A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Future of Tribune

Tribune magazine looks like it might fold for the umpteenth time.

The basic problem is that not enough people want to read it because it's not actually that good.

The political line in takes is predictable, often trite, and feels dated. It rests on past laurels from the golden age in the '30s-'50s.

It is far too narrowly focused in terms of the spectrum of Labour opinion - most people on the moderate wing of the party don't want to pay a subscription to read something that just insults their beliefs rather than hosting a balanced debate - and occupies soft left territory that is also covered far more efficiently and speedily by Compass' website.

The internal Labour news and gossip is less extensive and timely that one can find on the blogosphere.

If the magazine read better and was properly marketed it ought to have far more than 4,000 readers and should be self-funding. As it is, we may be about to lose a piece of Labour history that has failed to move with the times.


Anonymous David Floyd said...

Yes. I think the problem is that Tribune could possibly work as one of two things.

One is a magazine with a Labour soft left to democratic hard left political line, aiming to inform and entertain a fairly broad readership of people of that political persuasion who are interested in politics but may not be uber-activists in the Labour Party or the trade unions.

The other is a newsy magazine aimed at political anoraks across the spectrum of the Labour Party and trade union activists, which reports stuff that you might not find on the blogs.

I'd quite like to read either of these publications but Tribune's failure to choose one or the other option (or any other distinct, coherent approach) means it currently doesn't succeed in doing anything much from a reader's point of view.

That's not a criticism of the current editorial team. Getting anything at all out every week under the conditions they operate under is a minor miracle.

11:57 am, October 09, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

I largely agree. Thing is, I rarely read it these days and that says it all.
I like the new statesman, I don;t always agree with it, but its always a good read. But I think Tribune falls between the weekly magazine/newspaper category, and there is plenty online which does what it used to do a lot better.

I'm not sure whether its the political line or not - certainly I think that there would be enough people on the centre and left of the party to keep it going if they all read it. But they don't. 4,000 is very low indeed in terms of circulation. I tend to think that the rise of the internet has made it somewhat superfluous to requirements.

5:08 pm, October 09, 2008

Anonymous Stuart King said...

I buy it out of a sense of fraternal loyalty to its historic role in the Labour movement. But it is a turgid read that receives little more than a cursory glance.

5:10 pm, October 09, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

cat lit lite

and even the cat sniffs, paws, pauses and pisses elsewhere

5:23 pm, October 09, 2008

Anonymous T_i_B said...

"The political line in takes is predictable, often trite, and feels dated."

Much like so much of what you tend to hear from the Blairite wing of the Labour party then.

5:45 pm, October 09, 2008

Blogger Timothy Godfrey said...

I subscribed for serveral years. However after the 1997 general election it became just a tired left wing load of rubbish. I would suggest that the Morning Star is a more genuine left wing newspaper. It does exactly the job you would expect. Tribune does not.

I would consider subscribing to something on the lines of a newsy magazine aimed at Labour & Trade Union activists as suggested by David Floyd.

As it is, my only option is to read Progress!

6:48 pm, October 09, 2008

Blogger Duncan Hall said...

I have to confess to not having read it for years. Which is a shame, because it was such an important cog in the machinary of left activism in the 50s, and of course follows on from the Socialist Leaguer and as such could be seen as having been quite instrumental in preventing the Labour Party from imploding in the 1930s.

The problem is that I can read the various blogs and websites, SCG News, Labour Briefing, Morning Star - I think there is a space for a weekly with a broader appeal, than those publications, but it's quite hard to see what it could be. I'd probably suggest that if a few people from the LRC and Compass could form an editorial board and turn it into a glossy monthly magazine - kind of centre and left alternative to Progress - it could perhaps work. But it would obviously have to have quite an inclusive editorial line. I'd certainly be keen to read such a publication (and actually rather keen to contribute to it in other ways).

11:10 pm, October 09, 2008

Anonymous Hazel's Nuts said...

The truth is there is nothing entertaining and commercial coming from the left. I'm amazed that even 4,000 people still read Tribune!

11:21 am, October 10, 2008

Blogger Mark Still News said...

Actually the tribune is a well balanced, excellent educational, good read and should be saved-Some of the bankers money should be diverted to it?

The New Worker is a good paper and very accurate: http://www.newworker.org/newwork.htm

10:05 pm, October 10, 2008

Blogger Mark Still News said...

Remember the Socialist Sunday paper of the eighties?
The News on Sunday-Such a shame it failed as it was a bloody good read.
Some right wingnuts used to go into news agents and put the bundle of this quality newspaper under the News of the World, so people could not find it and I think some of these newsagents were paid by the shackled Capitalist press to hide them. This paper should have succeeded, but failed.

8:56 pm, October 12, 2008

Blogger Miller 2.0 said...

"As it is, my only option is to read Progress!"

You poor bugger...

1:14 am, October 13, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The tribune Management may perform miracles getting it out every week, but they have created these challenging circumstances for themselves mainly by being idiots. Look at the website FFS, is it still 1996? The fact that it is dull and predictable could easily be mitigated against by decent design and promotion online.

11:30 am, October 14, 2008


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