Six magazines that changed the course of postwar British journalism

PICTURE POST 1938-57

The pioneer of photo-reportage. At the height of its powers during the Second World War this was the most widely read periodical in the country, selling 1,950,000 copies a week. Its inspirational editor from 1940 Tom Hopkinson recruited the photographers Bill Brandt, Bert Hardy, Kurt Hutton, Felix Man, Francis Reiss, Thurston Hopkins, John Chillingworth, Grace Robertson, Leonard McCombe. Staff writers included MacDonald Hastings, Lorna Hay, Sydney Jacobson, J. B. Priestley, Lionel Birch, James Cameron, Fyfe Robertson, Anne Scott-James, Robert Kee and Bert Lloyd; freelance contributors included George Bernard Shaw, Dorothy Parker and William Saroyan.

SUNDAY TIMES MAGAZINE 1962-today

The first colour supplement to be published as a weekly addition to a UK newspaper. The first editor was Mark Boxer. From the outset, “photographer first” was the benchmark and required serious investment in photo-reportage from the world’s trouble spots. Michael Rand, its art director for 30 years from 1962, said the credo was “grit plus glamour – fashion juxtaposed with war photography and pop art”. He went on to champion the work of such photographers as Terry O’Neill, Brian Duffy, Richard Avedon, Eugene Richards, Diane Arbus, Mary Ellen Mark. The magazine featured images from the Vietnam war by the photographer Don McCullin, a photo-essay on the Vatican by Eve Arnold, many portraits and photo-essays by Lord Snowdon, and Bert Stern’s final photoshoot with Marilyn Monroe, among many other photographic collections.

NEW SOCIETY 1962-1988

A weekly magazine of social inquiry and cultural comment, it drew on the disciplines of sociology, anthropology, psychology, human geography, social history and social policy, and it published wide-ranging social reportage. The cultural commentator Robert Hewison wrote that New Society became “a forum for the new intelligentsia” created by the expansion of higher education in Britain from the early 1960s. The editor Paul Barker (1968–86) was described by the labour historian Eric Hobsbawm as the “most original of editors”.

NOVA 1965-75

Launched under the slogan A new kind of magazine for the new kind of woman, Nova created its own unique niche in the British consumer magazine market under gifted editor Dennis Hackett, together with visionary art director Harri Peccinotti. They swiftly established their magazine as an influential must-read for the movers and shakers of Swinging London, among men as well as the original target audience of women becoming devotees of its heady mixture of social issues and cutting-edge fashion and modern lifestyle features. Nova’s agenda of journalistically taboo subjects included contraception, abortion, cancer, race, homosexuality, divorce and royal affairs, invariably boosted by stylish and provocative cover images, making it a rarity among magazines. Ultimately Nova had more male readers than female.

RADIO TIMES 1968-88

Programme listings magazine transformed with provocative feature articles under editor Geoffrey Cannon and art director David Driver to create Britain’s biggest weekly magazine sale which rocketed as TV itself became the mass medium, from 8 million to 11.2 million for the Christmas edition of 1988.

THE FACE 1980-2004

In 1980, Nick Logan, a respected ex-editor of NME, staked his house on launching a new magazine that was to make style the focus of youth culture, as much as music. The Face was quickly dubbed Britain’s “style bible”. Even with a top monthly sale of only 120,000, it had an impact not only on the pop press, but the mainstream media too which spawned style pages in newspapers and magazines and “yoof” TV shows across the enlarged landscape of broadcasting. His influential art director Neville Brody single-handedly revolutionised the way magazines were conceived while contributing many new fonts to the canon.

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