Archive for the ‘closures’ Category

Statist: a magazine worth quoting

October 18, 2014
Statist magazine from February 1967

Statist magazine from February 1967

The editors at small-circulation magazines are always happy when big papers pick up their stories, so economics weekly  Statist magazine would be chuffed to be referred in the Financial Times (several of these articles also ran in MoneyWeek):

Here’s a quote from the (generally rightwing, and prone to long sentences) Statist magazine from 1962 which sums things up the feeling then, and rather my feeling now: “In an era when the government appears to find itself obliged to tax an individual’s current earnings so highly that it is difficult if not impossible for the industrious able and thrifty person to save a substantial amount of money for himself, it is very wrong that another person who may well be idle, stupid and spendthrift should be in a position to receive a fortune by gifts or inheritance virtually without paying tax at all. (‘Cameron should scrap IHT threshold,’ 5 April 2014)

A long sentence indeed : 76 words. And also this year:

The great swings in the relationships between the likes of profit shares and labour shares take decades to play out. Look back to press reports from the 1960s and you will see many of the same kinds of articles you see in the papers today – in 1963 the (generally rightwing) Statist magazine insisted that a new minimum wage policy was a must and that government was “irrevocably committed to doing something for the low paid”. (‘Workers of the world will unite,’ 8 February)

While last autumn,

In the mid-1960s an article in the Statist magazine explained to London readers that the tax would “reverse the trend of soaring land values and reduce housing costs”. The writer was sure that support for [a site value tax] was such that “a concerted effort at this stage should carry the day”. It did not. But the idea has remained. (‘The perfect tax?,’ 28 September)

That same month:

In 1967, Paul Bareau, an eminent journalist of the era, wrote in the Statist magazine about the “pangs of modest deflation” hitting the UK. He called for “re-expansion” via all the usual methods – low base rates, a “lenient attitude” towards the commercial banks and a new round of government support to various industries. That worked out, as it likely will this time, all too well. By 1970, a mere three years later and well before the oil price shocks, inflation in the UK was running at about 8 per cent. Whoops. (‘A bad day at the office for Mark Carney,’ 7 September 2013)

You’ll notice the pattern by now:

A row raged in the pages of the Statist magazine in the early 1960s after “distinguished chartist” AG Ellinger declared that in the idea that the stock market would keep their money safe, “the public has been sold a pup”. (‘Ross Goobey’s speech resonates 50 years on,’ 10 November 2012)

Yes, it’s back in the sixties again:

‘Back in 1962 most European bankers were mad for monetary union. They were planning for it and seeing it, as Statist magazine said at the time, as “part of the writing on the wall”’ (‘In spite of debt crises, Germany is in the zone, 4 December 2010)

And again:

‘This outperformance isn’t a new thing … Statist magazine noted that in the decade to 1967 the average trust made 175% even as global markets returned a mere 75%.’ (‘Cheers for the product, boos for the charges,’ 2 October 2010)

And, for my last example:

‘You will not have heard of Mr F.M. Osborn. However, I feel I know him rather well. Why? Because I have a copy of an article he wrote in … The Statist.’ (‘Liars’ self-cert charter could have a bitter result,’ 25 September 2010)

In fact, FT Money writer and MoneyWeek editor Merryn Somerset Webb has sought inspiration or evidence from Statist no less than eight times in four years in her FT articles. It’s just a shame that the Statist, which looked like the Economist, closed several decades ago. But, then, what goes around comes around in the world of finance and a good article is always worth quoting, even if it is 50 years old.

News magazines profiled

Time UK closes TV Easy

September 28, 2014
What's On TV and TV Easy

Dummy cover of merged What’s On TV and TV Easy

Time Inc has marked the killing off of the IPC name with two changes. First is the closure of its compact TV listings weekly TV Easy, with some features of the magazine being taken on by What’s On TV, its best-selling TV guide. The first combined issue will be on sale on September 30.

As is typical in such mergers, What’s On TV will carry a cover flash to highlight the changes and try to retain TV Easy‘s readers. The merged magazine will also be given a design ‘makeover’.

Woman and Home Fashion magazine

First issue cover of twice-yearly Woman and Home Fashion magazine (autumn/winter 2014)

The second change is better news, with the launch of the third Woman & Home spin-off, a twice-yearly fashion glossy for the magazine’s over-40 readers. Woman & Home Fashion joins Feel Good Food and Feel Good You, covering health and wellbeing.

TV magazines history

Woman magazine, a ghost and an omelette

September 17, 2014
Woman magazine cover 1904

Woman magazine from 1904 with a cover design by Septimus Bennett, younger brother of Arnold Bennett, the Potteries novelist and the magazine’s former editor

This magazine cover from 1904 is from an earlier title to use the name Woman than today’s IPC / Time weekly (which only dates back to the Odhams launch of 1937).

The cover design for this ‘high class penny paper for ladies’ was by Septimus Bennett. A book, Artist in Arms, was published in 2001 and is based on the diaries of a Septimus Bennett when he was working at a Vickers shell factory in Sheffield during the First World War. At first glance, it would seem to be an unlikely link between this Septimus and the cover designer, but it looks like they were the same man – and he was the youngest brother of the Arnold Bennett – voted greatest West Midland writer in 2005.

While Arnold is best known for his ‘Five Towns’ novels, based on the six Potteries towns, he started out as a writer in magazines. He won a literary competition in Tit-Bits – the best-selling magazine of the day – in 1889 and five years later became assistant editor of the Woman. This probably explains how brother Septimus got the job drawing the magazine’s cover. Arnold began writing fiction serials, which resulted in A Man from the North in 1898 and he became Woman’s editor in that year. He stepped down in 1900 to write full-time, including The Grand Babylon Hotel (1902), serious criticism and theatre journalism. He wrote a column in London’s Evening Standard in the late 1920s.

Nigel Slater has a recipe for Omelette ‘Arnold Bennett’, a standard dish at the Savoy in The Strand. His advice: ‘Stick with the classic interpretation unless you want the wrath of Arnold Bennett’s ghost upon you.’ Delia Smith also has a version and reckons that Bennett wrote the whole of his novel Imperial Palace (1930) while staying at the Savoy.

Septimus was an artist and designer and ran a studio in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, where he produced designs for ceramics. His cover incorporates advertising for P&P Campbell, the Perth Dye Works, which was a prominent advertiser in magazines and on hoardings. The typeset copy includes quotes from two other magazines: ‘Oldest and best dyers, Myra’s Journal’; and ‘Excellent dyers, The Lady’; the latter is still published from office in London’s Covent Garden.

Woman was printed by Unwin Brothers at 27 Pilgrim St in London for the publishers Beeton & Co. The company had been founded by Samuel Beeton and produced several famous and groundbreaking titles, including the Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine, Boy’s Own, Myra’s Journal and Queen. The first off these spun off the famous Mrs Beeton’s Cookbook, which was compiled from her work on the magazine. Note the cover credit: edited by Mrs C.S. Peel (the original Avenger?). Dame Deborah Primrose replied to readers’s queries. About a dozen contributors are named, all but one a woman. Several fashion illustrations are credited to Rene Robinson.

The editorial offices were at 10-11 Fetter Lane, a thoroughfare that is an essential stop on any Fleet Street tour, having been the base for many publishing enterprises, such as Railway Magazine (no 30 in 1901), the Daily Mail (no 110 in 1920-61), DC Thomson’s Red Letter for the Family Circle (no 12 in 1950) and Jocelyn Steven’s Swinging Sixties version of Queen (no 52). It is also the site of a statue of John Wilkes, a radical journalist and rebellious politician in the late 1700s.

Woman describes itself as ‘A journal of information, entertainment and practical counsel for womankind the wide world over’ on its frontispiece page and closed in 1907, a run of 19 years.

 

Hearst closure of Dutch ‘Red’ – and cash cow thinking

May 27, 2014
Heart Magazines Nederlands has decided to stop the women's lifestyle glossy magazine Red from the June 2014 edition

Heart Magazines Nederlands has decided to stop publishing the women’s lifestyle glossy magazine Red from the June 2014 edition

Big consumer groups such as Unilever have occasional culls of their brands – in 1999, it sold two-thirds of its products! The theory is that you focus your money and management on the strongest brands and sell off smaller ones. In the jargon invented as part of the Boston matrix, companies should milk the cash generated by their ‘cash cows’, to spend on their ‘stars’ and ‘question marks’, while closing down the ‘dogs’.

The decision by Heart Magazines Nederlands to close women’s monthly lifestyle magazine Red is an example of that sort of thinking. It also demonstrates the global strategy of the US parent company.

The June 2014 edition will be the last, with the Dutch press reporting that Hearst saw a lack of interest among advertisers for the glossy monthly. So, Red had become a ‘dog’. However, the Dutch subsidiary also publishes Elle, undoubtedly a global ‘star’, and the closure frees up resources for that title. More importantly, Hearst Magazines Netherlands is launching a Dutch edition of Harper’s Bazaar at the end of August. This ‘question mark’ is where the money will go.

Harper’s Bazaar was bought by Hearst in 1913 and is a core star title for the US publisher. In contrast, Red is an English licensed glossy, which was launched 10 years ago by Hachette in the Netherlands. The original Red was invented by Emap and Hachette Filipacchi as a joint venture in 1989. It coined the term ‘middle youth’ for its target market, with a focus on fashion, beauty, jewellery, interiors, food and travel, for women aged over 30.

In 2011, US group Hearst bought Hachette Filipacchi from French media group Lagardere. As a result, it changed the near century-old name of its UK offshoot, the National Magazine Company, to Hearst UK and closed veteran title She. Similarly, the Hachette name was changed to Hearst across the world. Another victim of magazine globalisation was in 2006 when Harper’s & Queen dropped the second half of its name – which had come about when Harper’s took over the 110-year-old Queen in 1970 – to match the Harper’s Bazaar name elsewhere.

At the heart of the thinking is the ability to sell the same name to international advertisers more easily.

The Dutch Red was selling 62,167 copies an issue in 2013, and was read by 174,000 readers (NOM). In the UK, Red‘s sales are a healthy 203,354, well ahead of both Elle (172,079) and Harper’s Bazaar (111,071). So in Hearst’s global strategy it is a cash cow – though that may mean it can be starved of investment and may eventually become a dog as other titles suck out its cash. While UK editions of Red can be bought on Amazon in the US – for an eye-watering $11 – Hearst is unlikely to launch it there.

Hearst editions of Red elsewhere need to keep looking over their shoulders.

IPC set to close Nuts

March 31, 2014
First sold issue of Nuts

First sold issue of Nuts

IPC Media has announced a 30-day consultation with staff about the potential closure of Nuts and Nuts.co.uk. IPC Inspire managing director Paul Williams said:

After 10 years at the top of its market, we have taken the difficult decision to propose the closure of Nuts and exit the young men’s lifestyle sector. IPC will provide impacted staff with all the support they need during the consultation process.

There are several factors behind the decision. First, falling sales. In print, it now shifts an average of just 53,000 copies and digital figures are a pitiful 8,000 an issue.

Second, Nuts and its rivals have been under attack from women’s lobby groups for the past year as a form of harassment. Time-Life, the strait-laced US owners, undoubtedly hate this – Maxim founder Felix Dennis has pointed out that a magazine like Nuts could never have been launched in the US: ‘anyone who does [try to] will be utterly crucified because there isn’t anywhere to sell it. There’s not a supermarket in America that would touch [Emap's and IPC's weeklies] Zoo or Nuts.’

Also, Nuts has been looking exposed since IPC sold lad’s mags pioneer Loaded four years ago

First issue of Zoo from Emap

First issue of Zoo from Emap

Yet, when Nuts and Zoo launched in 2004 it was one of the great publishing races of the decade – IPC gave away a million free copies through WHSmith. At stake was leadership of a weekly men’s market alongside women’s in a way that gave hopes of turning the publishing clock back to the 1950s. IPC beat Emap (since swallowed up by Bauer) by a week and Nuts has held the sales lead since.

The first ABC sales figures were impressive – almost 300,000 for Nuts and 200,000+ for Zoo. The weeklies took a chunk out of the monthlies – FHM (Emap), Loaded (IPC) and Maxim (Dennis) – with Loaded losing almost a third of its sales in 2005-6. Since then, all the headlines have been about plummeting, for monthlies and weeklies. Maxim was the first to go in 2009.

IPC reckoned it spent £8m launching Nuts – that’s the best part of £1m a year over its decade on the news-stands. The only winner has been websites (and not the ones owned by the publishers).

So, what will Bauer, publisher of rival Zoo, do now? Zoo’s sales are even more dire – 29,521.

IPC profile

Bauer/Emap profile

Men’s weeklies

Men’s monthlies

 

 

 

Family Herald – ‘The World’s Premier Weekly Magazine’

March 22, 2014
Family Herald title from 1935

Family Herald title from 1935

‘The World’s Premier Weekly Magazine since 1842′ is the grandiose claim still made in 1935 below the title of Family Herald Magazine almost a century after its launch.

Quite a claim for a magazine that had seen launches such as Home Chat, Home Notes and Woman’s Own in that time. What justifies the hyperbole?

Family Herald was a pioneer of the fiction-based penny women’s weekly formula when it was launched by the publisher George Biggs. The secret of its success was that its production was mechanised – from typesetting through printing to binding. With mechanisation came speed – and labour disputes because Biggs employed women workers – but ultimately high volume sales. By the middle of the 19th century, it was claiming a sale of 300,000 a week and was one of the best-selling cheap weeklies. The price went up to 2d – but stayed at that level till it closed in 1940.

The grand claim is based on the word ‘premier’, meaning ‘first in importance, rank, or position’. In 1935, it could hardly make the claim of the highest sale and its production values would have looked cheap in the extreme against the like of Newnes’ Woman’s Own, which called itself ‘The family favourite’ (and ‘the world’s finest weekly paper’ when it switched to colour gravure in 1937). However, its standing in the world of magazines was well established and its pioneering history could justify the claim, which, not being based on an objective statement, such as sales or number of pages, was difficult to challenge.

Family Herald cover 1935

Family Herald 1935: illustration and the blue ink were limited to the cover in its 20 newsprint pages

Despite its claim, by 1935 Family Herald was on its last legs, running to 20 pages on newsprint with the only colour being the use of blue ink for all the matter on the front. There was no advertising to speak of and very little illustration except on the cover. It was published by the Family Herald Press in Crane Court off Fleet Street, and printed at Yorkshire Printing Works in York. It was a technological pioneer when it founded but had stuck to letterpress technology with its poor reproduction of images – and photograph-friendly gravure was in the ascendency at this stage. Family Herald would close in 1940 with the advent of paper rationing.

Murdoch’s News of the World legacy

July 8, 2011
Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch on Guardian website

What will be Rupert Murdoch’s legacy in terms of newspapers in Britain? With the Sun, Times, Sunday Times and News of the World he had the most powerful newspaper group in Britain. He’s a throwback to the great twentieth century Fleet St barons – I’ve read of Northcliffe describing the young Murdoch as his favourite newspaperman.

He fought off Robert Maxwell to win control of News of the World and use it as the international stepping stone to form the world’s first global media group. His reputation for media innovation is unrivalled. However, today’s Machiavellian decision to close the News of the World throws a 168-year history, 200 journalists – and some legendary campaigning journalism – on the scrapheap.

Yet, even though Murdoch has acted with unprecedented speed to try to halt the damage, more is undoubtedly still to come. The fallout – a Rupertgate or Jamesgate – could leave the Murdoch name lying alongside those of Maxwell and a corrupt media mogul of the early 1900s, Horatio Bottomley.

Britain's most famous front page - the Sun's Gotcha

Britain's most famous front page - the Sun's Gotcha

But Rupert brought us the topless redtop style of the Sun with its Page 3, along with Kelvin MacKenzie, and headlines such as ‘Gotcha’ and ‘Freddie Starr: I ate my hamster’ – as well as the later ‘Freddie Starr: I ‘ate my wife’ . And England team manager Graham Taylor as a turnip. How many other front or back pages are as well known? But that paper also plumbed the depths with its Hillsborough coverage – an example of falling in with the police – and is still paying the price in terms of its sales on Merseyside.

Murdoch took over the Times (on a Friday, the 13th), and took it downmarket, shafting Harry Evans in the process, though he has bankrolled it to the tune of tens of millions a year for a while now.

His papers helped to turn round the fortunes of Margaret Thatcher when she was unpopular in her first years in power. The Sunday Times was hagiographic here, portraying her on the front of its magazine as Joan of Arc. Murdoch’s HarperCollins book arm later published Thatcher’s memoirs. And the Sun is seen as having saved John Major from electoral defeat in 1992 with its vitriolic campaign against Neil Kinnock – ‘If Kinnock wins today, will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights’ ran the front page on polling day.

Andrew Neil, looking on BBC TV these days as if his whole body is on botox, was working for Murdoch when he bought us never-mind-the-quality-feel-the-width journalism at the Sunday Times and adverts to recruit reporters who could write at length on any topic. That has certainly done journalism no good. As Matthew Engel writes in the British Journalism Review, ‘Over the past ten years the quantity has remained relatively stable,’ but ‘what worries me now is the quality.’ He was writing about newspaper sports pages in general, but it’s an argument that can be made for the rest of the Sunday Times.

Mirabelle launch cover

Mirabelle launch cover

Murdoch failed to make much headway in magazines (remember the embarrassing Mirabelle?), but brought us Sky TV and the Simpsons – though ruined the game of football in the process.

He is also one of the world’s most successful tax avoiders, managing to make billions in profits but using complex offshore company structures to avoid paying tax.

But the activities at the News of the World take us back to Hillsborough in terms of awfulness. For the editor and executives to say they did not know what was going on is no defence. They should have known. The paper was, as Rosie Boycott said on Newsnight, ‘200 miles into illegality’.  To be paying £100K to private eye Glen Mulcaire and not know what he was doing just beggars belief.  Phone-hacking comes under the RIPA Act – Regulation of Investigatory Powers 2000.  It’s what was used to jail News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman and Mulcaire.

Boards of directors are paid to be responsible and ignorance is no defence under the law. It’s difficult to see Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson going quietly. Bigger fish than Mulcaire and Goodman are going to come into the frame.

Journalists: writing their own obituaries

January 23, 2011

‘One of the troublesome things about being a journalist – as I have been all my working life – is that a considerable part of our time, these, days, is devoted to writing our own obituaries. This is not exhilarating work … We are, in the nicest way, dinosaurs. Just as the old iron-founders were superseded by technology, and the flint-knappers and the ploughboys, so we are superseded by new methods – better ones, quite often; new media, like the one I am using now.’

No, this is not from a blog, but from a talk by Picture Post legend James Cameron, ‘Letter from London’ broadcast on the BBC World Service in January 1979 (the ‘new media’ he refers to was short wave radio). It was reported in the Listener, a BBC magazine that closed a few years later.

Hachette Filipacchi to close Sugar

January 19, 2011

Sugar teen magazine cover November 1994

Hachette Filipacchi UK is to close Sugar magazine. The decision by the French-controlled publisher comes after the teen sector has already seen most titles wiped out as readers switch to mobile phone and the web.

Even so, Sugar is the most popular monthly in its market selling more than 110,000 copies a month – though this is down from 486,000 in 1997.

HFUK has blamed teenagers’ appetite for free content and Guardian columnist Sarah Ditum seems depressed by the magazine being drowned in freebies, ‘tempting in purchasers (they may not even bother to read the magazine) with gifts that outvalue the cover price’.

Like many such closures, the website sugarscape.com will carry on.

Teen magazines profiled

Hachette profile

Rossetto was right about Wired

March 19, 2010

In December 1988, Redwood/BBC Magazines tried to launch a monthly technology magazine, Tomorrow’s World. The TV series had big viewing figures – it was scheduled after Top of the Pops – but the title was a failure. It had hoped for 80,000 sales, yet came in with 61,314 (you can watch old episodes of the programme on the BBC’s archive website).

Gruner + Jahr had made a better fist of it with Focus, which is still around selling 71,783 a month and ended up, ironically, in the hands of the BBC after passing through Nat Mags when G+J folded its UK operations.

Then, the Guardian had a crack with cyberfocused Wired in a joint venture with the US parent. It hit the streets to much fanfare in March 1995 and returned an early ABC figure of 29,712. But relations fell apart, the Guardian pulled out, Wired Ventures announced big losses in the UK and Japan in 1996 and the plug was pulled in February 1997. Conde Nast, which owned 10% of the US parent, showed no interest in coming to its rescue.

Twelve years later though, Conde Nast owns the whole Wired caboodle and launches a UK edition, which turns in a first ABC last month of 48,275. That figure though hides 8,200 copies outside the UK, 10,000 subs at below rate and 10,000 freebies. So full-price newstand sales come out at just 19,280 copies. Gulp.

There’s a question mark over whether the UK is big enough for such a cool technology title. As with so many sectors – such as sports and news magazines – there is just too much coverage in the papers to compete with. Back in 1995, Media Week put the split between the Guardian and Wired Ventures down to the attitude of Wired’s founder, Louis Rossetto (‘Taut Wired finally snaps’, 4 August):

‘Louis liked the idea of a UK edition,’ says a Guardian insider, ‘but in practice he wasn’t that keen.’ There were said to be two problems – first that Rossetto believed that Wired was a global phenomenon, and therefore that the idea of radically different local editions was anathema.

To my mind, Rossetto was right. Applying a Vogue model of local editions to a borderline market won’t work. Esquire’s failed UK edition in the 1950s jumps to mind as a good comparison (and today’s is hardly a ringing success), as is Condé Nast’s Men in Vogue in the 1960s. Also, it tends to be forgotten that what drove the launch of British Vogue was the fact that the first world war made shipping it over from the US impossible.

Far better to look to the Monocle model with a true internationalist’s eye on the world from London.


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