Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Editor's Exit

Having been a subscriber to the New Statesman ( ) since 2005, I'm not altogether surprised by the news that its editor John Kampfner has resigned: .
It was inevitable that, sooner or later, Geoffrey Robinson, the magazine's owner & Labour MP, would cease being a benevolent benefactor & morph into a malevolent manipulator.
The usual platitudes & PR buzz words have been uttered by owner & editor alike. However, according to the Guardian's report:

"A spokeswoman for the New Statesman denied that Kampfner had been sacked.
'It was by mutual agreement, a stepping down. It was not a sacking,' the spokeswoman said."

Something about the wording of that statement suggests a desperate attempt to put the best possible spin on Kampfner's departure.
The report digs a little for some background & unearths this nugget:

" understands that there had been longstanding tension between Kampfner and Robinson, a Labour MP, over the magazine's budget.
One source with knowledge of the magazine said the departure had been on the cards since Christmas, after the relationship between Robinson and Kampfner broke down.
'Geoffrey thinks too much money has been spent on redesign and marketing for too little return,' the source said."

The bald reality for political weeklies like the NS is that there will always be a ceiling on circulation figures. The magazine's recent sales had peaked at around the 30,000 mark, & are now declining, though that shouldn't necessarily be a negative reflection on Kampfner, who took over when sales were at 25,000.
The NS has featured some good writers, particularly its US correspondent, Andrew Stephen's dispatches on the Presidential race, & Shazia Mirza's sometimes hilarious column.
However, I recall an interview Kampfner gave to when he assumed the editor's seat in 2005, in which he declared that if Robinson interfered, then "I walk".
Kampfner has now walked, & as a subscriber, I'll be following suit.

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