The UK’s venerable left-wing political weekly, The New Statesman, seems to have been inspired both by the recent sale of Politico for $1bn and The Atlantic’s success in reaching 800k subscribers to internationalise (and modernise) the 108-year-old brand and – and hire more journalists.
While the magazine lost revenue from events and advertising in pandemic-hit 2020, it claimed strong gains in readership revenue – with paid-for website subscriptions up 77% last year and print subs by 8%.
It now claims some 300k registered digital readers after launching a metered paywall at the end of 2018 and has ambitions to grow digital subscribers to 50k “fairly quickly”. The magazine’s paid-for circulation was 32k in 2020 and is now claimed to have reached 36k – which is still less than 50% of the subs of The Spectator, its right-wing “rival”.
Other elements of the “modernisation” of The New Statesman have included a move away from the country’s opposition Labour Party to which it has traditionally been an unshakeable ally. At the 2019 general election – gulp – the magazine didn’t even endorse Labour at all.
The political weekly is the core of the New Statesman Media Group Ltd (NSMG) which is privately owned by Mike Danson (Brit founder of DataMonitor and, now the fast growing GlobalData Plc). NSMG also publishes the fast-improving Press Gazette, a 56-year-old UK weekly for journalists and media people.
NSMG had revenue of £28m in 2019 slightly down on the previous two years – and has been stubbornly lossmaking. But the recent launch of digital newsletters including Energy Monitor, Investment Monitor, Tech Monitor, Elite Traveller, and City Monitor give some clues to the future direction. But it’s a tough task. For all the brave comparisons with the well-funded operations of Politico, The Atlantic, and The Economist, The New Statesman has an editorial team of less than 50. A steep climb.