After last week being named as the new London Evening Standard editor, Emily Sheffield immediately faced a barrage of snide comments about her family background on social media.
“The sister of David Cameron’s wife has replaced David Cameron’s Chancellor of the Exchequer as Evening Standard editor,” tweeted left-wing Guardian columnist Owen Jones. “Welcome to the giant revolving door that is the British Establishment.”
But unlike George Osborne – the former chancellor who will become the Standard’s editor-in-chief when Samantha Cameron’s sister takes charge on 1 July – Sheffield brings a wealth of journalistic experience to the role.
In 1995, Sheffield was named as The Guardian’s student journalist of the year in recognition of her role in launching Bucket Of Tongues, a new University of East Anglia magazine.
She later wrote about the experience in The Guardian: “Editorial meetings started out very organised, but descended into chaos. Deadlines were missed, authors’ names left off and spelling mistakes were more frequent than the Guardian’s. (I know you’ll remove this.) Despite our lack of professionalism, the freedom we had to create whatever we wanted was a rare opportunity worth seizing.”
Sheffield, 47, began her professional career at The Guardian as a graduate news trainee before moving on to work for Max Hastings’ Evening Standard for five years.
She became deputy editor of British Vogue in 2005 and remained at the fashion magazine until 2017.
Sheffield reminisced about her years at Vogue in a recent article written for The Times.
“There, life for the most part was cushioned, unbelievably fun and glamorous,” she wrote. “I took for granted how much support I had, plus the parties I went to, the clothes I had access to, the people I met.”
When long-standing Vogue editor-in-chief Alexandra Shulman stepped down in 2017, Sheffield applied to replace her, but lost out to Edward Enninful.
“I’d always wanted to be editor-in-chief,” she wrote in The Times. “When Alex, the editor, stepped down, I went for it. The interview process was interminable. I got to the final round and losing was a blow; I felt physically winded. Still, tough shit, as they say.”
In July, after leading British Vogue as acting editor-in-chief for one edition, Sheffield was removed from the magazine. The Times reported that this was part of a concerted effort to remove “posh girls” from the title.
In her later Times article, Sheffield said she was “furious with myself for crying” when she was made redundant.
Sheffield added that, following her job loss, she sought Osborne’s advice on what to do next over dinner with her sister, Samantha, and David Cameron.
In November 2017, Sheffield started as a columnist for Osborne’s Evening Standard. She also began previewing newspapers on Sky News around the same time.
In August 2018, Sheffield set up ThisMuchIKnow, an Instagram-focused digital brand that seeks to help young people engage in the news. The company is backed by startup accelerator Founders Factory, and also recently won a £60,000 grant from Nesta’s Future News Pilot Fund.
Sheffield will remain a director of TMIK Media while editing the Standard.
Picture: Evening Standard