anymore?

Nevermind being a terrible hire, this decision is going to be awful for his constituents. This isn’t just any newspaper, this is a daily paper with a circulation of over 850,000 copies. He’s never going to have time to do a proper job as MP if he’s doing his job properly at the Evening Standard. Then if he’s just a figurehead for the Evening Standard it means the staff already on the paper are going to be given more work that the editor should be doing!

Compare him to our wonderful MP Jo Stevens. She quit the Shadow Cabinet over Article 50. She worked tirelessly to help a man who lived in Cardiff for nearly a decade from being deported. She provides statement after statement about every local issue imaginable and still holds advice surgeries at her constituency office. I can’t imagine George Osborne showing even close to that kind of commitment especially with his cushy safe seat.

George Osborne tried to defend himself to his constituents by writing them a little letter – never mind the rest of us, but fine. He cited the likes of Iain McLeod and Boris Johnson, both of whom were editor of a newspaper, but in totally different circumstances. Do your research, George!! Iain McLeod was editor of The Spectator in the 60s and he published an account of the 1963 party leadership contest which effectively got him ostracised from parliament for a short period.

Not a good basis to go on. Boris Johnson went from being a journalist to being an MP, again very different as the man actually has experience in journalism!

The wonderful people of the internet have looked into Osborne’s journalism experience. Allegedly he failed to get a place on the Times trainee scheme he applied for, was rejected from a job at The Economist and ended up doing a bit of freelance work for The Telegraph. Now after being a politician for the past couple of decades some twit thinks he’s suddenly ready to run a newspaper? How are you supposed to run a paper without having experienced its inner workings?

This decision has affected the integrity not only of a major London newspaper, but also the future of journalism. Sure as he has pointed out this isn’t unprecedented, but it makes me despair. As the current editor-in-chief of a newspaper I can assure Mr Osborne that it takes a lot more than showing your face every once in a while and signing a few forms. As the current editor-in-chief of THIS newspaper, I probably have more editorial experience than him. Maybe it’s this very fact that angers me the most.

I am a member of a community desperately seeking jobs in creative industries. Just imagine how we feel when a guy like this nabs the top spot. Imagine how the staff at the Evening Standard feel, knowing they’ve been shafted just because they’re new boss has ‘political contacts’. I’m not saying that I even had a chance of the job, but it would have been nice to know that George Osborne didn’t either.

 

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