Times Higher Education calls time on Murdoch era with bold revamp

Times Higher Education has undergone a dramatic relaunch, moving from newsprint to a magazine format and stripping itself of any ties to its former owner, Rupert Murdoch.

The title, for university professionals in teaching and research, has been repositioned as a weekly magazine and overhauled by designer David Hillman, most recently responsible for the relaunch of its sister publication, the Times Education Supplement.

THE has also dropped the word ‘supplement’from its title as it is no longer a part of The Times nor owned by Murdoch, who sold it and the TES to newly formed independent publishing company TSL Education in 2006.

THE editor Gerard Kelly said Rupert Murdoch’s ownership of the title had affected readers’ perceptions of it.

‘In terms of our reception in the sector, some of our readership, whom I guess would be centre to left of centre, didn’t appreciate Murdoch’s role in the turbulent Eighties, and we suffered from that,’he said.

A range of issues prompted the move from newspaper to magazine, said Kelly, the first of which was the ‘stable or increasing’popularity of magazines compared with newspapers.

He said that freesheets had devalued newsprint and the urgency of the web was better complemented by a magazine format.

Research by the publisher found that very few academics from THE’s target readership bought a daily or weekly newspaper, and that the female readership of the title would tend to prefer a magazine format to newspaper.

But Kelly said the changes were ‘more generational than gender-based’and the 36-year-old title needed a modern rebranding. The TES was redesigned in 2006 but remained in a part-newspaper format, partly because of its much larger pagination.

THE had a circulation of 22,194 in 2006, according to its latest ABC figures, while TES posted a circulation of 69,153 in the first six months of 2007.

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