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Jason Cowley (born 1965) is an English journalist, magazine editor and writer. After working at the New Statesman, he became the editor of Granta in September 2007, while also remaining a writer on The Observer.[1][2] He returned to the New Statesman as its editor in September 2008.

Jason Cowley
EducationLatton Bush School
Alma materUniversity of Southampton
OccupationEnglish journalist

Early life and careerEdit

Cowley was brought up in the town of Harlow in Essex.[3] He was educated at Latton Bush School,[4] a former state comprehensive school in Harlow, followed by the University of Southampton,[4] from which he graduated in 1989 with a first class degree in English and Philosophy.

In the early 1990s, Cowley began publishing reviews, literary essays and articles in British newspapers and magazines before, in 1996, becoming a staff writer on The Times, during which period he was a judge of the Booker Prize for fiction. In the summer of 1998, he became literary editor of the New Statesman; later he was a contributing editor of the magazine. Meanwhile, he continued to write on a range of subjects, including literature, sport and politics.

In 2003, Cowley joined the staff of The Observer working there as editor of The Observer Sport Monthly magazine and as a contributor. Under his editorship the magazine won numerous awards. He left The Observer to become editor of the literary magazine Granta.

Cowley's novel, Unknown Pleasures,[5] was published by Faber and Faber in 2000 and a second book, a work of narrative non-fiction called The Last Game: Love, Death and Football, was published by Simon & Schuster in spring 2009.[6] In 2013 he edited The New Statesman Century: 100 Years of the Best and Boldest Writing on Politics and Culture. It was published to celebrate the centenary of the New Statesman. In 2018, Reaching for Utopia: Making Sense of an Age of Upheaval (Salt Publishing), a book of Cowley's political and cultural essays and profiles, was published.

Editor of the New StatesmanEdit

Cowley was appointed editor of the New Statesman on 16 May 2008.[7][8] and took up his new position in September 2008.

Under his editorship, the New Statesman's print circulation increased from 23,000 to 33,000 by 2015, traffic to the magazine's website reached a new record high in June 2016, with 27 million page views and four million unique users, and the magazine has become profitable.[9]

Editorial stanceEdit

Cowley's philosophy for the New Statesmanon taking over was to explore ideas across the political spectrum, saying "I want to use the pages of the magazine to explore political ideas on both left and right."[10] Cowley has consciously commissioned new writers wanting the magazine "to be read by people who weren't on the left as well as people interested in progressive politics and the Labour Party".

In August 2014, Cowley was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September's referendum on that issue.[11]

Under Cowley, the magazine was hostile to Labour leaders Ed Miliband and Jeremy Corbyn.[9] A few months before the 2017 election, Cowley wrote of the Labour opposition, describing Corbyn's party as "fatally divided" and commented that Conservative MPs "feel no pressure from" Labour and "that there is no opposition".[12]

Two days before the 2017 general election, Cowley forecast that the Labour Party would suffer "a shattering defeat under Jeremy Corbyn".[13] However, shortly after polling stations closed, the exit poll predicted a hung parliament. At a New Statesman party, Cowley was reported as having said: "Have we been too hard on Corbynism?"[14]

Awards and recognitionEdit

On 10 November 2009, he won the British Society of Magazine Editors' Editor of the Year award in the Special Interest and Current Affairs Magazines category. The judges said that Cowley had transformed the New Statesman and "created issues of the magazine that were the envy of the industry".[15][16]

In 2010 and 2012, Cowley was shortlisted for the most coveted awards in the magazine industry, as Editor of the Year (consumer magazines) in the PPA Awards.[17]

In 2011, he was named editor of the year in the Newspaper & Current Affairs Magazines category at the British Society of Magazine Editors awards.[18]

In January 2013, Cowley was shortlisted for the European Press Prize editing award. The awards committee said: "Cowley has succeeded in revitalising the New Statesman and re-establishing its position as an influential political and cultural weekly. He has given the New Statesman an edge and a relevance to current affairs it hasn't had for years."

He has consistently been included in the London Evening Standard's list of the 1,000 Most Influential People in London.

He was named among Britain's most influential 500 people by Debrett's 500 in association with the Sunday Times in 2015.

At the 2017 British Society of Magazine Editors (BSME) awards, Cowley was named Current Affairs and Politics editor of the year for the third time, defeating rivals from The Spectator, The Economist and Prospect. "The winning title is consistently fresh and thought provoking. In a very strong category it stood out for its eloquence and independent views," the BSME judges said, upon presenting the award.[19]

In 2019 Cowley was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize for Journalism.


  • Cowley, Jason (6 April 2009). The Last Game: Love, Death and Football. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-1847371850.[20]


  1. ^ Leith, Sam (5 May 2007). "First Person Singular". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 21 July 2007.
  2. ^ Rickett, Joel (28 April 2007). "The bookseller". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 July 2007.
  3. ^ Cowley, Jason (1 August 2002). "Down Town". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 November 2014.
  4. ^ a b Robinson, James (27 April 2009). "A new kind of Statesman". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 November 2014.
  5. ^ Cowley, Jason (19 June 2000). Unknown Pleasures. London: Faber and Faber. ISBN 0-571-20233-0.
  6. ^ Cowley, Jason (6 April 2009). The Last Game: Love, Death and Football at the End of the Eighties. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-1-84737-185-0.
  7. ^ Brook, Stephen (16 May 2008). "Cowley named as New Statesman editor". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 30 November 2009.
  8. ^ Lo Dico, Joy (25 May 2008). "A 'New Statesman' kind of guy. Just not New Labour". The Independent. London. Retrieved 30 November 2009.
  9. ^ a b Burrell, Ian (29 November 2015). "Why the left-wing New Statesman is stubbornly resisting the lure of Corbynmania". The Independent on Sunday. London. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
  10. ^ Burrell, Ian (30 November 2009). "Jason Cowley: 'I'm beholden to no party – and certainly not the Labour Party'". The Independent. London. Retrieved 30 November 2009.
  11. ^ "Celebrities' open letter to Scotland – full text and list of signatories". The Guardian. 7 August 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  12. ^ Cowley, Jason (30 March 2017). "The stench of decay and failure coming from the Labour Party is now overwhelming". New Statesman. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
  13. ^ Cowley, Jason (6 June 2017). "The Labour reckoning". New Statesman. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  14. ^ "Londoner's Diary: Election Night Special – Lefty Jaws Drop as Jeremy Corbyn Defies all the Pollsters". London Evening Standard. 9 June 2017. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
  15. ^ Preston, Peter (15 November 2009). "Jason Cowley: big fish at the BSME awards". The Observer. London. Retrieved 30 November 2009.
  16. ^ "New Statesman editor wins at BSME awards". New Statesman. London. 11 November 2009. Retrieved 30 November 2009.
  17. ^ "New Statesman editor Jason Cowley shortlisted as Editor of the Year in the PPA Awards". New Statesman. 26 April 2010. Retrieved 27 April 2010.
  18. ^ "2011 BSME Award Winners". BSME News. 11 November 2011. Retrieved 14 December 2011.
  19. ^ "New Statesman wins Current Affairs Magazine and Launch of the Year at BSME Awards". New Statesman. 22 November 2017. Retrieved 15 December 2017.
  20. ^ Peet, Mal (11 April 2009). "When football died". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 August 2019.

External linksEdit

Media offices
Preceded by
Ian Jack
Editor of Granta
Succeeded by
Alex Clark
Preceded by
John Kampfner
Editor of the New Statesman
Succeeded by