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Turmoil at The New Statesman
The leading left-wing magazine is in a mess.
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The New Statesman, Britain’s leading left-wing politics and culture magazine, is having a torrid time at the moment. Staff were called to two different meetings and told about the prospect of redundancies at the New Statesman and the New Statesman Media Group (NSMG).
Mike Danson purchased the New Statesman in 2008. There are also the separate legal entities of NSMG and Progressive Media International. These businesses house a variety of brands, including Press Gazette, a b2b publication covering the media. A quick browse of its website did not reveal any stories covering the ongoing issues at either the parent company or sister publication.
The New Statesman and NSMG union is, to put it delicately, unimpressed. It released a very strong statement:
Former star writer Stephen Bush, now on the Financial Times, went even further. He tweeted that it is a “colossal failure of leadership to have to make redundancies at a time when the Labour Party is 20 points ahead in the polls and both UK and global politics are in a time of flux. If the NS leadership wants to make savings, the first place they should look is the mirror.”
The New Statesman has, at various points, been the house journal of the Labour party. It was founded by leading thinkers in one faction of that party, the Fabians, in 1913. It should currently be trying to explain and shape the thinking of the party that looks set for government next year. Tragically, it is instead in turmoil and looking to lay people off.
The Addition understands that across the companies a total of 20 roles are being consulted on. One of those is currently held by a woman on maternity leave. Consultation does not, of course, mean redundancy automatically, but it is certainly a stressful position for those people to be in.
A source within the firm told The Addition:
There's a lot of confusion inside the company - we've been working under general invocations that the company 'isn't making money' forever, but a lot of individual bits seem to be making money.
Indeed, they believed The New Statesman itself was performing better than it previously had.
Another well-placed source blames the issues firmly on the ownership. They said that Danson had “promised loads of investment circa 2021. Then just changed his mind.”
They believe that the problems were not down to editorial decisions. There was a five-year expansion plan and big names such as Andrew Marr have come in. Despite the redundancies, such hires are not stopping. Former leading Newsnight investigations journalist Hannah Barnes is set to join the New Statesman in January.
Editor Jason Cowley is not considered to be above the criticism though. Word reaches The Addition that he is prone to changing his mind and staff are upset at his lack of communication over the redundancies. Some also consider that he plays favourites in his newsroom.
Publications like The New Statesman hold an important role in British politics and culture. The people that work there really care. They, and the businesses that surround them, need to be run with due care and attention. This is only the start of the turbulent times at The New Statesman and NSMG.
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