The Daily Mirror, that fearless warrior against fatcat bosses, is strangely reticent when it comes to the case of Sly Bailey.
As chief executive of a struggling British company Ms Bailey defied indignant shareholders and accepted a 36 per cent pay increase to £750,000 a year.
Profits and shares have slumped and the group’s workforce has been halved since 2004 but she pocketed a total package last year, including bonus, of £1.71 million.
This tale of epic greed has not made it onto the pages of the Mirror for the simple reason that Sly Bailey’s company is Trinity Mirror, owner of 160 regional newspapers and five nationals, including the Mirror.
The Mirror’s silence perfectly illustrates the dilemma facing journalists trying to avoid accusations of hypocrisy when they talk about media freedom. How can a newspaper claim to be independent when it applies one rule to itself and another to everyone else?
I guess all the Mirror’s editor can do in this situation is shrug and ask politely: “Well, what do you expect? Do I look like a turkey who would vote for Christmas?”
All the same, the media would dampen reader cynicism and recover some of its lost credibility if it strived harder for true independence of editorial content. Trinity Mirror and even Sly Bailey could stand taller if its newspapers and websites carried stories like this.
Geoff Rich, legendary editor of the South Wales Echo in the 1970s and 80s – in its pre-Trinity Mirror days – is said to have announced to his senior news team that he would be spending the next day in court on a charge of drink-driving. He invited them to cover the case and make their own decision about how newsworthy this was. To everyone’s credit, the story appeared on the front page.
Nobody lost their job and the affair ended with Geoff’s and the paper’s reputation enhanced. Now that’s fearless journalism and ethical media management.
– GARETH WEEKES, Deep South Media Ltd.