The Herald is still at it today over the Holyrood lunches thing, but has been forced by journalistic realities to cover the massive Westminster expenses scandal.
On the Appointments page, the Herald and Times Group are advertising for an editor in chief. This is a typical example of HR (Human Resources) jargon, a series of boiler plate banalities that could have been applied to any senior job, anywhere, anytime, and which say little if anything about what the Herald really needs at this critical point in its long history - a proud history up until the time it surrendered itself to the dubious attentions of New Labour and Gordon Brown.
As an old HR professional, I regret to say that I have produced stuff like this early in my career, and the gruesome style is all too familiar to me. A few examples ...
Para One is fine - straightforward and factual, a simple description of the role.
Para Two starts well enough, albeit with a statement of the blindingly obvious - they are looking for an experienced editor and manager with a sound knowledge of all aspects of a modern newspaper. Well, we guessed that from the job title, but I suppose it had to be said.
From there on in, it is pure HR-speak - meaningless guff
I won't quote - if you have the stomach for it, read it yourself. Applications to Tim Blott, MD. Presumably he hasn't read the ad, and is unaware that an opportunity has been missed to actually say what the Herald needs from the successful candidate.
I want to help the Herald - it is, with all its failings, my newspaper, and has many qualities, reminders of what once made it a great newspaper. It has a wonderful, vibrant letters column, throbbing with the true spirit of Scotland, where highly articulate contributors debate vigorously the real issues facing Scotland today, contributors who in the main are better informed than the journalists, have a sound grasp of the English language and who know how to present a cogent argument.
So let me offer the Herald and Tim Blott -completely free of charge - an alternative specification for their recruitment ad.
EDITOR - THE HERALD EDITOR IN CHIEF
Applications are invited for the position of Editor of The Herald/Editor in Chief of the Herald and Times Group.
The Herald is the oldest English language newspaper in the world and once ranked with the Guardian as a regional newspaper with a reputation that extended far beyond its nominal geographical boundaries. Just as the Guardian's voice resonated far beyond Manchester and the north of England, the Herald spoke authoritatively to a far wider audience than Glasgow and the West of Scotland. It spoke for the nation of Scotland, and to the huge diaspora of Scots worldwide.
Its journalistic standards were second to none, and it exemplified the rigorous objectivity and freedom of expression that constitute the heart of a great newspaper. Regrettably these standards have slipped badly in the last twenty years or so, and the Herald has succumbed to the insidious political pressures exerted by a complacent and corrupt Labour Party, pressures that intensified as Scottish Labour became the core driving force in the United Kingdom Government in the Blair/Brown axis of expediency. Put simply, the Herald was sucked into the moral vacuum created by this terrifying, values-free political machine.
The new editor must be capable of coming to grips with this inexorable decline, a decline that has seen the line between comment and factual news blurred to the point of invisibility. He or she must have the fortitude to force open the deadly grip of a Scottish establishment that will resort to any measures to secure their own dominance, wealth and power at the expense of the Scottish people, and the journalistic integrity to fearlessly investigate and report on the real issues that face the Scottish nation at this pivotal point in its history. In particular, the new editor must not become the creature of the Scottish Office and the career politicians who hold the discredited post of Scottish Secretary, a role that for generations has spearheaded the conspiracy to keep Scotland, its people, its language and its culture in a subordinated, devalued relationship to the failing rump of a dying empire.
In cleansing the stables, the new editor must recognise and reflect the complex interests and forces within Scottish society, and must beware of falling into the embrace of another hegemony, whether nationalist or unionist, religious or secular.
But if he or she holds fast to the model developed across the globe by truly great newspapermen and women, that of a burning desire to report the world as it is, rather than as powerful interest groups would like it to be presented, and an iron resolve to resist the seductive or intimidatory pressure of these group, the Herald can root out injustice in Scotland, show the people the truth about their world and empower them with the information to offer their verdict at the ballot box on how they want to be governed.
The Herald, the Sunday Herald and the Evening Times want to halt the slide towards the values of the Hearst empire of old and the Murdoch empire of the present day. If you share our values set out above and believe you can inspire more than 200 journalists and editorial staff to share them and reflect them, we want to hear from you.
Otherwise get lost - head for the simpler, less challenging but ultimately debasing fields of endeavour that may well be more profitable, but which will cost you your journalistic soul.