Tabloid talent targeted in American brain drain

The US-based publisher of the National Enquirer says it wants to recruit up to 30 more UK journalists after head-hunting one of The Sun’s top executives .

American Media has already signed up Sun associate editor (news) Paul Field as vice-president to work across its titles. And Martin Smith, editor of Richard Desmond-owned celebrity weekly magazine Star, has been named as editorial director of four of the company’s weeklies: The Globe, The Examiner, The Sun and Weekly World News.

The US publisher specialises in supermarket tabloids and showbiz gossip magazines and has a total weekly circulation of over five million copies.

A senior vice-president was understood to be in London late this week and, according to an insider, discussions are already underway with several possible signings.

The company claims to be looking for photographers, writers and executives who can use their skills to secure buy-ups, true life stories and celebrity exclusives.

An American Media spokesman said: “We have a huge admiration for the competitive instincts of the best operators in the British newspaper and magazine industry. A number of people have expressed an interest in joining us and we will be talking with them over the coming weeks.”

Field, 32, was taken on by the Mirror as a gradute trainee after working as a schoolboy and student for the Ipswich Citizen and East Anglian Daily Times.

After two years as a reporter at the Daily Mail he returned to Mirror Group as deputy news editor of the Sunday People in 1999. Eighteen months later he went to the Sunday Mirror as news editor to be poached five months later as news editor for the Mail on Sunday.

He took over the Sun news desk in May 2003 and is understood to be currently negotiating a date for his departure with editor Rebekah Wade.

Field is likely to be heavily involved in turning around the fortunes of American Media’s flagship title the National Enquirer. The title became famous for stories on UFOs, psychics and weird diseases.

Its sale has peaked at over six million but in recent years dipped to under two million.

Earlier this month American Media reported a slump in profits to $720,000 on earnings of $133.44 million compared with $5.38 million on turnover of $124.97 million for the same period last year.

By Dominic Ponsford

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