The A-List: Adland's favourite newspaper

The Guardian has lost its sandal-wearing and lentil-eating image to become the favourite paper of advertising's plutocratic elite.

Not so long ago, it would have been unthinkable that The Guardian should be the newspaper of choice for a generation of advertising executives.

It may have inspired one of the greatest commercials of all time, but surely it was only the ad agencies in the running for Labour's account who would have been declared readers. No-one ever doubted the newspaper's integrity but it was considered a bit too liberal for a trade that lives and dies by the commercial sword.

But it doesn't really come as a surprise in 2004. Ever since the Conservative Party was made to look really rather silly in the 90s, it has been considered pretty uncool to read anything that might be associated with the right wing or old establishment. And anyone with any curiosity to look candidly and objectively behind the headlines has had to consign Rupert Murdoch's papers to the wastepaper bin. Eh, voila - you have The Guardian or The Independent on your desk in the morning. Have a quick scan for media stories and your choice must be the highly regarded Guardian.

That begs the question why so many of the A Listers still buy The Times and The Sunday Times. Well, by way of an explanation, we could put this information together with the lowdown we have on their consumer magazines of choice. The magazine they read for pleasure is Private Eye. The Eye does a good job generally of persuading you that most of what you see in the papers should have a "read with caution" warning but it also goes some way towards correcting any strangely angled perspectives coming out of Murdoch's papers. And, let's face it, The Sunday Times has an excellent business section, plenty of features on skiing, top restaurants and the best hotels in Mauritius - and it lasts all week.

The Daily Telegraph comes in at number two, somewhat surprising given the less conservative, more fashionable edge we might expect from our A Listers. But then, according to their magazine preferences, they also love The Spectator. Could it be that a chunk of them are being recruited into the Tory fold? Or maybe they are so intrigued by the recent ownership shenanigans that this is a vote for curiosity. It is, of course, possible that they are seduced by the same qualities - good writing, strong news and City coverage and excellent sport - that entice the other million or so readers who make the Telegraph "Britain's best-selling quality daily".

The Independent, compact as it is, shares pretty much the same slot as the rather more unwieldy Financial Times. Undoubtedly, the FT offers an opportunity to keep a daily eye on the events at client companies, and an objective point of view on any media operating company. For some, the pink pages probably also fit nicely with the office decor. Hapless politician Jim Hacker famously noted in the BBC's classic sitcom Yes, Minister that the FT is read by the people who actually own the country. How many acres - at home and abroad - does each of our A Listers own?

It is particularly amusing to see that, down at number seven in the poll, The Observer is neck and neck (or should that be another part of the anatomy?) with The Sun. It is especially good to see some of our media elite owning up to a flick through The Sun. They are likely, of course, to be planners trying to get under the skin of the man in the street.

Another notable tie is that of The New York Times with the London Evening Standard, demonstrating that our A Listers may divide their time equally between the Big Apple and the Big Smoke.

We must give credit to those respondents who opted for The International Herald Tribune and The New York Times for their attempt to get more of a world view from their newspaper, even if it may be a rather US-centric perspective.

Interestingly, the Daily Mail does not feature on the list. It may not appear in the top ten but the mid-market behemoth could possibly be found lurking on the black granite worktop in the kitchen at home, ready to influence any unsuspecting reader.

Position Newspaper Votes

1 The Guardian 65

2 The Daily Telegraph 38

3= The Sunday Times 35

3= The Times 35

5 Financial Times 14

6 The Independent 13

7= The Observer 12

7= The Sun 12

9= The New York Times 4

9= The International Herald Tribune 4

9= London Evening Standard 4


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