Profile: Out of the pink - Ray Snoddy, media editor, the Times

When the news leaked out that Ray Snoddy was leaving the Financial Times to go to the Times as media editor, hardened media hacks blanched.

’Snoddy?’ they gasped. ’Leaving the FT? But that’s like God leaving

Heaven!’

Snoddy and the FT, you see, defined media reporting for most of the

1990s and every trade press journalist and national paper hack trembled

when opening the paper in case the man had scooped them again. His

finest pink-papered hour was the summer of 1991 when he basically ran

all the media journalists’ agenda. For the first time, the ITV licences

were to be awarded in a simple cash auction in which the highest bidder

would win. The bids were submitted to the Independent Television

Commission in a sealed envelope and secrecy on the sum would be

paramount. Until Snoddy got his teeth into the business.

’I’d been out at lunch with a contact and at the end of the meal he

said, almost as an afterthought: ’You know Scottish Television bid less

than a million?’’. Snoddy explains: ’I ran back to the office, got on

the phone and stood the story up for the next morning. STV’s share price

shot up.

’Just before the summer I had breakfast with the editor Richard Lambert

and he had said it was time I moved off the media patch and discussed

two or three new jobs with me. Then the ITV franchise stories broke and,

funnily enough, I heard no more about it. I was saved from being

something like social affairs correspondent by those stories.’

Snoddy says he loved his time on the FT but found that the one way in

which the title did restrict him was in the very focused, business-like

style that the paper employs. Snoddy loves to write. Given the chance to

really write something out, his prose becomes strong and imaginative.

But the FT has highly paid subs who ensure that flourishes and humour

are ruthlessly sliced from the reporting of business facts. That’s

partly why he’s looking forward to the Times. It has given him a weekly

media column in which to wax lyrical and he plans to use it well.

’I have written a variety of columns for the trade press,’ he says, ’and

it’s given me the chance to talk about things like the recent changes at

Radio 4 which, as it has little effect on share prices, is not really

something the Financial Times would write about. Those are the stories

that I would only do as a paragraph there. Now I’m going to get the

chance to explore them.’

Aside from that, many of his duties will be agreed on when he actually

starts at the paper in September. He will be reporting to the business

desk, and the current media correspondent, Carol Midgley, remains on the

patch reporting to the newsdesk. Snoddy will be writing across the

paper, but business remains his speciality. So now that’s sorted out,

there’s only one more thing for the media hacks to worry about. Who’s

going to get Snoddy’s old job?

HIGHLIGHTS

1981

Assistant news editor, Financial Times

1982

IT and broadcasting correspondent, FT

1987

Media correspondent, FT

1997

Media editor, the Times

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