Yesterday tech magazine Stuff announced that it was ditching scantily clad female models on its covers as research suggested boobs and acres of flesh put off potential readers.
Stuff is the UK’s best-selling technology magazine and used ‘girls with gadgets’ since its foundation in 1996 at the height of the Lad’s Mag era. As editor-in-chief Will Findlater told the Guardian’s media section: “Nearly 20 years on – and with tech now an indispensable part of everyday life – our readership has changed. The covers used to help our position on the newsstand but our research tells us this is no longer the case.”
The magazine now has a reported circulation of over 77,000 and its readership has shifted over the last twenty years with around 40% of readers now women. Tech and gadgets, as we all know, is no longer the sole preserve of spotty loners.
Focus groups and test-runs of ‘non-girl’ proved their point and the August edition will mark a new start for the publication.
“At the industry level, we see this as a big step forward for men’s lifestyle magazines.” Stuff publishing director Rachael Prasher also told the Guardian.
And she is right. Using women as props to sell products is offensive and has no place in the future of the industry.
Simian Publishing, who took over Loaded late last year appear to be ditching the naked girls and boorish nonsense that saw Nuts close recently and are planning on investing in quality over tacky filler and cringeworthy sexism.
A spokesman for the company has told the Evening Standard that feminist writer Julie Burchill is lined up to be a columnist and there are plans for a gay columnist too.
Declining sales for the likes Loaded and Nuts led to a race to the bottom as cheap and lewd content simply lowered the tone and completely undermined their brands.
FHM and Loaded were once powerhouses of mainstream male culture and frequently mixed risqué photography with entertaining - often informative- journalism with a devil-may-care anti-establishment flair and just the right amount of puerile toilet humour to be amusing (remember Office Pest or Dr Mick anyone?) and playfully provocative.
The new edition features the Gallagher brothers on the cover - and will feature a tribute to twenty years of Brit Pop.
Personally I would like to see the new Loaded not to forget its playful roots whist still forging ahead on a new path. The likes of Rolling Stone and Vice have shown that there is an appetite for long-form journalism and reportage alongside more conventional middle-ground magazine fayre.
It should go without saying that in order to survive, the new Loaded has to get its digital presence right.
A relaunched Loaded has the potential to seize a potential mass-market middle-ground and create establish magazine genre that can entertain and inform a new generation. Such magazine offerings work well on the Continent and the potential for exploitation in the UK is huge.
Here’s hoping that Loaded may one day become the British populist answer to Vice - or something completely different but equally relevant.
The future of journalism will have many faces, but it won’t feature very many naked nipples.