Of course the death of Loaded isn’t really the “end of an era” ((c) all newspapers). That ended ten or even fifteen years ago or, arguably, when the first “me-too” copy was rushed out by a rival desperate to emulate the magazine’s success.
The parallel is with Elvis: something genuinely new and different, rapidly absorbed by the system it originally seemed to stand outside; bought off, compromised and reduced to irrelevance.
Because the tawdry and constipated magazine that has just closed bears no relation (other than the title) to the original Loaded. Love it or loathe it, the 1994 incarnation was sui generis – gonzo journalism reborn for the ’90s – and not even its creators knew what made it work (as the less than fabulous subsequent career of James Brown shows).
Plenty of people tried of course – FHM, Maxim, Front, then the execrable Nuts and Zoo – but they lacked the wit of the original, reducing everything to the lowest common denominator. And Loaded went the same way – because no one knew what made it work, no one knew that they’d broken it – and we ended up with the dismal procession of sub soft porn content and the replacement of genuine humour with ‘banter’. (more…)
There’s nothing that says ‘summer’ more than the thwack of P45 on doormat and it’s going to be a long, hot one for the team over at The Cricketer (formerly ‘The Wisden Cricketer’, even more formerly ‘The Cricketer’).
I say ‘team’, but according to Liz Gerard’s SubScribe blog, the editor and both staff writers have now been made redundant, leaving the magazine with no full time journalists.
It’s got everything Private Frazer asks for from a spectator sport – a once-famous brand bought by a multimillionaire owner with no background in publishing, a rapidly falling circulation (down 20% in three years) and crushingly low workforce morale.
No need to refer to the third umpire on this one.
I thought I could get away with a one word entry for Peter Houston’s wee ’Magazine Diaries’ project, but apparently it had to be exactly 100 words. “Doomed, doomed, we’re all doomed” 20 times would have done it, but in the end I went for a suitably upbeat, joyous and life-affirming entry with the minimum of repetition. (And if you haven’t done your 100 words yet you have until Friday.)
A fair few of the entries about publishing’s wonderful present seem either to be written while under the influence of strong drink, or based on redefining ’magazine’ as anything that’s got content in it. One wee laddie even said that Buzzfeed was a magazine – presumably in the same way that ASOS is a ’catalogue’, or Facebook is an ’address book’.
My effervescent optimism about magazine publishing is for the ink on paper periodical, or its bastard offspring the digital page-turner (was there ever a more pointless hybrid of old and new technologies?). They’re doomed, and the companies clinging to this model can only wring so much cash from their products before the inevitable terminus. Some of what we currently call ’magazines’ will survive as digital ’brands’, but that won’t be based on the auld publishing model of ’issues’ and ’publication dates’ and ’contents pages’ and ’covers’. It won’t be bought in shops or delivered to your home or read in the bath. Some of the current publishing companies will transmute and survive, but lots of them won’t, mainly because new starters don’t have to carry the financial or emotional baggage of a print legacy and they’ll steal oor dinner. (more…)
“In forming our opinion … we have considered the adequacy of the disclosure made … within the consolidated interim financial information concerning the company’s ability to continue as a going concern. The company incurred a net loss of £30.0m during the six months ended 31 March 2014 and … had net current liabilities of £21.6m. These conditions … indicate the existence of a material uncertainty which may cast significant doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.” PricewaterhouseCoopers, Report on the consolidated interim financial statements Futureplc
Even by their own high standards, this has been a rough few months for Future. Profit warnings, redundancies, the departure of a CEO, the sale of their (profitable) cycling and craft titles as they attempt to patch (another) hole in their balance sheet and now yet more redundancies. Once these sales and lay offs have happened, Future will be down to fewer than 500 staff in the UK – as recently as 2011 the company employed more than 1,200.
Future’s shares, which were worth 29p in 2011 are now down to around 9p. They’ve lost 90% of their value since 2005. When the sale to Immediate was announced the shares rose by a penny, an indication perhaps that the banks see more value in the dismemberment of the company than in its long term survival. (more…)
I had sort of retired, but the self-defenestration of Future deserves another (final?) post. I’ll power up the old Amstrad and get back to you shortly…
If you’re after previous frolics from the Bath funsters, follow this link to read previous entries
As Private Frazer mentioned last month, it isn’t a question of if, but when the “lads’ mags” category will finally be put out of our misery, and the latest inevitable closure is IPC’s Nuts magazine. IPC have form in flogging dead horses to any buyer with a smart suit and plausible manner, so the fact that even they couldn’t offload this turkey (I will mix whatever metaphors I choose, thank you very much) suggests that the pool of stupid, wannabe publishers is not as deep as previously.
Now that Nuts is toast, Bauer can presumably declare victory and shut Zoo without loss of face.
Corporate bollocks award of the day goes to Paul Williams, managing director of IPC’s Inspire division. “After 10 years at the top of its market [you know what they say about scum always rising to the top], we have taken the difficult decision to propose the closure of Nuts … IPC will provide impacted staff with all the support they need during the consultation process.”
“Impacted“? You mean “fired” Paul, or “redundant”, surely?
Have we reached peak craft?
One of the few growth categories over the past few years has been in the “make do and mend”/”weave your own shroud” area, bringing to mind thousands of “crafters” producing tat to sell on to other crafters in a closed loop of economic virtue.
But last year saw Immediate cut Cloth, MyTimeMedia (got to love that name) recently terminated Homemade with Love, and the latest closure from Practical Publishing is Crafty magazine which lasted just one year.
If rumours are true (which they seldom are, but that’s never stopped me repeating them in the past) we can look forward to a few more instances of unplanned recycling in the next few months.
Immediate Media have taken the clippers to the loose fringes of their list and cut off Your Hair (final issue will be 12 March) and Hair Ideas (closing on 27 March).
According to an email from Dominic Lobley, Immediate’s PR Manager (have they already dumped the publisher?): “We have made this decision due to the changing print market for all hair titles which recently has declined at an even greater rate than originally anticipated.” (I know, I know – and he also uses the word “impacted”, thus scoring double points in today’s crapspeak awards.)
January is the month when we all think of shedding a few pounds, but that seems to have been taken a wee bit too literally by Quorn House Publishing.
They have gone into administration owing “well under £1 million” which means the end of Rosemary Conley’s Diet + Fitness magazine.
Deep-fried Ferrero Rocher all round.
Yet another lads’ mag seems to have woken up to the fact that it’s not the 1990s any more and has called it a day, as Front magazine is reported to have ceased publishing.
Front has been through a succession of ever more obscure owners since its launch in 1998 and was selling fewer than 30,000 copies in the last lot of ABCs.
It’s not a matter of if FHM, Zoo and Nuts will close, just when.