Nearly three months after taking over as editor of the troubled New
Statesman and Society, former Independent editor Ian Hargreaves has made
progress on the magazine’s rehabilitation.
The redesign has helped boost sales and subscriptions of the magazine by
20 per cent above the rather meagre 20,000 sales figure that Hargreaves
inherited. With the new look - and shortened name New Statesman - in
place, Hargreaves, 44, is now concentrating on the evolutionary process
of changing the content. His aim is to create a strong political core
which will make the magazine a ‘must read’ for people who want to know
about politics, particularly left of centre politics.
‘Our readers are interested in politics but they also appreciate good
writing and a weekend package,’ says Hargreaves.
While the New Statesman is likely to attract upmarket readers,
Hargreaves is also hoping to pick up younger readers who are swelling
the ranks of Tony Blair’s Labour Party. To make the political content
more palatable he is surrounding the heavy duty articles with
‘interesting material to make a more enjoyable read’.
Already the arts and books sections have been expanded and Hargreaves
says that he is aiming eventually for a 50:50 split between hard core
politics and lighter material.
Hargreaves dismisses suggestions that he may find editing a weekly
publication with a small team a come down after such high profile jobs
as the director of news and current affairs at the BBC and editor of the
‘It is enormously different but there are many advantages with a small
team. You can make many more changes and are far more hands on with
making changes to headlines and copy which you don’t get to do as much
when you are editor of a large newspaper,’ says Hargreaves.
A grammar school boy, he went on to Queen’s College, Cambridge where he
studied English and French. He began his career in 1973 working for
Bradford and District Newspapers and joined the Financial Times in 1976
for what was to become an 11 year stint culminating in promotion to
assistant editor, features. He moved to the BBC in 1987 as managing
editor of BBC News and Current Affairs. During his three years there he
was promoted to controller, and later director, of News and Current
Hargreaves returned to the FT in 1990 for another four years as deputy
editor to Richard Lambert and moved to the Independent in 1994 to
replace its founder Andreas Whittam Smith as editor. His stay was
shortlived and he left in November 1995 in the wake of increased control
of the paper by its biggest shareholder Mirror Group and amid reports
that he refused to further slash staff and budgets.
Married to Baptist minister Adele Blakebrough, Hargreaves’ outside
interests include the think tank Demos and East London community project
Bromley by Bow Centre.
Hargreaves is well aware that he faces an uphill battle to achieve his
objective of doubling the magazine’s circulation in the next two
years.However he has two factors working in his favour - growing support
for Tony Blair and the promise of a very interesting year in politics.
1976 Journalist, Financial Times
1987 Managing editor BBC news and current affairs
1990 Deputy editor, FT
1994 Editor, The Independent