The Spectator is recruiting, which doesn’t happen often. Our sales have grown in a way that we did not expect during the Covid crisis which is why we are returning our furlough money to the government. Our growth has continued: a quarter of our current subscribers signed up in the past three months. Most have opted for the print magazine but the new subscribers also visit our website on a daily basis; most take our daily emails. They’re after agenda-setting analysis that you simply would not find elsewhere, comment from the best writers in the country, the most informative bulletins and thought-provoking podcasts.
We’re looking for a reporter, in the spirit of our political mischief internship (which Katy Balls oversees) to bring in – rather than write up – stories. Again, we’re looking for someone with proven experience.
We might also recruit a data reporter/analyst. Data is collected by our research team at present: they handle both internal analytics and data to support our journalism. But we are looking to improve the visual display of data (i.e., fancy graphs) and we might, separately, take someone on over the summer to help convert our massive Excel files into a format that’s publicly accessible. We do our own analytics using Google: familiarity with its code would be an advantage.
Any entry-level vacancies we have are filled via our CV-blind internship scheme: that’s run separately. The positions we’re seeking to fill now are for journalists with an established track record. While we do have reduced-hours, part-time jobs, the positions we’re looking to fill are on the other end of the scale: early starts, five-days, office-based. Salary to match experience.
Also, a word about The Spectator. We do journalism a bit differently. There are just twenty of us, of whom only two (Katy Balls and James Forsyth) are staff writers. The rest of us commission, edit and think of new ways to make sparks fly. We don’t silo journalists, all of us work across the board. We have no bureaucratic class of managers giving us orders, nor minions to devolve to. We come up with our own ideas, do our own heavy lifting. Our model is to have a small and entrepreneurial team working closely together, from the office. James Forsyth invented Coffee House, our blog. Kate Andrews launched our Covid email, which has more than 100,000 subscribers and a 45 per cent open rate. Cindy Yu has transformed our podcasts: we now have 1.5 million downloads each month. Freddy Gray launched Spectator US, which is now a monthly magazine as well as a website. We have small budgets and work long hours. But we have complete editorial freedom and work with the world’s best best raw material .
The Spectator has been going for 192 years, always a low-circulation magazine. That’s now changing. We now outsell the weekday Guardian and FT. Our ambitions are growing with our size. Our new subscribers see us as a seven-day daily news and comment publication rather than a weekly magazine with a blog. Most of them read our email newsletters or our online analysis every day, and expect the same quality and tone that they’d find the magazine. Getting that right, from our end, takes time, care, passion and (office-based) teamwork. Perhaps above all, a recognition that the important part is the journalism – not the medium through which it’s conveyed.
When I became editor in 2009 the question was whether magazines had a future. Since then, sales of UK magazines have halved – but our sales have risen by 60pc (see graph below). When lockdown started, we were braced for a sharp drop in sales (hence our furloughing staff). Instead, we ended up with the fastest growth ever (hence the repayment of the furlough money). As we come our of lockdown, a new chapter in our history is about to open. We need brilliant journalists to help us write it.
We’re a pretty mixed bunch but united by The Spectator’s values: commitment to originality of thought, diversity of opinion and – above all – quality of writing. If you’d like to join us, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with some thoughts on what you could bring. Copy me in. And don’t mention your education or send a CV; experience and a love of good writing is what matters.
UPDATE: Applications for the Special Projects Editor are closed, and this blog has been updated to remove the vacancy (we wanted to move quickly on that one). Applications for reporter and data position are still open. I’d like to stress that, for the reporter role, we’re only considering applicants on national publications with a proven track record at breaking stories.