No business like the Business Press

Former advisor to Gordon Brown Charlie Whelan puts his money on the publications that flash the cash and cover the economy
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The Independent Online

THE BUSINESS

THE BUSINESS

Editor: Andrew Neil

Circ: 213,440

The Business is the sort of paper you can pick up free at Gatwick airport. I certainly wouldn't pay for "Europe's global business paper", as it pompously calls itself. It likes to cover European issues, and it doesn't take a genius to work out that most of it is negative. Former editor Jeff Randall - the biggest Eurosceptic I've ever met - may have moved to the BBC but his views live on. If you turn to the op-ed page you could mistake it for Scotland on Sunday, as columnists Bill Jamieson and Fraser Nelson write there too. Nelson has this advice for the Tories: "They should go for broke - going down in a blaze of glory." No wonder this particular pink paper doesn't have any clout.

FORBES

Editor: Tim Ferguson

Circ: 141,749

Steve Forbes, the editor-in-chief, sets the tone for his monthly magazine in what he calls "Fact and Comment". As you would expect there is plenty of comment but very little fact. The front cover has a picture of "Europe's Businessman of the Year", and, yes, you've guessed, he is a white man. Asia's "Businessman of the Year" is a man, too, and his feature is followed by hundreds of Japanese men complete with pictures telling us all about Japan. I don't think I've ever read a more boring business magazine, and I almost fell asleep reading it. The best is saved for last on the back page. "Thoughts on the Business of Life" - edited by Lydia Forbes. Zzzzzzzzzzz.

BUSINESS WEEK

Editor: Stephen Shephard

Circ: N/A

We already had the 50 most powerful women listed elsewhere, so Business Week came up with the idea of the best managers of the year. They were not just from the blue-chip boardrooms though, and, to make it more interesting, included the owner of the Boston Red Sox. Now, I know they won the world rounders championship for the first time in 86 years, but John W Henry never managed the team. Karl Rowe, the architect of the Bush election campaign, also made the list. Business Week doesn't just concentrate on the US though. They have an Asian section, a European one, and plenty of information on banking and finance, and manufacturing.

THE ECONOMIST

Editor: Bill Emmott

Circ: 147,475 (UK)

I got so fed up with people in the Treasury telling me how important The Economist was I cancelled my subscription. What I really hate about it is that we never know who wrote what as there are no bylines. As a spin doctor, this meant I had no one to bollock for an offending article. Despite my unfair criticism, the magazine covers world affairs more comprehensively than any of its rivals. I even picked up a copy at the airport myself the other day and it lasted for the whole journey from Inverness to London, which is not bad for just £3. The leader was as pompous as ever but if you skip that the rest is eminently readable. I just wish they wouldn't use such thin paper.

FINANCIAL TIMES

Editor: Andrew Gowers

Circ: 427,808

I once knew a Ford trade union shop steward who bought two newspapers - the Morning Star and the Financial Times. He said he liked the FT because it told him what was really happening in the world. Their industrial coverage may not be what it once was, but it's still the paper that tells us how it is, not how we would like it to be. It would be difficult to fault its comprehensive coverage of the business world, and its political coverage is sound too. Columnists like John Gapper and Lucy Kellaway make the paper a good read, but it's a pity the sports coverage is so dire. Whatever happened to their top sports writer, Paddy Harverson?

INVESTORS CHRONICLE

Editor: Matthew Vincent

Circ: 40,235

I confess to not having read the Investors Chronicle since I was a humble researcher for the AUEW - now Amicus. It was always one of the best sources for company information, and still is. If I were an investor in company shares, I would by this magazine every week. It has well laid-out reports of company results, with easy-to-interpret graphs. It's not bedtime reading, but it does tell you what to do with your money. It also covers small-company results and director-shares sales and purchases - always useful to know. The Investors Chronicle may sound boring, but it is still the best guide for investors, and I bet they still peruse it in the Amicus research department.

FORTUNE - EUROPE

Editor: Nelson Schwartz

Circ: 105,315

This is more like it. Two ugly businessmen on the front cover. At least it wasn't Rupert Murdoch's mug, though he is featured inside. I have no idea why Fortune has a "Europe Edition" because I couldn't see anything European about it. In fact it is not only very US-led, it is downright rude about the UK. Well, their star columnist, Adam "who?" Lashinsky, certainly is. He starts his sycophantic Murdoch feature: "If you didn't know better, chances are you wouldn't peg Britain - for years the land of the BBC and, let's face it, not much else - as one of the world's most exciting places to watch TV. It wasn't. At least until Rupert Murdoch came along." My copy went straight in the bin.

SHARES

Editor: Jerry Lacey

Circ: 12,673

This business weekly claims to be "The investor's champion", and it certainly has a go at giving the small investor plenty of information. But would you trust a magazine whose editor starts his 2005 editorial: "It has been a sobering Christmas and New Year break this time"?

Apart from lots of company information, there is good analysis too. It was also heartening to see that "The season of peace and goodwill is a good time to think about ethical investment". Phil Cain looks at ways to help people like me who don't want to invest in war. Yes, you can actually help your finances and worthy causes at the same time. Shares calls people like me "socially responsible". Good for them.

WALL STREET JOURNAL - EUROPE

Editor: Paul Beckett

Circ: 87,018

When Gordon Brown was the Shadow Chancellor, he gave me the task of placing an article he'd written in The Wall Street Journal. It would have been easier for me to persuade him to send Cherie Blair a birthday card. Thanks to Ed Balls, who had a friend working there who he knew from his Harvard days, we eventually succeeded. Brown knew just how influential this paper was, and it still is today. Tory spin doctors will not have been pleased with a recent leader critical of their economic policy, because a positive response would have been a huge PR coup. I've never liked their "pencil portraits" much: one of Peter Mandelson made him look even more sinister than he is.

BLOOMBERG MARKETS

Editor-in-chief: Ron Henkoff

Circ: N/A

This business glossy really does feature a head-and-shoulders picture of a white, male, fat-cat businessman every month. That's a pity, because inside it's quite readable. I enjoyed the small snippets of information like the fact that 64 per cent of containers leaving the US for China last year were completely empty. That may explain why the US had a $15.5bn trade deficit with China up to September. The January issue had an excellent feature on the billionaire Barclay brothers without the usual bile. We were told about Hollywood money men, Parmalat's bankers and there's the inevitable sports car feature. Bloomberg is plugged throughout, but that didn't spoil my enjoyment.

MANAGEMENT TODAY

Editor: Matthew Gwyther

Circ: 100,464

Management Today must have employed the same makeover team as the New Statesman. When I went to their presentation they wanted to call it NS. Management Today is now MT. The copy I picked up had "Britain's 50 most powerful women" on the cover. Hardly new, but at least it's better than the pictures of fat ugly blokes that usually adorn their covers. How on earth could they relegate Sun editor Rebekah Wade to number 17 though? The magazine certainly knows who to interview, and the timing couldn't have been better for one with my old pal at the Treasury, John Gieve, who remarkably survived the "nannygate" scandal as Blunkett's top civil servant at the Home Office.

EUROPEAN BUSINESS

Editor: Martin Baker

Circ: N/A

European Business proudly boasts that it is the magazine "for movers, shakers and dealmakers". Yuk. It seems to be aimed at younger businesspeople as it includes features such as "Big Brother's Big Daddy" about John de Mol, who launched "reality TV" and sold his production company for £4bn. Also included is "I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Into a Magazine", about magazines devoted to so-called celebs. Apparently there are even more of these magazines than there are business ones.

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