Fraser Nelson

Age doesn’t matter on Coffee House

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I've just come back from the Guardian's "changing media" conference, speaking about the future of our industry and The Spectator's intrepid adventures into cyberspace. I had a few gags in my wee speech, but the biggest laugh was when I said that the average reader of is pushing 50 years old. That took me aback - is it so funny? The average age of the magazine reader is higher still, I said - more laughter.  


It seemed deeply unfashionable to the trendies who made up (part of) the audience - surely the future lies in twenty-somethings? I have never bought this, for many reasons. First, The Spectator's pitch is to a set of values: quality of writing, elegance of thought, independence of opinion. That appeal cuts across all age groups. It's patronising nonsense to think that young people don't appreciate the elegance, or that pensioners are not every bit as intelligent as the thrusting twenty-somethings.


We have teenagers and pensioners on Coffee House. And the beauty of the internet is that it's a great leveller. People adopt a nom-de-blog and make their arguments, irrespective of age, gender, creed etc. TGF UKIP could be 18 or 80 - it matters not one jot online. And there's something wonderful about that.


Finally, young people, under 22, have acquired a habit of not buying  any media at all. Even going to the cinema, or spending cash on iTunes, is seen as retro to a certain age group. One can admire this resourcefulness in hunting down free content, but it means this group is of precious little use to companies who seek to make a profit.


There is something about The Spectator which defies the clichés that accompany age. A lot of our youngest readers buy it for Taki. From what we know about CoffeeHousers, you guys are a diverse bunch of people. It's pretty hard to tell from the comments how old you are. And why? Because intellect and wit doesn't age. And neither, I'm pleased to say, do the values of The Spectator.


Written byFraser Nelson

Fraser Nelson is the editor of The Spectator. He is also a columnist with The Daily Telegraph, a member of the advisory board of the Centre for Social Justice and the Centre for Policy Studies.

Topics in this articleSocietyuk politics