New Loaded editor Keith Kendrick this week faced hostility from staff, who fear he plans to turn it into a replica of FHM.
Kendrick has been locked in one-to-one meetings with staff since joining Loaded two weeks ago. But tempers frayed and it emerged his ‘vision’ for the magazine, sent to staff in a confidential e-mail, had been leaked to the press.
Staff were said to be outraged by the proposals and by recent budget cuts. Johnny Aldred, managing editor, resigned on the spot and there was talk of a mass exodus. A source said: "The mood is militant."
Anger was fuelled further when Loaded failed to pick up any prizes at the IPC Media Editorial Awards last week. Staff walked out in protest and there was a row with Kendrick in the foyer of the Grosvenor House Hotel.
Kendrick, who stressed his ideas were open to debate, held a four-hour brainstorming session on Tuesday. "We emerged from that with a direction we have all signed up to," he said. "I respect our rivals but what we do and what we are best at is totally different to what they do. Basically, we want Loaded to do what it says on the tin. It’s maverick, funny, controversial and brilliantly written. I want to build on that personality, not dilute it."
His vision includes a bigger focus on sex and relationships and dropping columnists Howard Marks and Stan Bowles. One of his feature ideas is to get a 25-year-old male virgin "laid by a porn star". Insiders said his proposed structure for the magazine allowed no breadth for creativity.
Another said the anger was directed at IPC for lack of investment. "The management doesn’t seem to have any idea what staff have been trying to do over the past couple of years. You can’t change a magazine overnight into the very thing it has been deriding."
Insiders claim journalists are concerned about the influence of new managing director Mike Soutar, widely credited with turning FHM into the biggest-selling men’s title.
By Ruth Addicott