Although the Daily Telegraph is traditionally seen as the ‘in-house paper of the Conservative Party”, editor Will Lewis has signalled his intention to make it a paper ‘for all of Britain”.
He says this has been reflected partly through a recruitment policy which has strayed away from the traditional Oxbridge and public school route on to the paper.
He says: ‘We are looking for people from a mixture of backgrounds – I think that’s probably a bit different from the past. We’ve got – shock, horror – lots of women joining us. We’ve got people who aren’t white.
‘If we are trying to be the paper for all of Britain where we are the last remaining serious newspaper and speak for all of Britain rather than just a segment of it, then over time you probably need to have a recruitment policy where you have people from all sorts of backgrounds.
‘What we are now is entirely meritocratic; I don’t care where you come from – what you look for is attitude.”
Talking in general about his editorial vision for the newspaper he says: ‘We are defined by our Britishness and all that means – all the attention we give to British institutions and so on.
‘You can look at our competitors and they have gone down a different route by targeting different types of people – either in geographical locations, if you are The Independent or The Guardian, or a segment of society if you are the Mail, or a certain mindset if you are The Times. We are a broader church than that and we know that we are admired throughout the country, rather than in one particular segment of it, and we want to play to that as a strength.”
On Monday, Gordon Brown’s big ‘return to work’interview was with new Telegraph political editor Andrew Porter and a leader comment inside praised the fact that Brown was ‘consciously appealing to Telegraph readers”.
When asked whether The Telegraph was moving towards the political centre ground Lewis says: ‘I don’t know what the middle means any more. The fact is we know our readers and our readers know us. Our first and most important point of reference is the readers’ interests – be it EU referendum, be it a lower tax environment, be it better more efficient public services, be it a greater degree of localism.
‘That’s our point of reference. Is that right of centre, left of centre? We are passionately anti-ID cards – is that right wing or left wing? I don’t know, I get confused now.”
When asked whether this status as the ‘last remaining serious newspaper’means The Telegraph is wedded to the broadsheet format, he says: ‘Our readers rightly think that they want it to be a broadsheet. When was the last time that you got successful with customers by not giving them what they wanted.
‘I’m not overwhelmed that [changing format] works – The Times appears to be back around where it was before it went tabloid. The Independent’s put on a few, but is that because of its rather peculiar viewspaper thing?
‘All I know is it’s not the miracle cure that everyone had been suggesting it was. We are more than happy with our broadsheet format.
‘When I got this job there was undoubtedly an issue here over whether we were trying to out-tabloid the tabloids. The front page now will quite often have six stories on it. We sat with people and said this is a broadsheet therefore make use of the space here.
‘Let’s have a wonderful foreign story, let’s put Matt [cartoonist] at the top – we have worked with the front page quite extensively.
‘Before, I got the feeling that we were worrying more about the opposition and what they were doing, and less about our readers who want us to swear to the broadsheet format. So let’s go back to our heritage, which is a wonderful newspaper.”