15 Mar 2022

Media Network: The Times’ star business columnist on his news priorities

Welcome to the MHP Mischief Media Network bulletin. Our unrivalled team of former journalists and media experts bring you the latest insights behind the headlines.


Harry Wallop takes over business column at The Times

Nick Collins

Harry’s first column went live today. Before publication he sat down with his former Daily Telegraph colleague, MHP Mischief’s Nick Collins.

What will your new column cover?

Anything and everything related to business, so long as it’s entertaining or thought provoking. Business is a very broad term: from the price of a cup of coffee, to economic sanctions in Russia, from the etiquette of eating fish soup at your desk to the latest mad-cap trend coming out of Silicon Valley.

Where will you take your inspiration from?

My background is very much City journalism. I’ve always found how people make money and how they lose money fascinating. I’m also amused by the sometimes pretentious, often nonsensical jargon, used by many businesses – and their PR advisors – to claim they are changing the world. Mate, you’re making a widget.

Are there any business stories or themes you want to tackle?

Trying to find wry and curious things to say about office life while World War III kicks off might be a bit of a challenge. But there’s always Elon Musk’s tweets to fall back on.

Are you interested in hearing from businesses?

Strange, but true: yes. If a business is genuinely doing something different and ground-breaking, I want to hear. If a business is running their enterprise in a new and interesting way – be it how they pay their workers, or incentivise them, or gain new customers – I’m curious to hear from them. Any new studies, documentaries or books about office life or entrepreneurship, I’m keen to hear about too.

How UK newsdesks are dealing with the challenge of Ukraine

James Rollinson and Keith Gladdis

Ukraine is dominating the news agenda, but it leaves news editors with a challenge of bringing balance to their news lists.

At the Daily Mail the news desk is pulling together two news lists each day. The Ukraine list serves up around six to seven double page spreads each day. The second contains all non-Ukraine stories and still includes the usual mix of hard news, showbiz, politics, campaigning and consumer.

The news list at The Times is split into ‘top stories’ and ‘other stories’. Normally the top section includes 4/5 different stories but during the war it’s just been Ukraine. There’s still interest in positive human-interest stories, quirky science or tech, talking points to provide much needed lightness to the paper.

At the Evening Standard Ukraine is so dominant that the news desk advises holding any non-critical stories for a couple of weeks at least. At the time of writing, the first 13 pages of the Standard are devoted to Ukraine-related news, more than half of the news section. There remains space online though, with the news desk advising that PRs pitch stories to relevant specialists and correspondents directly.

Ukraine is also dominating broadcast news. Kirsty Hickey, a producer at Ian King Live on Sky News says the programme has been off air because of Ukraine. They are currently only on the lookout for contributors who can speak about Ukraine.

The invasion of Ukraine has also taken over the business pages. MHP Mischief’s Pete Lambie looked at how the proportion of Ukraine coverage on business and city pages has also changed, demonstrating the impact of the conflict on the City and the global economy.

A revamp of the Telegraph’s features desk opens new opportunities

James Rollinson and Alan Tovey

The Telegraph is making changes to its features coverage, with more pieces dedicated to following the news agenda. Editors want to know what events mean, rather than just what happened. This is best illustrated by its open vacancy for a live editor, responsible for daily content which analyses breaking news.

This is a second bite at the cherry for those wanting to contribute to news stories. Features writers are seeking new voices and it’s a chance to put interesting people in front of them, as long as they can offer fresh takes on events that demonstrate their understanding and relevance.

The BBC’s outstanding coverage in Ukraine is the best PR

Charlotte Grant

There was much fanfare when a new BBC promotional video launched last month. Their underlying message couldn’t have been clearer: we provide value for money. It was a rallying response to ongoing criticism of bias as well as Nadine Dorries’ announcement of a licence fee freeze.

But what could be a better advert for the BBC than their Ukraine coverage? Forget the slick TV video (that even had Today presenters tittering over the tagline!) All they needed was Clive Myrie’s calm, considered analysis from a bunker in Kyiv.

The continual bravery of correspondents reporting from the frontline in Ukraine has even led to praise from MPs in Parliament, with a particularly tearful tribute from – a certain Nadine Dorries.

MOVERS AND SHAKERS – some of the key moves in news organisations you need to know

Abigail Smith

The Telegraph: Shake-up for the Business Desk with James Burton promoted to deputy business editor, and Hannah Uttley to business news editor. Szu Chan Ping – formerly BBC – is set to join as economics editor in the summer in a revamp of economics reporting. The Standard’s Oscar Williams-Grut is also coming on board in a news desk role. Banking editor, Lucy Burton, will also be moving roles in April to cover a new employment beat.

Bloomberg: Amongst a series of recent new hires, Bloomberg hires Katherine Griffiths as finance editor covering all things finance, banks, investment firms and the City. She moves having spent over a decade at The Times.

Daily Mail: Gordon Thomson will be stepping down as editor of Mail+, this comes as the supplement is expected to undergo a strategic review, suggesting there may be staff cuts to come.

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