Former Sunday Times Magazine editor questions whether today's editors can withstand commercial influence

Former Sunday Times Magazine editor Robin Morgan  has questioned whether today’s Fleet Street editors would be able to stand up to major commercial pressure from advertisers.

Speaking at a City University panel discussion hosted by Press Gazette editor Dominic Ponsford he revealed that in 1986 a prominent businessman threatened to pull £4m of advertising from The Sunday Times over a story.

“It was a huge sum then. That was probably ten per cent of the editorial budget of The Sunday Times.”

Neil ran the story – telling the businessman he couldn’t “buy” the paper – and advertising was not pulled because he “needed The Sunday Times shop window too much”.

But Morgan told Press Gazette few editors would take such a stand in the current era.

“Today the commercial pressures sort the men from the boys. I believe there are very few editors who could take a stand as Andrew did,” he said.

“The prospect of losing an annual multi-million pound advertising contract would be a decision taken upstairs – and the editor would have a serious ‘squeaky-bum’ time thinking how he could spike the story without losing face in the newsroom.”

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