'Sleb' fever still rules Jaded magazine world

‘Sleb’ fever still rules

Jaded magazine world


We had a look at Speaker’s Corner on Sunday, but we couldn’t see him. There was the bloke who thinks Lizard Leaders have abducted the Royal Family. And the woman who wants voting rights for gerbils.

But, strangely, no sign of Dave Hepworth, editorial director of Emap Elan.

Hepworth, you may recall, was at the PPA conference in May lamenting the power wielded by celebrities in the magazine world. "Sleb is a four-letter word," he said at the time. Yet he thought there may be signs that the fever was beginning to pass and editors were beginning to reject the short-term boost of here today, gone tomorrow TV ‘personalities’.

Perhaps the industry was coming to its senses, he hoped. "Or we may just be waiting for the next series of Big Brother to kick off. If it’s the latter you’ll find me on an aluminium stepladder at Hyde Park Corner. I’ll be the one saying ‘The End is Nigh’."

This week, Emap’s Heat magazine put Jade from Big Brother – who thinks East Anglia is near Tunisia – on its cover. (Sample question from the hard-hitting interview: "Did your mouth touch his willy at any point?") She’d already been ‘exclusively’ in the News of the World (estimated sales hike 100,000) and The Sun. Heat has printed 600,000 copies in anticipation of the demand. Count ’em.

And meanwhile, what’s the buzz about Emap’s latest secret project? Ah yes, that it’s another celebrity magazine.

If it’s just the ladder you’re short of, Dave, we’re sure we can find you one. As long as you give us a go on it too.

Vanishing act

Old florists never die; they just make other arrangements. Old electricians never die; they just lose contact. Old burglars never die; they just steal away.

But old journalists? What happens to them? One of the statistical nuggets from the Joint Training Forum’s survey of journalists’ working lives is that just 30 per cent of journalists across all media are now over the age of 40.

In a marketplace growing more saturated by young, cheap labour, it’s not difficult to see how executives justify squeezing out those with greater experience and salary demands. Or reorganising the furniture until they leave of their own accord. But by doing so they’re allowing contributions of real value to be lost to the industry.

And the question remains: where do they all go?

Perhaps old journalists never die; they just move into better-paid jobs in PR.

Our loss.


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