Mark Thompson, outgoing director general of the BBC, is taking over as CEO of the New York Times. Damian Thompson, probably no relation, comments:
Smug, liberal, patrician, overstaffed, institutionally biased to the Left while pretending not to be… how on earth will Mark Thompson, outgoing director-general of the BBC, cope with the culture of The New York Times, where he's taking over as CEO?
The Old Gray Lady has been adventurous in the digital field, with some success – subscribers to its smooth online product are growing, though turning them into solid ad revenue is a struggle. Perhaps the man behind the iPlayer has something to bring to the table.
But as for the newspaper… its coverage of US politics is not only partisan but pompous, unlike the snarky liberalism of Jon Stewart. And those dropped intros! (This is newspaper-speak for 17 paragraphs of flatulent "colour writing" before you can work out what the bloody hell the article is about, usually not before turning the page.)
And the men in bow ties will just love taking instructions from a Brit.
Something tells me this will be fun.
For evidence of Mark Thompson's mediocrity, look no further than his encounter with veteran crime writer P. D. James, as posted here:
Charles Moore contrasted Baroness James's clear, eloquent speech with Mark Thompson's blustering jargon. By their words shall ye know them. From The Spectator:
Like millions of listeners to the Today programme on New Year’s Eve, I rejoiced at P.D. James’s inquisition — the more deadly for its courtesy — of the BBC Director-General, Mark Thompson. Mr Thompson is not a bad or stupid man, but his very locutions were typical of the modern bureaucrat. Where Lady James respectfully called him ‘Director-General’, he tried to ingratiate himself by calling her ‘Phyllis’. Where she used metaphor exactly — a well-extended image of the BBC as an ‘unwieldy ship’, with the officers ‘very comfortably cabined’ — he employed the phrases of self-defence and evasion — ‘I have to say’, ‘I do think we have priorities’, ‘Let’s be honest’, ‘the decision around Arlene Phillips’ — and the jargon — ‘12 million personal interactions’, ‘delivering’ programmes. He sounded like a sloppy ‘carer’ in an old people’s home suddenly caught out by a resident whom he has wrongly treated as senile. The interview was a fascinating culture clash between someone who deeply believes in something, and someone who doesn’t. Almost all our public culture is now dominated by the latter. What is that something which P.D. James believes in, and which she thinks the BBC once espoused? In a word, it is civilisation. It is a very strong apprehension of a hierarchy of knowledge and values, and how these may flourish or fail in a society. The most moving bit of the P.D. James show was its end. She recited the famous ‘Ring out...’ passage from ‘In Memoriam’. ‘Ring out the false, ring in the true’, she declaimed, and her voice rang with what she believed.
Mark Thompson has found his spiritual home. Spiritual in a holistic, non-judgemental sense.