Martin Sorrell has a weakness for journalists. His email responses to questions are legendary: contact him at any hour of the day or night, and you’re almost guaranteed a response within minutes. When does he sleep?

Now he’s taking his media-friendly approach even further. He wants to see subsidies for good journalism, because he fears that good journalists are an endangered species. This may be true, but subsidies are a bad idea. The suggestion beg all sorts of questions: am I a good journalist within the meaning of the act if I claim to be one? Does one lucky scoop mean a meal-ticket for life? Would Sorrell chair a board of worthies to watch programmes and scour newspapers for the elusive good journalism that warranted a bung?

There’s plenty of good journalism in the showbiz pages. However, the sort of journalism he has in mind is not the brilliant demolition of terrible telly as practised by the likes of Caitlin Moran. or the scimitar slashings from Quentin Letts in parliament. It’s easy for the rich and shady to lay down a legal smokescreen which needs time, effort and money to penetrate, and by the time anything is published, it may be so dense as to be impenetrable to the poor bewildered reader.

Sorrell could always launch his own newspaper – he could call it World Press and Publishing, or WPP for short. His shareholders might get a warm glow from subsidising good journalism, although he’d be unwise to bank on it. Still, it’s not all gloom, however bleak the outlook may be for what Larry Lamb once called the unpopular press. The publication which does good journalism best is thriving with no need for subsidies: happy 50th birthday, Private Eye.

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