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14.5.04

Right - I'm back. Is there still the same public out there? Apologies to loyal readers for going awol.

What's moved me to this is the Fleet Street story of the year - the end of the Piers show.

My, what an odd fortnight it's been. And it's going to get odder. More heads could easily roll. Already news supremo Conor Hanna has offered Natural Number Two Des Kelly his resignation. Des turned it down.

And what of him? Well, Des had the immense good fortune (he's always had good fortune - how else could somebody so thick rise so high?) to be on holiday during the crucial first week. Will he get the Big Job? Quite possibly. Sly Bailey will be dead keen on having someone pliable minding the shop while the consultants from McKinsey hack at staff lists.

According to my sources, Conor is deeply implicated. His metoric rise could well be over. Paul Byrne and Steve White - the two reporters who did the original story - may also be on their way out. A shame.

As for Piers - well the fact the first call on being ejected from the building was to PA, rather than to any of his "friends" at the paper says all you need to know.

How will history look at Piers? Well, as a failure really. By the yardstick that all editors really measure themselves - sales - he's been an abject failure. His reign saw the Mirror surrender its position as number 2 behind the Sun to the Mail. It's now hundreds of thousands behind every day. He had some brave ideas but they didn't work.

The serious post 9/11 Mirror was misconceived and often badly executed aside from some occasionally brilliant reporting - eg Andy Lines in New York - and some very sharp presentation. But generally, the paper went from writing bollocks about celebrities to writing bollocks about serious things. It was still bollocks.

Mirror readers didn't want John Pilger and putting Christopher Hitchens in the pages had a smack of casting pearls before swine.

The idea of scoop-led journalism as a way of building sales was let down by a lot of papers that were deeply ordinary. In the end, though, it was scoops that did him in. Live by the scoop, die by the scoop.

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