Bauer Media has launched a new true crime monthly from the team behind celebrity magazine Heat to try and tap into the growing popularity of real-life murder stories thanks to shows like Serial and Making a Murderer.
Crime Monthly, which hits newsstands tomorrow, will feature interviews with experts, psychologists and victims to “bring a new perspective on the world’s most intriguing crimes and crime stories”, Bauer claims.
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The magazine, put together mostly by Heat staff with some contributors, will cover a mix of both historical and current crimes.
It will also feature a 16-page TV and entertainment section for all the TV, film, book and podcast crime content that might interest readers.
The first issue will include articles on New Zealand backpacker Grace Millane, who was killed last year, murdered Surrey schoolgirl Milly Dowler, and Detainment, the Oscar-nominated documentary about James Bulger.
Each feature will have a news hook, with Heat, Bella and Crime Monthly editor-in-chief Julia Davis saying: “We don’t want to just be regurgitating old crimes just for the sake of it”.
Davis and deputy editor Steph Seelan were inspired to launch the magazine nine months ago after noticing an explosion in the consumption of true crime through podcasts like Serial and Netflix shows like Making a Murderer and Evil Genius.
They also noted an increasing amount of true crime on linear TV, such as Fred & Rose West: The Real Story with Trevor McDonald, Confessions of a Serial Killer with Piers Morgan, and Manhunt, the dramatised story of how killer Levi Bellfield was brought to justice, all on ITV.
Davis told Press Gazette: “We both watch lots of true crime documentaries and listen to podcasts and used to discuss them and debate them and swap stories and we realised everyone else was talking about this too, in the office and among our friends.
“There’s more and more content and we just thought ‘okay, we’re in the business of making magazines, is there something that we should be doing here?’
“So we looked at what’s out there and there is a true crime market.
“There are a few magazines out there, but they weren’t very contemporary and none of them were hooking onto this new interest of delving into big crimes and the psychology behind it.”
Davis acknowledged the difficulty of getting the tone right on Crime Monthly and avoiding sensationalism. News of the launch has already prompted criticism online, with some even asking if it was a joke.
“We’re really not trying to trivialise these crimes, these are serious crimes,” said Davis. “We are just reflecting the interest and demand. We’ve actually had endless conversations about being sensitive and balanced in our features inside.”
For example, Davis said the piece on the Bulger documentary presented the question of whether it was wrong to make the film, with arguments from both sides, as well as the story of the murder in his parents’ words using previous books and documentaries.
She added: “We have tried to be careful in the way we tell these stories, but it’s something we are going to be constantly vigilant about.
“Some of the cover lines are going to be hard-hitting, they’re going to be newsy, but we’re really trying to balance that and we will listen to all the feedback we get on that.”
Crime Monthly will be found alongside women’s weekly titles in shops, after research from Bauer’s marketing team confirmed true crime is “very much a female-driven interest”, Davis said.
The magazine has been made in the style of a women’s weekly so it looks like something Heat readers are already familiar with, she added.
This approach will counter what Davis described as the “more old-fashioned sounding” feel of the seven or so other true crime magazines in the UK market, including True Detective and Murder Most Foul.
Future Publishing-owned monthly Real Crime, which Davis described as being the closest to what Crime Monthly wants to do, but aimed more at men, closed in November after three years in print.
Bauer already owns quarterly That’s Life spin-off Crime Scene, which Davis described as a “very different proposition” to Crime Monthly because “it’s very much the real life market so domestic crime, local crime – the execution is very different”.
Crime Monthly arrives in print tomorrow at an initial price of £1.99 which will go up to £2.99 for later issues. It will launch online at some point, said Davis, but no details have been decided.
In a statement, Bauer’s group managing director Rob Munro-Hall said: “Print magazines are still very much at the heart of what we do at Bauer and we are always looking to invest in great ideas.
“Fascination in real life crimes is exploding on all platforms, and we’re excited to be the first publisher to take advantage of this new opportunity.”