Media Profile: The girl from Mercury - Fiona Alexander, editor, Sunday Mercury

If you want to get an idea about someone you’ve never met before, you could do a lot worse than bring up sports and see how they react.

If you want to get an idea about someone you’ve never met before,

you could do a lot worse than bring up sports and see how they


It can tell you a lot about a person. Psychologists claim that anyone

who dislikes organised games is likely to be a bad team player in their

working lives as well. Fortunately, the reverse is also true. Take Fiona

Alexander, for instance. The new editor of the country’s largest

regional Sunday newspaper, the Birmingham-based Sunday Mercury, seems to

drip sporting metaphors as though she’s just bathed in a tank of them.

If she’s not talking about team work, you get the feeling that she just

isn’t quite happy.

This, it has to be said, is probably par for the course for a

netball-playing wing defence who played as a ringer for the British Rail

team in Peterborough and is still looking for a proper team to join in


It’s also the kind of thing you’d expect from someone who worked on the

Emap-owned football title Match for four years. It’s even the kind of

thing you’d expect from an Arsenal fan, although only just.

In fact, Alexander’s love of sport is so great that it has been a factor

in almost every job she has held since leaving Match. She went to the

Leicester Herald because she wanted an editorship. Once there, she had

to turn the paper around and found sports coverage to be a powerful


’We had a great team of young journalists and we managed to bring the

paper up from a third in the market free-sheet to the second paper in

the market,’ she says. ’And we won a number of awards for the

supplements we produced for the local teams as well as other areas.’

Now she’s at the helm of the Sunday Mercury and the paper is trying to

move down an age bracket. The paper’s readers are mainly over 55 and

Alexander hopes to bring the average down to the mid-40s. Alexander has

been working on this problem almost since she joined the paper last year

and has some clear ideas about its relaunch.

’I’d like to reach a lot of parents with kids at secondary school,’ she

says. ’That’ll help dispel the myth that the Mercury is the kind of

paper people’s grandparents buy.’

To that end, she’s bringing to the forefront coverage of health and

education issues as well as covering topics of importance to both

groups, such as drugs. ’Kids and parents both need to know about drugs,

but they need to know about it in different ways,’ she explains. ’We

plan to have people who cover the relevant patches in a little more

detail than is usual in some papers.’

She plans a redesign to tighten up the paper and she hopes to bring in a

glossy magazine when the printing logistics make it possible. In the

meantime, she’s confident about the relaunch for one clear reason: ’I’ve

got a great team working with me,’ she says. ’I wouldn’t want to be one

of those editors that disappears upstairs, you leave your team




Sub-editor, Match


Assitant editor, Match


Editor, Leicester Herald and Post


Assistant editor, features, Sunday Mercury


Editor, Sunday Mercury

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