MEDIA: FINANCIAL TIMES MAGAZINE - AN EXPERT'S VIEW

The Financial Times' new title provides none of the sparkle or zing Nick Manning longed for.

I should get out more. I am obsessed by two titles at the weekend, The Spectator and the Financial Times, and can't get enough of either.

So I anticipated the new Financial Times Magazine with real enthusiasm. I used to love the zing of the old Saturday FT magazine, chopped a year or so ago, and have pined for it ever since.

The new magazine should be like a cross between The Speccie, and the late-lamented FT Saturday supplement, and the cover of the first edition promises an addict's read-fest with Tony Blair, photographed by Rankin, looking gauntly Messianic. Simply brilliant, but the boring masthead portends the gloom inside.

Once inside the magazine, my interest wanes quickly as I discover it is not a glittering love child from the loins of The Spectator and the FT, but a rather sullen offspring, lacking the intellectual weight of both titles.

Frankly, it's a bit too damn heavy, but it doesn't enjoy the top-notch writing of Talk of the Town, the new London supplement from the Independent on Sunday. Maybe it tries too hard to be unlike The Times Saturday Magazine, which is a great piece of froth to go with the cappuccino.

I don't expect much entertainment from the FT, but I do expect top-quality and intrinsically interesting product. Finding this magazine inside the FT is like discovering that an old friend has bought an ill-fitting, out-of-fashion suit in a mad shopping spree.

Firstly, it opens with a terrible DPS for Xerox (where's the big-number car ad?) Then a messy few pages of contents and features normally found at the back-end of such titles, nothing iconic up-front to slake the curiosity thirst, and all of this presented in such a way as to restore snoozing, given the Saturday-morning bleary-eyed reading occasion.

Things barely improve with a "Lunch with the FT" piece, featuring Jose Maria Aznar's wife, hardly a first choice for the first edition and why now? This works OK in FT Weekend, but doesn't cross over well.

Then, at last, the centrepiece, an interesting piece on Blair. But it's already been over-shadowed by numerous pieces marking his 50th birthday and Pyrrhic victory in Iraq.

Things improve thereafter with better-presented arts pieces, but they lack the concision and sparkle of the original Saturday mag.

This is an "I'll go back to it if I find the time" magazine, not a "must-read now" title, and the weekend's heavy reading load is unlikely to allow much of a return visit. And it lacks "must-have" advertiser appeal. Because it's the FT, I know it'll improve, but hurry up, guys, your fans are waiting.

Publisher: Financial Times

Frequency: Once a week on Saturday

Circulation: 147,580 (UK edition)

Cost of full-page colour ad: £8,000

Advertisers include: Xerox, Coutts, Sony Ericsson, Ebel, Wempe

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