Independent and inter-dependent!

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Jo Cumbo- FT pension journalist

Two top journos go nose to nose-  the usual suspects winding them up, it has all the ingredients of the weigh-in  …before a 15 rounder!

But it’s more complicated. Jo is employed by the FT and protective of its business model (she DMs me politely suggesting i make my way to my newsagents when her story’s behind her paywall). Paul is free to listen to, but like Danny Baker (my other fave) he’s freelance, he gets work from the BBC when he can get it. Paul has a different kind of dependence.

We may be independent, but we are all inter-dependent. When the FT published its death by 1000 cuts story as its front page lead, it got threats from asset managers that advertising would be cut. The FT can build such threats into its business model as it prizes independence above revenues (incidentally you can now read this story for free if you answer the FT’s questions) – press the link when you’ve finished reading this!

The BBC too has the strength of a subscription model (the licence fee) that makes it semi autonomous; but as Jo points out, it has the tax-payer to fall back on. Bernard Rhodes , when he spoke on Friday last, railed against the pathetic laxity within the BBC that allowed Jimmy Saville to be revered even as he fiddled. Rhodes refused to allow the Clash to appear on Top of the Pops , putting his principles before his pocket.

But other bands he managed, Dexy Midnight Runners and the Specials were Top of the Pops regulars. You have to wonder about absolutes, as the Clash sang in All the Young Punks

Of course we got a manager

Though he ain’t the mafia

A contract is a contract

When they get ’em out on yer

Strummer/Jones were independent of Rhodes but Inter-dependent. In Career Opportunities Strummer snarled “do you wanna make tea at the BBC, do you wanna be , do you really wanna be a cop?”

Rhodes knew that putting his band on the BBC would compromise the brand, the BBC became part of his marketing machine when he refused to let them appear.

Independent but inter-dependent

Without the BBC, the commercial press would have no benchmark nor nothing to shout against. Jo Cumbo and Bernard Rhodes are as one in their inter-dependency.

Without NEST, the commercial pension providers would have nothing to kick off against. We need NEST not just as a long-stop, but as a sounding board and a trampoline.

Jump on the BBC and see how high you bounce, jump on NEST and see how high you bounce.

The Government and its money is not inexhaustible and demand could be insatiable. NEST could be a victim of its own largesse which is why I am looking forward to the National Audit Office’s report on how that £600m loan from the DWP is going to be re-paid.

The BBC is similarly under scrutiny over value for money. The anger over Top Gear shows how much we care about the quality of our programming and our refusal as viewers to be fobbed off with second rate, lazy journalism.

Paul Lewis is not above criticism , for all his 88,000 twitter followers. He moans at the BBC as if he owned the place, but he doesn’t, we do! Paul is just like you and me and when he moans at having to pay to read Jo’s articles he is being as mean as I am (£2.80 for the weekend edition- shocking).

The only free read in town

I look at my own reading figures, gets around 20,000 hits and has around 10,000 visitors a month. I don’t monetise the blog ;because as soon as I do, I will find myself not saying what I want to say. I try to keep the blog clean, be accurate and say things as I see them. Sometimes I regret what I say, like slagging off Danny Godfrey when he was at the IA, when he was as good as his word. I apologise when I do.

I’m not a journalist, I’m a consultant who commentates via a blog that I do on top of my chargeable time. I need Paul Lewis to promote me and Jo Cumbo to break the news I write. Jo isn’t perfect either, but she’s the best journalist working in pensions at the moment and if all the other journalists reading this take exception to that statement, well tough!

I wouldn’t choose to pay for Jo’s work but I do, because it is good enough. I will only listen to Paul so long as he is relevant and irreverent and is as keen as mustard (which remarkably- he usually is).

But your time is not free

You will only continue to read this blog so long as I am myself, independent but inter-dependent on the very best thought leaders, broadcasters, news hounds out there.

NEST reads this blog as part of its Orwellian media watch; this is a stray internal email which accidentally got posted on this blog a couple of months ago. They too are independent and inter-dependent.

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“Hi guys – nothing much going on here today either”

There’s no such thing as a free read , nor a free lunch. Reading this has cost you time, I hope you found it worth it. The moment you don’t – stop reading. The moment you stop reading (and my May monthly reads weren’t great) , it’s time for me to get more relevant, irreverent and keen as mustard.

NEST sharpens the knife, the FT and the BBC sharpen the knife, we all aspire to be the best and in our complex society, the public and private sectors work with and against each other in peculiar and often brilliant ways.

Paul and Jo scrapping with each other  (like the wind) is part of the process. This is not vanity.


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Ezra Pound , Canto 81

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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