Media Profile: Independent’s day for the media - Rob Brown, media editor, the Independent

First there was Ali/Frazier in the 1970s, then there was Tyson/Bruno in the 1980s and now there’s Brown/Mulholland for the 1990s.

First there was Ali/Frazier in the 1970s, then there was

Tyson/Bruno in the 1980s and now there’s Brown/Mulholland for the


It’s going to be a 52-rounds-a-year battle between the media bruisers

and the fight will be taking place every Monday. Rob Brown is heading up

the Independent corner while John Mulholland fights for the


Brown is the newcomer. Just down from Scotland On Sunday, he has been at

the helm of the Independent’s recent media re-launch and will oversee

the paper’s future media coverage. At first sight, it looks like a

pointless task. ’How do you take on the long established market leader?’

the industry chorused when it heard about the Indie’s plans.

Brown doesn’t see it as that straightforward. ’I think there’s room for

both of us,’ he says. ’I mean by the end of this year there are going to

be 200 digital satellite television stations in this country. Are people

seriously saying that you can’t have two media sections to write about

this industry?’

Only two? ’The Times doesn’t have much credibility because of Murdoch’s

ownership and the Daily Telegraph treats media like it’s some kind of

new fad that they hope will go away,’ Brown explains.

Brown is renowned for his outspoken views - as if you hadn’t guessed -

and they can sometimes ruffle a few feathers. Just after he left

Scotland, the Scotsman described him as ’the scourge of Scottish media’

because of his pages in Scotland on Sunday. Indeed, the job offer from

Andrew Marr couldn’t have come at a more opportune moment. Brown had

just savaged Andrew Neil for the fourth time in his pages, only to find

in November last year that Neil would be his new boss.

’That wasn’t a factor in my taking the job,’ he explains, ’but it did

make me feel that fate was on my side. Andrew Marr, a fellow Scottish

Presbyterian, called and asked if I would consider moving to the sinful

south. I said yes because I thought there was a job to do there.’

The new section, and the Independent’s media coverage generally, will

feel the Brown effect - and indeed already has. As well as the Monday

section he will provide background on the large news stories and work on

one or two tales of his own. He plans to veer away from his predecessor

Matthew Horsman’s very City-based approach and move swiftly into the


He has recruited Paul McCann from Marketing Week to help beef up the

news coverage and has already bought his style to bear on the

re-launched Monday section which he believes will be ’brighter and


Although he’s cautious about ’cosying up’ to the industry too much, he’s

already got adland creatives writing advertising analyses in his pages

because: ’everyone is very eager to talk about good ads but no-one wants

to cover the absolute dross’.

This boisterous stance permeates his new section. ’A lot of my pages

will be critical because they have to be,’ he says. ’The media is so

powerful now, it’s probably the most important industry in the UK. I

want the media pages of the Independent to be scrupulously honest, fair

and analytical but to keep a very close watch on the watchman.’


1990 Reporter/presenter, Scottish Television

1993 Media editor, Scotland on Sunday

1996 Assistant editor (business and media), Scotland on Sunday

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