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A manifesto for a great newspaper

Allister Heath
City A.M. has a simple mission: to be the essential morning read for London’s business community. Every single working day, we aim to provide our readers with a pithy, well-edited and bang-up-to-date package of news, comment, investment advice, lifestyle and sports – and all of this entirely for free and conveniently available at transport hubs or offices.

But we are more than just a news service. These are difficult times for those hundreds of thousands of people who work in banking and other financial and business services across London. The economy may be improving slightly but the reputation of business in general and finance in particular is at a low ebb.

However, unlike others, we have refused to go down the road of demagogic class warfare and the politics of envy. City A.M is the only newspaper that stands up for City workers and believes in their values. We support a real free-market economy and oppose bailouts as well as crippling tax hikes; first and foremost, we are the paper for London’s capitalist classes. We also have a growing readership in Westminister and Whitehall, where we are closely followed by MPs, policymakers and civil servants for our economic and regulatory commentary.

I like to think of City A.M. as a website that happens to be published on paper. Our values are at once ultra-modern and traditional. While we target prosperous, time-poor urbanites with more experience of PowerPoint and Bloomberg terminals than of purchasing conventional newspapers, we also believe the first duty of a newspaper is to communicate the latest news.

We are a hybrid between a national and local publication. London’s business community is our parish; like a social networking site, we run user-generated content, albeit transposing it to the printed page. As a local paper, we vox-pop our readers daily and report on their parties, job moves and gossip; as a national-style newspaper, we compete for market-moving scoops, interviews and analysis.

Some argue that hard-copy newspapers are now only useful for comment and analysis, while news is picked up on the web. It is certainly not so for an early morning commuter/office publication such as City A.M. Readers want more background and comment – and we offer that in our opinion-editorials and original analysis – but they still want news. A reader who picks up his copy at 7am at Richmond station may have spent only a few minutes listening to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme in the shower, or might have glanced at a couple of headlines on the web. His appetite for the latest business news and analysis remains unsatiated.

To make sure all of the biggest 40-50 stories of the previous evening are included in our paper – to convince readers they can make us their only morning read for business news – our last pages are sent to our Essex-based printers between 1.15am and 1.30am; this allows us to follow up late stories even after midnight. We seek to be competitive with websites and e-mail newsletters available to commuters on their BlackBerrys. This is crucial, given that the bulk of our readers pick up the paper between 6am and 9.30am. Our readers are rightly intolerant of obsolete information or analysis. They want paid-for quality for free, albeit in a contemporary, graphics-rich and bite-sized format – and they want their news delivered to them at a convenient place and time. Our pages are infographics-heavy and the pictures and sidebars focus on the personalities behind the news.

All the journalists at City A.M. are devoted to giving our readers the best and most relevant possible reading experience. This is why we have more readers than every before. On behalf of all the staff at City A.M., thanks so much for reading us. We will continue to build and expand your newspaper.

allister.heath@cityam.com