An argument on the way to a deadline

Tomorrow's Business

Full marks for optimism to the flaks who sent out a release today embargoed until July 9th. At 6am Paris time! 5am London!

The report that’s coming might well be of interest, eventually, but I fear the authors are overestimating how well organised we are.

Newspapers mostly exist in a scrappy, hand to mouth sort of way. Every day is a scramble. Which is why hacks are always amused by conspiracy theories of how we arrived at our “news agenda”. Conspiracy suggests a level of planning that simply doesn’t and mostly can’t occur.

Now, we do prepare for certain things. We’ve a theoretical action plan for what happens when The Queen dies or when England win the World Cup.

I guarantee you those plans will prove little more than a vague guide to what actually happens.

A colleague the other day, perhaps misquoting someone, said newspapers are supposed to be an argument on the way to a deadline. That sounds right.

I think this is an area where the corporate world and the media world simply don’t understand each other.

When we say we’re doing something today, we mean it will be in the paper in a few hours. Big companies operate on the basis that “right now” means next month, after a consultation process.

I haven’t had this particular call from flaks for a while, but there used to be a fashion for ringing up and asking to see the forward features list.

No such document exists. The flaks always seemed to think I was lying to them when I said so.

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