MEDIA PERSPECTIVE: Loaded has a new editor and the lad's mag is growing up

If you had to conjure up a typical night out for the editor of Loaded, you would probably find a top drinking den, a few lovelies, plenty of booze and kicks. Then you'd stand back and wait for ignition.

If you had to conjure up a typical night out for the editor of Loaded, you would probably find a top drinking den, a few lovelies, plenty of booze and kicks. Then you'd stand back and wait for ignition.

That's what Loaded editors do, right ... live it larger than life and play it naughty, laddism incarnate splashed over the pages of next month's issue for the rest of us to vicariously get off on.

It's what's made Loaded a cult with the media itself, this image of Loaded staff living life according to the Bible for New Lads. Yeah, Loaded was a publishing phenomenon, but it was the live-and-breath-it staff that really got those profile and diary pages panting.

It's quite some image for any editor to live up to, this notion that editors should be a shorthand for their magazines and that Loaded's editor should be a lad to the core. Never mind that 'lad' was more marketing ploy than real-world demographic, more a conspiracy among men who loved the retro step back that each issue afforded. Never mind, too, that laddism is now positively geriatric.

But for all the cliche-induced expectations, last Thursday actually saw the newly announced editor of Loaded, Keith Kendrick, warming Walker Media's new offices along with a few hundred media owners, clients and trade press. Perhaps not the natural habitat of the old Loaded lad, but hardly an alien environment for any professional editor, especially when there are useful hands to shake.

For anyone who has mourned the slip of Loaded from the cutting edge, Kendrick's appointment is welcome news, not only because it comes after months without an official editor, but because it suggests that IPC recognises the need to take Loaded to the next stage of its evolution. The time for Loaded to live on the colour of its editor has long gone. It is no longer the fresh, new embodiment of a heap of young journos disillusioned with the publishing establishment. It's a seven-year-old with the problems of a mature magazine: how to stem a declining circulation (down 9 per cent at the last count) and how to move on with your readers or reinvent yourself to attract the next generation.

Kendrick has already proved that a fine editor is one able to find the pulse of readers outside his own orbit. As the editor of Chat, he turned a sliding circulation into a sales success; his CV (stints on the Liverpool Echo and the Birmingham Mail won him a regional young journalist of the year award and a scholarship) tells of a broader experience than some of his peers. His mission to make Loaded more female-friendly and to underline the intelligent editorial that has so often been overlooked by the commentators suggests that the magazine is ready to mature with its readers, even if that maturity doesn't preclude mates and beer and the full appreciation of beautiful women.


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