Mirror's 3am brings 'funky' mag culture to Fleet Street

The launch of 3am Magazine this week was the first salvo produced by a 50-strong magazines unit established by Trinity Mirror to help reverse the sales decline of its three national titles.

Journalists in the new "centre of excellence" have been encouraged to dress down, listen to the radio and "get out and about" in order to encourage a creative atmosphere.

The two-page 3am gossip column, launched in April 2001, has been identified by Trinity Mirror bosses as the newspaper's most identifiable brand and a major selling point.

The launch on Wednesday of 3am Magazine should help soften a 3p price increase for the Daily Mirror to 35p, which this week made it 5p more expensive than redtop rival The Sun.

The weekly "handbag-size" supplement is the latest initiative from group editorial director, magazines, Phil Hall, and it is evidence of the hands-on influence of Trinity Mirror chief executive Sly Bailey, who came to the company last year from magazines group IPC.

Former News of the World and Hello! editor Hall said: "The idea of 3am Magazine is something I came up with when I first joined the company. I thought it was a natural brand extension for the Daily Mirror because 3am is the most recognisable brand within the title."

He said three possible magazines were put to reader focus groups around the country and 3am proved to be the most popular.

Hall said: "We want to create a magazine atmosphere and make people on the magazines feel as important as the journalists on the newspapers.

"With Sly's background and my background we felt that the magazines are just as important as the paper.

The main reason many readers buy the newspaper is to look at the magazines.

"Rather than doing things the way newspapers are done we are doing things the way magazine companies such as IPC and Emap do them.

"There's a far funkier atmosphere.

People are encouraged to dress down and they can listen to the radio. We are trying to create a creative atmosphere and encourage them to get out and about."

The supplement focuses on celebrity pictures and interviews and also contains fashion and lifestyle features aimed at women.

Express Newspapers mounted a spoiler operation on Wednesday by offering readers of the Daily Express and the Daily Star a free voucher to obtain Richard Desmond-owned celebrity magazine Star.

The Sun offered readers an eightpage celebrity photos pullout the same day.

Former Loaded editor Keith Kendrick has launch-edited 3amMagazine.

By Dominic Ponsford

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