Booming sales help The Oldie turn a profit

Monthly magazine The Oldie will turn a profit for this year for the first time since publisher James Pembroke led a buy-out of the title in 2007.

Pembroke spoke to Press Gazette after ABC figures last month showed The Oldie to be one of the top-performing UK current affairs titles, up 9.1 per cent year on year to an average monthly sale of 37,441 copies during the first half of the year.

According to Pembroke, ad sales have doubled since 2007 with subscriptions rising 55 per cent over the same period. Subs account for £1.1m of the £1.9m annual turnover with ad sales contributing £440,000, he added.

Oldie editor Richard Ingrams told Press Gazette (in an interview which appears in full in the September edition of Press Gazette magazine) that the successful editorial mix is helped by a lot of reader input.

He said: “It reminds me a bit of the Terry Wogan show in the way that Terry relied on his listeners to send him jokes and stories, that’s what made his show good. I always say the best articles we’ve had in The Oldie have been the ones that were unsolicited.”

Ingrams also works two half days a week as “chairman” of Private Eye, a title which also grew in the first half of this year – up 0.5 per cent to 207,680 copies a fortnight. He edited Private Eye from 1963-86.

Asked whether everyone involved in The Eye as become fabulously wealthy as a result of its success, Ingrams said: “They have got a lot of money… and the magazine has changed for that reason, it’s had to. It’s become more respectable. There isn’t an element of danger about it any more.”

Ingrams describes himself as a “digital denier” claiming he does not use a computer or mobile phone.

Asked what he thinks about the effect of new media on journalism, he said: “I’m aware that there’s a lot of stuff going on out there – but I don’t pay any attention to it. I’m not bothered.

“My own feeling about all this is that I’ve enough to worry about with reading the newspapers and listening to the radio. I don’t want to have to take in a lot of twittering and tweeting as well, it’s too much stuff.

“I think that if you’re an editor your main task is to think up ideas, so you’ve got to have a lot time and a relative lack of interruption to be able to do that; not to have the phone ringing all the time.

“Some people can cope with all that but it’s very difficult nowadays, I think, if you’re a journalist. There’s so much information and so much to keep up with. In order to function at all I think you have to limit your activities; you can’t take it all in.”

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