MEDIA PROFILE: Getting into the Sunday stride - Janet Street-Porter, editor, Independent on Sunday

Trying to interview Janet Street-Porter is no simple task. The interview slot is moved three times, the length of the interview decreases from forty-five to eight minutes and when I’m finally ushered into her presence she is on her mobile, sorting out a trip to France.

Trying to interview Janet Street-Porter is no simple task. The

interview slot is moved three times, the length of the interview

decreases from forty-five to eight minutes and when I’m finally ushered

into her presence she is on her mobile, sorting out a trip to

France.



Suddenly I realise I’m not interviewing an editor, I’m interviewing a

celebrity. The hysterical column inches her appointment has so far

provoked back this up.



’When I read all these stories about me, it feels like I’m reading about

a fictitious character,’ Street-Porter says. ’I’ve had this kind of

abuse since I first poked my head above the parapet when I was 21 and

became a columnist on the Daily Mail.’



Since her acrimonious departure from Live TV Street-Porter has mainly

hit the public eye for her TV programme on rambling, but she has been

busy in other ways too. In the last year, she has been a travel

columnist for the Observer, written travel and walking features for the

Mail on Sunday, been the walking columnist for the Sunday Times and a

restaurant columnist for Vogue.



Then, three weeks ago Independent editor-in-chief Simon Kelner decided

the Independent on Sunday needed a higher profile and more vigour. He

rang Street-Porter, took her to lunch at the Ivy and the deal was

struck.



Almost immediately, every journalist in Fleet Street condemned the move

as a publicity stunt.



Former colleagues think the criticism unduly harsh. ’Janet’s very good

at putting the whole package together,’ says Tracey MacLeod, who worked

as a reporter on Network 7 with her in the 1980s and is now a writer and

presenter. ’Janet will be able to create a coherent identity and

communicate that to all the staff. She is also good at promoting the

best talent.’



Street-Porter confesses to being very proud of Network 7, but says her

proudest moment was re-writing and producing a new version of the opera

The Vampyr for BBC2 in 1992. The show picked up the Prix Italia and an

Emmy nomination.



’Getting an Emmy nomination should prove I’m not just this ’yoof’

figurehead.



I’m not going to dictate every detail of what I want to do, but I want

to open the paper up and I think I’ve got the right range to do

that.



The core of the paper is obviously its news, but on Sunday people want

more than that. That’s where my background and skills can come in.’



She wants to differentiate the paper not only from other Sundays but

from lifestyle publications. ’The media is too dominated by the PR

world.



You read women’s magazines these days and they all have exactly the same

stories.’



She says things were different in her days as a print hack in the early

1970s. She is just getting into a cheerful spate of reminiscences when

my ten minutes are up and I’m ushered from the boardroom. I’d forgotten,

I wasn’t interviewing an editor, I was interviewing a celebrity.



HIGHLIGHTS

1988 - Editor, youth programmes, BBC television

1993 - Head of Independent Commissioning, BBC Television

1994 - Managing director, Live TV

1999 - Editor, Independent on Sunday



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