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Geordie Greig: Local paper ‘at the heart of my journalism’

By Press Gazette

The new editor of the Mail on Sunday, Geordie Greig, has spoken of his passion for local newspapers ahead of taking up the editorship of the Mail on Sunday.

Greig was unveiled as the new editor of the MoS last month and takes up his new role on 9 April following the departure of Peter Wright.

He began career in journalism at weekly newspaper the Greenwich Mercury in 1981and said the paper had ‘been at the heart of my journalism ever since”.

‘The campaigning energy and enthusiasm of the Mercury, emphasised by my first editor Roger Norman, is how I’ve always seen what newspapers should be about,’he said.

Greig was speaking to the Greenwich Theatre after recording two voice-overs for a new cabaret-style tribute to George Orwell called ‘One Georgie Orwell’.

The play was written by former Mercury editor Peter Cordwell – who contacted Greig because he needed the ‘voice of an Old Etonian’as Orwell.

‘Peter was one of the characters I remember from the Deptford office and he could have asked for anything, including the keys to my home,’said Greig.

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Revealing how came to join the Mercury, he added: ‘After leaving university I wrote about 100 letters and got about 98 rejections. Then the Mercury invited me for an interview at 3.30pm, the time the pubs closed in those days.

‘I met Roger Norman and the news editor, Mike Quilley, who were both in top form after lunch in the Mechanics Arms downstairs.

‘We had a good chat and I asked if I’d got the job. They said they were a bit embarrassed because their main interest was in meeting someone who wanted Eton, Oxford, Deptford on their CV.

‘I asked again if I’d got the job and Roger, who sadly died a few years ago, said: ‘I suppose we’d better find you one.’ They probably thought I was going to turn up in a pair of plus fours with a chauffeur waiting outside.”

Greig revealed his father originally wanted him to go into banking and said he had the chance to join the Continental Illinois Bank in Chicago – one of the top five banks in the world at the time – on £15,000 a year.

Instead he opted for a £2,500 salary at the Mercury. ‘I said to my dad, there’s no choice. I headed to south-east London and he was very supportive.”

Geordie, 51, added: ‘It was great training. It taught me to think local, think human, and that everybody’s got a story. If I can’t find it that’s my failure, not theirs.

‘At the Standard we are happy to celebrate London, the greatest city in the world, and to campaign for and against things. Our campaign against the parking restrictions in Westminster was incredibly popular.”

Commenting on his new role at the MoS, he added: ‘I’m really excited about it and want to carry on telling great stories with a top team and build on the great history of a paper with the highest middle market Sunday circulation in the country.

‘And everything goes back to the Mercury, telling stories in the best tabloid manner with a directness and a human touch.”

Greig has edited the Evening Standard for three years and before that spent ten years as editor of monthly society magazine Tatler.

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