Mick Hume is to step down as editor of online current affairs title Spiked, after 20 years in charge of a number of politically provocative magazines. Hume will take on an editor-at-large role at spiked-online.com with current deputy editor Brendan O’Neill promoted to the editor’s chair.
Hume previously worked on Next Step newspaper before launching Living Marxism in 1988. The latter was rebranded in 1997 as LM, which Hume called ‘an independent troublemaking current affairs magazine”. LM closed in 2000 after the title was sued for libel by ITN over a piece on its footage of Bosnian Muslims in a Serb detention centre broadcast in 1992.
The case bankrupted the publishers, but they moved online after a web designer offered to produce Spiked for free. Hume said that the team were ‘pioneers producing the first online current affairs and culture publication in the UK”, but added that it was a case of ‘needs must’rather than foresight in going online. Spiked now sees itself more in line with traditional current affairs magazines than online content. Hume dismissed the explosion of blogs online as ‘mostly crap’and added: ‘Most blogs are not useful or informative and against their own claim – they are actually parasitic on the media, if the information wasn’t in the media they would have nothing to say. They do break news, but usually it’s picking up on a flaw or inconsistency of the mainsteam media. Their role is swimming around the edges of mainstream media, nibbling at mistakes.’Hume, who leaves to concentrate on his work for The Times as well as other projects, said there was a need for more radical thinking in the mainstream press. ‘A lot of the principles we adhere to, such as environmentalism, are unfashionable, but we are a platform for principles and ideas,’he said. ‘I think there are some very good writers in mainstream press, but I think there’s a profound conformist tendency in ideas. There’s a need for independent voices in and out of the mainstream media – it’s important to question, which is an important principle of critical journalism.’Hume said of Spiked’s reputation: ‘There are always allegations of being contrarians, but it’s a bit patronising because we would never publish anything that we do not believe to be 100 per cent true. ‘To me, that’s what journalism is about – the truth as you see it.’New editor O’Neill said the website will retain its typically libertarian slant. A forthcoming weekly column called Who’s afraid of? will defend ‘a contemporary folk devil”, the first of which will be Ryanair.
O’Neill said the title had survived despite its monetary problems. ‘The financial side is an uphill struggle. We have more ideas than money, but we have experimented successfully so far in money making; the online debates have been fruitful editorially, politically and financially.’