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  1. The Staggers
27 April 2023

Axed Times columnist has stopped pulling punches

David Aaronovitch didn’t hold back about his former employer – or the Telegraph.

By The Chatterer

David Aaronovitch, the former Times columnist, is not holding back.

In an interview to promote his new Substack on Press Gazette’s Future of Media Explained podcast, Aaronovitch laid into his former editor (“lacking in class”) and his former rivals at the Telegraph (“wall to wall rubbish”).

As the Chatterer has previously noted, Aaronovitch’s Times column was recently axed after 18 years. (In a rightward shift, Aaronovitch was replaced by Juliet Samuel, formerly of the Telegraph.) Aaronovitch was restrained when telling the story of his dismissal on his Substack last month. But by the time of his Press Gazette interview the gloves had come off.

While he said the Times was “a great, great, great newspaper with fantastic people working for it”, he added of his sacking: “The manner in which I was told was not great. In the old days, you would anticipate a conversation with the editor – it would be an embarrassing conversation with the editor – in which the editor would say: ‘Look, you’ve done a great job and we’ve had a really great time with you, et cetera, but I really do want to try and do a few different things, et cetera, and I think it’s time for you to move on.’

“But I didn’t get any of that. I just got two people from HR telling me that the editor wanted to try some new ideas. This editor – Tony Gallagher – he’s never spoken to me. At all. He’s made no communication with me before I left, while I was leaving, or afterwards. Not one. Not a word. Not an email. Nothing. And I think that’s just totally lacking in class.”

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Aaronovitch was forthright later, as well, when asked about the state of the column-writing sector. “There are some truly terrible columnists getting column spaces in British national newspapers,” he said. “They can’t write, the stuff they write is stupid, it’s badly researched, but it [conforms] to the prejudices of their readers. I think with one or two exceptions, for example, what’s in the Telegraph is just wall-to-wall rubbish, and it didn’t used to be. Whatever you thought of the politics of Telegraph columnists, say, 20 years ago, there was a kind of respectability.”

Ouch.

[See also: Can the BBC recover from Richard Sharp’s disastrous chairmanship?]

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