ROY GREENSLADE WANTS the readers of his entertaining, over-stuffed book to learn two 'lessons'. Most readers of the Literary Review will know them already, but here they are again: 'editors can be brilliant under any proprietor but they cannot achieve greatness unless they have either a brilliant owner or, better still, no owner at all'; and 'newspapers were not democratic institutions.. . . Ownership conferred rights on proprietors which allowed them to do as they wished'. I don't know why the second lesson is in the past tense.
Greenslade, who seems to have done almost every job in journalism, apart from owning a paper or doing much reporting, and who is now the media commentator of The Guardian, reminds me of the Celtic monk Nennius. In the ninth century Nennius compiled the Historia Britonum, 'partly from writings and