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.”