Posts Tagged ‘Today’

On this day in magazines: Today and John Bull in 1960 feb 27

February 28, 2017
Today, the first issue of the cover new John Bull magazine, 27 February 1960

Today, the first issue of the cover new John Bull magazine, 27 February 1960

The year 1960 was a watershed in the history of weekly magazines. The sales of women’s weeklies peaked and the general interest weeklies were already well on the slide, with Picture Post, Illustrated and Everybody’s having already folded. They needed to maintain sales of a million copies a week  to be able to offer national coverage to advertisers, but the world was changing, with magazine readers turning into television viewers.

This first issue of Today is part of that change. The 27 February 1960 issue of the ‘new John Bull, incorporating Everybody’s Weekly‘ marked the end of one of the most famous – and at times notorious – magazine titles in publishing history.

The bizarre cover photograph promoted a colour centre-spread on skiing.

Marketing was vital to keeping up magazines sales, so this issue included:

  • A win a car competition – promoted on the cover as the £1,000 competition.
  • Free insurance offer for registered readers – a technique that went right back to the 1880s with railway insurance from Tit-Bits and, in the First World War, insurance against being killed or injured in a bombing raid in Britain.

Note the plug on the cover for that other vital ingredient of magazines, fiction, with the ‘Trustee from the Toolroom’ by Nevil Shute being serialised.

Today was printed by Odhams in Watford, Herts, and published by Odhams Press, Long Acre. The editorial office was at 189 High Holborn. It came out every Wednesday.


To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out for my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design

 

 


A newspaper’s last big story

February 6, 2016
The last edition of London's Evening News on 31 October 1980

The last edition of London’s Evening News on 31 October 1980

As this splash on London’s Evening News demonstrates, a newspaper’s last big story is its own demise. This front page was 31 October 1980. That day, the copytaster – the person who watches the news agency wires to spot any stories the paper should be carrying – was Robin Elias, and he was the first of the staff to know of the closure. It must have been particularly galling for a paper in its 99th year. Luckily for him, he got a job as night editor on ITV’s News at Ten and went on to become managing editor there.

It was a surprise reading that your paper would be closing from the Press Association! Yet, that may well be the situation many journalists are expecting at the moment as cost-cutting proprietors wind down their print editions in favour of digital.

Last issue of US picture weekly Life (29 December 1972)

Last issue of US picture weekly Life (29 December 1972)

The US picture weekly Life took a different tack to the Evening News, with no mention of the closure on the cover of its last issue (29 December 1972). However, this may well be because the cover was ready before the closure was announced by its owners, Time Inc. Instead, editor Hedley Donovan carried a full-page editorial on the weekly magazine’s closure on the first inside page.

Editor Hedley Donovan's final editorial on Life magazine's closure

Editor Hedley Donovan’s final editorial on Life magazine’s closure

As he says readers have reminded him, the magazine had not failed. It had, after all, lasted almost 40 years and been one of the biggest-selling titles in the US for that time.

Last issue of Rupert Murdoch's Today newspaper (17 November 1995) 

Last issue of Rupert Murdoch’s Today newspaper (17 November 1995)

Today took a similar tack to the Evening News with its closure in 1995. This would have been less unexpected, given that it had outlived its usefulness to Rupert Murdoch in helping him break out of hot metal in Fleet Street and into the electronic makeup era at Wapping. It was a paper with a short history – having been launched by Eddie Shah on 4 March 1986. Shah had won a vicious industrial relations battle against the NGA, the print union, in his Warrington freesheet newspaper group and then launched Today as a national colour tabloid using new technology. It had a target sale of 1.2 million copies, but rarely exceeded a third of this figure. One editor, David Montgomery, resigned after printing an apology to readers for the poor quality of the paper.

Promotional copy of the Sun inside the final issue of Today - with a message from Tony Blair

Promotional copy of the Sun inside the final issue of Today – with a message from Tony Blair

Murdoch wasn’t going to lose Today’s readers easily though and inside was a promotional copy of the Sun – complete with a top-of-the-page story written by Tony Blair and headlined ‘Why Labour readers are turning to the Sun‘. Today had taken a leftish editorial stance, while the Sun was traditionally rightwing, but switched allegiance when Blair established a rapport with Murdoch.

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