Big issue launches first UK-wide edition

The Big Issue is merging its separate regional editions into a single UK-wide magazine.

The new-look title, which will be launched next month, will still have regional change pages and reporters on the ground in Cardiff and London but its main editorial base will be in Glasgow.

The move comes as the magazine looks to overhaul its digital strategy, which editor Paul McNamee admitted has lacked clarity in the past. Under the new set up, McNamee – the former editor of the Scotland and Wales editions – takes over as UK editor, and former London and England editor Charles Howgego will develop the digital platforms.

In April it announced plans to equip homeless Big Issue sellers with smartphones so they can begin acting as citizen journalists, and this will be key to its digital strategy going forward.

‘They’ll get to learn new skills, and readers will get a different world view,’said McNamee.

Under the latest plans, advertising and production are being outsourced to Dennis Publishing.

McNamee said that, under the current set-up, the magazine lacked consistency.

“It’s unhelpful for our readers and it doesn’t help our vendors,’he said.

‘We always shared some copy, but with the bigger features there’s been a huge variation in the tone and content.

‘It makes sense to have a coherent, unified, single magazine.”

Localised change pages under the new system will include news, listings and entertainment.

Explaining the decision to create a UK-wide title, founder and editor-in-chief John Bird said in a statement: ‘The decision to amalgamate the regional editions of the magazine and to create one unified UK edition was taken to enable greater efficiency and the best use of our skill set.

‘The move will also free up resources, allowing us to focus of new ventures, including development of a digital platform.”

The Big Issue currently had an average weekly circulation of 124,196 a week last year, according to ABC, compared with around just under 250,000 a week a decade ago.

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