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November 16, 2012



As per my previous comments, a clan model of control would seem more appropriate for investigative journalists. I presume they have their own professional association whose values and commitment to truth its members must subscribe? So why is a complicated bureaucracy to manage them necessary.

Sack the bally lot of 'em (the managers)I say!

Lisa Ansell

Managerialism is key to understanding the failures of marketisation within social care, childrens services and the NHS, and DWP. Managerialism of a certain type comes along with the marketisation and has the same effect wherever it is seen.


A question.

You say they have been de-skilled and underpaid.

How has their pay fallen over the last say 30 years adjusting for inflation.

If you put it on a line chart, does it indeed go down?


I wonder how many of today's reporters started as unpaid interns, in a system that selects for parental wealth over competence.

Luis Enrique

lots of people want to be journalists because they think (correctly?) it's a relatively exciting and meaningful job, that "makes a difference". Perhaps this notion tends to accompany a sense of self-importance, perhaps not - I think these are the people you rather unkindly call egomaniacs. From personal experience I know that if somebody asks you what you do, and you reply "journalist", they tend to be (mildly) impressed, which is more than you can say for most jobs, and I think journalists are often similarly impressed with themselves. This non-pecuniary reward (glamour) has long been relied upon by employers in lieu of a salary, to recruit and motivate journalists. Which suggests two questions:

1. should we expect people motivated in this fashion to be of lower quality than people motivated by high pay?

2. I'd have thought being a CEO was a relatively exciting and meaningful job, so why the need for fat salaries too?


@ fake - I think it has: here's one I prepared earlier:
Back in the 80s, when Chris Huhne was economics editor of the Indy, he got a BMW as a company car (and I guess a commensurate salary):
I doubt if Ben Chu has one.

Luis Enrique

(this is because when you say "journalist" most people think daily newspaper, not Computer Reseller News.)


This is an great critique - the cult of managerialism exerts a negative influence on professional excellence across the board.
There are two major forces at work that diminish the effectiveness of organizations in all sectors: the industrial mind-set, and fear of public ridicule.
You could say that managerialism is an outcome of the industrialisation of everything, which sees all human activity as a problem to be solved by reducing it to the simplest possible production system. The aim is always to reduce costs and maximise profits with no real interest in other outcomes: except to the extent that the complexity of 'reality' interferes with the desired simplicity.
Fear of public ridicule throttles innovation and risk-taking (the dumbing-down of journalism is a factor in this). Here we can learn something from the scientific mind-set where every properly documented experiment is a success regardless of outcomes - because it extends understanding. Finding out what doesn't work is an essential part of the path to success, and in a climate where people are afraid to make 'mistakes' the chance of achieving excellence is hugely diminished.


Isn't the particular case of the misidentified Tory an issue of outsourcing?


Playing devil's advocate, perhaps there's a recognition that issues around pay and conditions for journalists or care-workers can only be addressed by management. So if the problems are the result of the eroding of pay and conditions, new management are more likely than the incumbents to come in and address that.


Managers have to work with what they've got/inherited. Their skill is in getting the best from the current pool of journos. Did they make mistakes in the case of the BBC? You betcha! Wishing for better workers is utopeanism (sp?) !

Fu Ko

You write, "The claim that high pay is necessary to attract and motivate good workers is not merely an economic postulate. If it were, it could apply across the wage distribution."

Well, I'm pretty sure it is applied across the wage distribution. It is generally recognized that if you're paying minimum wage your choice of candidates will be severely restricted.

I guess I really don't know what you mean to assert here. What's not applied across the wage distribution?


As a retired journalist I can tell Fake 3:54 PM that even if salaries haven't dropped, other changes have effectively slashed wages. For instance, more than 30,000 reporters were laid off in the past ten years, I think it's far more but can't find the figures at the moment, but google "layoffs journalists" and see some of the devastation.

I worked for one paper which paid me $1800 a month, no mileage, no overtime, car required, for a reporter job that required evenings, weekends and other odd hours. I had searched 18 months before I landed that plum.

After layoffs, the remaining people have far more work, less leverage, less time for research or even fact-checking, and to add insult to injury, are expected to create content across several media — papers, radio, net content, etc. do they get royalties or compensation for the increased exposure? Hardeharhar. A lot of contracts now specify that the company owns the content forever and throughout the universe in all media, and can edit it as they see fit. I am not joking. http://www.simonteakettle.com/contracts.freel.htm

Many of the laid-off are hired back on a freelance basis, meaning they work just as hard with no guarantee their story will get picked up, and no benefits.

Now, it is true that there are many people who will work long hours for low wages because they love the field. There's a name for such people, they are called "amateurs," or sometimes "loonies."

An interesting trivia scrap: The newspaper business until recently relied on classified ads, not the big showy display ads, for more than half its income. Craigslist and Kijiji and other online classifieds cut that revenue source off at the knees, and it's not coming back.


Tim Almond

A lot of this is about how much a manager is actually in charge.

In a lot of large companies, they're really just a monkey. Managers are not given simply a budget and a set of deliverables. They're constantly getting orders about how they should work. They don't have incentives based on delivery, or if they do, they have so much outside of their control that they can't work to it, so what managers frequently end up doing is nothing but seeking the next job up the ladder.


You tend to see the same thing at work in serious case reviews into social service failings, and many people (Eileen Munro chiefly, with her systems theory stuff) make the point that each 'reform' deskills frontline staff more and more making further mistakes more likely, not less.

james higham

Part of good management is accessing opinion from your line managers whom you employed because of their expertise in the first place.

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