Former 'Mirror' editor Morgan buys journalists' trade magazine

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The Independent Online

After a career which has ranged from showbusiness reporter to fallen national newspaper editor, Piers Morgan has struck the deal which will reinvent him as a media proprietor.

Barely a year after he was sacked as editor of the Daily Mirror following the publication of hoax photographs, Mr Morgan has agreed to buy the Press Gazette, the ailing trade magazine for journalists.

The purchase of the title, which is thought to have been made for about £750,000, follows months of speculation about Mr Morgan's future in the wake of his departure from Fleet Street and the publication of his memoirs - events which have netted him nearly £3m in contract fees and royalties.

It was reported that the deal with Quantum Publishing, the owner of the Press Gazette, has been struck with the financial backing of Matthew Freud, the public relations guru and the son-in-law of Rupert Murdoch. A spokesman for Quantum said: "A deal to sell Press Gazette will be finalised next week."

The marriage between the trade journal and Mr Morgan, whose high profile has already turned a low-key sale into a newsworthy event, comes at a low point in the 40-year history of the Press Gazette.

Once regarded as the bible of Fleet Street, the publication now sells only about 6,000 copies a week. Before yesterday's announcement, Mr Morgan said: "I think it's crazy the newspaper world doesn't have a better mag. The press should have the best magazine around."

It is understood that the magazine's new proprietor wants to move the magazine from its office in south London into the centre of the capital, possibly into Fleet Street itself.

Mr Morgan's plans to restore the Press Gazette to its former glories also include the recruitment of reporters who are currently working on national newspapers to its staff.

The deal will also give the would-be media mogul control of the publication's other main source of income - the British Press Awards.

The annual ceremony, which had become an arena for the playing out of alcohol-fuelled rivalries between journalists, was boycotted in March by 11 titles, including The Independent, pending an overhaul of the the awards process.