Now that The Star has gone glossy (at least in test areas New York and California), will the other tabloids follow suit? Perhaps not until there has been time to gauge the reaction of Star readers. First reports are mixed. The highquality paper is a plus, but many readers miss the old-style reporting. Although it has dropped “The No 1 Celebrity News Magazine” from its masthead and replaced it with “All the Juice, All the Time”, The Star is nevertheless trying to outshine the other glossy celebrity weeklies.
And they are fighting back. Even People is getting a facelift and has launched a multimillion dollar promotional campaign. The new People will promote the “two faces” of the magazine – how it covers not just the rich and famous but everyday people as well. Three years ago, People, with a circulation of about 3,350,000 (compared with The National Enquirer’s 1,670,000 and The Star’s 1,260,000) was the only game in town, admits Victoria Lasdon Rose, publisher of rival Us Weekly. “But we have carved out our turf. We are 100 per cent celebrity, all the time.” Today Us sells about one million – and insists it isn’t sitting still.
Supermodels are out, celebrities are in. That’s the latest trend in covers on the big fashion mags such as Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and W. Lately they have featured celebrities including Nicole Kidman, Demi Moore, Halle Berry and Madonna.
Elle editor-in-chief Roberta Myers says: “Entertainers, unlike models, are more than just beautiful. They are entertaining.”
Of course, it is quid pro quo. The stars are usually seeking publicity for movies. They are often difficult to deal with and many expect red-carpet treatment when the photos are shot. Still, with no Princess Di or Jackie O, most editors are happy to be able to get pictures on their covers they hope will help to sell their magazines. Even the staid New York Times has started using celebrities on its Sunday magazine covers – among them Britney Spears, who was recently featured on the cover of a special Fashions of the Times issue.
A tabloid serving the oil and gas industry? It doesn’t sound right. But Upstream is becoming one of the world’s most talked about trade papers. Edited in London, it’s sold all over the world, from Bahrain to Bakersfield. Upstream has become well-known for its tabloid approach.
Headlines are big, the stories snappy. Even sexy.
Recently it ran a story on a strip club in Houston, Texas, location of an offshore drilling convention. “Looking for a place to relax after a long day at the Offshore Technology Conference?” the story began. An image of a stripper’s stiletto boot was spread across four columns. Founded in 1996, Upstream set out to avoid the more staid approach of its main rival Oil & Gas Journal. “We are the paper everyone wants to read, but no one wants to be in,” says the paper’s Houston bureau chief, Blake Wright.
Although offbeat, Upstream covers industry news very professionally. It’s packed with stories about exploration and production developments all over the world. It has eight bureaus, including Ghana, Singapore and Rio de Janeiro, and claims a circulation of 5,300 (with a pass-along readership of another 30,000, mostly in the US and Britain). And although it may seem to be aimed at the beer drinkers of the industry, it’s as costly as champagne. A year’s subscription costs $695 (£420).
They are weighing some magazines here by the pound and not the pages these days. Vogue’s latest issue weighs in at 4lb 8oz. And it’s not the heaviest ever. There have been four previous issues that were bigger.
By Jeffrey Blyth