At work with: Matt Kelly, The New European

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The New European was launched in July 2016 as a response to the UK referendum vote to leave the European Union. Initially planned as a quick series of just four editions, it attracted a readership that has steadied around 20,000 and, almost a year later, is still appearing weekly. We caught up with editor Matt Kelly to hear how his pop-up newspaper is going, and look ahead at his week.

How was your weekend?
Pretty good. Spent an anxious 44 minutes on Sunday watching Liverpool get frustrated by Middlesbrough before they scored and set us on the road to re-enter the European Cup (or Champions League as some insist on calling it these days). Refixed the coat hooks I put up last weekend and which fell down on Monday. They were still up as of this morning. And completed a big extract from a very chilling book called ‘End Of Europe’ by James Kirchick which we will be running in The New European this week. It explains what makes Putin tick and it’s not for the faint hearted.

Tell us about your typical Monday journey to work.
There is no typical Monday. I am based in Norwich but live in London. On Mondays I either take meetings in Soho at the Groucho Club and get some actual work done at my laptop. Or I’m elsewhere in the Archant empire; we have offices all over England, from Exeter to Cheshire.

Describe the state of your desk.
I spend very little time at my desk so it’s usually fairly tidy. I like to work at the table in my office on a laptop or, as I’m doing now, pounding away at my iphone with two thumbs. My wife thinks this makes me look like I am deranged. I can’t really think much faster than I can type with two thumbs so it suits me. What she doesn’t understand is that I am simply not as clever as she is!

There are some routines that stay consistent wherever I am though. A copy of the Times, too much coffee and the Today programme on Radio4 which I listen to religiously from 6.30am every morning.

Which magazine do you first remember?
Look In magazine. It was a general interest mag for kids and I seem to remember it costing 12p. I had a regular order at the local newsagent at the top of our road in Hightown, Merseyside. I think I got 50p pocket money when I was seven or eight, so that was around 25% of it which I think demonstrates a healthy early commitment to print.

Which magazine matters to you the most right now?
I think The Economist is the greatest publication on the planet and look forward to that every week. I used to love Private Eye for the Street of Shame but of late it has become terrifically dull so that subscription is hanging in the balance. I am inspired by The Week – a superb concept that now produces a great Junior edition – maybe the modern equivalent of Look In!

But the magazine that intrigues me most is Monocle. It’s not a brilliant product – way too much second rate stuff in there – but the job Tyler Brule has done creating the air of specialness around it is just incredible. I admire him as a publisher very much.

Are you surprised to still be publishing this supposedly temporary project a year later?
Yes. We genuinely had no long term plan for The New European. But I believe it’s a great newspaper and the community it talks to is so passionate that perhaps we shouldn’t have been too surprised it has done well. We are fast approaching the year anniversary and there is still so much to talk about – I hope we will continue for some time to come. It’s up to the readers.

Do you believe your publication can change people’s minds?
I doubt it. But it gives likeminded people a sense of affirmation, amusement and hope. Ultimately I edit the paper for one person only – myself. It’s an incredibly selfish approach but I am happy if the paper I get delivered on a Saturday feels fresh and entertaining to me. I don’t think double guessing other people is a great way to edit anything.

Pick a spread from the latest issue of The New European and tell us what it says about the newspaper.
Pages two and three… the letters on page two demonstrate the incredible levels of engagement we get from readers and also the sense of humour that runs throughout the paper. Then on page three we have Alastair Campbell writing brilliantly as he does each week. Humour, engagement and superb analysis; The New European all over.

What are you finding most frustrating about your work this week?
I never get frustrated.

What’s going to be the highlight of this week for you?
Getting to design another front page for The New European.

What will you be doing after this chat?
Organising my thoughts for tomorrow’s meeting with my colleagues on the executive board of Archant, especially as I have to present my plans for the next three months of development across the entire content function of the business – more than 100 newspaper and magazine titles I am responsible for. Oh, and The New European.

theneweuropean.co.uk

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