Comment Editor Alex Cirant-Taljaard offers his opinion on George Osborne's recent appointment as the editor of The Evening StandardWritten by Alex Cirant-Taljaard on 23rd March 2017
Editorial: Osborne’s Standards
Redbrick's Editor-in-Chief Anna Griffiths has doubts over the recent appointment of George Osborne as the Editor of the London Evening Standard
As the Editor-in-Chief of a student publication, it was wonderful to hear this week that I may need no further qualification than a sense of entitlement to secure myself a job in a major newspaper upon graduation. Thank fuck! I was worrying about my prospects.
I am of course referring to the announcement of the neither right nor honourable former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne as the newly appointed editor of the London Evening Standard. I would like to congratulate Mr. Osborne on his appointment, but that would suggest I welcome the news. I welcome the news as much as I welcome the findings that child poverty has hit its highest level since the financial crisis, which is to say, not at all.
“Being an MP is a full-time job. So is being an editor
The position of editor is one that requires a keen understanding of the industry and a passion for fair and extensive reporting, something I can only assume George will bring in plenty. Or is that Michael Gove? I’m afraid I struggle to remember the who’s who of Conservative has-beens. Although, to George’s credit, he is less of a has-been these days than a has-been-busy, as he now works six jobs. Six! Osborne’s great governing achievement to normalise working multiple jobs to make ends meet must really have permeated his psyche. I think someone should tell him his many commitments can’t be good for his heart, although that does presume he has one.
As I have worked for only two national newspapers, and I am the editor of only a small student newspaper, you may reasonably think I’m unqualified to comment. That could be so, although you must admit that under qualification is something else George and I now seem to have in common. George has walked this earth for twice as long as I, yet I seem to have twice the editorial experience of he. I’m more under-graduate than I am under-qualified. I’m not saying that I’m in any way equipped to run a large newspaper, far from it. I’m just saying that George isn’t. There are plenty of deserving people who are. And it’s not as if he needs the money, as he’s earned £800,000 for a few speeches these past nine months, £650,000 to advise fund manager BlackRock, and the by-no-means small figure of his £75,000 MP’s salary. I expect however he will soon be saying tatty-bye to his Tatton constituency pay, as he clearly couldn’t care less about his parliamentary responsibilities. Being an MP is a full-time job. So is being an editor - I struggle to manage a student newspaper alongside my studies and other societies, let alone a paper as large as the Evening Standard. I wonder what will slip first?
I’m sure George will understand the frustrations of young journalists like myself - Osborne of course has famously experienced disappointments in his lifetime, such as failing to reach a single one of the economic targets he set as Chancellor. Thankfully, his shining record of supporting young people with successive aspirational budgets will shield him from the most austere criticisms. What do you mean I won’t be able to afford a house?
After running The Independent into the ground, I thought the Evening Standard’s owner Evgeny Lebedev had grown tired of kicking the British press blue, but apparently not. In a mission to undermine the credibility of the media even further, Osborne’s appointment is evidential of the revolving door that the London elite are privilege to. Lebedev is Russian however, so perhaps he doesn’t realise that the emulsion of politicians and the press doesn’t make for a credible democracy. Call me a romantic, but I think the press plays a fundamental part in holding the government to account; equally holding the opposition to account when they fail to effectively oppose the government. The fulfillment of that role doesn’t look so genuine when politicians are running the press.
“Osborne of course has famously experienced disappointments in his lifetime, such as failing to reach a single one of the economic targets he set as Chancellor
I think it’s almost funny that he’s landed this job but I’m sure he probably thinks it’s funny that our generation will choke on the fumes of pollution (presumably churned from his ‘Northern Powerhouse’), and work until we’re 70 and bitter. It’s quite hard not to be bitter when the horizon of graduation offers a lifetime of underpaid work, and people like George can swan into a job that many will have spent a lifetime working towards. People like him deciding they are qualified to be a journalist not only diminishes the profession but compromises the credibility of the work that serious journalists do. But I suppose all newspapers churn out these days is fake news, so what does it matter?