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September 4, 2003updated 17 May 2007 11:30am

Brussels’ Sprout website plans to hit news-stands

By Press Gazette

Satirical website The Sprout, seen as a Brussels online version of Private Eye, has launched as a UK news-stand magazine, which it hopes will tip off journalists looking for an inside steer on Europe.

The 32-page monthly will feature a mix of “hardcore” news, media gossip and spoof columns. Private Eye will run a column from the magazine starting this week.

Co-founder and former Sunday Times stringer Martin Jay runs the magazine from Brussels with business partner Gawain Towler.

Jay said the website had already become a talking point among MPs and his main aim now was to attract journalists. The site claims to have notched up nearly half-a-million hits, many of which are believed to have come from Westminster.

“There is quite a lot of talk about The Sprout in Westminster as well as in the European institutions,” he said.

“The idea of The Sprout was to target the hardcore press pack in Britain – political editors and foreign editors and any journalists that need to be uptodate on Brussels and can’t get the hard-core reporting on what is really going on over here.

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“For a while there has been a media conspiracy between the institutions and the English-speaking press and the result is that the coverage isn’t so in-depth.

“The Sprout has no strategic relationship whatsoever with any of the institutions so our reporting style is rather bare knuckle. We’ve been running a year now and we’ve upset rather a lot of people.”

The ?rst issue calls for the resignation of Neil Kinnock from his job as EC vice-commissioner.

Jay claimed the title would also tip off journalists on possible stories. “I hope that in the next year, every single political, foreign and home news editor in the UK in the mainstream press will subscribe because it’s an inside track, nil byline, bare-knuckle, corruption-investigative magazine.

“Not only will it tip a lot of them off for news stories and the fuller picture behind some of these stories, rather than the glossed-over versions you get in the Financial Times, but it will also be quite a valuable spotlight for identifying sources for a lot of the hacks in the UK who might be following up stories,” he told Press Gazette.

The ?rst issue of The Sprout will be available predominantly in London, Belgium and Luxemburg.

Distribution will be widened to the rest of the UK by the second issue. The website will continue to serve as a teaser to what’s in the magazine.


By Ruth Addicott

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