Regional newspapers have been in decline for a number of years. According to figures published by the Press Gazette, only three daily regional newspapers managed to increase circulation in the last six months of 2010, and the average rate of decline is 6.5% year on year. It is a similar story for both weekly and national newspapers.
With this background, why do councils continue to publish their own newspapers? Take Hackney Today. The latest issue is a 32-page glossy publication, and virtually every legitimate news story could have been reported in a local newspaper. It does have plenty of adverts, but the majority of them are from the council or other public sector bodies such as the NHS.
Councils have to publish statutory notices, but only four pages in Hackney Today contains these, which once again could be published in a local newspaper, and online on the council’s website.
The council is looking for a new sub-editor for Hackney Today, paying between £35,055 – £37,851. According to the council’s website, ‘It has a print run of 108,000 copies and is delivered free, to every home and business in the borough each fortnight.’ If it scrapped this propaganda rag it would not only save the salary of this sub-editor, but also the editor, a reporter, and an advertising and distribution manager, and printing and distribution costs. We live in hope!
It has been reported in the Daily Mail that the Business Department is searching for a Foresight Horizon Scanning Analyst paying £44,186 -£55,662. One of our supporters who alerted us to it said they had been a civil servant in various Whitehall departments for over forty two years and this one even puzzled them. This is the job description on the civil service jobs website:
You will be a key member of a small team providing a futures research capability to Foresight and across other government departments. This work will include:
o Developing technically robust, futures research methodologies for the full range of Foresight projects.
o Leading on developing and applying futures research methodologies for futures analysis in all Foresight projects, including projects in Foresight’s HorizonScanning Centre.
o Working with Government researchers, analysts and policymakers to achieve strong participation in, and commitment to, creating and using futures analysis.
o Providing an authoritative, well researched resource of technical expertise for futures analysis across government, designing models for the best use of futures analysis in policy practice. Drawing on research and experience in the field, propose refinements to existing project models to achieve maximum impact on policy.
o Helping departments design and deliver workshops and other events to promote long term thinking in areas of current policy and on the translation of futures analysis into policy.
o Raising capability in futures analysis across government by participating in and contributing to training events run for government by Foresight.
o Develop and maintain networks with other futurists, within and outside of Government.
Andrew Pierce in the Mail says this job could come straight from the TV political comedy The Thick Of It. Either that or Yes Minister! If someone who has worked in the civil service for over forty two years can’t work out what this is (bearing in mind they are used to civil service doublespeak) then there isn’t much hope for the rest of us.