Tom Leonard has made a career from writing about showbiz and music
for some unlikely publications. He was the first pop music correspondent
for the Economist, and covered Oasis for the Daily Telegraph.
So, now that he’s shifted to the more worthy role of media editor for
the Daily Telegraph, will he miss all the glitz?
’Not at all,’ he says. ’So many of the people I dealt with on that beat
had huge egos, and that was just the people who worked for the stars.’
As media editor, his role is to oversee the Telegraph’s new media
section, launched this month. It is a single page at the moment, as the
paper is taking a ’suck it and see’ policy towards this new section.
Leonard is therefore keen to make sure it works for the readership.
’We will have to be very accessible for our readers because they are
interested in media but only if it is written for them and not for media
professionals,’ he explains.
The Telegraph reader is likely to follow the fortunes of the BBC, and
especially Radio 4, pretty avidly, Leonard says. The issues of dumbing
down on radio and television will be of some concern to them as
He thinks PR people can help him with his coverage, and he has been
amazed at the number of calls he has received since starting his new
job. ’We had a chat about PR people on the paper last night and we were
pretty evenly divided between the journalists who hated them and those
who didn’t mind them,’ he says. ’I’m pretty sympathetic, because
although loads of the calls are a complete waste of time, you will
occasionally get a decent story. I think they will help our
His first week gives some indication of his plans for that coverage.
There was an interview with Andy Hamilton, one of the writers of Drop
The Dead Donkey and a speculative piece on Andrew Neil’s newspaper
Leonard hopes it is lively enough for the readership and his former
colleagues are sure it will be.
Jeff Postlewaite, who used to work with Leonard on the Evening Standard
and now works at PR consultancy Beer Davies, said Leonard was ’a great
writer who will bring good colour to the role’. He adds: ’One of Tom’s
loveable failings, however, is his complete lack of punctuality.’
Leonard’s lateness is made even more inexcusable, says Postlewaite, by
his close proximity to the Telegraph’s Docklands home. Leonard has
bought a flat in fashionable Shoreditch and cements his cool credentials
when a yo-yo - currently the hippest accessory for the streetwise -
falls out of his charcoal grey, two-piece suit as he reaches for a
Does he pursue the world of cool in his spare time, then? ’Oh, I’ve got
no hobbies at all,’ he smiles, engagingly. ’I should get some, I
I’d like to give writing a novel a try. I used to support Brighton and
Hove Albion when I was younger, as they were the nearest decent team to
Guildford, but I think I know when to give up on a lost cause.’
1989: Reporter, London Newspaper Group
1993: Reporter, Even ing Standard
1996: Reporter, Daily Telegraph
1998: Media editor, Daily Telegraph