Obituary: Paul Bach, regional press journalist who created Saga magazine

The Daily Telegraph today pays tribute to the founder editor of Saga Magazine, Paul Bach, who has died aged 72.
An obituary in today’s Daily Telegraph tells the story of how Bach rose from a reporter on a weekly newspaper to starting what would eventually become the largest-circulation monthly magazine in Britain.

Bach was born in Forest Gate, East London, and found his first job as a reporter on the Stratford Express, before moving to South Wales and taking up various posts with Thomson Regional Newspapers (and winning an award for his coverage of the Aberfan disaster in 1966).

He was later editor in chief of the Celtic Press group of 12 regional newspapers and became editor of the Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph in 1972.

In 1976 he returned to East London as group editor of the Stratford Express series before making the move into public relations in 1979 when he moved to Saga Holidays in Folkestone.

According to the Telegraph, ‘there he took a simple contacts sheet (used by senior trippers to keep in touch with fellow holidaymakers) and turned it into a monthly magazine”.

He ‘reluctantly’gave up the editorship of the magazine in 2001 when Saga Holidays was sold for £1.4bn.

Bach is credited with ‘almost single-handedly’creating the publishing phenomenon by persuading writers such as Keith Waterhouse (ex-Daily Mirror, Daily Mail), Katharine Whitehorn (ex-Observer), Paul Lewis (who went on to present Radio Four’s Money Box) and Michael Parkinson to join the magazine.

Today’s obituary said:

His pressman’s nose for news also led him to break significant stories, run hard-hitting campaigns and introduce revealing celebrity interviews. When the likes of Twiggy and Mick Jagger made it on to the cover, the fact that they were ‘Saga stars’was national news in itself.

Bach’s recipe for his magazine was based on his belief that older people had more experience to relate, more wisdom to impart and, quite simply, ‘more to say”.

One of his proudest moments was when his publication overtook Reader’s Digest as Britain’s biggest-selling monthly. Circulation continued to grow to 1.25 million.

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