The seedy world of wealth, words and media influence

On yer bike: A frank exchange of views via sign language as Boris Johnson gets a less than complimentary greeting from a fellow cyclist on the streets of London.
On yer bike: A frank exchange of views via sign language as Boris Johnson gets a less than complimentary greeting from a fellow cyclist on the streets of London.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

Newspaper editors in the heavier hitters of the media world like Independent News and Media, The Telegraph and The Daily Mail in England, will probably be tempted these days to issue an edict to columnists that no more words be written about the dreaded B word, namely Brexit (not to be spelled out again in this column).

A while back, while having a little perusal of The Guardian online, I came across a piece about one Boris Johnson, who writes a weekly column for The Telegraph of about 1,100 words, and guess what, the most popular topic of his pieces is centred on that unmentionable B word.

Now, as a somewhat down-and-out hack, who has scraped a living from Billy-to-Jack in the humble world of provincial journalism, I had a certain curiosity in the financial dividend that one Mr. Johnson might be deriving from his part-time observations for that great bastion of conservative England, The Telegraph.

In fairness to poor old Boris – a man of the people of humble trappings who often cycles to work (okay being sarcastic) – he had worked full-time for the Telegraph until the slightly more important job of British Foreign Secretary came up for grabs, and sure enough he could hardly say no to that.

For his earlier full-time job with The Telegraph, he earned the relatively modest salary of £275,000 per annum (nearly £23,000 a month or close on £5,300 a week), so when he eventually finished up as UK Foreign Secretary in 2018, his old paper wanted him back to write a weekly column for them.

Now, it would be nothing less than ungracious to expect their blonde bombshell to return on anything lower than they had paid him initially, so they rehired him to write one column per week on an annual salary of €275,000.

The Guardian ‘did the maths’ and Boris conceded that his column took up 10 hours every month out of his working schedule. That’s a pay-rate of £2,291 per hour, or £5,288 per column (assuming he doesn’t miss a week in the year) or £4.80p per word written.

After all that, Boris didn’t have ‘meas madra’ on his journalistic earnings, describing them as ‘chicken feed’ compared to what he was ‘pulling’ for his other writings (on Shakespeare, Churchill and the likes) as well as his public office work as Foreign Secretary and Mayor of London.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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