PPA Live at The Islington with Matt Kelly

Louisa Cavell

The latest in the PPA Live series took place Yesterday evening at The Islington, near Angel, with Multi-award-winning Creative Director Andy Cowles in conversation with Chief Content Officer (CCO) at Archant and Editor of The New European Matt Kelly, about all things Brexit and how to break into the world of publishing.

During the talk the distinguished duo covered how Kelly’s brainchild The New European - “The UK national pop-up paper for the 48%” came to be, commenting, “The morning after the referendum it just occurred to me that an entirely new constituency of people existed that hadn’t realised they had the day before”.

Kelly went on describe his view that a newspaper “is like a badge, a way of demonstrating what you believe in”. He talked about how the emotional reaction to Brexit, was a direct contribution to his setting up The New European and that part of what makes the publication stand out is that it is “founded on [that] emotion”.

Initially planned as a quick series of just four editions, The New European has attracted a steady readership of around 20,000 and is still appearing weekly. The reason for this prolonged success Kelly thinks is, “It’s not the quality of journalism that we bring, it’s the quality of the hope”.

The journalism of the publication is nothing to scoff at, with past contributors including key political figures such as Tony Blair, Alastair Campbell and Nick Clegg. Kelly added, “There wasn’t a single word in the first issue of The New European that wasn’t original”.

A veteran journalist, Kelly reminisced about getting his start in the business through the influence of his parents, commenting, “My first memory in life is holding my mums’ hand in the foyer of The Liverpool Echo and feeling the ground shake as the printing press started up”.

He also talked about how starting out at his local paper the Formby Times had instilled the importance of a connection with local communities for local press to ensure its survival, something which he has carried through to his role as CCO at Archant where he oversees 140 brands.

He places less emphasis on professional journalism training, citing, “a sense of humour, empathy and down-to-earthness” as key qualities he looks for in budding journalists, as well as the ability to spot a story.

Kelly also touched upon the issue of gender inequality in the publishing industries, commenting, “When you read a publication that has been written, designed and edited by women you begin to realise how male-centric the industry really is”.

He ended the session by hinting that a junior version of The New European was “something to think about”.

A podcast of the interview will be available tomorrow. For a list of our upcoming events take a look at our events page.

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