No real-life crisis over staff turnover, insist publishers

Publishers have insisted the rash of resignations that hit the
real-life weeklies are not a sign of strain in the sector, despite
speculation that the fiercely competitive market cannot sustain the
current number of titles.

Last week saw a number of key
departures from the real-life battleground as Real People editor Vicky
Mayer, Full House deputy editor Julie Cook and features editor Louie
Purday plus Love It! commissioning editor Sally Windsor left their
respective titles.

Natmags
lost Mayer six months after it launched the title in conjunction with
ACP, but Colin Morrison, ACPNatMags' chief executive, insisted her
resignation was not a reflection of pressures at the magazine.

Morrison
said that Mayer — one of the first signings by Australian publishing
group ACP more than two years ago — had not initially been expected to
be Real People editor. "Our original intention was to have Michael
Butcher as editor who was recruited by Vicky for that purpose, but
Michael became editor of Reveal instead — so Vicky found herself editor
of Real People.

"For quite a while she was telling me she'd rather move on and do something else. We persuaded her to stay this long.

There's
a pretty good chance you'd see her back here, but she wants to get off
the treadmill for a bit and think about what to do."

Morrison
refused to predict Real People's first ABC figure, due this summer, but
said the company was looking towards its target of more than 300,000, a
figure that suggests the market — however affected by new launches —
still has room for new titles to make their mark.

Publishers have
insisted there is room for further growth in the market for real-life
weeklies and classic women's titles, which added 500,000 readers
overall in the last round of ABCs. This rise resulted mainly from the
arrival of IPC's Pick Me Up and Burda's Full House, but other existing
titles in the sector experienced a drop.

Burda has continued to
shed staff in the wake of its April purchase of Essential Publishing.
Full House deputy editor Julie Cook quit just four weeks after editor
Carl Styants resigned from the company.

Publisher
Luke Patten said Cook's departure was "a matter for her" and that a new
editor or deputy is not currently being sought. He denied suggestions
that recent staff departures were part
of a cost-cutting exercise and said the title had started recruiting
new features writers.

A source at the magazine suggested to Press Gazette that the changes had been made to bring in a cheaper workforce.

"It's
no secret that Full House's staff were originally among the best paid
in that sector, mainly because the company was so scared of people
leaving to join rivals."

Patten said: "The changes the magazine
has gone through since its launch phase of 18 months meant it didn't
require the number of people who worked on it for that time. There has
been a slimming down, but whoever leaves now, we're going to replace."

Love It! is the third title to experience the ups and downs of the real-life sector.

The
magazine, News International's first, heavily marketed title, has seen
commissioning editor Sally Windsor poached by Emap's Closer.

Judy
McGuire editorial director at News Magazines said: "With so many of the
brightest and most talented journalists in the sector working for us,
we are a natural honeypot for magazines recruiting. Sally is a talented
journalist and we wish her the very best in her new role."

McGuire
added: "This is not an unusual situation in a buoyant magazine market.
People move to explore new opportunities and experiences and, equally,
magazines reshape their launch teams as they settle into their market."

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