Radio 4's 'What The Papers Say' Axing Hailed As 'Sadly Inevitable' By Media Pundits

Closing Newspaper Review Show After 60 Years Is A Sign Of Changing Times
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Former hosts of the soon-to-be axed 'What The Papers Say' have hailed its closure as "sadly inevitable" in the changing media landscape.

Print journalists, as well as those who dabbled in broadcast and politics, lamented the 60-year-old format being retired, offering tributes to staff that worked on the show and their weekly editorial output.

The Radio 4 half-an-hour production has been running since 2010, having had a nomadic journey that saw it spawned by ITV in 1956, move to Channel 4 some 26 years later, before being picked up BBC2 in 1989.

It was ditched from TV in 2008 but brought back in a fresh incarnation on the radio two years later to coincide with the General Election.

As such, the media show has hosted generations of journalists offering punditry on major events captured by both broadsheet and tabloid newspapers, some of which the programme has itself outlived.

One commentator, the Evening Standard's Anne McElvoy, remarked 'What The Papers Say' was put on at the "mad time" of 10:30pm on a Sunday. "Guaranteed euthanasia," she said.

Others of her colleagues, many of whom would have worked in London's Fleet Street in the days of no internet and high daily circulations, reflected on the sad news.

They included Iain Dale, formerly of the Telegraph, now an LBC presenter; Hugo Rifkind, a columnist for the Times; Miranda Green, an ex-Financial Times journalist who has since moved to contributing to the Observer and the Sunday Times, among other publications.

Patrick O'Flynn, a former Daily Express political editor who left journalism to become Ukip's economic spokesperson, said it was "a shame" the programme had been cut by BBC bosses, offering "best wishes to its dedicated team".

But after news The Independent, its sister title The Independent on Sunday would become online-only and while their cut-price compact stablemate The 'i' be sold, ex-Scotland on Sunday editor-turned-Financial Times business and employment editor Brian Groom said the print-focused show's demise was "sadly inevitable".

It's not bad news all round though, as the Guardian's new formats editor has suggested the show could yet be saved by turning it into a podcast. Albeit one that solely reviews sci-fi magazine '2000 AD', a weekly glossy on 'Doctor Who' and Leyton Orient FC fanzines.

We wish him luck in that endeavour.


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