Media Profile: The perfect gentleman - Geordie Greig, editor, Tatler

There seems to be a love affair between the magazine world and the Sunday Times. Three months ago, editor-at-large Dylan Jones left the paper to take the helm at Conde Nast’s GQ. Two months ago, IPC recruited Style section deputy Liz Jones to head Marie Claire. Last week, Conde Nast dipped into the pool again and fished out literary editor Geordie Greig as Tatler editor.

There seems to be a love affair between the magazine world and the

Sunday Times. Three months ago, editor-at-large Dylan Jones left the

paper to take the helm at Conde Nast’s GQ. Two months ago, IPC recruited

Style section deputy Liz Jones to head Marie Claire. Last week, Conde

Nast dipped into the pool again and fished out literary editor Geordie

Greig as Tatler editor.



’The Sunday Times of the last 15 years or so has been an extraordinary

school of journalism,’ Greig says. ’There’s an incredibly talented team

there and it’s one of the toughest newspapers to work successfully

for.’



Greig’s survival credentials are impeccable. After fighting off his

wealthy family’s desire for him to enter banking, he began his

journalistic career at the South East London and Lewisham Mercury. While

working from nine to six at the local paper, he spent from seven in the

evening until two in the morning at the Daily Mail. After six months, he

was deemed to have passed David English’s ’Daily Mail sparkle’ test and

was offered a full-time job.



Greig spent a year at the Mail and two at Sunday Today as its only

reporter - with Alastair Campbell as news editor. Then, in 1987, he

joined the Sunday Times, where he has worked variously as reporter, arts

correspondent and New York correspondent.



He was approached for the Tatler job by Conde Nast MD Nicholas Coleridge

out of the blue after Coleridge had struggled to find his ideal

candidate among some 70-odd applicants. His appointment may have been a

surprise, but it has not shocked all his colleagues.



’Geordie is very charming, entertaining and sharp,’ says Robert Harris,

Sunday Times journalist and novelist. ’He’s an excellent journalist,

but, more importantly, he’s a true gentleman. He’s absolutely the right

man to edit Tatler.’



Greig believes Tatler is in need of reinvigoration rather than

re-invention.



’We have a wealth of loyal readers, but we can reach out to them more,’

he says. ’People tell me they love Tatler, but find the writing isn’t

sophisticated enough.’



The writing issue is already being addressed with the appointment of

Sunday Telegraph columnist Nicola Formby as editor-at-large with a brief

to bring in celebrity content.



Greig has always had a knack for finding writing talent. While literary

editor at the Sunday Times, he became the first man to commission a book

review from a sitting Prime Minister when John Major reviewed a cricket

book for him. He also commissioned work by the likes of Ted Hughes and

Harold Pinter.



As for the PR industry, he eschews the usual hack line of distrusting

every phone call from PROs. ’At Tatler, I think I’ll be interested in

talking to the industry about every part of the magazine,’ he says.

’There’s a whirl of social events and products which surround the Tatler

world that we need to know about.’



He has a word of warning, though: ’At the Sunday Times, I dealt with a

range of PR contacts from fashion PROs to political spin doctors, so I

know how to deal with puff.’



HIGHLIGHTS

1987

Reporter, Sunday Times

1995

Literary editor, Sunday Times

1999

Editor, Tatler



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