GQ editor Dylan Jones said there has been a “genuine sea change” in the way readers buy into news and magazine journalism, saying that “something real is happening”.
Jones was speaking as part of a panel on the future of print alongside Cosmopolitan editor Farrah Storr at the Guardian’s Changing Media Summit this week.
GQ posted a circulation figure of 115,006 at the end of last year, according to ABC, the only paid-for men’s lifestyle magazine not to drop sales year-on-year.
Jones, who has edited the title since 1999, said: “I think [recent] political turmoil has put far more of an emphasis on quality well-commissioned, well-written, well edited, well-printed content and that’s a huge issue.
“That affects entry-level consumers as well as people who have been buying magazines forever.”
He said: “I think something real is happening. I look at the amazing figures that the New York Times has had and the success the Guardian is having with their model and the huge equity that’s in play with the Mirror buying the Express newspaper – we are turning the corner.
“Actually I think we are at the corner of people realising that if you want quality journalism, you have to pay for it and you have to seek it out.”
Both editors discussed their approaches to the duality of online and print publishing.
Storr said that none of her magazine content is given away online for free. She said: “I might occasionally put something up in its entirety – not just a bit then a push to print.
“It’s to give people a taster to see if they like it.”
Cosmopolitan posted a circulation figure of 351,338 copies, according to ABC figures to the end of December last year, down 14 per cent year-on-year.
Jones said he typically focused on the magazine and put content online, reformatted for the web, once the print edition came off sale, but said GQ did often publish digitally first.
He said: “I have looked at our brand a bit like a newspaper. If we can grab them at 16 they will still be reading at 60. We are using those digital platforms as marketing in all honesty.
“The content is the magazine. All those platforms that have huge reach are marketing for us – a little bit of content but mostly marketing.”
Storr said she had become more involved in the commercial side of running the magazine, with Jones saying GQ produced five films for Gucci last year.
He said: “That’s a completely different discipline and people are coming to us because we can now offer that, but it’s less about delivery models and platforms than about content and quality. Print is still the mothership for us.”
He added: “It’s the quality that’s important. For the last four or five years everyone has been blinded by algorithms and as is now proving to be the case it doesn’t work that way.
“If you are offering considered, quality content for your audiences that’s an understandable model and it works for everyone… it’s quality journalism, it’s quality imagery and it’s quality everything.”
He also said he believed readers enjoyed the “warm bath” of advertising in the magazine when it is done right, adding: “We are the least of many evils.”
Picture: Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett