View from the top: Jane Moore, columnist, The Sun

Jane Moore is an influential journalist, novelist and television presenter. Alex Black seeks her views on life and public relations.

Jane Moore
Jane Moore

Last week, more than three million people read Jane Moore's column in The Sun. With the mix of populist tub-thumping, hum­our and empathy that has been her signature style for the past 12 years, Moore explained why the Fathers 4 Justice protesters on Harriet Harman's roof had a point; why Sarah Jessica Parker was ‘shallow'; and why Met Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair was in tune with public opinion (‘for once') when he called for drug-taking celebrities to be put on trial. She also found space to describe former royal butler Paul Burrell as ‘reptilian'.

Moore, 46, is one of the most influential journalists in Britain today, as well as a successful author and TV presenter.

A quick calculation on the back of an env­elope suggests her column in Britain's best-selling daily has been read more than two billion times since it first appeared in 1996. And that does not include the num­ber of times it has been read online.

If you had to express that figure as individual readers, it would mean nearly every man, woman and child in both India and China had read the thoughts of this media polymath.

Despite Moore having something of a fearsome reputation in the PR commun­ity, those who have worked with her say she is a pleasure to deal with. Indeed, face to face she is instantly friendly and chatty, padding barefoot around the beautiful Wandsworth townhouse she shares with her husband, celebrity PRO Gary Farrow.

She apologises for a slight hangover from a charity dinner the night before and ­insists PRWeek has the last teabag in the house. Waiting for the kettle to boil, she ­rif­les through the day's post, gleefully showing off a CD of classic punk songs ­redone as lullabies.

The house itself is immaculately decorated, with expensive bits of pop art scattered around, but with touches such as Farrow's vast, sprawling CD collection (‘he's like an obsessive when it comes to music') making it feel homely rather than a ‘show home'.
Moore began her career in local journalism on the Solihull News before moving to the Birmingham Post and Mail.

Jane MooreFreelance shifts on the nationals and a very short stint on Sunday Sport followed, but when she was 23 Kelvin MacKenzie summoned her to his lair at The Sun to ­appoint her editor of its Bizarre section.

‘Kelvin was full on,' says Moore, chuckling. ‘Bombastic and exhausting, fearless and brilliant. When I was editing Bizarre, my desk was right outside his office. He'd come out in a rage for whatever reason and sack the first person he saw. You had to have a sense of humour in those days.'

After Elton John sued The Sun for £1m, MacKenzie dispatched Moore to John's birthday party. ‘I had to wear a sandwich board wishing him happy birthday from The Sun, and Kelvin told me not to come back unless I got a picture of myself standing next to him. I got there and the house was at the end of a huge drive with security on the gates. All I got to see were limos with blacked out windows.'

Years later it transpired that Farrow was actually at that party. Little did any of them know then that John would one day be best man at Farrow and Moore's wedding.

Moore has plenty of scoops under her belt from her days as a tabloid hack (sneakily getting an interview with Boris Becker's girlfriend during Wimbledon by offering her a lift to the All England Club landed Moore her first tabloid staff job), but she now splits her time between writing her column, presenting TV programmes such as Dispatches and writing chick-lit novels.

With a fifth novel out this week, does she still get a buzz out of being an author?
‘I can't say I enjoy it,' Moore admits ­after a split-second pause. ‘I enjoy handing over the finished manuscript and I enjoy seeing the finished product. And I enjoy the cheque I get when it hits the shelves,' she says with a wry smile. ‘That certainly helps the creative process.'
She is not a slow writer by any means and aims to write 30,000 words a week, finishing a book in about six to eight months. But she confesses to hating the way it is ­always ‘nagging away in the background'.

‘You never have any spare time. Every time I sit down to watch a film I can hear this little voice going "book, book, book".'

Journalism is her passion, although she admits to having recently turned down a cel­ebrity interview gig with ‘a big woman's magazine' because ‘celebrity interviews can be a pain in the arse'.

That said, she has just started a column in GQ (called ‘She Q') and renewed her contract with The Sun for another three years (‘They'll have to fire me or carry me out in a box. I really love it'). As the copyright holder to her columns, she is also toying with the idea of doing a book based on them - something both Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Littlejohn have pulled off.

During her career at The Sun, Moore has worked under four editors: MacKenzie, Stuart Higgins, Brunswick partner David Yelland (‘hot on the financial side of things and a lot more political than the others') and now Rebekah Wade, who she counts as one of her best friends.

MacKenzie brought her to the paper first, but Moore says she ‘thrived' under Higgins' stewardship. ‘He was a great editor to work for. He was instinctive about the reader, hot on showbusiness, a brilliant negotiator, and he taught me a great deal about dealing with PROs.'

Higgins is equally complimentary about Moore's journalistic skills, explaining that ‘she has turned her personal vit­riol, emotion and streetwise brain into a cocktail of required reading'.
‘She is one of the few columnists who addresses a young audience with a less predictable comment,' he adds.

So is her daunting reputation among the PR community justified? ‘PR is an odd profession,' she says, ‘and areas of it can attract some right halfwits. Sometimes the business is just a holding bay for people called "Araminta Ballbag" who have not done very well in their very expensive educations and are just looking for something to do before finding a rich husband. They used to drive me insane when I edited Sun Woman.

‘We used to keep a list of the best PR names which, sadly, I've lost. I swear I once dealt with a PRO called "Jonti Cocks".'

She claims she still gets ‘stupid emails' such as ‘hello, we've got an event - can you put an announcement in your column?'

Moore's new novel, Perfect Match, is out today, published by Century‘Do I look like I run a parish magazine?' she fumes. ‘Delete!' But she is quick to praise ‘proper' PROs - those who know how to deal with the press and have decent relationships with journalists and editors.

People such as Bernard Doherty, Barbara Charone, Neil Reading and legendary 1960s publicity man Tony Brainsby. She diplomatically admits her estimation of PROs has gone up since she married Farrow. ‘He tells his clients what they need to know in a no-nonsense manner. When journalists ring him with a story about one of his clients and he says he'll call them back, he does.'

Although she claims never to answer her 'phone, preferring to call people back, she says Farrow cannot stand to have a tele­phone ringing. ‘He never has time off. His BlackBerry is the third person in our marriage. It drives me mad.'

It is ­impossible to find any of Moore's peers with a bad word to say about her. Even the ‘bombastic' MacKenzie is ­effusive in his praise. ‘Jane is a star,' he booms. ‘She has the balance of wry cynicism and emotion that any good journalist needs, and she ­uses her waspish humour to show she's not just on the women's side.

She is also a successful novelist. Most people with her talents tend to be absolute shits, but Jane's the opposite. To be honest, I hate her for it and, if I could, I would sack her every week to teach her a lesson.'

All the evidence points to Moore being able to charm just about anyone she meets. Unless your name happens to be ­Araminta Ballbag. Then it is probably best to steer clear.

Career highlights
2007 Launches consumer website
2004 Presents documentary on the Beckhams
2001 Publishes her first novel, Fourplay
1996 Writes her first column for The Sun
1994 Rejoins The Sun as woman’s editor
1992 Joins Daily Mirror as features editor
1988 Moves to Today newspaper, and works as feature writer, deputy news editor, royal correspondent and features editor
1986 Joins The Sun, editing Bizarre section
1985 Works as freelance reporter for Sunday People
1982 Moves to Birmingham Post and Mail as a reporter
1980 Starts as trainee reporter on the Solihull News

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