Profile: Back in business

The Savoy Grill could be the most important decision-making room in media history. From the founding of commercial television through to the latest newspaper launch - the reborn Sunday Business - a meal in its plush surroundings is likely to figure somewhere in the story.

The Savoy Grill could be the most important decision-making room in

media history. From the founding of commercial television through to the

latest newspaper launch - the reborn Sunday Business - a meal in its

plush surroundings is likely to figure somewhere in the story.



For Jeff Randall, the editor of the new paper, the Savoy Grill was where

Andrew Neil offered him the job. Randall had worked with Neil for seven

years on the Sunday Times and confesses he had an idea of what Neil was

going to offerhim when he was invited to lunch. Neil had just helped the

Barclay Brothers buy the remains of Sunday Business to add to their

stable which housed the European and the Scotsman. As the brothers’

editor-in-chief, it was obvious that Neil would be involved in the new

paper.



In Randall, Neil chose a journalist with 12 years’ experience of the

difficult Sunday City and business beat. ’It’s an acquired skill,’ he

says, ’and lots of daily newspaper journalists fail to make the

transition.



You have to dig deeper as well as being both predictive and

analytical.



You sit on the cusp of the week so you have the chance to give people a

fuller picture.’



In his time at the Sunday Times, Randall covered everything from the

1980s boom to the 1990s bust. However, he says that the stories he’s

most proud of are not strictly financial. It was Randall who broke the

story that Robert Maxwell was planning to buy Tottenham Hotspur Football

Club.



’It made the lead story on the news that night as well as the front page

of both the FT and the Sun,’ he says proudly. And he uncovered John

Latsis’ secret donations to the Tory party.



Given the chequered history and curious mixture of good and bad will

that is attached to Sunday Business, Randall is not settling for an easy

life at the paper. He’s also entering the competitive Sunday market, so

how is he going to cope?



’Well, I don’t see the Sunday market as that competitive for us,’ he

says. ’I think the Independent’s Bloomberg pages are awful, the Observer

has a really sideways agenda and the Sunday Times and the Sunday

Telegraph are not actually providing that much coverage when you take

out the personal finance.’



Randall is delighted with the staff he has and argues that all the

serious players in advertising, the media and PR now know that the new

Sunday Business is a completely different product from the old one. It

has foreign news, two sections and it is printed on pink paper. He’s

working on live dummies at the moment with plans to launch on 15

February.



’I will consider myself to have succeeded when we have a very strong

editorial product which attracts advertising and sells copies,’ he

says.



’It’s all very well us producing a great newspaper that other

journalists think is really influential, but unless we shift copies, I

will consider I have failed.’



Stephen Armstrong



HIGHLIGHTS



1991 - City and business editor Sunday Times



1993 - Managing editor, City and business news, Sunday Times



1995 - Director, Financial Dynamics



1996 - Sports editor, Sunday Times



1997 - Editor, Sunday Business.



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