Media Profile: Remaking Independent’s day - Andrew Marr, editor, the Independent

It hasn’t been easy being a newspaper editor recently. If you haven’t been scorned by the broadcasters then you’ve been lambasted by Earl Spencer or criticised by members of the public on phone-in radio shows.

It hasn’t been easy being a newspaper editor recently. If you

haven’t been scorned by the broadcasters then you’ve been lambasted by

Earl Spencer or criticised by members of the public on phone-in radio

shows.



Andrew Marr, editor of the Independent, has managed to avoid most of the

mud-slinging - he was allowed to sit in Westminster Abbey during

Princess Diana’s funeral - but he has had to contend with falling

circulation, a price war and the defection of staff to rivals. Marr

worked on the launch of the Independent as political correspondent and

is now overseeing its latest reincarnation. In between he worked as

political editor of the Scotsman and the Economist.



He explains the latest re-design: ’We are number four in the market, the

price war had a savage effect and we were looking for a redesign. We

thought ’if someone gave us the money and the paper and allowed us to

start all over again, would we produce a paper that looked exactly like

all the others?’ Either Fleet Street has perfected the broadsheet, or we

can look at it again.’



Marr brought in Canadian designers and put together an in-house team to

create the new design. He’s given the pages more space, broken the

barrier between foreign and home news and abandoned the typical front

page structure, adding sweeping leader articles loaded with background

information. The paper becomes the Independent On Saturday over the

weekend and the magazine becomes ISM. The revamp is backed by a pounds

12 million promotional budget over the next two years and the relaunched

issue went on sale at 20 pence for the first week.



’I wanted to do this after the circulation had stabilised,’ Marr

explains.



’The rate of fall has been decreasing for some time and the last four or

five months have seen our circulation steady.’



He agrees that the changes may alienate some readers, but he remains

optimistic. ’The response that we’ve been getting from readers has shown

that far more of them love the changes than hate them,’ he says. ’Wemay

lose a few, but I hope we’ll attract the maximum readers from

outside.’



Marr hopes to tempt readers from other broadsheets, all of whom, he

says, have dissatisfied customers. He also aims to pull in readers who

haven’t bought a broadsheet before, either because they are tabloid

readers or because broadsheets have never appealed to them. Alongside

the new look for the paper is a new policy, prompted by the death of

Diana.



’We made a public announcement that we would not print any pictures of

the princes taken in private situations at all,’ he says. ’Then I

thought, well, we aren’t a terribly royalist newspaper so why should we

treat princes differently to anyone else? So we’ve decided to apply

thepolicy to everyone else, unless we believe they are up to something

bad.’



HIGHLIGHTS

1986

Political correspondent the Independent

1987

Political editor, the Scotsman

1988

Political editor, Economist

1992

Chief political columnist, the Independent

1996

Editor, the Independent



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