Darren Parkin, who left his role at the Coventry Telegraph last year, has taken to the blogosphere to criticise the state of the British press – and urge bosses to listen to the journalists on the front line.
In a post written for the International Words and Pictures Bureau, Darren accuses publishers of dreaming up “more and more nonsense” rather than listening to the public or even their own writers.
His comments come amid a fresh round of job cuts at his old paper with award-winning political editor Les Reid among staff whose roles are at risk of redundancy.
Wrote Darren: “The arrogant attitude of always knowing best has never failed to astound me in these circles. And the fact it continues is, perhaps, one of the worst parts of it.
“The majority of the people heading up these institutions are so out of touch with the needs of today that they honestly believe they can dumb down the way news is gathered, presented and delivered and not a single consumer will notice. What utter arrogance.
“They need to wake up to new media. They need to recognise its power properly rather than falsely believing that doffing a cap to digital and giving it a funky new name will have any impact whatsoever in the battle to conquer all that is currently wrong with newspapers.
“But where do they turn in order to find the ideas and innovations that will carry the industry across the troubled waters it is drowning in? Eachother. Their peers. They look around the table and dream up more and more inadequate nonsense – each scheme another nail in the coffin of a beast that is suffering a drawn out and painful death.”
By contrast Darren, who now edits a lifestyle magazine in the Canary Islands called Canarias Brillante, was full of praise for the journalists on the frontline – and said they are where the future of the industry lies.
“Unlike…a bad workman, I rarely came across a journalist who complained about their tools – be it their woefully inadequate mobile phone-cum-camera, a tragically pathetic laptop or even the paper itself. They’re a resourceful breed and few moan about their lot. Instead they choose to get their heads down and get on with it,” he said.
“Sadly, although admirable, this certainly hasn’t helped their cause. Swing upon swing has been made of the axe that has loomed over their heads for the last seven or eight years as the industry comes to terms with both the economic climate and the ever-increasing demand of a public that has been practically begging for new ways of delivering the news and information we all crave.
“The saddest thing of all is that, in my experience, the ideas that lead to that magic bullet – the innovative next step that will reform the industry – can all be found in the newsroom. And that’s the least likely place you’ll find this industry’s so-called leaders.
“Our future is in the journalists who are at the pointy end of the stick that reaches out to the public. And these are the very people that management must consult if they need some answers.”
In the post, he also opened up about the circumstances surrounding his departure from the Coventry Telegraph last year, claiming senior management need to “wake up” to new media before it is too late.
He had been editor of the Telegraph from 2009 until July, when he left after having previously been suspended on full pay when concerns were raised about his use of Twitter.
“I knew things were in a sorry state the day I was summoned to discuss my use of Twitter with the elders,” he said.
“As the meeting went on, one of the disgruntled bunch delivered an immortal line that has haunted my dreams ever since: ‘Look, terribly sorry, and I speak for all here, but I don’t use Twitter. Before we go on, you’ll have to explain to us what one of these re-tweet thingamajigs is’ – and there, in one sentence, the tragic arrogance of age and experience made my heart sink.”