Changes At The Morning Star

By Tony Briscoe, Secretary of the Peoples Press Printing Society publishers of the Morning Star.

Our editor Bill Benfield has decided to pass on the torch. Bill has been with the Morning Star for some 20 years, leading our paper as editor for the past three years.

The Morning Star’s new editor will need to have experience in management, understand newspaper production techniques, have technical proficiency and to be able to write and edit to a high standard.

It will be someone who can vigorously represent the Morning Star in the labour and trade union movement, attending and speaking at conferences and meetings across the country, networking to promote the paper.

The Morning Star’s new editor will be committed to maintaining the traditional editorial stance of the paper.

All newspapers have a political stance, whether they state it or not, in most cases reflecting conservative attitudes and giving succour and support to the capitalist Establishment. The Morning Star has on its masthead the words “for peace and socialism.”

Our paper – the only socialist national daily newspaper in the English language worldwide – wants to change society.

It recognises that the interests of the people would best be served by socialism, rather than the world of war, want and exploitation that capitalism offers.

The paper’s leading articles, found in the “Star comment” column, have provided cogent and combative analysis for its readers and those with whom readers live, work and play.

The paper was first published in January 1930 as the Daily Worker, and it belonged to the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB).

The People’s Press Printing Society Limited (PPPS) was established in 1945 as a co-operative, taking over the Daily Worker from the CPGB.

In 1966 the name of the title became the Morning Star (incorporating the Daily Worker).

The editor of the Morning Star is an ex officio member of the co-operative’s management committee, currently comprising 34 people, including direct representatives of eight trade unions.

The management committee, representing the co-operative’s shareholders, have held fast to an editorial stance that gives historical continuity of analysis, perspective and leadership.

That editorial stance is anchored in the programme of the Communist Party of Britain, Britain’s Road to Socialism, and regularly reaffirmed by the shareholders of the PPPS.

It is from Britain’s Road to Socialism that successive editors have gained their inspiration.

The Morning Star also presents the views of the rich diversity of organisations and campaigns within the wider progressive movement.

They don’t all agree with one another, but are generally united in appreciating the clear and grounded day-by-day leadership given in the Morning Star’s editorial comments.

The past few years have seen some major changes.

In 2010 we launched a bigger and brighter Morning Star. Newspaper sales across the board have fallen, but we have held our own.

Feedback from readers tells us that our paper is better than ever. But we need to grow and we must break out of our current straitjacket.

Ultimately, circulation is the key. We are developing a “demand-driven” campaign strategy – to generate sales at grass-roots level, especially among trade union branches and activists.

Significantly greater sales will help pull the paper up by its bootstraps and maximise its contribution to the fight for a better world.

No other national daily newspaper can or will fulfil such a role. We owe it to our class to make it happen.

The Morning Star has always struggled to keep its head above water, but is finding it increasingly difficult to survive.

It cannot continue with its current financial base and its current business model.

We need to help it break out of the chains imposed by a hostile capitalist trading environment.

Last year, we nearly went under. The lifeline appeal that Bill Benfield launched saw a magnificent response from our readers which helped us to weather that particular storm.

But it did not transform our fortunes – our finances remain vulnerable and fragile, and our paper remains at risk.

So what are we doing? Well, we have agreed a brand new integrated printing and distribution package, with Trinity Mirror.

From June 18, the Morning Star will be printed at two sites – Watford and Oldham – and we aim to achieve stability and reliability of supply to the retailers on the day of publication, something that has been sorely lacking.

At the same time, we are undertaking a root-and-branch review of our business model to see if we can improve upon our methods of management and organisation to lead to a 21st-century development plan for the Morning Star.

We are talking to our friends in the labour, trade union and wider movements in the run-up to the June relaunch, to gear them up to capitalise on the prospects for a hefty boost in sales, without which we will not be able to survive with our present pagination and staff levels.

The Morning Star is a vital, but underused, weapon – for trade unions, solidarity movements, indeed all who resist the ravages of capital and government.

So the new editor of the Morning Star will face many and difficult challenges. If you think you can meet them, you have until April 16 to apply.

First published in the Morning Star, April 4th.

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