Financial Crisis Means Rich Pickings From Press

If there is one thing we can be grateful of during these months of credit crunching, it is the rich vein of brilliant writing that has come to the fore.

Seasoned campaigners often tucked away at the back of the book are basking in the glory of weighty front page by-lines.

And we, the reader, have been able to feast upon meaty reads of a story that will continue to dominate for half a decade to come.


Yesterday's Scotland on Sunday, for instance, a short stroll from The Mound, stood head and shoulders above anything Fleet Street or its near neighbours had to offer.

In Peter Jones, they had an author who pulled together the strands of a story in a way others have struggled to comprehend.

Some of his paragraphs were packed with imagery, logic and truth:

"The world is changing. The rot that began last year in the financial world, consigning the apparently all-powerful and impossibly wealthy investment banks of Wall Street to the trashcan of history and turning our own Bank of Scotland from prince to pauper, is now an inescapable part of our lives.
"The harbingers of recession are now all around us. Go to the supermarket, any one will do, and note all the blaring signage proclaiming that it is offering the deepest discounts and biggest bargains. That's good we may think.
"But note also the appearance of unstaffed check-outs where you can pay for your shopping without the help of an assistant and ask yourself how many of the remaining assistants' jobs are going to survive. Because it is only by cutting wage bills that supermarkets can continue to offer us those discounts."

He's not alone, though.

In Bill Jamieson, The Scotsman and SoS have a living legend. More than any other journalist alive, this has been his story, his the first article rivals, bankers and workers turn to each day for the latest news.

His pay off line from Sunday was almost prophetical:

"This is a critical week – another one – requiring the boldest of action."

And his insight cutting:

"At least no one can now doubt the gravity of the situation we are now in.
"However I was astonished last week to hear on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, and again on BBC's Newsnight, Chancellor Alistair Darling being aggressively grilled about the bank rescue plan on the grounds that Government money could be better spent elsewhere.
"It is breathtaking that this far into the crisis some have still not grasped that the banking system is the nerve centre of the UK economy, and if it collapses then businesses collapse and no one gets paid, not even in the public sector.

"Yet the issue was treated as if it was yet another political spat."

Jamieson, more than any other, has been consistent in not just breaking the best lines but in delivering them with style as September 30, when he wrote:

"In one stomach-churning second last night, the United States and the world were brought to a moment of truth on the deepening credit crisis: it's winning, we're not.
"No sooner had the news broken that Congress had voted down the $700 billion bail-out plan than the Dow Jones index plunged 777.68 points – the biggest intraday points drop ever. In Canada shares slumped 6 per cent. In Brazil 10 per cent.
"Like an unfolding scene from a financial disaster movie, investors dumped bank shares and mutual funds and charged into short-dated Treasury bills."

The UK Newspaper of the Year last time round, The Financial Times, has also unbridled its stable of writers, the result being turns of phrases that capture not just the imagination, but the moment, as on October 7, when Edward Luce filed a despatch from Washington that began:

"If God were an equity trader, his Democratic bias would be plain to see. Having signalled he would attempt to "turn the page" from the conversation about the economy, John McCain was yesterday greeted with another stock market slump that brought the Dow Jones below 10,000 for the first time since 2004."

But it isn't just the news-writing that has been poetic, but the leader writing too, as the October 4-10 edition of The Economist proved to great effect, stating:

"Most of the time nobody notices the credit flowing through the lungs of the economy, any more than people notice the air they breathe. But everybody knows when credit stops circulating freely through markets to banks, businesses and consumers."

These are difficult times. Newspapers and other media feeling the affect as much, if not more than, other business sectors.

But as they plan their pre-Christmas cuts of staff, reductions in pagination, I hope they will look at those experts flying the flags for their titles with exemplary, insightful writing that should make them proud.

And remember that newspapers are founded on the strength of their journalism, not the other way round.



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