Media Perspective: Anderson's move to News Group makes sense amidchaos

It was a rather unnerving experience returning from holiday last weekend. First, the broadcast news revealed parts of the US had come to resemble a Third-World war zone; then, the newspapers were more obsessed with cricket than with England's football team.

Surprises all around, then, if you had been out of it for very nearly two weeks. The extent of the cricket fever had clearly got out of hand.

I had a friend on the phone almost in tears because another friend had flogged his ticket to see the Ashes finale at The Oval on eBay. The ultimate betrayal.

Less surprising in this world turned upside down was news of Mike Anderson's move from the Evening Standard to become the managing director of News Group (The Sun and News of the World).

Not that you could have guessed that Anderson would necessarily pitch up at News International, but it had seemed likely that he would make some sort of move before the end of the year.

For a start, Anderson has been at the Standard for almost three years, so it seems a natural time to move on for a man in a hurry to advance his career.

Incidentally, there were rumours earlier this year that Anderson was considering a departure to take a senior commercial role at a major daily newspaper in New York.

The News Group role is a bigger job across two massive national titles.

Also, the Standard, with long periods of decline in its paid-for sale, must have been a struggle at times, especially for someone who had arrived from his previous billet, as the managing director of Metro, covered in some glory.

But Anderson, a man who never seems guilty of underestimating his own ability, has emerged from the Standard with more credit than seemed likely a year in. The tough sales policy he introduced, with less flexibility on ad rates, paid some dividends and his bravery in pushing for the publication of Standard Lite, which has unquestionably given its publisher, Associated Newspapers, more options in an uncertain future for the title, should be applauded.

There are sources who say Anderson's relationship with Veronica Wadley, the editor of the Standard, had soured to the point of breakdown, yet it seems he has moved for the positive reason that he has been offered a top job.

While NI has landed an executive with an enviable record in the freesheet market as it considers its next move in this area, Anderson's priority will surely be on the future of its two paid-for red-tops in a declining market.

A flair for promotions, a willingness to work with advertisers on a solution beyond a mono or colour page and a big pair of brass Scottish balls should stand Anderson in good stead. A loss for Associated and a good hire for NI, then.

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