Editorial safeguard as Oldie gets Getty cash

Richard Ingrams

 

Oldie editor Richard Ingrams has been assured that his editorial freedom is guaranteed under a deal which sees the magazine get a £500,000 cash injection from billionaire oil tycoon Sir John Paul Getty.

Under a new agreement The Oldie is to be produced under contract by John Brown Publishing.

The move comes after The Oldie, Literary Review and The Wire were put up for sale by publisher Naim Attalah. The Wire was the subject of a management buyout last December and Literary Review was sold to Canadian businessman Christopher Oondatje but The Oldie’s future had remained uncertain.

Speaking to Press Gazette this week, Ingrams said the magazine was in desperate need of backing. "I knew Getty was keen on The Oldie and when I told him about the difficulties he told me to get in touch with John Brown. They already have a partnership with Wisden Cricket Monthly, which is also owned by Getty, and he thought we should explore the possibilities.

"What The Oldie needs desperately is a business organisation behind it. We have always had part-time business managers in the past." Ingrams added: "We haven’t got down to the nitty-gritty of it yet but my editorial freedom is guaranteed. It won’t lead to a lot of alterations."

Ingrams said the main priority was to boost the number of subscriptions.

"We have not done mailing shots for years and subscriptions have begun to decline," he said. "I think John Brown agreed with me that we have got to do subscription selling on quite a big scale."  The Oldie currently has around 18,000 subscribers with an 80 per cent renewal rate. According to Ingrams, between 6,000 and 7,000 copies are sold on the news-stands.

Staff on the magazine were expected to move to new offices in West London this week as the lease on their current building has expired.

"I hope we will be able to expand because there is an awful lot more we could do," said Ingrams. "We could take on more travel features and do more club events.

"We have been doing three or four regular literary lunches on a big scale in London and the provinces and John Brown is very keen to expand that." He said he was also keen to take on new writers but there were no immediate plans to make any changes to staff.

"Unlike a lot of magazines, we have a high percentage of non-commissioned articles which gives it a slight flavour," added Ingrams.

"It would be nice if we could pay a few more of our contributors, as many tend to do it for love."

By Ruth Addicott

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