sports gazette

Haymarket's Mark Payton on Journalism's Future

Published: 28 May 2017

The Sports Gazette spoke with Editorial Director of Haymarket media Mark Payton about making it in the business, what he looks for in a journalist and what he thinks journalism's future looks like.

Mark Payton is the editorial director of Haymarket media, one of the largest media organisations in the United Kingdom.

From Autocar, to Four Four Two, Haymarket is the producer of over 70 leading magazine brands.

Yet despite an incredibly successful 33-year career as a journalist, 26 of which have been with Haymarket, Payton attributes his rise from a reporter working for nothing on the Deptford and Peckham Mercury, as partially down to luck.

"On the second day of the job, the Brixton riots kicked off and the news editor said we’ve got nobody else," Payton said.

"So muggins here, just goes, well I’ll just go and talk to people and I walk into the middle of the Queen’s head."

"So I managed to survive that, came up with the splash from that and then kind of luck really, I lucked in if it’s the truth, I’m a sham, a sham of a sham."

Haymarket, formerly known as Cornmarket Press, was launched as a publishing business in 1957 by Michael Heseltine and Clive Labovitch.

Do I think news stands are going to die? No I don’t. People said to me ten years ago that you’ve got three years, they were wrong.

Heseltine, who left the company to become deputy Prime Minister under Margaret Thatcher, returned in 1997, and transformed Haymarket into a global company, that is worth approximately £250 million today.

"The thing that he did that I suppose will be his legacy is realising that in a modern media environment, you can’t really be a UK company anymore," Payton said.

"We need to get to a point where people don’t define you by the territory that you are in. That’s not really the way it works and it’s not the way the internet works."

Yet even as the company has been forced to adopt a more digital-first approach in response to declining magazine sales, Payton doesn't believe that magazine journalism is dying.

"I remember ten years ago, that the conversation was that we were dead. Nobody would be selling magazines anymore."

"Do I think newsstands are going to die? No I don’t. People said to me ten years ago that you’ve got three years, they were wrong."

With the industry changing rapidly, and with competition for journalism jobs higher than it has ever been before, Payton still believes there is a way for a journalist to stand out.

"Always turn up for an interview trying to solve my problem for me."

"If I got this job tomorrow, I would change that, do that, do that, I would move that over there, that’s a load of rubbish, I would move that there and I would do this for you. Why wouldn’t I employ you?"

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