The Telegraph and Boris: what chickenfeed will buy you

The Telegraph is in the perplexing position of having both made rather a lot of money last year, and then lost even more of it buying itself out of joint ventures. And from the outside, the newsroom looks similarly financially contrary: the Telegraph appears to have invented seven sports hacks to cover up a reliance on agency copy, and yet still have the money hanging around to spend a quarter of a million hiring Boris Johnson as a columnist. So what does Boris think about his good fortune? Well, it’s “chickenfeed”, apparently, because he doesn’t work very hard for it:

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Chicken feed. […] Frankly, there’s no reason at all why not I should on a Sunday morning, do whatever else I need to do on a Sunday morning, should not knock off an article as a way of relaxation, a kind of mental… What shouldn’t I? […] I write anyway! I happen to write extremely fast, I don’t see why on a Sunday morning I should not knock off an article. If somebody wants to pay me for this article, that’s their look out.

Maybe celebrity columnists do add galactic levels of value to a masthead. At 30 pence a word, the Telegraph could get those columns filled for a smidge over 15 grand, so the rest of that quarter-mil must be buying something. If I was Will Lewis, though, I’d be tempted to take up Boris on his implied offer of writing for free, and redirect some of that money to the sports desk.

© Sarah Ditum 2009

Chicken feed. […] Frankly, there’s no reason at all why not I should on a Sunday morning, do whatever else I need to do on a Sunday morning, should not knock off an article as a way of relaxation, a kind of mental… What shouldn’t I? […] I write anyway! I happen to write extremely fast, I don’t see why on a Sunday morning I should not knock off an article. If somebody wants to pay me for this article, that’s their look out.