May 28th sees the launch of the much anticipated new cultural and political monthly magazine, Standpoint. The editor is Daniel Johnson, who today answers a few questions from the NCF about what we can expect
Your tagline is 'Think again'. Why do you think we need a magazine like Standpoint now?
We need to start thinking again about many things: what we stand for, what we are prepared to make sacrifices for, what we are. Standpoint exists to defend and celebrate Western civilisation. That is, as Prospect pointed out, "a tall order for anyone, let alone a small-circulation magazine". Well, we'll see: I think there is a much larger constituency for a reassertion of western values such as free speech, the dignity of the individual and the rule of law than cynics on the Left or the Right suppose.
What sort of things will you be covering?
Standpoint will cover the waterfront in politics and culture - everything except the debased celebrity and lifestyle culture that most other magazines are obsessed with. In our first issue, for example, we have new art by David Hockney, Ian Bostridge on Bach, Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali and Alain de Botton on faith, Jung Chang and Simon Sebag Montefiore on Mao and Stalin, new poetry by Robert Conquest, Andrew Marr on the Telegraph cartoonist Matt, Tim Congdon on why we shouldn't scapegoat the bankers, Craig Brown satirising Prospect's list of 100 top public intellectuals, Michael Burleigh on how to win the war on terror, Douglas Murray on censorship-by-intimidation, Alasdair Palmer on family courts and Edward Lucas on Russia, Emanuele Ottolenghi on how Europe has betrayed Israel, Jay Nordlinger on the US election, Michael Young reporting from Beirut, an inside look at the Ministry of Defence, book reviews by John Gross, Charles Moore, Noel Malcolm, Jenny McCartney and Raymond Seitz, plus Nick Cohen, Minette Marrin, Peter Whittle and many other writers and critics. We even have Dominic Lawson on chess and the world's first Scrabulous column.
Who do you think your readers will be? Would somebody who buys, say, the Spectator, also want to buy Standpoint?
I hope our readers will include anybody with an ounce of intellectual curiosity - and that certainly includes readers of the Spectator. I believe passionately that most people want to go on learning and appreciating new fields all their lives, as lonmg as they are accessible. Standpoint will satisfy that hunger for fine writing and serious content, but presented with wit and humour. We hope to recruit readers at university and in retirement, at work and at home, people who care about the arts and books, but also people who want to be better informed about the world.
Why a print magazine over an internet one?
Standpoint had to be a print magazine because we want to count in public debate, alongside magazines such as the Economist, Spectator, New Statesman and Prospect. We will have a fine website with lots of blogs and original content - such as my own review of Terror and Consent by Philip Bobbitt - but for longer articles many people will always prefer a print magazine. We also think that print has a great future in this market, and the continuing success of opinion magazines in the US tends to confirm this.